Saturday, April 23, 2011

Author Interview: Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories of women and the relationships that move them. In her latest novel, ALREADY HOME, Jenna Stevens, still reeling from a recent divorce, is unpleasantly surprised by the arrival of her birth parents, who seem to want her to feel a family bond immediately. She was perfectly happy with the loving, traditional parents who raised her. Can she learn to love a second mother without damaging her relationship with the woman who raised her? Join Susan’s Members Only area at for exclusive sneak peeks, short stories, and more.

GJR:  I think it takes a special kind of woman to give a child up for adoption, it is something that has always fascinated me solely based on the courage it takes. What motivated you to tell this story?

Susan Mallery (SM):  I’m fascinated by emotionally complex situations, and a woman with two loving but radically different mothers struck me as one of the most complex relationships there could be. There are so many levels of feelings to explore. Jenna, the adult daughter who is surprised by the arrival of her birth mother, struggles with questions of why the woman gave her away, why she’s back, and why now? For 31 years, Jenna had heard nothing from her birth family. Not a word. Now they’re in her life, and her mother is strangely insistent that they bond like true family immediately. For a Zen person, she’s extremely pushy, and Jenna doesn’t know why.

Then there are all the layers of emotions from the two mothers. Gratitude, resentment, a sense of ownership and belonging that’s at war with feelings of inadequacy and loss. It’s all so fascinating that I couldn’t not write this story.

GJR: Although the main character in this novel is Jenna, Violet stole the book for me. Where did she come from? Did you model her after someone in particular?

SM: I love Violet, too. She’s not based on anyone specific. She’s more of an amalgam of store clerks who have made me curious. Every person we meet in real life has hidden depths, and the longer you know someone, the more she’ll surprise you. I tried to capture the essence of that idea in Violet.

GJR: I’m not much of a foodie, but I loved hearing your descriptions of Jenna’s creative cooking process. Do you experiment with cooking as well?

SM:  More now than ever. I’ve written a lot of food-themed books in my career, which means I’ve done a lot of food-themed research. Once, while working on the Bakery Sisters books, I took a cake decorating class. And discovered that I have zero talent for decorating cakes.

When I was writing ALREADY HOME, I really didn’t have to do much food-related research, but I did think a lot about how similar creativity in cooking is to creativity in writing. One of Jenna’s big emotional journeys in the book is rediscovering her sense of joy and creativity in the kitchen, and I identified deeply with the fear of losing that creative spark. As I was writing the book, I began to experiment a little more with food, sharing my successful new recipes with my readers. They liked it so much that I started posting a new recipe every week on my website: I’m not sure I’ll keep up the pace of once a week now that the book is out, and I’m on to new stories, but I will continue to share new recipes as I find inspiration.

GJR: I love how the themes of second chances and starting over are woven through this novel. What is your good old-fashioned do over?

SM:  Probably the most transformative do-over I’ve experienced was finding love a second time around. Divorce is sad and painful, but sometimes it’s necessary so that we’re free to meet The One.

GJR:  I can’t wait to try the recipe for Jenna’s Mocha Chili. Care to share with us Jasmine’s fabulous margarita recipe?

SM:  I would love to share a margarita with you! Oh wait, you meant the recipe. I’m afraid Jasmine’s fabulous margarita recipe is pure fiction. But if you come across a great one, I hope you’ll share it with me! Oh, but I do have an incredible recipe for a Chocolate Peppermint Martini. You can find it in the Fool’s Gold Holiday Wishes magazine here:

GJR:  What are you currently reading?

SM:  I love Young Adult and, though I don’t normally go for paranormal, I’m hooked on the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins. I’m nearly finished with book 2 (Demon Glass), and already eager for book 3. By the way, I’m active on Goodreads:

GJR:  Do you have a library card? Do you still use it?

SM:  Yes, I have a library card, and yes, I still use it, though I’ll admit, not often. Whenever I can, I buy books to support the authors I love. I go to the library when I’m doing research and need to get my hands on an out-of-print book.

GJR:  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

SM:  I studied accounting in college, but the idea of being a CPA makes me break out in hives. If I weren’t a writer, I’d probably be in business.

GJR:  Something different: What is your favorite meal to cook?

SM:  Oooh, good question. My favorite meals to cook are the ones that are unbelievably delicious (hence, they garner the praise on which I am so reliant), but are fast and easy. I want to be in and out of the kitchen in an hour, max, and that only occasionally. All my favorite recipes are on my website. One that’s easy, fast, and delicious is my recipe for Flour Dusted Roast Chicken. Here’s a picture of it. Isn’t it pretty?! This chicken plus a pre-made salad from the grocery store is one of the easiest meals you can make, but it looks really impressive.

Thanks you Ms. Mallery for taking some time to answer our questions.



Fear Not the Darkness but What lies Within April 25, 2011 at 12:28 PM  

Sheilagh Lee said interesting premise for anovel I'm looking forwqard to reading your book.:)

Anonymous ,  June 16, 2013 at 9:32 PM  

Love Susan Mallery! My favorite series is "Fool's Gold". Just finished "Just One Kiss" and looking forward to reading "Two of a Kind"!

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