Lisa Steinke: What’s the best compliment you’ve received about The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society?
Darien Gee: That the characters feel real. Readers tell me that they feel as if they actually know these women, and would recognize them if they bumped into them on the street. How amazing would that be?
LS: What is the perfect playlist to accompany your novel?
DG: My playlist is short and sweet. There are two songs that captured the emotional state of my main characters—Isabel Kidd, Yvonne Tate, Ava Catalina, Connie Colls, and Frances Latham—while I was writing the novel:
Uncharted by Sara Bareilles
Taking Chances by Celine Dion
LS: What images would you pin on Pinterest to represent your book?
DG: Wooden spoon, rolling pin, mixing bowls, mismatched tea cups and saucers, loaves of Amish Friendship Bread, jars filled with colored buttons, bottlecaps, scrapbooking paper, ribbons, rubber stamps, die cuts, Nubian goats, dish towels, hammer, wrench, nails, toolbox, fabric, vintage suitcases, stack of bound letters tied with string, old photographs.
LS: When you re-read your novel, are there still things you’d change? (Or do you not re-read?)
DG: I put off a re-read as long as I can, because I always find things I’d change. They’re mostly small tweaks, but I see them everywhere, and it makes me crazy.
LS: If you could see one person alive or deceased reading your book, who would it be?
DG: I was traveling with my parents last year, and there was a moment when we were waiting at a train station. They were each reading one of my books (my dad was reading Friendship Bread and my mom was reading Sweet Life, one of the books I wrote under the pen name Mia King). It was a wonderful, weird, surreal moment, especially since English isn’t their first language. So to answer the question, I’d love to see any or all of my grandparents—they’ve all since passed—reading my book.
LS: Favorite line or passage from your book?
DG: “The things that matter most will make themselves known.” (p. 311)
LS: What book would you put on the center of EW’s bullseye?
DG:Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. It’s clever and smart, hugely entertaining, and has every element of good storytelling.
What’s your reading style? One book at a time? Juggle between books?
DG: I’m a book juggler. I’m also a big book re-reader. This past week I pulled a couple all nighters to read Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs, but in between I was re-reading Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and Jill Smolinski’s Objects of My Affection.
LS: What do you do when you’re not writing?
DG: Gardening. It started as research for one of the books I’m working on, and now it’s taken over my life. I’ll step outside for a minute to pick a handful of bush beans, and then I’ll think, “Hey, I may as well snip some basil while I’m at it.” I’ll be heading back into the house when I notice the sage has holes in the leaves. I’ll stop to inspect the leaves and look for the culprit. Then I’ll start pulling a few weeds or deadheading the marigolds. The cilantro and chives definitely need a haircut—it’ll only take a second—and before I forget, I need to drain the bokashi compost tea which is, I’m sorry, pretty gross. And there’s that bag of coffee grounds from Starbucks that needs to be spread around… the next thing I know, five hours have passed.
LS: What’s up next for you?
DG: My next novel, The Green Girls Garden Club, is my current work in progress. I’m also compiling a cookbook for the Friendship Bread Kitchen, a site I founded while writing Friendship Bread, and working on another Mia King title as well.
To read more about Darien Gee, visit her website.