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After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, and fresh off a divorce from the owner, Jenna Stevens is desperate for a change. So when she spots a for-lease sign in her hometown, she impulsively decides to open her very own cooking store. Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna's adoptive mother. But as soon as she gains a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect.
Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with the parents who raised her and decide whether to open her heart to a man who just might be the best thing to happen to her in years. All without sacrificing her newly found dreams. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love....
Review: Beth Kendrick and Susan Mallery: Author One-on-One
Beth Kendrick is the author of The Bake-Off, Second Time Around, and five other women’s fiction novels. In this Amazon exclusive, she sat down with Susan Mallery to discuss their work. Read the resulting interview below, or turn the tables to see what happened when Susan interviewed Beth.
Beth: Okay, before we start this interview, I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about your Christmas card this year, which featured your adorable poodle, Nikki. Dressed up in an elaborate chiffon holiday neckpiece. Featuring jingle bells and ribbon. You and I both know that this is not an isolated incident. Oh yes, I’ve seen the photos of Miss Nikki making love to the camera in Halloween costumes and baseball jerseys. I think everyone here deserves to know the truth: does Nikki have a stylist? Or do poodles have an innate French flair for accessorizing?
Susan: Yes, Nikki actually does have a personal stylist, a friend who sends her a new outfit at least once a year. Nikki is a star. Sigh. It’s getting to be a problem. She was born in a playpen in Albuquerque, but has grown so used to attention that she demands it. When she decides it’s time to cuddle, nothing will deter her. She bats my hands away from the keyboard with her nose. Like everyone else who meets her, I have fallen under her spell. I’m helpless to resist.
Beth: Who gets more fan mail--you or Nikki?
Susan: I get more, but hers tastes better.
Beth: Already Home is technically women’s fiction, which means that in addition to the romance storyline, there’s a truckload of family drama. Oh, how I love family drama. The fictional kind, I mean. Give us a few hints about the book. What’s your favorite scene?
Susan: : The story revolves around Jenna, recently divorced and in the midst of an unexpected career change. So her life is already in a state of flux when she’s hit with the sudden appearance of her birth parents who are, to put it mildly, nothing like Jenna’s “real” (aka, adoptive) parents. Jenna was raised in a conservative Texas town by loving but traditional parents. Her birth parents are throwbacks to the 1970s, vegetarian hippies who get messages from "the Universe" and have an unnatural dislike of dairy.
One of the scenes I love best takes place when Jenna travels with them to their home on a California vineyard. There, she meets siblings and other family, and she gets a glimpse of the life she would have lived if they hadn’t given her up for adoption all those years ago. What I love about this scene is that this is where Jenna’s heart begins to open. First impressions can be wrong... or at least incomplete.
But as Jenna is getting to know her birth family, she can’t help wondering why they seem to think they have to dive into deep family intimacy immediately. What’s the urgency? Why can’t they let their feelings develop over time?
Beth: Jenna, the main character in Already Home, has invited Amy and Linnie, the main characters from my novel The Bake-Off, over for a dinner party. Discussion topics will include: dysfunctional families, cooking disasters, and truly unfortunate dating choices. What is your heroine cooking, and what can my characters bring?
Susan: Jenna has discovered the joy of fusion cuisine. In the book, she experiments with Mexican-Indian fusion and comes up with a fabulous recipe for Curry Chicken Enchiladas. Served, of course, with chips and salsa and hummus and pita. As for your characters, they can bring dessert. It’ll have to be apple pie, since they are big old bake-off frauds and that is really the only recipe they can make, right?
Beth: Well, yes. But they prefer the term “counterfeit confectionistas” to “frauds,” thank you very much. Since Jenna is a sous chef who wants to open her own cooking store, I assume you had to slog through hours of torturous research at places like Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table. (These are the sacrifices you make for your art!) What is your favorite kitchen implement or gadget?
Susan: Two words: wine key.
Beth: If you had a reality show, what would it be called, and what would a typical episode be like?
Susan: I adore watching reality shows, and I’m not even embarrassed to admit it. (Okay, I’m a little embarrassed.) They’re just so grotesque. The situations are staged, but the emotions are real, and I’m an emotion junkie. But I would never go on a reality show because I don’t want people to feed off of my emotions, other than in my books, of course.
Beth: I know, I know, but humor me. If you did...?
Susan: I actually do have a reality dating show in Only Mine, an August release in my Fool’s Gold series of romance novels. It doesn’t go well.
Beth: So in addition to being talented and witty, you’re prolific as all get-out. How many books do you have coming out in 2011? Five? Eighteen? What gives? Have you somehow figured out how to clone yourself or survive without sleep? I demand to know your secret. And don’t give me that song and dance about “hard work” and “self-discipline.”
Susan: I have four books coming out in 2011. Already Home in April, and then I’ll continue the Fool’s Gold series in August, September, and October with Only Mine, Only Yours, and Only His. The Hendrix triplets will all fall in love this year.
My secret? I have the attention span of a gnat. If I don’t write quickly, I get bored. I start thinking about the next story I want to write, and the next one after that. I don’t lack for ideas, so I have to be disciplined about completing each one. Working on the next one is my reward for finishing the current project.
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