Monday, April 2, 2012

Never Forget To Roar

The Lion Is In
is a novel about three women on the lam and a lion who changes their lives.
It’s about friendship, courage, love … and learning to salsa with the king of the jungle.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: “Three women walk into a bar”…kind of sounds like the beginning of a joke. But for the three women in THE LION IS IN, it’s the beginning of a journey. Delia Ephron’s new novel is—well, it’s novel. And original and fresh and hilarious and poignant and it stars—a lion. Named Marcel. As you will discover, Marcel is a force. And so, as you will also discover, is Delia. (If her last name sounds familiar, come on. You know why.)

HANK: Delia! You're amazing. With a whole list of novels and essays, movie screenplays like You've Got Mail (with so many lines that are iconic) and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a long-running play written with sister Nora, (Love, Loss and What I Wore), and now your brand new book THE LION IS IN that comes out this week. SO much to talk about! So, um, what was your sister Hallie like when she was a kid?

Delia Ephron: For some reason that question reminds me of Hat Day at Camp Tocaloma where Hallie, about 8 at the time, wore an upside-down straw bowl on her head.

HANK: Oh, she still wears that. We all wondered about it...but were afraid to ask. Anyway, I was thinking about You've Got Mail. (You're probably sighing, now, thinking, WHY is she asking about that? But here in book world, it's a true classic).

One reason I love it is that it reveals how some of us--and I include myself--find it so much easier and more successful to talk without really being in the same room with someone. Joe and Kathleen are articulate and clever and poignantly honest when they're anonymous. There's a question there, I promise. About writing, I guess. Are you more comfortable writing than talking? Are you enthusiastic when you sit down at the computer? Or anxious?

Delia Ephron: I love to write. It's total escape for me -- not that it isn't sometimes difficult or full of anxiety but basically I'm so happy writing. But I also love to talk. I love to talk about writing too -- to have really boring conversations with my writer friends about things like structure. But everyone in the world writes more. Email and texting and twitter are putting our voices out of business.

HANK: Oh, my husband would disagree...for my voice, at least. So. The Lion is In. Okay, I've gotta ask. Tell us about the first moment you thought: oh, of course. I could write a novel about three women who meet a lion. Yes, a lion. And how their lives are changed by the lion. Sure, yeah, that'll work. Why didn't I think of that sooner? (And I love the Thelma and Louise cover!)

DE: I dreamed it. I had a really powerful dream about three women in this huge strange roadhouse/bar built of materials hammered every which way. I knew two of the women were young, in their twenties, and their names were Lana and Tracee. And there was an older woman, around 50, that I named Rita when I woke up. Tracee was in a wedding dress. And there was a lion. A lion. In a large cage. The women were all on the lam.

The dream took place in North Carolina, a state I had never been to. When I woke up I really didn't know if what I dreamed had actually happened. It took me a few minutes to realize I was actually in NYC in my own bed. I knew it was my next book. I sat down that morning and started writing. The story contains all the themes of my life, so I'm not surprised in retrospect it came from a dream. But when I went down to N.C. after writing the first draft (not before), I found so many things that I had written were actually there.

And the lion ... I have a dog, so I believe that animals are remarkable and have the power to change our lives ... but a lion???? ... I sent the manuscript off to Katie Buess, at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and she said everything that I had imagined with Marcel (my lion) was right. She helped me, gave me some ideas and adjustments ... but basically I seemed to know it.

And re the cover: Thank you. I love it too.

HANK: Delia, that’s almost—incredible. A dream. Huh. And so interesting that it didn’t just evaporate when you woke up, as they often do. I want to talk about how your brain “understood” lion-ness, and what that was, but first-- You talked about the themes of your life..tell us about some of them…and how they translated into the book.

DE: Lana is struggling to stay sober ... and those were problems I grew up with, my parents had those problems ... and Rita is unhappily married, trapped in a joyless world -- her spirit is being crushed. I know that from my first marriage. I had to leave to save myself, and she does too. And Tracee, well I'm not a kleptomaniac, but I know what it's like to feel unloved.

