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Simply Stories Podcast

Jul 9, 2020

On today’s episode, I am chatting with the absolutely lovely Valerie Fraser Luesse. Valerie is the Senior Travel Editor for Southern Living Magazine, as well as an incredible author of 3 novels. Her most recent book is called The Key to Everything, and if I’m honest with you, it was one of my favorite reads of 2020. During our chat, we talk about why the book was so impactful for me, and we learn that it is based on an incredible true story, and get to hear how special it was for Valerie to write. 

The South is such a unique part of this country, for better or for worse, and I loved Valerie’s perspective on the layers and evolution of this place we both call home. In Valerie’s book, the landscape of the journey the character experiences is almost like another character in the narrative, and it's fascinating. Valerie and I discuss the power of history, the evolution of storytelling, and how it connects communities as we all learn and grow, and process who we have been and where we are from.

Valerie and I talked several months ago now, but I’m just so grateful for the sweetness and the heartfelt nature of this conversation because, gracious, I miss getting to feel that way with people in person! It always amazes me how the Lord spaces these conversations out in His perfect timing. I hope whenever you hear this, you feel like you got to hang out with two friends swapping stories today. Know that you’re loved, friend. You matter. Your story matters. 


Auburn University

Baylor University 

Chip and Joanna Gaines

The Waco Siege

Ree Drummond aka the Pioneer Woman and Pawhuska, OK

Southern Living Magazine - Valerie is the Senior Travel Editor

PW’s Magazine

Magnolia Journal

Progressive Farmer Magazine

50 inspirational Bible Verses- article online SL

“Nothing beats stronger than the heart of a volunteer” - Col Jimmy Dolittle

Nashville/Cookeville/Chatt tornadoes

Her book:  The Key to Everything

Eudora Welty

William Faulkner

Bryan Stevenson / “Just Mercy” - changing the narrative, changing the part we start from -- her article for Southern Living featuring him.

Charles Martin


Country Living Magazine

Fuller Story Project

Scripture References:

1 Corinthians 12- Offer up our gifts and live as the body of Christ

Luke 19- Zaccheus

Ruth- Ruth and Naomi (you can also hear this “story” on this episode of our podcast!)

Connecting with Valerie:




Articles she’s authored for Southern Living Magazine

Her Blog- “Goin Down to Mama’s”

Her other books 

Connecting with Emily and Simply Stories Podcast:

Instagram (Em life // Podcast Life)




*Intro and outro music by music by