QUESTION: On the Steamy Side is Book 2 in your debut series A Recipe for Love—pray tell us how you came up with the series’ name, what your objective for the series was, and how that concept will have evolved by the time Book 3, Just One Taste, arrives this September?
LOUISA: It was actually my publisher’s idea to unify the series with a title like “Recipe for Love.” I came up with a loooong list of possibilities, and they picked one. Simple! I didn’t actually set out to write a linked series; my original idea was that each book would feature a new kitchen crew at a different restaurant in different cities. I liked the idea of exploring food culture across the United States. But when St. Martin’s bought the books, they loved the cooks at Market so much, they wanted to see more of them! So Just One Taste (St. Martin’s, September 2010) will be the third book in the Market trilogy, and while it can totally stand alone as a story, it will also wrap up some ongoing storylines from the previous two books, hopefully in a very satisfying way.
QUESTION: Why do you think chefs make such good heroes?
LOUISA: It takes a certain personality type to choose a life as a chef—you have to be okay with long, strange hours, enjoy dealing with offbeat coworkers, and most of all, you have to be a sensualist. All good chefs really live in their bodies: they taste the food they’re preparing, smell produce for freshness, check for doneness by feel, listen for the expediters orders, and arrange plates for the most beautiful presentation. Any man who pays that much attention makes a good hero! Plus, there’s just nothing sexier than a man who can kiss you breathless one minute, then go cook you a fabulous gourmet dinner.
QUESTION: What snake holes do you have to avoid when it comes to a chef hero or setting a romance in a NYC restaurant?
LOUISA: I guess the hardest thing for me is making sure to write a few scenes outside the restaurant kitchen! It’s not always easy to get my characters out and about, but reading an entire book set in a little hotbox of a cramped NYC kitchen space might get kind of claustrophobic. So I send my chefs to the Union Square greenmarket, to a dive bar on the Lower East Side, and to Central Park for picnics.
QUESTION: Okay a personal question: Have you ever dated a chef?
LOUISA: Ooh, good one! In fact, I haven’t, but mostly because I’ve been with the same man (my husband) since our sophomore year of college. He’s not a chef—but he makes a mean omelet!
QUESTION: What is the most difficult thing about writing a contemporary culinary romance?
LOUISA: Honestly, I can’t think of anything. I love it! I can’t imagine writing anything else right now. It can be challenging, because I think readers demand more realism from contemporary romances than they do from paranormals and historicals, but I actually prefer to write that way, so it works out well.
QUESTION: You’re a former NYC book editor of romances; do you find contemporary culinary romances differ from other books in the romance genre? And if so, how?
LOUISA: I find contemporary romance especially romantic and meaningful because there’s a way in which they represent the real world—therefore, what happens in a contemporary romance could actually happen. And that’s exciting! But I think at heart, all romances share a sense of hope, endless possibility, and belief in the power of love—those are what make this a great genre to write in.
QUESTION: So far, both Can’t Stand the Heat and On the Steamy Side have included some luscious recipes in the back of each novel. Where do those recipes come from? And can we count on future books having them, too?
LOUISA: Oh, those recipes! They represent a significant portion of my life (and my husband’s patience) because I come up with all of them myself. I get help from friends with testing them, and with ideas, but even so, they’re a lot of work! I have tremendous respect for cookbook authors now. On the Steamy Side was a lovely bit of rest, because most of its recipes came straight from my family. I still had to test them all, because these were some oooold recipes, handwritten and with measurements like “a wine glass full of whiskey” and that kind of thing.
There will definitely be recipes in every Recipe for Love novel (I’m especially proud of the ones in the back of Just One Taste!), although I’m thinking about asking some of my chef friends to contribute the ones for my next three books, the Best American Chef trilogy.
QUESTION: What can we expect as you wrap up your Market trilogy in September with Just One Taste and then embark on your new Recipe for Love series, The Best American Chef trilogy, in 2011?
LOUISA: Just One Taste is the culmination of the Market trilogy, and it’s the story of bad boy chef Wes Murphy and his genius food chemistry professor, Dr. Rosemary Wilkins. Here’s the blurb:
He has a hungry mind.
Bad-boy chef Wes Murphy dreads his final semester cooking class—Food Chemistry 101—until he meets the new substitute teacher. Dr. Rosemary Wilkins is a feast for the eyes, though her approach to food is strictly academic. So Wes decides to rattle her Bunsen burner by asking for her hands-on advice—on aphrodisiacs . . .
She’s got love down to a science.
Rosemary is a little wary about working with Wes, whose casual flirtations leave her hot under the collar. But once they begin testing the love-enhancing power of chocolate, oysters, and strawberries, it becomes scientifically evident that the brainy science nerd and the boyish chef have some major chemistry together—and it’s delicious . .
If that whets your appetite, maybe this nice long excerpt will tide you over until August 31st!
As for the Best American Chef Trilogy, I’m writing the first one now. Luscious will be released in March 2011, followed by Delectable in September 2011, and Tantalizing in March 2012. This trilogy follows a group of talented cooks as they duke it out for the title of Best American Chef, reconnecting with family and finding friendship, love and passion along the way. I’m having a blast with these new characters! This trilogy is set in the same world as the Market trilogy, so expect to see a few familiar faces . . .
QUESTION: You’re going to be stuck on a remote island by yourself for a good long spell and you can only take three things with you. What would they be?
LOUISA: 1.) Cast-iron skillet. You can cook anything in it, and hey! Doubles as a weapon!
2.) My laptop. I can’t live without it; I swear, I think it’s wired into my central nervous system at this point. And hey, I’ve got deadlines. I don’t have time for island vacations!
3.) I guess it would be cheating big to say “the contents of my bookshelves,” so I’ll just cheat a little and say Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series. I’d go nuts on an island with nothing to read, and I could happily reread her books a zillion times.
This has been such a fun interview, thank you for having me!
Louisa will be giving away a couple's prize to someone who comments on the blog. The lucky winner will receive two On the Steamy Side flutes and two signature aprons and 2 spats ... and a copy of On the Steamy Side plus a chapter booklet!