When I began to write, I didn't know what the women wanted. I only knew what they didn't want: the lives they were leading. Their friendship -- a sisterhood -- is a major part of what helps them figure out where they are going and get there. The other part is Marcel.

HANK: So what was it about lions that you “got”? Why did you use a lion? How did you pick the name Marcel—or was that simply the lion’s name?

DE: Marcel -- I suppose it's like a baby where you look at it and you know its name. Oh this is ... Marcel. About lions, I understood their power, their silence, their essential social -ness, their love of scents (although I had to be told about their love of femur bones) and their whimsy.

HANK: Yikes. Scary. (But good to know about the femur thing.) What did your agent say when you—or your husband, or whoever you first told—explained what your book would be?

DE: I just sent it to my agent without an explanation. I'm not sure if I told her I was even writing it but she loved it. She pushed me ... I did two more drafts, but she always loved it. So did my husband. I strive/hope to write what I like to read: characters that you love to be with, and a story that keeps you turning the pages. The turning pages thing was always working. I hope the other does too.

HANK: In the end, all the women’s lives are changed by the lion. For some reason, it reminds me of Dumbo’s magic feather, where the feather has no power, except what Dumbo believes—and that’s the strongest power possible. It’s as if we all have lions, you know, we just have to be open to them. (Or, I could be wrong.)

DE: That's what I believe. Whether you have the help of a lion named Marcel -- friend, playmate, comforter, priest, rabbi, minister, higher power, shrink -- we all posses the imagination to change our lives.

HANK: Has this book changed your life, too?

DE: It's calmed me down. Marcel is a force.

HANK: So I have to ask. When you think--"Marcel"--if you do--what does that mean?

DE: First the whimsy, something I always try to be in touch with, and then the bravery. And the patience. And kindness. And the roar. Never forget to roar.

HANK: Never forget to roar. Fantastic. Thank you! The book is amazing…and I can’t wait to see what happens as a result.

So Reds, was there a moment for you? Or a force? Or a decision? A person, place, thing, event or animal--who changed the course of your life? (Mine might have been when the political candidate I worked for lost the election—and I lost my job. As a result, and because I didn’t know enough to be afraid, I walked into a radio station, and asked for a job as a reporter. And so it goes.)

And how about this—Delia’s giving an autographed copy of THE LION IS IN to one lucky commenter!


About the Author

Delia Ephron is a bestselling author and screenwriter. Her movies include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, You’ve Got Mail, Hanging Up (based on her novel), and Michael. She has written novels for adults and teenagers, books of humor, including How to Eat Like a Child, and essays. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, More, and The Huffington Post. Recently, she collaborated with Nora Ephron on a play, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which ran for two years off-Broadway and has been performed in cities around the world, including Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Sydney.


  1. I put this one on my request list at the library. Dee

  2. Tears in my eyes reading this... first from laughter. I think I have a picture of me in that bowl.

    And then the poignancy -- because I just finished the book and love Loved LOVED it, and "...never forget to roar."

  3. AH Hallie?? You have a photo??
    Gang, what do we want: PHOTO!
    When do we want it? NOW!

    Delia, will you be traveling for the book? WHere and when?

  4. Can't wait to read this book! So cool that you had a dream that stuck with you long enough to write it.

    The turning point in my life, well one of them, came when I left the bar where I was meeting friends after work because they were late. Went home, ate dinner, changed clothes, then went back. They were talking to this really nice guy, and they introduced me to him. That was almost 34 years ago, and we just celebrated our 30th anniversary.

  5. Hank, if she doesn't have a photo, we'll make her wear it and take one next time we see her!

    Delia, so happy to have you here today! We adore Hallie so her sister is welcome too:). I know you'll be in my hometown of Madison CT soon talking with the legendary Roxanne Coady--unfortunately I can't be there:(.

    I do envy you that wonderful dream. Lately I've been dreaming about Pinterest...

