Pie-of-the-month-club – Andrea Beaty

August 30th, 2010
I have a special treat for you today — Andrea Beaty, one of my favorite funny ladies!  Andrea and I share the same agent, the illustrious Barry Goldblatt, and got acquainted at one of Barry’s famous client retreats, where I quickly learned that she loves to laugh as much as I do.  Andrea is the author of a number of wonderful books for young readers, and also co-hosts the blog “Three Silly Chicks” with Julia Durango and Carolyn Crimi, both seriously silly chicks in their own right.

Andrea Beaty

So Andrea, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us about your new book, and how it came about?
My most recent book is graphic novel/novel hybrid called ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES. It chronicles the invasion of three enormous alien rabbits known as the Fierce, Large, Ugly and Ferocious Furballs (FLUFFS). When a flaming meteor hits their marshmallow planet, they hop a rocket to Earth. The FLUFFS land at the decrepit Camp Whatsitooya on the aromatic shores of Lake Whatsosmelly. The FLUFFS set out to conquer the world and use its children as a source of energy but meet their match in a set of B-movie savvy twins, Joules and Kevin Rockman.
The amazing Dan Santat illustrates the mayhem. He is seriously funny!  I think that this book is ideal for that 3rd-6th grade kid (boys and girls) who love some silly!

How about your favorite pie-in-the-sky moment as a writer?  Have you ever had one of those “I never dreamed it would really happen to me” moments that was special to you?

This crazy author journey always surprises me, so I have pie-in-the-sky moments all the time. Picking one would be like picking one piece of pie!  Nobody can have just one.  Oh, wait.  That’s potato chips.  Anyhow, here is a smattering of my favorite moments:

  • Getting the call that an editor wanted to publish my first book, WHEN GIANTS COME TO PLAY. I was camping in Banff and had to drive up to a hill to get a phone signal. When I got the news, my kids and I did a screamy-happy dance which made the hikers think we were being attacked by bears!  I don’t think getting attacked by a bear would be THAT exciting!
  • Standing in front of 150 4th graders and making them all snort with laughter at the same time. That is a trip!
  • Having dinner with amazingly talented authors, illustrators, and editors. (And not being asked to leave.)  I’m such a fan girl!
  • Every time I get a copy of one of my brand-new books, I crack the book open and it makes that crazy little new book noise. It makes my heart sing every time!

Wow.  That’s a lot of pie-in-the-sky.  Got milk?

There’s no such thing as too much pie-in-the-sky, Andrea.   But what about humble pie — have you ever been served a heaping slice of that during your career?

Oh yeah. It was at a signing in which I was sharing a table with a NY Times best-selling author. The table was as big as a dinner plate and his line was endless. Mine was non-existent. It was mortifying, but the other author was so gracious and funny I waited to commit hara-kiri until later…

Now let’s REALLY talk pie.  What’s your favorite kind?  Do you have a favorite pie memory?  How about the recipe you’re sharing – can you give us a little background on it?

I was raised in southern Illinois a couple of miles from Rend Lake. There has been a café there forever named Burton’s, and its specialty is White Pie. This is a cream custard kind of pie topped with whipped cream and pecans. For about a million years, it was made by a wonderful lady named Freda Webb, a true magician with pie dough. I should say that some people do not love White Pie, but that is okay. That just means more for me and my brothers and sisters. It is our “must have” treat when we go back home. And sometimes, we make it when we can’t go home but truly need to. It is our Wayback Machine. Here’s a link telling about its history.  This is a pie that takes a little practice to get right.

WHITE PIE

Pastry for single-crust pie
2 egg whites
Whipped cream
Chopped pecans

Filling:

¾ c. sugar
Pinch of salt
½ c. flour
1 T. cornstarch
1T. butter
2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Cook filling ingredients together, stirring constantly until thick. Beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Pour hot filling over beaten egg whites and fold in. Pour into cooked pie shell. When cool, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Chill 2 hours.

I’m a big fan of Midwest recipes — can’t wait to give this a whirl!  Thanks for stopping by, Andrea.

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out soon (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic Hunter, Kimberley Griffiths Little, and Stephanie Burgis.  Be sure and drop by again soon, because throughout 2010 I’ll be serving up more stellar books by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.

Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course.   Pie is ALWAYS on the menu here on my blog.  Enjoy!

Pie-of-the-month-club – Stephanie Burgis

August 17th, 2010

On the menu today — Stephanie Burgis, who stopped by to whet our appetites for her new book (available this month in the UK, and next spring here in the U.S.).  Oh, and to dish about pie, too, of course!

Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us a bit about your new book, and how it came about?

The funny thing is, my book came directly FROM my cooking, even though I’m a very reluctant cook. I love baking muffins and brownies, but when I’m doing plain cooking, my mind tends to wander … which is exactly what happened as I chopped onions way back in 2006 and the first lines of my book suddenly and unexpectedly popped into my head! I abandoned my chopping and raced to the living room to grab my notebook and capture them.

A Most Improper Magick (Templar Publishing), which will be published in the U.S. next spring as Kat, Incorrigible (Simon & Schuster), is the first in the Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, a trilogy of fantasy adventures set in a slightly different version of 1803. In Kat’s Regency England, magic is the greatest scandal of all … but that’s not about to stop her when there are highwaymen to foil, sinister aristocrats to defeat, and true loves to capture for her two older sisters!

You’ve also whipped up a little something to whet our appetities, haven’t you?  A slice of the pie, if you will.

Yes!  People can read the first three chapters of the novel on my website.

I have, and all I can say is — YUM!  Absolutely scrumptious.  Regency England, a sassy young heroine, and a touch of magic?  What’s not to love?  I can’t wait to read the rest.

How about your favorite pie-in-the-sky moment as a writer?  Have you ever had one of those “I never dreamed it would really happen to me” moments that was special to you?

The most wonderful moment of the whole process so far came this spring when I got an email  from someone I’d never met. She’s twelve years old, she lives in Canada, many thousands of miles away from me, and this was months before my book came out anywhere in the world … but she wrote to me because her local bookstore manager had handed her a copy of my ARC. She wants to be a writer herself, she loves so many of the same authors I loved at her age, and as I read her email about how much she loved Kat, I actually teared up because this was my impossible fantasy come true.

I wrote A Most Improper Magick because it was the book I’d always wanted to read when I was twelve years old (combining the two genres I most loved – Regency romantic comedies and fantasy adventure), and here was a girl of exactly that age who loved it, just as I’d dreamed way back in 2006, back when I didn’t even believe that the book would ever be published. It was an amazing, amazing feeling to get that email.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, when as a fledgling author I showed up at a bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

OH, yeah. When I was first starting to send short stories out to magazines, I got a really nice rejection from one of my very favorite magazines. The editor said all sorts of great things about my writing style, and said how close the story had come to being published, but she still turned it down. Well, I was feeling sick with a cold and very sorry for myself that day, and I ended up letting it all out by venting on my journal (ohhhh, I still cringe when I remember this!) all about how the nice rejections are always the most frustrating ones … and although I didn’t name any names, I quoted a line from that rejection email in my whine.

Guess what? Half an hour later, another email popped into my inbox, from that same editor – who had just read my blog entry! OMG. I wanted to burst into flames with pure shame and embarrassment. I was much, much luckier than I deserved. She wrote to tell me that she hadn’t just been saying those nice things – that she’d really meant them and really did want me to send more stories to her magazine.

I immediately deleted the entry from my blog and apologized to her profusely … and amazingly, since then we’ve become friends.  (And she’s published four of my stories!)  She’s a very, very kind and understanding person.

But I learned my lesson, and ever since, I have NEVER complained about a rejection online! Not all editors would react with so much grace and good humor.

Now, let’s REALLY talk pie. What’s your favorite kind? Do you have a favorite pie memory? How about the recipe you’re sharing – can you give us a little background on it?

My absolute favorite kind is pecan pie. In my family, every Thanksgiving celebration has to include both pecan pie and pumpkin pie, and I looked forward to every Thanksgiving dessert session just for that fabulous pecan pie! It’s the only pie I’ve ever baked as an adult, and I love it.

Now that I’m living in Wales, I invite all of my in-laws to come over for Thanksgiving dinner each year (although we have to move Thanksgiving to the weekend, since British workers aren’t given that Thursday off !), and we end the meal with pecan pie. My husband often cooks the main meal, but the pie is always my job.

I have to admit that I tend to buy a pre-baked pie crust from the store. (I feel like such a wimp for confessing that…but it is true.)   However, this is the recipe for the pastry filling that I inherited from my parents, who copied it down from a cookbook a long time ago. None of us can figure out which cookbook it came from – so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know!

