Please help me welcome author Hillary Manton Lodge.
How would you categorize your new book?
I call it contemporary women’s fiction with a foodie twist – that’s the shorter answer. A Table by the Window has a little bit of everything – there’s romance, there’s generational drama, a mystery, and plenty to eat along the way.
What was your inspiration for changing genres?
The truth is, I never set out to be an Amish fiction author. When I was first in talks with Harvest House, they asked if I would be willing to write an (singular) Amish novel. That turned into two, because we agreed that having the second book be a follow-up would be wise.
Once I finished with Plain Jayne and Simply Sara, I was ready to return to move out of the Amish world and into something new. I don’t live near the Amish, I don’t have Amish relatives – writing Jayne and Sara took a tremendous amount of work and research.
Not that A Table by the Window hasn’t required huge amounts of research, but it’s a little bit more in my wheelhouse. I interned for a food, wine, and travel magazine the fall after I graduated from college, which opened up a whole new world of experiences – and food!
A Table by the Window is actually the first in a three-part series. As continue to work on the books (wrapping up book two now), I keep coming back to The Lord of the Rings in how it’s really one long story, though each installment has its own arc and unique feel. My hope is for each novel to stand on its own, while leaving the reader interested in more.
On whom did you base your charming heroine? Is there some of you in her?
Juliette is kind of an amalgam – she’s a little like myself, but there’s also a touch of Sabrina to her (Audrey Hepburn version, naturally), and a bit of Ruth Reichl. I wanted her to have this huge European restaurant family, and for that dynamic to inform a lot of her personality and how she sees herself, not unlike My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
What kinds of research did you do?
I ate a lot. I also read lots of cookbooks and food memoirs, watched documentaries on restaurants and pastry competitions – it was fascinating! My memories from my time as an intern really came in handy. I got to visit restaurants, take photos at restaurants of food and sometimes even the guy who made it. We had a chef come in to the magazine one day to give a demo in the magazine kitchen – he was hilarious. I wound up writing down snippets of what he said, because I knew I’d use it someday. And you know what? I did!
Did you sample each mouthwatering recipe?
Not quite all of them, although some are old family favorites. Other recipes I dreamed up and either tested myself or sent to friends to test.
Are you a chef or world traveler at heart?
Neither, really – I just like making stuff, and the kitchen is another place to be creative. And I haven’t gotten to do as much international travel as I like. Domestic travel, though? I’m aces at travelling the US! There’s more travel in the second book in the series, so it’s been fun to send Juliette to familiar places outside of Oregon.
What can you tell us about the next book?
It’s honestly really exciting for me. Some second books are the awkward “bridge” book where not enough happens, but there’s a lot of ground covered in Reservations for Two. What I love is how we know all of the characters and the circumstances, and since they’re all set up in book one, we really get to see situations come to a boil in book two. I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t read the first book yet, but I really feel the second book is going to be quite special.
Where can readers find out more?
Readers can visit my website at www.hillarymantonlodge.com. On top of my blog, there’s ways to connect via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as sample recipes from the book!
Thanks so much for having me, Kate!
Congratulations to Juanita, last week’s winner of a copy of A Promise of Pieces, by Emily T. Wierenga!