  6. A wonderful interview Hank and Delia. I'm looking forward to reading what sounds like an amazing book.

  7. I haven't met my Marcel yet, and I need to make him appear soon. The book sounds fantastic - it's on my list.
    I first learned of Delia Ephron almost 30 years ago. When I was fifteen, a couple of friends and I had a blast competeing in forensics (public speaking) with selections from her book How to Eat Like a Child.

  8. I have a photo. Where is it? I shall find it. Hallie, I think it's in the photo book I gave you one Xmas. Had so much fun with Hank. Am traveling around the country. Check my website for a schedule. At B&N this week (Lex & 86th) NYC, Thursday 7 p.m. a reading with actresses, Carol Kane, Katie Fineran, and Melissa Joan Hart. Then all around.

  9. I'd forgotten How to Eat Like a Child was yours, Delia. LOVED that book. Still have it around here somewhere.

    Off to find it...

  10. UNKNOWN: That's Delia, just realized!!

    I do have that picture. How shall we post it?? Can't put a photo in a comment. Or can I?

  11. And Delia (with me in tow, not wearing the basket) will be at Brookline Booksmith, for folks near me, Thursday May 3 at 7 PM.

    Also for New Englanders she'll be one of the speakers at Muse and the Marketplace in Boston (GREAT conference for writers sponsored by on May 5.

  12. Delia, it's wonderful to meet you in blog forum after enjoying you in books and movies for years.

    I love the roar message. It has particular significance for me. Your book sounds inspiring.

    My black cat Tiger, being the shy but feisty angel that she was, took to my future husband upon sight like he was her long lost relative. She who was reluctant to even say hi to familiar people. Tiger as much as said, this is the One. I took her advice -- now happily married and inseparable these 16 years.

    I've got a life that changed course many times. Tiger's story is the most fun to tell you all about. (Tiger's silent roar.)

  13. Avi: Power to the kitty. Karen: How to Eat was my first born. Glad you liked it.

  14. UNKNOWN is Delia.Oh, Irony. I love it.

    Avi, my cat Lola did the same thing. She hated everyone--then Jonathan arrived. She clung to him as if she was..I don't know, tuna and cream. Problem was, he was SO allergic. So knowing Lola, she probably knew that, too, and was doing the one thing he would hate.

  15. Photo will be here on Jungle Red tomorrow--and gang, it's a must see.

    What if we all wrote a self-help book called Meeting Marcel? Meeting Your Marcel? Hmmm...this might be a good thing for you, Delia...

    Seriously? I think one thing about meeting your Marcel is being open to it. Like Karen, who went home and changed clothes. Karen, what hadn't?

  16. Delia Ephron -- I'm putting my name in because I may be tech challenged. I am unknown. How did that happen. The Lone Ranger. I wondered why Hallie emailed me about posting when I already had.
    As for changing your clothes ... but it's the being open that is everything ...

  17. Hallie,
    I'd love to see you in that hat/bowl!

    I loved your novel Hanging Up, and like everyone else, I've probably watched You've Got Mail a dozen times and enjoy it every time.

    This book sounds uplifting -- something we all need!

  18. Yes! Being open...

    Before I met my husband I always went out with much taller men (which is a little silly, when you think about it). He was seated on a stool when we were introduced and I was almost certain that he would be just about my height, which he was. But he was such a nice man. When he asked me out I couldn't say anything but 'yes'! And never regretted it.

  19. Jan, I must be feeling positive because my heroines are able to change their lives. What you can change and what you can't, what you can run from and what you can't. I left a first marriage, thank god I had the nerve looking back now, but I didn't have children--difficult as it was ... I could ran from it completely. And re: Hanging Up thank you.
    Karen: I'm always fascinated when people do computer dating how much they specify physical things.

  20. Yes, sometimes what you can't change..when you realize, turns out to be a good thing. It's like--shrugging. Que sera sera.

