Earlier this week, readers of the book Life from Scratch asked each other questions and shared their thoughts on their blogs, much like people used to do over munchies and punch back in the old days when book clubs were limited to interacting with people who lived near each other.
Twenty bloggers participated in this tour. Check out what they’re saying.
We were fortunate to have a highly accessible author who has answered questions we posed to her. I should add that she is also a highly successful author, as well, because her novel hit #7 on the Kindle Content list on Thursday, and rave reviews continue to come in on Amazon.
The rest of this post is from Melissa Ford.
The author, not the p0rn star.
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who read the book and participated on this tour. It means the world to me that you would take the time to do that. And honestly, this is a love story to blogging, so it is fitting that it’s being written about on blogs.
1. Have you considered actually writing the Life From Scratch blog as Rachel?
I did, but wasn’t coming together, which is sort of a testament of how difficult and time-consuming it can be to write a blog and keep it going. I did the posts you see in the book, and I have a handful more that are saved as a file. I had high hopes of getting a whole Life from Scratch blog chugging, and while that’s still a possibility in the future, I knew that if I committed myself to that blog that I would probably stop writing Stirrup Queens. Stirrup Queens is such a comfortable (and comforting) space for me that I couldn’t see giving that up. This writing two blogs things is hard…
2. Considering the story is based in NY/NJ with an international twist, how do you research the detail behind the specific places/terrain/culture, is this based on your own experiences or experiences of others?
I spent about a month in Spain, and while I didn’t hook up with any hot Spaniards (I was dating this man that I broke up with literally days after returning. What a waste of a trip! I could have had a wild affair… not that any hot Spanish men were banging down my hotel door), I’ve definitely spent enough time there to create Gael. The New York scenes were much trickier. I’ve spent a lot of time in NY and I can get around parts of the city decently well. My brother is up there, so he received a lot of phone calls from me asking about different subway routes, what she’d be seeing on the street, etc.
I thought about setting the story in D.C., and it certainly would have made things a lot easier. But I just couldn’t picture Rachel in Washington, despite the fact that we have fantastic food bloggers down here.
3. Where did the inspiration for Rachel come from? Is any part of her you?
I think there’s a lot of me in Rachel… or vice versa. I made a character that I’d want to be friends with. She isn’t perfect. Like all of us, she can be self-absorbed at times. But she seemed like the type of person I’d want to spend the evening around.
But her fear of mayonnaise and cockroaches — all me.
4. I remember reading that Sue Grafton, author of the “A is for Alibi” series (who is married with kids) enjoyed writing about Kinsey Millhone (the twice-divorced, single detective) because she believed it was her way of exploring the road not taken. Was writing about divorced, single, childless Rachel Goldman an opportunity to explore a road not taken? Was she an easy or tough voice for you to write in? Sorry, I guess that’s two questions
That’s a really interesting question and I hadn’t really considered that. She is experiencing a road that I find really undesirable — I like being married, I worked really hard to have kids, and I didn’t really enjoy the single years (was not sad that I’ll never have another first kiss). I wouldn’t want Rachel’s life. But — I am finishing up a YA novel right now (literally in the final edit before I send it to my agent) and while I wouldn’t necessarily want to inhabit that world either, it did come a bit from a moment where I realized that a road-not-taken (and never could have taken) was closed off to me. So I love that my character is getting to live it for me.
5. Why did you write a book where food and cooking are the key components but you chose to not include a recipe for the reader?
I really debated that, especially because I included a recipe in my non-fiction book! I ultimately decided against it because it wasn’t about the food. I mean, yes, she cooks and she is a food blogger and some of that becomes much bigger in the sequel. But this first book was really about finding her voice and looking at how she navigates relationships — with her ex-husband, her boyfriend, her best friend, her brother. I think recipes (Rachel-invented recipes) would work better in the sequel and definitely give me that feedback if you’d want to see that.
6. How did the writing Life from Scratch (fiction) compare to your experience writing Navigating the Land of IF (non-fiction)?
It is both easier and harder. It’s sort of the difference between fixed form poetry and free form poetry. Some people find fixed form poems (or the structure of non-fiction) really limiting. It stifles their creativity. But I find that when I have strict limits, I can actually be more creative and think clearer. Free form poetry and fiction are limitless, but it can be a very heavy load to keep all the threads of a story in your head. I enjoy writing both, and I find that I like working on both at the same time. I currently have three books going at once — two fiction and one non-fiction — and I just work on the one that fits my mood. Do I want something more structured or can I handle something more freeing?
7. How did you come up with the storyline and characters for Life from Scratch? Were any of the characters based on people you know IRL? Did any of the parts of plot come from real life experiences that you, friends or family members have had?
None of the characters are based on real people I know, though there are some names or details that are meaningful. For instance, I worked a friend’s last name and birthdate into the story to honour her. The blogging stuff is obviously close to my heart — that’s the world I know and in the sequel, Rachel will step out from behind the screen and meet other bloggers, which is a favourite thing of mine. But the storyline literally came to me as I was running errands. I still have the notes I jotted down in various parking lots, though parts of the story changed and differ greatly from those first notes!