Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview With Carolyn Hughey

Carolyn Hughey traded in her chef's hat for a computer. Originally, a Jersey girl, Carolyn and her real-life hero, Bob, currently reside in Arizona. They have four children and when Carolyn's not writing, she's studying her craft, or whipping up some gastronomic delight for family and friends. I first met Carolyn Hughey at a writers’ conference a few years ago and within minutes of sitting down beside her, I remarked about her “bling.” Lucky for me, Carolyn quickly caught on to my snarky sense of humor and we’ve been good friends ever since.

I’m lucky to get the opportunity to interview her for the Avalon Authors blog today.

1. As you know, I’m a huge fan of your books so I’m really excited about your new work. Tell us about your latest release from Avalon, Dishing Up Romance.
Dishing Up Romance is the sequel to Cupid’s Web. Much to my reader’s surprise, Cassie will actually go to culinary school. When Dad decides to retire and turns the deli building over to her, she decides to open a shop called the Kitchen Widget and Cooking Club, selling kitchen gadgets and teaching cooking classes. As a result of these classes, Cassie includes 32 recipes that show her family she can actually cook without burning down the house. And while this new juncture in her life is a tad intimidating, it’s the Mr. Carpenter Guy doing the remodel who turns her world upside down and around the corner.

I was thrilled when Avalon asked me to write this series. It was a lot of fun for me in that as a chef, seeing your own recipes in print, is exciting, and I was happy to share my family’s recipes that people have been asking about for years. Having Cassie back in the stories was like revisiting with family.

2. Wow. A romance and recipes? That sounds like a terrific combination. But are they easy for someone without a culinary background? How did you go about testing the recipes in this book?
I sent an email out to my groups and asked for volunteers. I had eleven women raise their hands who were anxious to take part of history in the making. To be sure my descriptions weren’t confusing, I formulated a set of questions for the testers, who by the way, weren’t all seasoned cooks, to answer with the recipes. They took such pride in the finished products; many of them sent me photographs, which I post on Facebook.
The recipes are included after every chapter, and rather than just add the recipe for the sake of having it there, I made it part of the story. All the descriptions are written in the point-of-view of one of the character’s in that scene, or written in the all-knowing omniscient voice chastising the character for some really dumb thing they did wrong along their journey. To give you an idea of the flair, the recipe titles tell you much about the story. Mama’s Singin’ I Ain’t Never Gonna be a Nona Blues Rice Pudding, No Date, No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Date Balls, He’s a Sweet Talkin’ Guy Ginger Snaps, Mama’s Singin’ Forever and Ever, Amen, just to name a few.

3. You had me at rice pudding. Which of these recipes is your favorite?
My mother’s sauce and meatballs, and although I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years, the basic recipe is hers.

4. You obviously rely on your Italian heritage for characterization. What’s one of your fondest family memories?
You write what you know, and being Italian is one thing I know really, really well. I have a colorful family, just like Cassie’s, although mine is a bit more dramatic than hers. My fondest memories, is what I refer to as ‘family fest’ in my series. It’s the entire family getting together to break bread on Sunday’s—my father and the uncles sitting on the porch after eating a huge meal and drinking Anisette to settle their stomachs because they’ve eaten too much and smoking Italian stogies. Unfortunately, most of those members are gone now, but I find it therapeutic to bring them back to life on my pages.

5. Speaking of stomachs, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Do you agree? And what do you think is the way to a woman’s heart?
For sure it’s one way, but it takes more than just food to keep things alive. The way to a woman’s heart is doing the small things like bringing her flowers, showing her gratitude, respect, and above all lots of hugs.

6. Let’s talk writing. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’m a huge fan of the two genres in which I write. John Grisham is and always has been number One on my list, Brad Meltzer, Lisa Gardner, Allison Brennan. On the comedic side, Janet Evanovich and Holly Jacobs.

