The Fireworks In Fiction

Today’s post from Erica Bauermeister | Erica on Facebook

Erica’s novel, Joy For Beginners, was our featured book club selection last February. She’s back with a new release this month that we’re eager to share with you. The Lost Art of Mixing is the sequel to her first novel, The School of Essential Ingredients. And one lucky reader is going to win copies of ALL THREE of Erica’s novels today! Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered!

Erica Bauermeister

Update: the winner of this giveaway is Jill Little. She has been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! Check back soon for more giveaways!

In real life, I am a control freak, but when I am writing fiction, something else entirely happens.   I don’t outline.   I don’t plan.   I let go, relax my mind, and wait.   My novels always come from a spark — an image that then opens up over the course of a year or two or ten of writing, with other characters showing up and relationships developing between them all.   Seen in retrospect, it’s like watching a slow-motion film of a firework expanding across the sky.

The Lost Art of Mixing started with two images.

The first was of a quiet man in his early fifties, caught in a marriage he didn’t understand.   In the scene in my head, he was in bed with his wife, her complaints coming at him like small waves rocking against the side of a boat.   I felt such sympathy for him; I wanted more for his life.

And then one day I went into a bookstore in a faraway city and offered to sign their stock of my books.   The clerk got the books and never once checked my identification.   As I left the bookstore I thought — anybody could just walk in and sign someone else’s books.  I thought of Al, my quiet hero, and I knew that this was just the sort of hidden rebellion that would appeal to him.   A transgression of the quirkiest kind.   What would happen to him, I wondered, if he took this small and unusual step towards independence?   Where would his story go?

The other image in my mind was of a character I had loved for a long time — Lillian, the chef from The School of Essential Ingredients.   From the moment that book was published, I had begun receiving letters from readers asking me what had happened to Lillian and Tom after they went for their walk at the end of the book.

I thought I was done with the characters from School, and yet, another image started showing up in my imagination — Lillian, standing in the restaurant kitchen doorway, just the way the first book had started.   But this time, Lillian was overwhelmed by the smells of the kitchen, and through her reaction, she was realizing she was pregnant.

Well, what was I going to do with that?

And that is the fun of writing — following those images to wherever they lead.   Seeing what happened when Al finally got caught.   Understanding the difficult decision that Lillian had to make.   Finding all the other characters, whose personalities and conflicts made the pages come alive.   In the end, there were eight characters — four pairs, each pair in the midst of a misunderstanding.   All of them brought together through serendipity, tipping each other forward like dominoes, sometimes without their even knowing it.   Fireworks, all of them.   Sometimes made from anger, sometimes from joy, always from life.

National bestselling author Erica Bauermeister returns to the enchanting world of  The School of Essential Ingredients  in this luminous sequel.

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing  is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.


50 Responses to The Fireworks In Fiction

  1. Jayne D. January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This sounds like a great wonderful story that I would love to read.

  2. marge michulsky January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks, I’d LOVE to read these books!

  3. Wanda January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Adding these titles to my ‘must read’ list! Would love to win them!

  4. Jeannie S January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to read all three of these!
    Thank you and blessings!

  5. Donna P January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I missed the review last February. Thanks for revisiting this author! Her books look like they will be great reads!

  6. Paula Dolin January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    They both sound good – I’ll have to add them to my reading list. Thanks for another chance to win!

  7. Nicole January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Ooh, you’re always bringing us goodies! Thanks for the chance to win!

  8. Karen January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I loved School of Essential Ingredients and can’t wait to read her other books! Great give away!

  9. Lynn January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    These 3 books sound very readable. I would love to read them. Have a Blessed Day….

  10. Katherine Jones January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This intrigues me, that a self-professed control freak would take a completely different approach to writing. I also love the ideas that sparked her latest novel.

  11. Karen January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I loved School of Essential Ingredients, and her other two books are on my wish list. Great giveaway!

  12. brooke January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    The books sound FANTASTIC… love the way you write too! Nothing like being in direct opposition from your “normal” self, eh? We could ALL use a little mixing up! :)

  13. karenk January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    thanks for the chance to read these fabulous novels :)

  14. Becky S January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    All three books sound wonderful.

  15. Linda Stott January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    These three books and this author are new to me…..but the books sound like wonderful reads and the way the author’s mind works is amazing and intriguing!

  16. Deb January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    These sound like fascinating books! I’d love to win them. If not, I’m still going to check for them at the library. Can’t wait!

  17. Karen Rosenzweig January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Loved the first two books and shared them with my book club. Going to convince them tonight to choose Erica’s newest for our next read!!

  18. Becky K January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Feel in love with Erica’s stories and characters, would love my own set to cherish!

  19. Judy G. January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    The School of Essential Ingredients is one of my go-to books to recommend to others. I can’t wait to read The Lost Art of Mixing!

  20. Anne B. January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I loved Erica’s other two books and can’t wait to read her new book! A great giveaway, thanks for the chance to win!

  21. Andi January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Joy for Beginners is one of my favorite books – I recommend to everyone! I also love The School of Essential Ingredients – books combining food and love – what’s not to like!

  22. Wendy January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    It is so interesting to hear how your characters develop. What is even more remarkable is how you pepper your novels with profound, yet beautifully simplistic, descriptions. They are truly like gems, which I write down and ‘collect’ as I read so I can save them to enjoy again and again. Now I anxiously await the next gift you have given us!! Thank you do much Erica!! See you at Vroman’s!!