    And then, right after that--don't things often change? (Roar)

  21. I knew there was "something" to my determination, at 8 years old, to grow up to be a lion; Delia and Marcel have reminded me in such a poignant way, "never forget to roar." Thank you.

  22. Did you really, TFJ? Thing is , maybe you did!

  23. Delia, it's terrific to have you as your guests at Jungle Reds. I am so impressed (and so jealous) at your obvious intuitive side. I would love to dream a brilliant plot idea. Has this happened to you before?

  24. Delia, so thrilled to have you here! And I can't WAIT to read the book!

    I dreamed the one I'm working on now. It's the first time that's every happened to me, and it's turned out to be harder to write than I thought it would be. Hope I like it as much when it's finished as you like yours!

  25. I love You've Got Mail and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

    Also, that dream is amazing. You never know how or where inspiration may strike!

    Morgan Mandel

  26. For anyone in Southern California, Delia will be a keynote speaker at the Festival of Women Authors on May 12. Info at!

    Delia, I loved the book, and I love the reminder to tap into your inner peace and strength. And roaring, of course.

    See you in May!

  27. Congratulations, Delia! This book sounds like a lot of fun! One, that I, even as a guy, would love.

    I just have to say that you and your other talented sisters--Hallie and Nora have greatly influenced me!!!

    Watching "You've Got Mail" a zillion times (I wanted it to be you Joe.)
    heavily influenced my screenwriting style. And thanks to that I had a screenplay optioned.

    And after reading Hallie's books on writing, I was able to complete my first mystery.

    So thanks to you of all.


    Ralph (

  28. I'm looking forward to the book and the photo of Hallie tomorrow

  29. Delia, I am sooooooo trying not to fawn... .

    Kendall, my service dog, has changed my life. I have a family with people who love me, but only Kendall gets it. Only Kendall knows how to treat me like a person 24/7 without being resentful of the space I take up, or my symptomatic outbursts, or my need for occasional help with something. He figures things out. He's a problem solver. He learns faster than I can teach him. He allows me to help him when he needs it. We have a give-and-take thing going on. He never pats me on the head. He knows me.

  30. I'm not sure there was ever one defining moment for me - but my animals have always changed my life!

    "Never Forget to Roar" might be a defining moment! It's something that I do need to remember!

    Loved the interview - and I am REALLY looking forward to reading your book!

    Thank you, Delia!

  31. Ralph, that's interesting! Tell us more!

    Tammy so great to see you!

  32. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Ralph!

    Hi, Tammy! Wish I could be there, too -- such a great event. (Hope to see you at Malice.)

  33. Great interview, Hank and Delia! I can't wait to read this new book. Dreams are a great resource for writing. It lets the imagination soar.

  34. I have put this on my TBR list! Can't wait to dig in!

  35. Rhys & Deb. Never dreamed a story before but I have gone to sleep and dreamed a solution to a plot and once I dreamed a title. The other weird thing about this dream is that I was extremely anxious about something that happened, that was going to go on for a while, and I thought, how am I going to remain calm (and drugs don't really work for me), so I had this dream, and I really lived in that world every day. So it was some sort of gift to myself.

  36. Thanks, Scarlet!

    Sigh. My dreams so far have not produced a fabulous novel. The last dream I remember vividly featured clocks flying through the window of my office. (My brain is pretty darn clever, huh? And subtle.)

    But there is always hope. IN fact, seems like a good time for a nap.

    Still, if one HOPES for a solution in a dream, then it's never gonna happen. Because your brain will be too busy "hoping" to allow it to give you a gift.

  37. Also Deb, good luck on the book.
    TJF: what was it about the lion that you especially loved? Wondering.
    Kendall, Reine... animals have changed my life for sure. I have a friend who picked up her service dog last week. Amaazing, amazing.
    Tammy,Nancy, Scarlet P., Darlene, Patrish, Morgan, Thank you! and Marcel thanks you.
    Ralph, congrats on the book. Hallie is a great teacher, writer and hat wearer. Jan, you won't be disappointed.

