Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to share this author interview with Peggy Lampman, author of The Welcome Home Diner and The Promise Kitchen.
If you have missed my review on The Welcome Home Diner check it out here ⇒ The Welcome Home Diner: A Novel by Peggy Lampman
Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town. There’s just one little snag in their vision.
Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification—and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community. Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.
As the long hours, problematic love interests, and underhanded pressures mount, the two women find themselves increasingly at odds, and soon their problems threaten everything they’ve worked for. If they are going to realize their dreams, Addie and Samantha must focus on rebuilding their relationship. But will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home?
My passion is writing novels, which use food-centric and romantic themes as a means for breaking down familial and cultural barriers. My debut novel, THE PROMISE KITCHEN, and her following book, THE WELCOME HOME DINER, reflect this fascination. I grew up in Alabama and planted roots in my college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan where I owned a specialty food store and wrote a food column. I love trotting the globe with her husband and two adult children while blogging about scratch-made folks and their feasts. You can find hundreds of my well-tested recipes on my blog: www.dinnerfeed.com.
Q. When and why did you begin writing?
No person or event inspired me, I started writing in my diary when I was nine years old. I still have all of my old diaries and chuckle when I read the impassioned prose of that angst-riddled little girl! Writing was as cathartic to me then as it is to me now; a way to dig into the pain and root it out.
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The Welcome Home Diner” was inspired by the intimacy developed with my former daughter-in-law who opened a diner in a rough section of Detroit. I also owned a specialty food store for twenty years and suffered through similar conflicts felt by my characters. I write about what I know—the food and newspaper industry and mother-daughter relationships. There were experiences in life that changed me, and there was no closure for me until I wrote about them.
Q. What sort of research did you do to write this book?
Working in the food business and having a bi-line in the food section of our local paper was terrific research. Specifically, when writing the Welcome Home Diner, I spent hours in a diner in Detroit and got to know the patrons. Here is a collage of photos I snapped during my research period:
Q. What have you written? (Books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My first book, THE PROMISE KITCHEN, was published by Lake Union in 2016. Winner, Best New Fiction, 2016: National Indie Excellence Awards
Winner, Silver Medal, 2016: IBPA Ben Franklin; Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book
Winner, First Place Fiction, 2015: Royal Dragonfly Awards
All of my food writing can be found tied up into recipes on my blog: www.dinnerfeed.com
Q. Where can readers buy or see them? (Include relevant link(s)) Buy from:
Q. Your books are in Women Fiction and Food & Drink genre. What draws you to this genre? Do you think your writing will stay in that particular genre?
Absolutely. I’ve always been fascinated by issues that are common to women’s fiction: romance, familial relationships and the complexities faced when negotiating contemporary social issues.
Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) of writing this book and why?
I sobbed when writing the last chapter in THE WELCOME HOME DINER, esp. Samantha’s segment at the first of the chapter. It was cathartic to me and a way of tying up loose ends that was comforting. From reading early reviews, I see that many readers felt the same.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing the book? Was there anything that you deleted or altered?
When writing this book, I was walking a thin wobbly tightrope trying to give voice to the sentiments of a multi-racial cast with widely differing backgrounds. I’ve seen authors raked over coals after unintentionally offending a culture the writer didn’t fully understand. While writing this book I took authenticity seriously, which was most challenging.
That said, I also wanted this book to be a fun, romantic read and not come across as didactic. One of my main characters is Addie, a co-owner of the diner. A lovely, well-educated Caucasian, Addie was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. Albeit flighty and self-absorbed—particularly in her romantic life––she has a big heart and “Save the World” attitude.
And then there’s the equally beautiful LaQuisha, a black single mother coming from a vastly different background who works for Addie’s eatery. Addie learns much about the world through the eyes of LaQuisha and her child.
Q. What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
As the world becomes smaller, and communities and ethnic groups homogenize, family traditions can be lost in the shuffle; yet sometimes all we have left of a culture is the food. So if food were personified in my books, food would be the wizened elder, the great-grandmother pointing her finger at you—dear reader––and saying “Don’t forget where you came from.”
Q. Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you? What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?
