Susan Mallery and Beth Kendrick: Author One-on-One
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her funny, emotional stories of finding family wherever you can, like in Already Home. In this Amazon exclusive, she sat down with Beth Kendrick to discuss their work. Read the resulting interview below, or turn the tables to see what happened when Beth interviewed Susan.
Susan: When you interviewed me about my book Already Home, we discussed my poodle, Nikki, and her fashionista ways. Well, Nikki wants me to tell you that she thinks your dogs are scandalously underdressed. She’d like to know when she’ll be allowed to give Friday and Roxie a makeover?
Beth: Well, you have to understand that not every dog possesses Nikki’s ladylike sophistication. Roxie and Friday are both mutts from the pound. High fashion isn’t really their thing—Friday would no doubt insist on wearing a sideways trucker hat and stained sweatpants. For him, being naked is a thousand times more dignified than being dressed. Roxie, on the other hand, is a bit high-strung and has an unfortunate tendency to eat everything that crosses her path. She would make haute couture into a chew toy. But if Nikki ever needs some artfully shredded denim, Roxie’s the perfect dog for the job.
Susan: So your new book is called The Bake-Off, which leads me to believe the storyline involves baking.
Beth: That’s right.
Susan: I hate to bring this up, but didn’t you once screw up brownies from a mix because you forgot to turn on the oven?
Beth: What are you saying? Are you saying that just because I can’t work my own oven that I’m not Top Chef material?
Susan:Yeah, pretty much.
Beth: Well, that’s why it’s called fiction.
Susan: When you first sold this book, you mentioned something about being inspired by a miniature lawnmower. I’m not really seeing a direct connection between baking and lawn care equipment. Care to clarify?
Beth: Oh, yeah, the lawnmower! I almost forgot about that. I got the idea for this book at 1:30 a.m. the night before my toddler’s birthday party. I was trying—and failing—to decorate a sheet cake with a tiny red lawnmower and piped green icing to look like grass. The Cake Boss I am not, and I was tired and frustrated and thinking: I can’t do this—I quit. Kid won’t remember it anyway. But then I thought, You know, if someone offered me a million dollars, I would figure out a way to make this cake beautiful. And I was off and running with the idea of two estranged sisters who can’t bake at all, but are desperate for money and recognition. So they enter a family recipe and go for the gold at a national, high-stakes dessert championship, even though they’ve been feuding for years and can barely boil water.
Susan: How did the lawnmower cake turn out?
Beth: Um—(clears throat)--awesome. Next question!
Susan: Who would you rather have as your celebrity baking partner, Snooki or Kanye West?
Beth: Jon Hamm.
Susan: Did you do a lot of research for this book?
Beth: Girl, you don’t even know. I plunged into the first draft full of swagger and bravado: “It’s just pie! How hard could it be?!” Well. As anyone who’s ever made a pie crust from scratch will tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. I interviewed a pastry chef, along with a woman who had won several national cooking contests. Turns out, competitive baking is a vibrant subculture unto itself, like beauty pageants or dog shows. Bursting with potential for scandal, rivalry and drama--like Melrose Place with muffin tins. Or at least, that’s how it is in my book. You know me and my wild imagination.
I also enrolled in a weekend baking boot camp. That was humbling.
Susan: I’ll bet.
Beth: Yeah, I was definitely the problem child in that class. But you know what? I can make pie now. Lots of other stuff, too. I hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I baked everything from scratch—pumpkin pie, dinner rolls, cheesecake. I wouldn’t be caught dead making brownies from a mix now.
Susan: What about macaroni and cheese from a box?
Beth: Of course I still make that. My muse thrives on carbs and artificial orange coloring. Susan:
Jenna, the main character of Already Home
, has to deal with some truly outrageous behavior from her ex. How would Amy and Linnie, your heroines from The Bake-Off
, advise her?
Beth: Well, Amy is one of those freaks of nature who’s still buddy-buddy with all her ex-boyfriends and swaps baby photos with them on Facebook, so she’s useless here. Linnie, on the other hand, has a genius IQ—not that this helps her when she’s trying to make piecrust from scratch--and she will use it for evil if she’s crossed. I’m sure she’d be happy to help Jenna freeze her ex’s bank account, credit cards, and email. That should keep him too busy to bother her for awhile. Susan:
Every writer has themes and central conflicts they come back to again and again in their work. What would you say is the message at the heart of this book?
Beth: When all else fails, add more butter.