  38. Hank, this was a terrific interview. Thanks!

    Want to see that photo of Hallie in the basket hat!

    Delia... really, this was so much fun. And I love your work... can't stop fawning... sorry.

  39. So much fun to be part of Jungle Red Writers. And Hank ... thank you, thank you, thank you.

  40. Terrific interview, Delia and Hank. I'm so in favor of roaring. The book sounds terrific. I've written your Thursday B&N date on my calendar--just a hop and a skip on the crosstown bus. I do love living in New York. :)

  41. Great interview! I'm looking forward to reading this book.

  42. Sounds like a great book! So much heart.
    When I met my husband, I was assistant manager at a computer game store, we exchanged the usual info and discovered we graduated from the same school the same year and hadn't met. That night, I couldn't sleep because going over and over in my brain was "OMG, that's the man I'm going to marry." And we did and it's been 14 years now. No one believes me about the voice. It's a good thing I had that dang voice because it took him forever to kiss me and I kept telling myself that we were going to be married so had to kiss me sometime. :)

  43. Elizabeth. See you Thursday.
    Thank you, Joanne, hope you like it.
    PK. Inner voices, yeah gotta trust them. Marcel the lion is a great facilitator that way in addition to being lion.

  44. I MUST read this. Delia is a wordsmith who has always charmed me in her work. For me, writing has always been about the power of pushing words around to create moods, emotions, and responses. With good writing, I can read a book over and over again and still find something new. These are the books I hold close and I think 'The Lion Is In' and especially Marcel will be added to this collection.

  45. A belated welcome! I have a recurring dream with lions in it but none of them is named Marcel and they have yet to give me any useful ideas for books. I'll be the 80th person to say, yup, I'm a fan. You've Got Mail still cracks me up even though I've send it umpteen times - and the book sounds terrific. Two questions that I haven't seen in comments already..did you ever consider Never Forget to Roar as a title you have any good dish on Hallie other the straw bowl?

  46. Inner voices, yeah. Today one told me to go to Starbucks. (I'm not kidding. ) It was kind of out of the way, but I did.
    I walked in. The barista said--"Hey, are you Hank P Ryan?"
    I said yes.
    He said: "I love your stories!" And he bought me a latte.

    I know that's not as life changing as some, but my voices are still finding their stride, I guess.

  47. ..and my inner voice said "You don't want to workout..walk to Barney Greengrass for breakfast instead!"

  48. This promises to be a lovely story. I adore the name Marcel, and I live in NC, so I it's a must read!

  49. Marni, great to see you here!
    PK, I keep thinking about you...what an inspirational story!

  50. Thank you so much, Delia! What a treat..and your book is a treasure.

    Come back tomorrow to learn the winner of The Lion is In--

    see the photo of Hallie in the HAT!

    -and meet Carolyn Hart. (And you have another chance to win a book--Carolyn's newest!)

  51. I really enjoyed the interview. The story sounds great, and Marcel is irresistible. I can't wait to read it.

  52. Great dream. Fab plot. I love all members of the cat family.

  53. As someone who's writing career began as a result of a dream, I have to read this book! Of course, it took me 10 years of rewrites until that first attempt was publishable and finally sold, but I learned a lot along the way.

  54. Thank you, thank you, Ellis, Grpeshot/Odette and Lois. And Hank, So much fun to be part of Jungle Red.

  55. OH, lovely to see you! Thank you! Roaring in Boston...and ooxo

  56. And the winner of Delia's book--chosen at random by Hank's TFJ!

    Contact me at h ryan at whdh dot com
    and give me your address!

  57. What a great post! And of course, I'm coming to it late since I was on the road yesterday.

    Delia, I love your books, and this one sounds so much up my alley that I can't wait to get it. I'm a strong believer in "... never forget to roar."

  58. What an interesting idea for a book! I can't wait to read it.

  59. Read the Kindle Sample of the subway this morning and will definitely be getting the book this weekend! Especially since the Lion hasn't arrived yet.