I enjoy reading literary fiction, particularly fiction set in the American South, and this has inspired my writing. Think authors like Sue Monk Kidd, Pat Conroy and Rebecca Wells. I also love Ann Patchett and Donna Tart. My favorite memoir is Patti Smith’s, “Just Kids” and I’m currently reading her book “Woolgathers”. I loved Jonathan Franzen’s, “Purity”. It’s filled with psychotic twists and turns and I was intrigued with the quirky mother-daughter relationship. Daniel Woodrell’s work, particularly “Winter’s Bone” that was turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, is quite inspiring. Ree’s character reminds me of Shelby in “The Promise Kitchen”.
Q. If you could spend one day with character from your book/ any other book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I’d like to spend a day with Braydon and his dog on a long walk through Belle Isle. Perhaps we’d have a picnic together. Brayson is a quiet, reflective man and I’d like to understand better what makes him tick.
Q. Do you read book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I love reading my book reviews as my readers have much to tell me. It is important, however, for me to not be hurt when a less than savory review makes it to Goodreads or Amazon—I’ve come to love my vulnerable characters that I’ve unleashed into the world.
But I’m mindful that, when picking up my book, some readers thought they were in for a “cozy cupcake” sort of a read based on the cover. When they discover that I write about characters that have flesh-and-blood flaws, and I explore the complexity of social issues through my character’s eyes, those readers feel let down. I love my covers but I sometimes worry that they may attract the wrong reader.
BTW: If a reader enjoys a book, there is no better gift a reader can give to an author than a good review. Yesha, you did such a wonderful job reviewing THE WELCOME HOME DINER. You paid a great tribute to my small, vulnerable tribe of Detroiters trying to put one foot in front of the other in this crazy, complex world.
I appreciate John Updike’s rule for book reviewers: “Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.”
Q. What are your future project(s)? What’s it about? (*if relevant)
I’m currently writing a book, the project called, THE MAIDEN TOWER. It’s set in Key West Florida, another colorful landscape where I’ve spent a great deal of time. Centered around a historic family lighthouse that a family converted into a B&B, it’s a story of the love and complex bonding that entwines a mother and her daughters, and pulls them out of the most primal of despairs.
Q. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
When writing a character, it’s easy to fall into seemingly inoffensive cultural cliché. However, writing about a people and culture of which you’re not intimate—or at the very least, familiar with––has the potential of fostering hurtful and damaging stereotypes. While writing this book, I befriended people I’d never have met in my day-to-day, attended community activist meetings (which I’ve always been loathe to do in the past) and read journals to absorb as many perspectives as time allowed.
Of course in retrospect, the hours spent on active listening and reading were rewarding on a multitude of levels. THE WELCOME HOME DINER is a better read for it. I feel that the book paints an accurate depiction of sentiments felt by a diverse people living in today’s Detroit. And I have grown considerably by gaining a broader perspective about unfamiliar communities of which I previously could not attach a story.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t get overwhelmed. A book is written word by word, sentence by sentence and chapter by chapter. Experience life—listen to what others have to tell you about their own experience. You must be disciplined and set goals for yourself. For instance, set a timer for 30 minutes each day, start writing and don’t stand up until the timer dings. In a few months, you may have the genesis of a masterpiece!
Q. What is your favorite motivational phrase?
That clichéd, tired Nike phrase always sticks in my mind: Just Do It.
Q. Favorite Book / foods / Colors/ Music / TV show / Film
My favorite book is a difficult question. There are so many books that I’ve loved. I adore fiction in a multitude of genres. But if fiction were “comfort food” I suppose you could say gravitate to women’s fiction that is set in the American South, as is my first novel, THE PROMISE KITCHEN. I’ve loved “The Help”, “Fried Green Tomatoes”, “Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “The Secret Life of Bees”, “The Education of Dixie Dupree”, “The Invention of Wings”, “Saving Cee-Cee Honeycup”.
Q. Describe yourself in 5 words.
Empathetic, Passionate, Fun-loving, Sentimental, Impractical
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Food/Recipe/Story Blog: http://dinnerfeed.com
Amazon Book Links: THE WELCOME HOME DINER: http://amzn.to/2gXTqcz
THE PROMISE KITCHEN: http://amzn.to/2xf6y3m
Many thanks to author for taking the time out of busy schedule to take part in this interview.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did. Do you have any question for author? Share your thoughts in the comment-box below.
Happy Reading! 🙂