Q&A with the author... Recipe for a Charmed Life by Rachel Linden (Interview) #newbooks #booktwitter #womensfiction #romancebooks @BerkleyRomance @BerkleyPub

Welcome to my tour stop with Berkley! I read this author's book, The Enlightenment of Bees, a while back and enjoyed it. Today I'm thrilled to get to share an interview with the author provided by the publisher. Check that out below...

Recipe for a Charmed Life
By Rachel Linden
Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Magical Realism
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 384 Pages
January 9, 2024 by Berkley


After a day of unrivaled disappointments, a promising young chef finds every bite of food suddenly tastes bitter. To save her career, she travels to the Pacific Northwest to reconnect with her estranged mom, and discovers a family legacy she never suspected in this delicious novel from the bestselling author of The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie.

American chef Georgia May Jackson has one goal—to run her own restaurant in Paris. After a grueling decade working in Parisian kitchens, she is on the cusp of success. But in one disastrous night, Georgia loses her sous-chef position, her French boyfriend, and her sense of taste! Renowned for her refined palate and daring use of bold flavors to create remarkable dishes, Georgia is devastated to discover her culinary gift has simply...vanished.

When she receives a surprising invitation from her estranged mother, Georgia flees to a small island near Seattle hoping the visit will help her regain her spark in the kitchen. As she tentatively reconnects with her mom, a free-spirited hippie eager to make up for her past mistakes, Georgia realizes there is something about the enigmatic island she just cannot piece together. Good luck charms start appearing in the oddest places. Her neighbor is a puzzlingly antagonistic (and annoyingly handsome) oyster farmer. And her mom keeps hinting at a mysterious family legacy.

With the clock ticking and time running out to win her dream job in Paris, Georgia begins to unravel some astonishing secrets that make her wonder if the true recipe for a charmed life might look—and taste—very different than she ever imagined.

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A Conversation with Rachel Linden

Tell us about RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE. What inspired you to write this novel?

This is the story of Georgia May Jackson, an up-and-coming American chef in Paris who, in one disastrous night, loses her sous chef position, her French boyfriend and her sense of taste! When she receives an unexpected invitation from her estranged mother, she flees to a beautiful remote island in the Pacific Northwest to reconnect with her mom and try to regain her spark in the kitchen. Georgia’s story is filled with food, forgiveness and second chances at love and family, a touch of magic and a whole lot of hope! And gorgeous settings in Paris and San Juan Island in Washington State. Also there’s a handsome, grumpy oyster farmer she can’t quite seem to keep away from…

I was inspired to write this novel because I wanted to explore themes of forgiveness, specifically how do we forgive people we love when they hurt us? And how do we forgive ourselves when we mess up? I also wanted to touch on identity, finding our purpose in life, and holding space in our lives for wonder and delight. This story reminds me of a macaron. It looks pretty and yummy on the outside, but there’s a surprisingly chewy, rich center as these character’s journey to find forgiveness and their purpose in life!

Julia Child, recognized for introducing French cuisine to the American public through her cookbooks and subsequent TV programs, is integral to Georgia’s character—Julia serves as Georgia’s inspiration for becoming a chef, as well as a source of wisdom in her times of need. Tell us about your connection to Julia child. Why did you decide to make Julia Child Georgia’s culinary hero?

I find Julia Child so inspiring because she was such a warm and cheerfully practical person. She was accepting and encouraging while also inspiring millions to achieve something new. I chose to feature Julia as fictional character in this story because she is able to give advice and encouragement in such a warm and witty way. Millions of people loved and learned from Julia Child, so it was fun to bring her into this story in a creative way and let her act as Georgia’s patron saint in the kitchen.

How has food inspired your writing? Have you ever had a meal that like Georgia’s power, provided you with clarity?

I grew up in an Italian-American family where food is central to the life of the family. The kitchen and the table are the heart of the home. A lot of our most precious times as a family happen over a meal– good conversation, important decisions, hashing out all sorts of things. So while I’ve never had a meal that gave me such clarity because of the food I was eating, I’ve definitely enjoyed many meals where I came away with great food for thought, clarity, or encouragement because of the conversations that happened around the table with those I love. And to me those are just as valuable as any touch of magic in a meal!

Both THE MAGIC OF LEMON DROP PIE and RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE are equal parts women’s fiction, romance and magical realism. What drew you to magical realism (as a genre)? What about the genre do you find helpful or necessary in writing your novels?

I love to use a touch of magical realism to highlight important truths and emotional growth arcs in my stories. So much personal growth, healing and connection can happen when we open ourselves up to the transcendence and wonder that are present in each of our lives. I love to leave space in stories for the mystery and the unexplainable in life. I’m a person with a deep personal spirituality, and I don’t believe that we know everything about life and humanity and the world around us. I love to tap into that sense of awe and wonder as a way for my characters to grow and discover in their own journeys.

What kind of research was required to write this book? What did you find most surprising throughout the course of your research?

I enjoyed some truly delicious research in Paris and on San Juan Island for this story! In Paris I sampled probably more than my fair share of macarons from Laduree and enjoyed being back in the city, walking around with fresh eyes, gaining valuable details for the story. Paris is always such a delight!

My husband’s family has a family home on San Juan Island, so every summer we go visit as a family and enjoy the wonderful island vibe. It’s such a special, unique place, and I’m excited to share it with readers! One of the most interesting parts of my research for this book was visiting several local oyster farms in the Pacific Northwest and learning about oyster farming. It’s a really wonderful, ecologically friendly system that benefits the entire coastal ecosystem. And of course I had to sample local oysters which were so creamy, fresh and delicious!

What did you find most challenging about writing this novel? What was most rewarding?

Honestly, the most challenging thing about writing this novel was what was going on in my life as I was writing it! I wrote this book during a nine months span of time during which my husband endured multiple major surgeries, some of them unplanned. It was a tough year for our family. I spent many months juggling caring for him, navigating parenting our kids, running the house, and writing this story! It was a tough year for our whole family, but I’m proud of the story that came out of it. Now my husband has recovered fully and I am really enjoying a more normal life – and writing schedule- this year!

The most rewarding thing about writing the novel was getting to take readers to two of my favorite places in the world – Paris and San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest. I also loved getting to delve into more delicious food for this book, and I absolutely loved seeing Georgia and Star’s relationship as mother and daughter reach a place of hope, forgiveness and healing. Many of us have complicated family dynamics, and I loved getting to explore some of these dynamics in an honest yet hopeful way.

What do you hope readers will take away from RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE?

At its heart, RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE is a story about forgiveness and about how to pursue happiness, love and purpose after failure. It touches on the truth that often the unexpected setbacks and surprises we encounter in our lives are the very things that lead us to a truly satisfying life, one full of forgiveness, meaning and joy. I hope readers enjoy this story and close the last page feeling encouraged in their own identity, purpose in life and connection to those they love. And I hope that each one of us is able to practice a little more forgiveness, of ourselves and of those around us.

About the Author

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker. Rachel lives with her family on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys creating stories about hope, courage, and connection, with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.

Photo Credit: Mallory MacDonald

Is this on your list to read or have you read any of her other books? What connected with you in the interview?

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