Thursday, May 6, 2010

Food Flashback: Author Interview with Cerella Sechrist!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for! Drumroll please . . .

Welcome Cerella Sechrist!

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 (, my blog ( or join me on Facebook (

Stay sweet!

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:


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad we could have a Food Flashback! Now...where did I put those Reese's PB cups... =D


Amber Holcomb said...

Hey Cerella!

I'm loving the Food Flashback, as well! :) My grandma brought over some fruit-flavored Tootsie Roll candies (which are delicious!), so I might have to go eat some of those to celebrate... ;)

And wish I could share those Reese's PB cups with you...sigh...

Thanks again for the lovely interview!


Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

My favorite dessert is PIE...just thought I'd share that LOL! I love to pick blackberries and black raspberries and make pie from those. Let me tell you I ain't pretty after I leave the berry patch..gotta watch out for the thorns and (Cerella you'll like this) snakes!

Thanks for the great interview Amber! Cerella is always a fun guest to have!

XOXO~ Renee

Anonymous said...

Now who doesn't love a comment that says "Isn't Cerella great?" LOL!!! Thanks, Amber!

Renee - ohhh, we can handle the snakes. I have experience. Ha ha!!

Did someone say chocolate-covered strawberries? SIGN ME UP. :)


Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

OH.My.GOSH. Chocolate covered strawberries are my one weakness, those suckers are addicting!!!! There's a little local restaurant here that has an all you can eat buffet which includes a chocolate fountain and fresh strawberries and I think I might be banned from it since I eat soooo many strawberries when I go! LOL!

XOXO~ Renee

Project Journal said...

Did someone say chocolate covered strawberries!?!? LOVE THEM!

Hi Amber!
I'm Hannah, I found your blog through Lori's blog. I'm a senior headed to college in the fall, so it's so cool that I found you : ) Lol!

I really like your blog. The background and everything are really fresh looking. This was a fantastic interview too! I've never read this book, but will definitely have to look out for it : )

I loved No REservations! It was really good. We love to watch the Cake Challenges on Food Network and I really enjoy Iron Chef America *said in booming voice* Though I know I wouldn't try over half the foods they make! LOL! I like watching their process, you know?

Anyway, I'm definitely signing up to be a follower and can't wait to chat more hopefully!

P.S. Hi Renee *waving wildly*
Hey Cerella *waving politely because I don't want a famous author to think I'm TOO crazy*

; )

Amber Holcomb said...


Can I please come visit you and go with you to that restaurant? ;) Sounds absolutely delicious!

My mom brought back a couple of chocolate-covered strawberries the other day, and I shared one with her (the other was for my grandma or I would have had a whole one for sure!). Yummy! You should have seen the ones our RA had for us at a hall dinner a couple of weeks ago--the strawberries were HUGE! I think they were from Walmart...

But I digress! Food does that to me, you know? :)


Amber Holcomb said...


So good to have you come visit my blog! :D That's so great that you'll be off to college soon! What college are you going to? I'm loving Corban University...just saying! ;) It's an amazing Christian college full of amazing people!

Thanks for the compliments, too! I actually found a link on Renee's blog to "", and that's where I got the border! They have some great free designs. The top picture was one I took on summer vacation last year. :)

You should defintely read LFYI Hershey, Pennsylvania! You'll especially love it if you enjoyed No Reservations. And I know exactly what you mean about "Iron Chef America"--I'm too picky to want to eat much of what they cook, but I love their creativity!

Well, I better go and get to work... I have a friend from college coming tonight to stay with us for a few days (yay!), so I need to vacuum and dust and whatnot. But I would love to visit more with you! I'm so glad to have met so many great people through this blog! :)


Project Journal said...

Hi Amber!
I'm headed to Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. I live in Vermont, so it's only about 40-45 minutes from home. Lol!

It's a really cool picture. You're blog just has such a cool vibe to it ; )

I'm not picking, just the combinations they come up with....YUCK!!!

: P

I know, right! It's awesome meeting all of these people. Can't wait to chat more with you too. Thanks for becoming a follower of my blog! That's always so exciting ; )

I saw you over in Seekerville this morning (I think?), so you must read the Steeple Hill LI books. How do you like them? What's your fave genre from them? Any fave authors? And (this is the last question I promise!!) are you following the Continuity Series right now??

Okay, guess that's enough to keep you busy ; )
Talk to you soon!

Amber Holcomb said...


That will be nice to go to a college not far from your home! :) I guess coming to college in Oregon might be kind of difficult... ;)

Thanks again for the compliment about my blog! I'm so glad you like it!

I have been checking the Seekerville blog recently, and I do enjoy the Steeple Hill books. I think the Love Inspired books are the perfect size to take with you when you're traveling! Lately I've been enjoying the Suspense ones (like the Witness Protection ones), but I'm not sure what the Continuity Series is...could you tell me?

What about you? What are your favorite Love Inspired books?


Project Journal said...

Lol! It definitely would be! Waaaaaaaaayyyyyy outside my radar ; )

I love them too! And the Seekers are so warm and welcoming, great company too!

The "Continuity Series" as I phrased it is the Witness Protection ones. Every year they do a CS, just meaning that it continues from one month to the next.

I don't think I have a favorite! Lol....I LOVE Mae Nunn's books. Have you read any of them? I'm friends with her and she's such a sweetheart! She's like a mom/grandma/spiritual guider (not sure the right term for it)/friend all mixed into one. It's so fun.....You should definitely check out Her Forever Family. I'm over halfway done with it and started it 2 days ago. PLUS for an extra bonus(!!!!), Mae added me as a small character in it ; ) I haven't gotten to my part, but I'm super excited for it : D

Check her out at

I don't know....I love 'em all! Lol! Could talk about them all day though....sorry for talking your ear off!!

Amber Holcomb said...


Wow! That's cool that you have a smmall part in that book!!! How fun! And how great to be friends with the author. There are so many sweet authors out there! Hope someday I can join their ranks, if it is God's will. :)

Oh, and thanks for explaining about the Continuity Series! I've read a couple of the Witness Protection ones, and I really enjoyed them. :)

And you're not talking my ear off! I enjoy reading your comments!