October 23rd, 2021
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BOO-k Spectacular

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You never get a second chance at a first kiss…

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Fake Homecoming. Fake Boyfriend. Real feels.

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She's come to Captivity to go wild…

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A terrific, twisting romantic thriller that will keep you guessing.

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Tis the season … for unexpected love.

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Blessings, Georgia series, where the glow of a small-town Christmas and excitement of a winter love story will warm your heart!

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Secrets are every where

October ushers in great books with holiday themes!

Barnes & Noble

Jen's Jewels
Get the lowdown on your favorite authors with Jennifer Vido.

Interview with Mary Kay Andrews

Cooking has always been a challenge for me. When I first got married, my repertoire consisted of anything that could be opened, heated, and served. Seventeen years later, I am proud to say that I have added sauté, boil, and broil to my vocabulary. As for baking, if it weren't for my sister-in-law, Christine, I would be so toasted. Not only can she whip up the most delectable confectionaries at the drop of a hat, but also she always finds a way to make my latest baking blunder seem like it wasn't my fault Take it from me. Life is so much sweeter when you have someone like Christine in your family.

This month's jewel, New York Times Bestselling Author Mary Kay Andrews, is best known for her sweet Southern charm and witty humor that make each of her novels a sure hit with her fans. In her latest release, DEEP DISH, she puts a hilarious spin on the reality show craze as her lead characters stir up a comical yet flavorful cook-off on a remote barrier island. Even Paula Dean, one of my favorite hosts from The Food Network, plays a part in this concoction. From start to finish, Mary Kay will most certainly keep you entertained.

As part of this interview, Harper Collins has graciously donated five copies of DEEP DISH for you, my readers, to win! So, don't forget to check for the trivia question at the end! Good luck!

Now go ahead and grab yourself a glass of sweet tea and get to know the very talented Mary Kay Andrews.

Jen: The first book I ever reviewed was yours, Little Bitty Lies, which landed me my job at FreshFiction.com. Since then, I have always considered you my lucky charm! If you don't mind a trip down memory lane, please tell us a little bit about your educational and professional background.

mary Kay
AndrewsMary Kay: I have a degree in newspaper journalism from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) and I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years--the last ten of which I was a features writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jen: Currently, I reside in Maryland, but I was fortunate enough to have lived in Atlanta so I can truly appreciate your Georgian flair. What was it like working for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution? Do you miss the newspaper business?

Mary Kay: I miss all my newspaper buddies, the sense of collegiality, the immediacy of daily journalism. But I don't miss the daily grind, inept editors and mindless, meaningless, endless meetings.

Jen: When was the defining moment in your life when you decided to leave the newspaper business behind and become an author?

Mary Kay: The day I decided it would be more fun to undergo oral surgery than report to work at the paper. That's when I knew it was time to pack it in!

Jen: I was tickled to learn that your real name is . Why did you choose to write under a pseudonym? And, how did you arrive at your new name?

Mary Kay: I'd written ten mysteries as Kathy, and when I had the idea for SAVANNAH BLUES, I decided since it was a totally different type of book, I should write it under a pseudonym. The name is derived from my children's names--Mary Kay for my daughter Mary Kathleen, and Andrew, for my son Andrew. I also wanted a name that was higher up in the alphabet so my readers wouldn't have to squat when they were searching for my latest release.

Jen: Although I am not familiar with the series, I read that you wrote ten critically acclaimed mysteries under your real name. Please tell us about them. And, was this before or after your rise to fame as a sweet, Southern writer with the ability to keep your readers in stitches?

Mary Kay: I wrote eight installments of the Callahan Garrity mystery series. Callahan is a former Atlanta cop who gets a private investigator's license, and owns a cleaning business called The House Mouse. She lives with her mother, Edna, and has a wacky crew of women who work for her. The books are still in print from Harper Paperbacks, and your readers should immediately go out and buy them. They're fun and funny, and I'm really proud of them all.

Jen: From what I have learned, it seems that everyone has her own method of madness, if you will, when it comes to plotting a novel. Please take us through your writing process. Outline first? Character sketches? Notecards?

Mary Kay: I come up with a premise and a book title and then the protagonist starts creating herself in my head. I don't really outline, but I do create a synopsis, so I can know what the storyline is and the cast of characters. Then, I just start at the beginning and write to the end.

Jen: With each novel, your readers are introduced to such loveable characters ...some sassy and quirky and others down-right eccentric...but all who contribute to a good read! How did you arrive at the premise for your latest release, Deep Dish?

Mary Kay: My husband and I love to cook and entertain together, but we always have a lot of good-natured bickering when we're in the kitchen together. That's how I came up with the idea for a pair of television chefs--a man and a woman, who have to compete for something they both dearly want--and who have to figure out how to get what they want without destroying what they might possibly have together.

Jen: From what I understand, Paula Dean from The Food Network played a part in the writing of this novel. Please fill us in on the scoop!

Mary Kay: Because of my background as a journalist, I always try to do research to make sure my books have realistic settings. For DEEP DISH, I needed to see how a television cooking show is created. Paula was gracious enough to invite me down to Savannah to watch her show being taped. It was magic!

Jen: How much research went into the writing of this novel, especially the scenes in the coastal barrier islands?

Mary Kay: The island in the book, Eutaw, is fictional, but I'd visited Cumberland Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, several times in the past. This time around, I spent a few days on Daufuskie, which is off the coast of South Carolina, as research. I also did some reading and first-hand interviews with a biologist who specializes in indigenous foods of the islands. Fascinating stuff.

