Extended interview: Bonnie Garmus on her debut novel and more

CBS Sunday Morning
29 Aug 202322:30
32 Likes 10 Comments

TLDRIn this inspiring segment of 'Here Comes the Sun,' we meet Bonnie Garvis, a once struggling copywriter turned best-selling author of 'Lessons in Chemistry.' Despite facing 98 rejections, Garvis's perseverance paid off, leading to a successful book launch and an upcoming Apple TV series. The story also highlights the importance of self-sufficiency and determination, as seen through the eyes of young beekeeper Elizabeth Downs, who found her passion at just six years old. These narratives showcase the power of resilience and the impact of following one's dreams.

  • 🌟 Bonnie Garvis, a former copywriter, became a best-selling author after decades of perseverance.
  • πŸ“š Her debut novel, 'Lessons in Chemistry,' faced 98 rejections before finally getting published.
  • πŸ’ͺ Garvis believes that persistence is key in writing, emphasizing that rejection doesn't mean the end.
  • πŸ“– The success of 'Lessons in Chemistry' led to an Apple TV series starring Oscar winner Brie Larson.
  • 🎯 The book's protagonist, Elizabeth Zott, is a subversive character who takes herself seriously and never doubts herself.
  • πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§ Garvis drew inspiration from her mother, a nurse who had to stop working due to pregnancy, and her own experiences.
  • πŸš£β€β™€οΈ Garvis' personal interests, such as rowing, influenced the character's traits in her novel.
  • πŸ“ˆ The story of Elizabeth Zott has inspired readers to make significant changes in their lives.
  • 🌱 Elizabeth Downs, a young beekeeper, shares her passion for beekeeping and its importance to the ecosystem.
  • πŸ† Downs' beekeeping skills have led her to become a youth outreach coordinator for her local beekeepers association.
  • 🍯 Downs' honey extraction process showcases her dedication to the craft and the beauty of the honey she produces.
Q & A
  • Who is the main focus of the transcript?

    -The main focus of the transcript is Bonnie Garmas, a newly minted best-selling author who gained fame with her debut novel, 'Lessons in Chemistry.'

  • What was Bonnie Garmas' profession before becoming a best-selling author?

    -Before becoming a best-selling author, Bonnie Garmas worked as a copywriter.

  • How many times was Bonnie Garmas' first book rejected?

    -Bonnie Garmas' first book was rejected 98 times.

  • What motivated Bonnie Garmas to start writing 'Lessons in Chemistry'?

    -Bonnie Garmas was motivated to start writing 'Lessons in Chemistry' after a frustrating meeting at work where a male colleague took credit for one of her ideas.

  • What is the main theme of 'Lessons in Chemistry'?

    -The main theme of 'Lessons in Chemistry' revolves around Elizabeth Zott, a chemist and mom who hosts a cooking show that ends up teaching women about more than just food.

  • How did Bonnie Garmas ensure authenticity in her writing?

    -To ensure authenticity in her writing, Bonnie Garmas taught herself chemistry and even tried some experiments from her book, despite calling the fire department once due to an accident.

  • What was the impact of 'Lessons in Chemistry' on its readers?

    -The impact of 'Lessons in Chemistry' on its readers was significant, with some being inspired to change their lives, take up rowing, or go to law school.

  • How did Bonnie Garmas feel about her success?

    -Bonnie Garmas felt that her success was a dream come true, and she was thrilled to be an author. However, she also mentioned that her life and herself haven't changed much due to the success.

  • What is Bonnie Garmas' perspective on the writing life?

    -Bonnie Garmas believes that the writing life is not all fun and games. She sees it as a tough and enduring process, where one must hold themselves to a high standard and not waste the reader's time.

  • What is the significance of the character Elizabeth Zott in 'Lessons in Chemistry'?

    -Elizabeth Zott is a subversive character who takes herself seriously and never doubts herself. Bonnie Garmas wrote her as a role model, and she represents the message of women being more of who they really are.

  • How did Bonnie Garmas' background influence her writing?

    -Bonnie Garmas was influenced by her mother, a nurse who had to stop working when she got pregnant. 'Lessons in Chemistry' is partly an honor of her mother and the message of women being true to themselves.

  • What was Bonnie Garmas' attitude towards her copywriting career?

    -Bonnie Garmas respected her copywriting career and saw it as a solid, decent paying job that allowed her to pursue her passion for writing on the side without the pressure of making a living from it.

🌟 Journey to Success: Bonnie Garvis' Literary Triumph

This paragraph introduces Bonnie Garvis, a once struggling copywriter turned best-selling author. Her debut novel, 'Lessons in Chemistry,' faced 98 rejections before becoming a phenomenon. Garvis shares her perseverance and the importance of not giving up, emphasizing that rejection doesn't define one's worth. The story highlights her journey from obscurity to literary success, including the emotional and practical challenges of being a writer.

πŸ“š Writing as a Passion and a Standard: Bonnie Garvis' Insights

In this segment, Bonnie Garvis discusses the misconceptions about the writing life, revealing that it's not all fun and games. She talks about the pressure to meet the high standards set by great writers and her commitment to not waste readers' time. Garvis' dedication to her craft is evident as she shares her rigorous writing process and the inspiration behind her novel, which includes her mother's influence and the subversive nature of her protagonist, Elizabeth Zott.

πŸ† Overcoming Rejection: The Story of Bonnie Garvis

This paragraph delves into the story of Bonnie Garvis' resilience in the face of numerous rejections. Despite the setbacks, she continued to write, eventually leading to a bidding war for her novel. Garvis' journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of believing in one's story. Her success also serves as an inspiration to others, with readers reporting life-changing impacts from her book.