7. How about your favorite chefs?
Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, Rick Chiarello of Tra Vigne, Daniel Boulard of Daniels, Alfred Portoli of Gotham Bar and Grill—I could go on an on. The reason I admire these chefs so much, and emulate them every chance I get, is because of their ability to create dishes with ingredients you’d never think of combining. These are the true masters.

8. What’s your ultimate romantic meal?
A table for two in a rustic setting next to a babbling brook, candlelight, soft music and French food.

9. Nice. I hope you and your husband get to do that every once in a while. What’s he like in the kitchen? Does he cook also? Or does he do the dishes afterward?
He’s my grill man, and he always does the dishes afterward, a rule he made and I gleefully adapted to rather nicely.

10. Okay, you know I have to ask: If you could invite any three people--living or dead--to dinner, who would they be?

This is a tough question because I love feeding the masses, but if you’re only giving me three choices: in the art of cooking, it would be James Beard, Julia Child and Simone Beck. For writing, definitely John Grisham, Lisa Gardner and Janet Evanovich to bring laughter to an otherwise grim discussion. :-)

Thanks so much for speaking to me today, Carolyn. Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d also like to thank Gina for asking all the right questions that had me digging deep into the brain cells.

Dishing Up Romance, a February 2012 release available at and Barnes &, is Carolyn’s third book for Avalon with two more coming up in the Chef’s Toque series. It’s the perfect choice for the hopeless romantic or cook in your life. Shut Up and Kiss Me and Cupid’s Web are also available.

K. T. Roberts, Carolyn's alter ego writes suspense and spicy contemporary. Those books can be found on all the popular eReader sites. Visit Carolyn at her website at, and while you're at it, drop her a note. She loves to hear from her readers.


Carolyn Brown said...

Great interview! Good job, Miz Gina with the questions. I'm glad that Carolyn H. was in the hotspot today and had to dig into her thinkability, and not Carolyn B., who is is thinkability impaired today...LOL! Carolyn H. is so full of fire that I don't think she'll ever be impaired.

Sandy Cody said...

Great interview. Have to leave now and scoot on over to amazon to order Dishing Up Romance. Then I have to make a snack (you made me hungry) and call my cousin (you've made me miss my own crazy family).

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Food & Romance--you just can't ask for a better combination. Loved the interview.

Kathye Quick said...

Hey Carolyn - invite me to that dinner. Either one actually.

You know I love you books!~sytru vithume

Carolyn Hughey said...

LOL Carolyn, you are too cute. Thanks for stopping by.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Aww, Sandy, how sweet. If I did all that, then you've made my day. Thank you.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thanks, Loretta. I agree about the food and romance going together, but I'll also add wine and chocolate--lots of it! Thanks for stopping by.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thanks, Kathye. I'm happy to hear you read my work. Totally awesome! As for dinner, when I move back to Jersey, we'll break bread. And by the time I'm done inviting everyone, we'll have a real feast. :-)

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

You have the best of both with your husband, Carolyn. Luckily, I'm not allowed near the dishwasher (not the one with legs wearing an apron) because I lack organization skills. I love books with recipes, even though I'm no cook (definitely no chef!). Thanks, Gina, for such a great job bringing all this good stuff to us.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thanks, Leigh for stopping by. Actually, there is a recipe in the book that calls for no cooking, so you're not off the hook yet. :-)

Gina/Katherine said...

It was a genuine pleasure to interview Carolyn. She's a warm, witty, generous individual and I'm proud to know her personally.

Sheila Claydon said...

Dishing Up Romance is one book I am going to have to buy. Thanks for a fun interview Carolyn and Gina.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Aww, Gina, you're so sweet. Thank you.

Carolyn Hughey said...


Thank you. I can't wait to get that little baby in my hands too. LOL My friend just texted me that she's already received her copies and I don't have mine yet. :-( Soon, I know, soon. :-)

Shirley Marks said...

I don't have my copy yet, either.

I can't wait to read/cook . . . I'm not sure which one I'm more excited to do . . .

Carolyn Hughey has the BEST recipes!