13 November 2012

Guest Post: From Food Writer to Novelist by Megan Mulry

Bronte Talbott is a modern woman who is decidedly career oriented. Getting married would be nice, but not if it means sacrificing her own ambitions. Of course, she's not all that no-nonsense feminist. She'd still like to date Mr. Right, and she's not giving up her obsession with reading the gossip columns about the British titled gentry and royalty.

But what happens when she discovers her new boyfriend is really a duke? Reading about royalty and fairy tale romances is one thing, living in the limelight is quite another. Bronte has some soul-searching decisions to make about what she really wants her future to be like.

Megan Mulry's A Royal Pain has been described as a fun (and very adult) story that's a cross between romance and woman's fiction. I'm getting the impression Bronte has her feet on the ground and isn't going to be too quick to turn her life upside down for the duke.

I'm thrilled to welcome author Megan Mulry to my blog today. It likely comes as no surprise that I encouraged her to write something foodie. What will come as a surprise is just how perfect that topic turned out to be. Take a look.
From Food Writer to Novelist

Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body. —Cicero

I was so excited when I heard you enjoy blogs about food and food research! My daughter recently asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up (what I imagined I wanted to be when I was her age), and I told her I wanted to be an architect and then I wanted to be a food writer. At first, I wanted to be an architect so I could design my own house to include little hydraulic chutes like they have at the drive-up teller of the bank, so I could have holes in the wall—near my desk or where I sat watching television—where those Plexiglas cylinders could come flying out with that satisfying whoosh and inside would be a can of Coke or a Pop-Tart. Those were my childhood food fantasies; today the chute would provide a glass of micro-brewed beer and a plate of butternut squash ravioli in sage butter.

When I realized architecture school would force me to learn lots of other Very Important Things before I would ever get around to building Barbie's Gastronomic Dream House, I tried to figure out a simpler way to get paid to eat.

When I was in Italy for the summer between my junior and senior years of university (ostensibly learning about the Italian Renaissance, but really eating and drinking), one of my classmates suggested the idea of becoming a food writer. Genius! It has caché! It has style! I would do it! It took a while, but eventually I became a lifestyle editor at Boston Magazine and was able to go to restaurants and write about them. It was a great gig, but like all good things, it came to an end. My husband's company offered him the opportunity to work in their London office. Did I want to go? Uh. Yes!

Upon our arrival there, I discovered magazine jobs were *cough* rather low paying. ("But you'll be able to say you work at fill-in-prestigious-intellectual-British-magazine-name-here . . ." one kind interviewer explained when I gasped at the paltry salary. To which I replied, "But I won't be able to afford my dry cleaning!") I ended up getting an entry-level (higher-paying) job in banking. And eating. And looking.

Being an expatriate is really the ideal way to do book research without appearing to be a fool or a snoop. "I've never had a summer pudding . . . please enlighten me!" "Squab? Really? Yes, thank you!" Being American meant my ignorance was easily passed off as an eager desire to become culturally literate in my new home. If I was caught staring at the window of Allen & Co. butchers—their website proudly declares that from the day they opened in 1887: "carcases have been hung at 117 Mount Street ever since"—I merely explained that I was an ever-curious American.

I didn't know it at the time, but it turns out all those episodes of looking and snooping and foolishness were percolating into lots and lots of stories. I love that scene in Out of Africa where Karin Blixen offers to tell a story if someone else will provide an opening line. I figure every little snippet of my British experience is an opening line. That startlingly handsome man working at the car repair shop with the pain in his crystal blue eyes; the former army engineer who described the isolation of his occupation; the friend of a friend who died in the plane crash. Now that I'm writing full-time, I feel like I finally know what to do with all of this particulate information. All of those conversations and experiences and observations were feeding my mind all these years. I just didn't know it.

I don't write about actual people I know, but as a dowager duchess might say, one hears things, especially while sitting adjacent to a quarrelling couple at a table for two in Mayfair.

Some of my favorite restaurants in London are
Thank you so much for having me to your blog!
No, thank you for such a terrific post. Now you have me dreaming of those hydraulic chutes so my coffee could be delivered to me in the morning and my wine at night. What fun that would be! By the way, I have a particular obsession for the movie Out of Africa, so I know exactly which scene you mean. And I love your restaurant recommendations; when I get back to London, I'll give one or two a try.

Buy A Royal Pain at an Indie or at a bookstore near you (link leads to an affiliate program).
Sourcebooks / Sourcebooks Landmark, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781402269974
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


rhapsodyinbooks 11/13/12, 6:56 AM  

OMG, when I was little I **always** dreamed of having a house with hydraulic chutes when I grew up! LOL! And I love the idea of Barbie's Gastronomic Dream House - LOL - no doubt notably different than a Kenmore Kitchen! (although I think you would have to wear plastic heels to work in either of them).

Daryl 11/13/12, 8:56 AM  

you dont have to go to London for Bar Boulud or Nobu ... both are here in NYC as well .. in Nobu's case it was here first ...

Charlie 11/13/12, 10:36 AM  

This was a fun post! It is hard not to overhear loud conversations, but you do end up wondering where the "story" leads, especially when you've been forced, as it were, to hear a lot.

Anonymous,  11/13/12, 3:02 PM  

Hi Rhapsody, I wonder what the source of our chute-dreaming is? I remember sitting in the back of the station wagon in the 1970s while my mom cashed checks that way. Maybe that was it. Luckily Barbie has plenty of plastic shoes to lend us, because (duh!) Barbie's feet were never meant for shoes, they were meant for chewing! (Did I just confess a fetish?)

Anonymous,  11/13/12, 3:05 PM  

Hi Daryl, I liked Nobu in both places, but the one in London at the Metropolitan Hotel is my all-time favorite...overlooking the park, like floating above the city. (But hey, I'll go to Nobu wherever, whenever!) Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous,  11/13/12, 3:13 PM  

Hi Charlie, That's the great part of being a writer, I get to take the story wherever I like. One of my favorite "overheards" was at a restaurant in the Hamptons in the 80s. An older man was scolding his younger wife for not being able to remember the correct name of HIS corporation (many mergers, apparently). He finally said, "Now that we're married, you could at least try to commit it to memory!"

Nise' 11/13/12, 8:37 PM  

Wow, butternut squash ravioli in sage butter sounds delicious. Awesome guest post. I enjoyed Megan's book!

Zibilee 11/13/12, 9:03 PM  

I can tell from this guest post that she is a very talented author, and I would be thrilled to read her book! She tells a story with a great pizzazz and seems really smart and funny. Totally wonderful guest post today, Candace! I really enjoyed it.

Karen White 11/14/12, 10:41 AM  

She had me at "hydraulic chutes". I had a similar dream which was ended after I worked as a "floating teller" at a bank for a summer. After two weeks in the remote drive through booth I never wanted to see one of those chutes again!
But this novel looks like great diversionary fun!

Annie 11/15/12, 4:25 AM  

very interesting
new here
came via Daryl's blog
I love Out of Africa too!
One of my all time favorites.

And a house with "chutes" sounds terrific..was always fascinated by them in the department stores when I was little, occasionally see them still.

Annie 11/15/12, 4:27 AM  

Really popped in because I overheard so many bits of conversations today on a long bus trip. Fascinating. Must try to write them down!

Julie P. 11/15/12, 8:25 AM  

Given how fun this guest post is, I bet the book is worth reading!

Laurie C 11/15/12, 9:57 PM  

Enjoyed reading this guest post! What a great opportunity--to live and work in London!

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