Author Melissa Ford on Life from Scratch

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!


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9 thoughts on “Author Melissa Ford on Life from Scratch

  1. I think I would just about die if you gave up Stirrup Queens. Write fabulous books, make a lot of money, and hire someone to write Rachel’s blog.

  2. Awesome interview Mel and Lori! =) I just finished Life From Scratch yesterday and I’m getting such a kick out of reading the book tour links. Thanks you guys!!

  3. So I’m really NOT Penny!?? LOL
    I loved u talking about the book. I liked the question about this beiing a way to write about a “road not taken” I have been thinking of that a lot..that in fiction I can write away my fantasies etc.
    I am so glad there is a sequel…I love this story, Rachel the whole mess. I can’t wait to see where her life takes her next.
    That is all u…”our Mel” has given us “our Rachel”

  4. Insert major GASP at the thought of the golden Stirrups leaving us!!!

    So glad that you chose to keep us all around. 😉 Keep up the great work. It’s obvious, we all love it.

    I feel like I need a bumper sticker. You know, the kind “I’m a proud parent of an honour roll student” blah, blah, blah.

    I think mine would read:

    “Proud Reader Our Mel”

    Keep on rockin it sister!

  5. I can’t believe you can write three books at the same time! Well I guess I can believe it, since it’s you.

    On the recipe question, it also seemed to me that recipes wouldn’t make sense given that Rachel is not creating recipes but learning the basics. But in the sequel(s) as she gets more proficient and starts coming up with her own, it would seem organic. That, plus cooking tips!

    It was a pleasure to read the book and your answers.

  6. Oh, goodness. The thought of no Stirrup Queens is about as bad as the thought of no Ice Cream.

    Thanks for answering my question about the road not taken. I thought about that a lot as I read the book, as I too have no desire to be divorced and am so happy to have my fought for kids. So I was pretty curious about Rachel’s journey, what WOULD that be like? I have always wanted to live in Manhattan, so it was fun to live that life vicariously too.

    Maybe for the sequel, you could do a tied-in cookbook, a la Pioneer Woman…

  7. So glad you have no plans to give up Stirrup Queens! 😉

    I agree about trying to keep up two blogs. I’m barely holding it together with one! 🙂

    I can’t wait to read your next book.

  8. I love that you consider Life from Scratch to be a love story about blogging… What a great way to think about it Mel! 🙂

    Thank you for answering both of my questions (#6 & #7) and everyone else’s! So interesting to get the inside scoop from you. It is sooooo cool to be able to hear all of this directly from you/the author!

    So interesting about the possibility of maintaining a separate fictitious blog by Rachel! I totally get though how time consuming that would be. As much as I enjoyed LFS, I would never want to give up Stirrup Queens and hearing from you in our own/regular/real voice often.

    I wondered about the NY location aspect too and am glad that someone asked that and I appreciated your answer.

    I love that you created a characted, in Rachel, that you would want to be friends with, but that wasn’t all you. I also love that she isn’t perfect, as none of us are and is self-absorbed, as many of us can be at times.

    I am kind of indifferent about recipes in the sequel, but it is a fun/creative idea.

    Wow! You are working on three books at once now… As if I wasn’t already in awe of you to begin with! That is very cool that you can work on which ever one fits your mood on any given day. I am also impressed that you have such a big range in your writing, in terms of everything you are exploring. I am very curious about the next non-fiction book you are writing. Though I will likely read anything you write, as I so enjoy your style and voice.

    I would have thought that more of your characters would be based on real people, but I guess that shows the extent of your imagination! Cool that you honored your friend in the book! I also am very excited to see how you work in Rachel meeting other bloggers in the sequel…

    Thanks for sharing Mel! I really enjoyed reading all of the questions and your answers and most of all Life from Scratch itself!

    Thanks again Lori for hosting the book tour! It was such a fun and interesting experience! 🙂

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