Jen: Personally, I thought it was a brilliant idea to incorporate reality television into the plot since it is so hot these days! Your lead character, Gina Foxton, is such a firecracker and her antitheses and potential love interest, Tate Moody, is your typical Southern guy. How did you come up with these characters? Were they modeled after anyone in particular? What are your characters' strengths and weaknesses?

Mary Kay: I never know where my characters come from, although Tate, like my husband, is an outdoorsman who loves to cook. Gina is somebody totally new. She's had a disastrous romance with her television producer, and is distrustful of men now--especially Tate. She's also self-conscious about her small-town roots. And she's very career-driven.

Jen: With the female lead's "Iron Chef" mentality and spicy language, the content of this novel seems a little grittier and edgier than your usual style. What led to this new "feel" in your writing?

Mary Kay: I think Gina's own drive to succeed in a man's world makes her a little tougher than the woman I've written about previously.

Jen: A question I just have to ask...who is the better cook? You or your husband?

Mary Kay: Ha! He's great at seafood and steaks, and he has amazing knife- skills. I'm the one who researches the recipes, shops, designs the menu, and does the sides and desserts. It's really a team effort.

Jen: Of all the books you have written so far, which one was the most challenging to write and why? Which one was the most rewarding and why?

Mary Kay: SAVANNAH BLUES was probably the toughest, just because it was such a change from the category mysteries I'd been writing. With that book I discovered that murder is easy--but relationships and figuring them out--is really tough. The most rewarding was probably HISSY FIT, because it was the first time I made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List--and I did it while my parents were both still living. They were so proud.

Jen: Has there been any talk of perhaps seeing one of your novels up on the big screen?

Mary Kay: I've been talking myself blue in the face about it! Seriously, we have an agent in L.A. who has been shopping the books around. Keep your fingers crossed.

Jen: What has surprised you most about your career and also the workings of the publishing business?

Mary Kay: The thing that's most surprising is that I have a career as a novelist at all. I thought I'd be a newspaper reporter for life. DEEP DISH is my 16th novel, and I still learn something about the publishing business every day. I had no idea about all the disparate departments who come together to produce a book.

Jen: Please tell us about you website. Do you have e-mail notification of upcoming releases? Do you participate in author phone chats and if so, how would my readers go about arranging one? Do you participate in a blog? Do you have any contests on your site? Bookmark give-aways?

Mary Kay: My website is called MaryKayAndrews.com. Readers can sign up for my newsletter, for HarperCollins' Author Tracker feature which notifies them of new releases and my appearance schedule, and there's a place to contact me for book club phone chats.

My blog is called TheKudzuTelegraph.com, and I think it's pretty darn cute, as well as a lot of fun. We'll have a contest for DEEP DISH with some really swell prizes, which is being sponsored by Bookpage.com, that will be up on the site in the next few days.

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you tell us about it? When is the expected release date?

Mary Kay: The WIP is called THE FIXER UPPER. It's about a young woman who loses her high-powered job in Washington, DC and moves back to her father's family's hometown, where she tries to fix up and "flip" the family home place. Release date is sometime in 2009.

Jen: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with my readers. It was such a special treat for me to able to speak with you! Best of luck in 2008!

Mary Kay: Thank you Jen. I enjoyed chatting with you.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting Mary Kay. As an added bonus, she has included some of her yummy recipes that are mentioned in the story in the back of the book! So, why not pick up DEEP DISH at you local bookstore or library branch and fix something tasty for dinner tonight? Better yet, would you like to win your own copy? Answer the following trivia question for a chance to win a copy of DEEP DISH. Good luck!

Fill in the title of one of Mary Kay's previous books... SAVANNAH _________.

Later this month, I will be bringing to you my interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Lippman. You won't want to miss it.

Until next time...Jen

When a twist of fate landed Jennifer at the "Reading with Ripa" roundtable discussion with Kelly Ripa and Meg Cabot, she knew that her career as a French teacher would essentially be over. Instead, she figured out a clever way to combine her love for reading and writing and "voilà" She became a book reviewer and columnist with www.freshfiction.com. On the sidelines, her parents secretly hoped that her French degree from Vanderbilt would one day come in handy and Jennifer is happy to report that the phrases ‘Je ne sais pas’ and ‘C’est incroyable!’ have been quite useful when reviewing certain selections! As is typical in her whirlwind life, one thing led to another and soon she found herself facilitating a popular moms’ book club and writing a column she cleverly named Jen’s Jewels. (Jewelry is one of her many addictions, as is the color pink and Lilly Pulitzer, which when you think about it, would probably make for a good story! Hint! Hint! ) To keep herself away from her favorite retailer, Ann Taylor, she serves on the Board of Trustees of the Harford County Public Library in Maryland. As a national trainer for The Arthritis Foundation’s Aquatic and Land Exercise Classes, she is an advocate for those like herself who suffer from arthritis, the nation’s #1 cause of disability. When asked how she manages to do all of these things and actually get some sleep at night, she simply replied, "It’s just Par for the Course." Hmm! Now where have we heard that before?




1 comment posted.

Re: Interview with Mary Kay Andrews

I am from Georgia alos and I love Mary Kays books. Hissy Fit was a favorite and the last Savannah story was another fav. I won't say the title because of the contest.

I didn't think you could hate something more than oral surgery. Ouch.
(Gigi Hicks 3:01pm March 1, 2008)

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