1. Amber: Did you get to do a lot of research in Hershey? And did you get to go to the theme park? If so, could you give us some fun details from your experiences?
Cerella: I did get to take several day trips to Hershey, mostly to immerse myself in the town and its surroundings and get a feel for what it would be like to live there. I spent time with friends who live in the town, but I also did the tourist thing and visited museums, Chocolate World and the like.
I grew up less than an hour’s drive from Hershey so it was already a town I’m somewhat familiar with. I haven’t been to HersheyPark since I was a kid, though! I have a fear of roller coasters, ever since the time I nearly fell out of a flume ride as a teenager. LOL
Instead, I toured things like the Hershey Gardens (which are absolutely stunning, and I highly recommend them for gardeners, flower lovers or anyone who loves to stroll through enchanted places); the antique auto museum; Chocolate World (a must!); the Hershey Story Museum (which is a fascinating look into all things Hershey); etc.
The thing I love best about Hershey is there is so MUCH to do there. It’s a small town, but it’s packed with stuff, above and beyond just the chocolate and the amusement park. It truly is one sweet place.
2. Amber: Do you enjoy cooking like your main character, Sadie? And what is your favorite dessert (or at least one of your favorites—I know I couldn’t pick just one!)?
Cerella: While I’m not chef material like Sadie is, I do love cooking! I’m a foodie, so I love anything that has to do with food – I think it’s an art form in its own right. My niche in cooking is one I learned from my mom – I’m pretty good at taking whatever’s in the cupboard and creating something tasty, without having to do an extra grocery store run for missing ingredients. I’m good at filling in the blanks or making it up with what’s on hand. I was staying at my sister’s the other week and decided to make a pie by just pulling whatever she had around the house. In the end, we DID have to run out to the grocery store to buy some vanilla ice cream to go with it, though. LOL
Favorite dessert is a tough one! Because you’re right – how do you pick just one?!? So I’ll just narrow it down to TYPE of dessert. For me, that would be CAKE. And you can keep it simple. Basic vanilla cake with chocolate icing. Or lemon cake with buttercream frosting. Or strawberry cake with vanilla icing.
I’m not choosy. But cake RULES.
Otherwise, you can just give me a bag of Smarties, and I’ll be content.
3. Amber: What was your inspiration for the story—the spark that set the story in motion?
Cerella: For years, I was writing historical fiction but had no luck getting any of my novels published. I finally decided to try something completely different – take myself out of that zone and into a new one. So I decided to write a modern-day romantic comedy, which was as far from a historical drama as I could get. Once I had the genre, I asked myself what kind of story I would like as a reader. Given my love of food, a story about a chef stirred my interest. I loved the idea of writing in that world because it was one I’d never gotten to consider while writing in the historical genre.
So once I decided to go for a romantic comedy with a food theme, I needed to consider conflict. It occurred to me that a chef who is good at everything except that ONE THING (like creating desserts) would make for an interesting and relatable character. Throw in more conflict by introducing a rival chef who is VERY talented at her Achilles heel and there you have it. Of course, there are a few more ingredients to the recipe – Sadie’s impish (and entertaining!) five-year-old daughter; her best friend, Jasper, who realizes he’s in love with her and the return of her ne’er-do-well father, seeking to make amends for the past.
I like a story with varied layers. =)
With the food/dessert theme in mind, it wasn’t hard to set my sights on Hershey as a setting, especially since it’s nearby, and I’m familiar with it, having grown up in the south-central PA area.
4. Amber: Could you share some of your future plans for your writing?
Cerella: Currently, I’m finishing up the plotting for a stand-alone novel – a historical again. I’m so excited to start writing it since it’s a revision of a book I wrote a few years ago, before I had turned to modern day tales.
In the meantime, my agent is shopping around a series about three sisters who are working at mending their broken relationships. It has a little bit of everything: mystery, relationships, romance, redemption, light touches of humor. I love writing about sibling relationships because there are a wealth of layers there – you can love your siblings so much, but they can wound you pretty deeply, too. It allows for some fascinating storylines.
5. Amber: Just for fun--What is your favorite show on Food Network (or any cooking movie/show) and why? (And have you seen the movie No Reservations? I think you’d love it!)
Cerella: This question is nearly as difficult as the dessert one!! There are so many food shows that I love. I adore Rachael Ray’s “30 Minute Meals”, I’m partial to Paula Deen, and I’m fascinated by Alton Brown’s “Good Eats”. I also like to tune into Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel. That man is fearless when it comes to food. I’ll watch just about anything on the Food Network. It’s one of my favorite channels.
I’ve definitely seen No Reservations – in fact, I just re-watched it a few weeks ago! I really enjoy the story and how it represents that you are not defined by just one thing. My favorite scene is where Kate (Catherine Zeta Jones) says to Nick (Aaron Eckhart) in regards to her career/cooking and the restaurant, “This place is my life. This is who I am.”
And he responds with, “No, it’s not who you are. It’s only one little part.”
That one resonated with me because it does echo some of the themes of Love Finds You in Hershey – that your ability or inability is not what defines your worth.
As for other foodie films, I absolutely loved Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. It was like Meryl Streep brought Julia Child back to life. I’m definitely a foodie fan of that one!
Because food, my friends, is a great unifier. ;)
Thanks so much, Amber, for giving me the opportunity to gush about food and my debut novel on your lovely blog! Readers can also check me out at my website (http://www.cerelladsechrist.com/), my blog (http://www.thecerellalife.com/) or join me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thecerellalife)
Amber: Thank YOU, Cerella, for your wonderful responses! I appreciate your time, and I am thrilled to host you here at my blog! Also, a big thank you for inspiring "Food Week" on my blog--it was tons of fun!
Readers, if you would like to read my review of Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania, please go here: http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-review-of-love-finds-you-in-hershey.html.