  23. Janet Hannah January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    What great insight to “how” a book is written! This new book sounds very interesting with all those characters mixing around each other!! Would love to read it and her other books!

  24. Katherine January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to own these books. :)

  25. Kim January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Absolutely loved Joy for Beginners. Her other books are on my to be read list! Thanks for the chance to win!

  26. Evelyn January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I loved the first book, and look forward to reading this one.

  27. Pat January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you Erica, for the lovely insight into how your characters come alive. I love all your books and I look forward to reading your latest.

  28. Nicci Ramirez January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I would be a 1st time reader of Erica’s!!! Would really enjoy winning these to read!!!

  29. Judy January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I loved Joy for Beginners and hope to win so I can read the other two!

  30. Cathleen Holst January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Count me in. Her books sound fantastic. Thanks so much for the chance to win and introducing me to another author I was unfamiliar with.


  31. Gerilyn January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Obviously all writers are inspired in different ways. The slow motion fireworks explosion mental imagery is fascinating as it relates to character development. Erica is an author I have not yet enjoyed but would definitely be excited to add her works to my library.

  32. Marlene January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Our book club read and loved The School of Essential Ingredients. Making personal connections was a highlite for us – almost as exciting as our sampling of some of the life-changing foods explored in the story. Would love to read more of these thought provoking tidbits!

  33. Bonnie K January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I loved The School of Essential Ingredients. I look forward to her next book, The Lost Art of Mixing. So glad she did a sequel. Somehow I missed Joy for Beginners. I need to add these to my wish list.

  34. Kathryn January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Your books take us into the realms of possibilities – of people and places we might have the chance to encounter. Looking forward to reading the sequel to TSEI!

  35. DeAnn Rossetti January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Lovely post, Erica, and I am so anxious to get my hands on a copy of your latest masterpiece “The Lost Art of Mixing” that I have been badgering my husband to take me to the bookstore this weekend or let me shop online for a copy as an early Valentines Day present! I loan out your books all the time, and in fact I’ve gone through several copies this way, because people tend to not return them when I’ve loaned them out, because they LOVE your characters so much! I would adore winning some copies of your wonderful novels, but then,you know I am an unabashed fan!

  36. josey bozzo January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Oh, please, please, please pick me. I have read both of her other books and absolutely love them. I had to check them out of the library though because there just isn’t enough money in the world for all the books I want to buy. I’ve been on the lookout for them at the used books store but no such luck yet. Probably because no one wants to part with them.
    Everything about Erica’s books is just incredibly beautiful. I still remember the scene in The School of Essential Ingredients when Tom was making the italian food and it’s this back and forth between his memories and the present in the class…..Oh my there aren’t words to describe how beautiful it was.

    Sorry for rambling, can you tell I’m a fan?

  37. Elizabeth Towns January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I love your writing process. I feel that same process in the pieces of books I have yet to complete and was so excited when I read about it here! I’m looking forward to reading all 3 of your novels.

  38. Jill Little January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    You are definitely my favorite creator of books! I love that your stories are so about hope. That is so needed in this world! I can not wait to read your new book.

  39. Karen Duffy January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Last year I picked up a copy of “Joy For Beginners” which for some unknown reason, I ended up giving away, unread. Last week, I saw a post on Book Passage’s Facebook page about Erica Bauermeister’s upcoming appearance at a book signing. I remembered the book, and decided to go to the library and get that copy, plus The School of Essential Ingredients. So strange how a Facebook post from a bookstore 3,000 miles from my home could reconnect me with this author’s books. I loved “Essential” and I’m so enjoying “Joy for Beginners.” And I learn that today’s the release date for the sequel to “Essential.” More to look forward to!!

  40. Debbie January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    A sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients — HOORAY! My book group read and totally enjoyed Essential Ingredients — the characters, story and the recipes! Members made some of the recipes to share at the book group meeting — I made Carl’s White Cake — YUM! Good food and good writing — does it get any better?

  41. Erin Butera January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Just finished School, and am anxiously awaiting Lost Art of Mixing!

  42. shannon brown January 25, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Oh my goodness this would be awesome to win!! She is one of my favorite authors!!!!

  43. Jill Little January 25, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve already left a comment because I adore Erica Bauermeister’s books and imagination. I also wanted to be in the drawing for the books and didn’t realize that to enter the drawing I needed to leave a comment. Since I didn’t mention wanting to be in the drawing in my previous comment, I am now saying I would LOVE to win these books! :)

  44. Jean Lewis January 25, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Somehow I missed this author. These look amazing.

  45. Hetty January 25, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Have added “The Lost Art of Mixing” to my library requests … look forward to reading it!

  46. Sandra January 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds great. I loved Joy for beginners . . . can’t wait to read this one.

  47. Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life January 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Oh Erica, I’ve been waiting for this one! So excited.

    I enjoyed reading how your characters show up, inviting you to tell their story.

    I am so looking forward to reading your new book!


  48. Teresa Ahrenholtz January 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I read Joy for Beginners and loved it! I’ve also read School of Essential Ingredients, so I’d love to read The Lost Art of Mixing!

  49. Jolina Petersheim January 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Love the description of the story expanding like a firework across the sky. Can’t wait to read this book, Erica!

  50. Shauna February 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve yet to read this author, was highly recommended by a friend! Please enter me! Thx!!

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