A MOST MAGICAL PECAN PIE

Ingredients:

1 recipe pastry for single-crust pie
1/2 cup butter (or vegetable shortening)
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1 T. flour
1-1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces

Directions:

Melt butter in small saucepan and set aside. In a medium bowl beat eggs and salt for about 3 minutes (or until light and lemon colored). Add vanilla. Beat in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Pour the syrup into the warm butter and stir well to blend. With a wire whisk, fold the butter and syrup mixture into the eggs. Stir or fold slowly until all the ingredients are blended. Blend in the tablespoon of flour.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Place the pecans on the crust and then pour the filling into the shell.

Place pie on the middle shelf of the hot oven. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking for  30 minutes, or until a silver knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clean. (The heat continues to cook the filling even after it is removed from the oven, so don’t leave overlong in the oven.)

Can I come to your house for Thanksgiving, Stephanie?  That sounds absolutely delicious!  Thanks again for stopping by.

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, Frederic Hunter, and Kimberley Griffiths Little.  Be sure and drop by again soon, because throughout 2010 I’ll be serving up more stellar books by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.

Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course.   Pie is ALWAYS on the menu here on my blog.  Enjoy!

Pie-of-the-month club – Kimberley Griffiths Little

July 27th, 2010
On the menu today:  Kimberley Griffiths Little, who stopped by to talk about her new novel and to share her favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Kimberley Griffiths Little

Kimberley, what have you been cooking up for readers?

My novel, THE HEALING SPELL, was just released  from Scholastic Press. The word “cooking” describes the writing process perfectly because it took a long time to mix the proper ingredients, rewrite, polish, start over, add, delete, and so on until it was just right. It took a period of about six years from the time I wrote the first draft until it sold – even though I had many editors tasting and re-tasting and telling me how close it was! Just a little more plot, another pinch of character, a few more pecans—I mean scenes.

I understand you also cooked up a mother-daughter book club guide and a book trailer to help promote the novel.  Can you tell us a little bit about that process?

The book trailer was a true labor of love as I worked with Nua Music to bring the story, location, and characters alive. The girl who brought my script and 12-year-old Livie to life with her voice-over did a superb job, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Since I needed very specialized images for an unusual story, I created or photographed more than half of them myself, using models and doing several photo shoots and photo-shopping to get the feel I wanted. I’m thrilled with the original music and the special sound effects as well as the production from Nua Music – and the response has been tremendous from other writers, industry folks, Scholastic, as well as readers.

How about your favorite pie-in-the-sky moment as a writer?  Have you ever had one of those “I never dreamed it would really happen to me” moments that was special to you?

While I kept experimenting with the recipe for THE HEALING SPELL, I baked up a few other pies—I mean books, too. Sorry to keep up the pie analogy ad naseum, but it’s such a good one! I was writing about the ancient Middle East and Egypt as well as a contemporary YA romance set in Paris and was querying agents like mad about three of these projects to see what would stick, like testing spaghetti noodles against the wall. After signing with Super Agent Tracey Adams, she sent out THE HEALING SPELL and a YA historical called SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS to several houses and within a month, we ended up with a three-book deal at Scholastic. Selling three books at once to the same publisher was something I never expected, and one of those dreams you didn’t know you were dreaming until you wake up one morning and bounce off the ceiling with excitement.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?

Do hundreds of rejections count? The biz of writing to get published keeps you pretty darn humble. And then there are the dumb questions you ask your agent or brand new editor, or you worry that you’re being a pest, or you’re so nervous at your first book talk event that your voice is shaking and no matter how hard you try, it won’t stop! I have no trouble feeling like the perpetual newbie on the block.

Now, let’s REALLY talk pie. What’s your favorite kind? Do you have a favorite pie memory? How about the recipe you’re sharing – can you give us a little background on it?

I’m definitely a pie girl. I make a mean apple pie and the SECRET to a successful apple pie is using REAL (not canned), TART apples, sliced THIN with lots of sugar and cinnamon.  It will melt in your mouth. Eat warm, of course.

MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH APPLE PIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith (or other TART) apples – peeled, cored, and sliced THIN

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Mix 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon together and mix well with the apples. Fill the pie pan with the sugared apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
  4. Eat warm or with ice cream!

From one pie girl to another, that sounds fabulous, Kimberley!  I have a special place in my heart for apple pie — it was my mom’s favorite — and I can’t wait to try your recipe.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, and Frederic Hunter.  Be sure and drop by again soon, because throughout 2010 I’ll be serving up more stellar books by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.

Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course.   Pie is ALWAYS on the menu here on my blog.  Enjoy!

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