🐝 Beekeeping Prodigy: Elizabeth Downs' Passion

The focus shifts to Elizabeth Downs, a young beekeeper who found her calling at the age of six. Her story is one of passion and community support, as she learns the craft from experienced beekeepers and even takes a college-level course at the age of eight. Downs' dedication to beekeeping is evident in her role as the youth outreach coordinator and her aspirations to become Maine's official beekeeper, highlighting the importance of pollinators and the joy she finds in her work.

🎢 Here Comes the Sun: A Show Celebrating Inspirational Stories

Concluding the script, this paragraph brings the focus back to the show 'Here Comes the Sun,' hosted by Lee Cowan. It emphasizes the program's mission to share stories of inspiration and triumph, from literary success to young passions. The segment ends with a nod to the next episode, promising more heartwarming and empowering tales that reflect the diverse and enriching experiences of its subjects.

πŸ’‘Best-selling author
A best-selling author refers to a writer who has achieved significant sales of their publications, entering best-seller lists. In the context of the video, Bonnie Garmas becomes a best-selling author with her debut novel 'Lessons in Chemistry,' a significant achievement given her decades of work as a copywriter. This transformation highlights the unpredictability of success in the literary world and serves as a central theme of perseverance and eventual recognition.
πŸ’‘Debut novel
A debut novel is an author's first published novel. In the video, 'Lessons in Chemistry' is described as Bonnie Garmas's debut novel, marking her transition from a copywriter to a renowned novelist. This novel not only changes her career but also becomes a phenomenon, showcasing how a single work can significantly impact an author's life and reputation.
Rejection in the context of this video refers to the numerous instances (98 times) Bonnie Garmas's first book was turned down by publishers. This concept is critical in illustrating the challenges and discouragements writers face before achieving success. Garmas's perseverance through rejection underscores a broader message of resilience and the belief that one's worth and potential should not be defined by the acceptance of others.
πŸ’‘Constructive anger
Constructive anger refers to the use of frustration and anger as a motivation to create or accomplish something positive. For Garmas, a frustrating meeting where a male colleague took credit for her idea spurred her to start writing 'Lessons in Chemistry.' This term encapsulates the video's theme of channeling negative experiences into creative energy and transforming them into success.
πŸ’‘Chemist protagonist
The chemist protagonist of 'Lessons in Chemistry,' Elizabeth Zott, is a defining element of Garmas's novel. This character's pursuit of her career and personal goals in the 1950s and early 60s, a time of limited female autonomy in professional fields, illustrates themes of defiance and subversion. The protagonist's unique perspective and challenges highlight the novel's exploration of gender roles and personal ambition.
Copywriting is the act of writing text for advertising or other forms of marketing. The video describes Bonnie Garmas's career in copywriting before she became a novelist. This background is significant as it showcases her journey from a commercial writer to a literary author, emphasizing the diverse paths individuals can take towards fulfilling their dreams in writing.
πŸ’‘Literary rock star
The term 'literary rock star' is used in the video to describe Bonnie Garmas following the success of her debut novel. This phrase conveys the idea of achieving a high level of fame and adoration in the literary world, similar to that of a rock star in music. It highlights the impact of 'Lessons in Chemistry' and Garmas's newfound status as a celebrated author.
πŸ’‘Apple TV series
The adaptation of 'Lessons in Chemistry' into an Apple TV series signifies the novel's extensive reach and success. This transformation from book to screen exemplifies the modern trajectory of successful novels and underscores the multimedia impact that literature can have. Starring Oscar winner Brie Larson, the series is a testament to the novel's compelling narrative and its thematic resonance with audiences.
Beekeeping is presented in the video through the story of Elizabeth Downs, a young girl passionate about bees and their care. This segment shifts the focus from literary themes to environmental and personal passion, illustrating the diversity of interests that people, regardless of age, can pursue with dedication. Beekeeping serves as a metaphor for finding one's calling and the importance of nurturing passions.
πŸ’‘Youth Outreach
Youth Outreach, as mentioned in relation to Elizabeth Downs's role in the Penobscot County Beekeepers Association, highlights the importance of engaging young individuals in activities and causes. This concept reflects the video's broader theme of potential and passion, showing how young people can make significant contributions to their communities and interests, such as beekeeping, which plays a crucial role in environmental health.

Bonnie Garmus, a former copywriter, became a best-selling author after decades of hard work and perseverance.

Her debut novel, 'Lessons in Chemistry,' faced 98 rejections before finally getting published.

Garmus wrote 'Lessons in Chemistry' out of 'constructive anger' after a frustrating work experience.

The novel explores the life of Elizabeth Zott, a chemist and mother, and has been praised as subversive.

Garmus' book has been translated into 40 languages and is being adapted into an Apple TV series starring Brie Larson.

Despite her success, Garmus views writing as a challenging and emotionally taxing process, not just a fun or glamorous endeavor.

The author's mother, a nurse who had to stop working due to pregnancy, inspired 'Lessons in Chemistry'.

Garmus continued her full-time copywriting job while writing her novel and taught herself chemistry for authenticity.

The character of Elizabeth Zott is a rower, reflecting Garmus' own experience with the sport since her late 30s.

Garmus' story and her book have inspired readers to make significant changes in their lives.

The author emphasizes the importance of self-sufficiency and making one's own way in the world, especially for women.

Garmus' journey to becoming an author was not easy, but she never gave up despite the numerous rejections.

Elizabeth Downs, a young girl in Maine, found her passion for beekeeping at the age of six.

Downs' beekeeping operation, named 'Ease Bees,' now involves her family and has a focus on education and charity.

The community has played a significant role in nurturing Downs' interest in beekeeping, highlighting the importance of mentorship.

Downs aspires to be Maine's official state beekeeper and sees beekeeping as her life's work, showing her deep connection to the craft.

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