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Connections April 18, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in bestsellers, commercial fiction, fiction, food, literary fiction.
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Jael McHenry

The information superhighway has bridged oceans, united diverse voices, and placed virtual libraries in the palm of your hand. It’s the age of connection, when reaching out to strangers through chatrooms, forums, blogs and other forms of social media such as Twitter, is not only common, it’s expected. This week in #litchat we’re discussing connections and how they inform our reading choices, our writing practices, and the way we interact with other people.

On Friday, April 22, #litchat welcomes Jael McHernry, author of the recently released novel, The Kitchen Daughter. In this brilliant debut, McHenry brings us a sheltered young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose struggle for independence following the death of her parents is a poignant buffet of surprises. McHenry’s protagonist, Ginny, has difficulty connecting with people, but can connect with the dead when cooking from their handwritten recipes.

The invoking of ghosts puts one in mind of horror or other spine-chilling scenarios, but don’t expect screams and wails and rattling of chains in this high concept literary novel. The real story within The Kitchen Daughter is discovery of self, acceptance of family, letting go of and reaching out to others through simple things such as touch, talk, and trust—each an essential element of connection. Read more about The Kitchen Daughter here.

McHenry is a passionate amateur cook who grew up in Michigan and Iowa before moving from city to city along the East Coast: Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and now New York, where she blogs about food and cooking at the Simmer blog. The Kitchen Daughter includes ten of her original recipes, ranging in simple cocktail concoctions to complex ethnic cuisine. McHenry tantalizes readers of The Kitchen Daughter with descriptions of food and its preparation, layering the text with fascinating cooking lore and culinary techniques.

In addition to cooking and writing fiction, McHenry is a monthly pop culture columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media. Her work has appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Indiana Review, and the Graduate Review at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing.

Follow Jael McHenry on Twitter: @JaelMcHenry.

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Writing What You Love June 28, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in food, mystery, weekly topics.
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Alexander Campion

June 28 – July 2, 2010

One of the first standards a writer hears in a beginning writing course is, “Write what you know.” If all writers observed that guideline bookshelves would be full of boring and derivative stories. When a writer steps away from what they know to enter a world they love, story magic happens. This week in #litchat we’re discussing authors who write not only what they know, but what they love.

Guest host on Friday is Alexander Campion whose debut novel, The Grave Gourmet, launched on June 29. The first in a series called, The Capucine Culinary Mysteries, The Grave Gourmet combines the author’s love of food with an appetite for mysteries. A savory blend of murder and fine French cuisine, set against the beauty of Paris, Campion’s debut features a zesty, Dior-clad female investigator and her food critic husband working fork to fork in solving murders and sampling haute cuisine.

Campion started out as a true New Yorker, graduating from Columbia and migrating downtown to Wall Street. Early on he was given a six month term in Paris to assist a new venture his firm had just acquired. He stayed thirty-five years, eventually becoming a restaurant critic and progressing inevitably to gastronomic thrillers. He is currently living in Toronto—with his wife and his headstrong Basset Hound—planning to return to Paris in the near future.

Follow Alexander Campion on Twitter: @AlexCampion

Food & Family December 13, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in food, memoir.
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Topic of the Week: December 14-18, 2009

Books Are Great Giftsauction of books signed by authors is December 18, 6-8 p.m. through Twitter using hashtag #BAGG. More auction details at https://litchat.net/litchats-books-are-great-gifts/book-auction/.

December is the month of holidays. As family and friends gather to celebrate religious and/or cultural traditions, food is always featured. Ask people about their favorite holiday memories and you’ll find responses tied around food and family: “My grandmother’s butterscotch pie,” “my mother’s baked ham,” or “my aunt’s golden latkes.” Food nourishes both the body and the spirit.

Joining us on December 18th is Suzan Colón, author of Cherries in Winter, a memoir reflecting on food, family and getting through tough times with dignity. When Suzan was laid off from a cushy and lucrative job at the beginning of the recession, luxuries she’d taken for granted, like shopping at pricey gourmet markets, getting expensive haircuts, and even owning a car, were all suddenly out of her budget. She and her husband Nathan quickly realized they had to cut way, way back.

When winter came, Suzan cobbled together freelance jobs while wearing layers of sweaters and trying to type in fingerless gloves, the better to keep the heating bill low. She also saved money by cooking at home, and her mother, Carolyn, suggested, “Why don’t you dig out Nana’s recipe folder?” In a basement trunk, Suzan found the tattered treasure holding the old recipes, some written in her Nana’s nearly perfect script, others meticulously type-written, that went back through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and beyond. Reading them, Suzan realized she had found something more than a collection of recipes; she’d discovered the key to her family’s survival through hard times.

Suzan Colón is an independent writer and editor who has written celebrity profiles, personal essays, and general interest articles for O, the Oprah Magazine; Marie Claire; Jane; Details; Harper’s Bazaar; Seventeen; YM; Mademoiselle; Rolling Stone; and others. She is the author of three young adult novels based on the TV series Smallville, as well as Catwoman: The Life and Times of a Feline Fatale; and What Would Wonder Woman Do? Suzan lives in New Jersey with her husband and two cats.

Follow Suzan on Twitter at: @colonsuzan.