Alicia Bessette may well have one of the most highly anticipated debuts of the season with Simply From Scratch being released on August 5, 2010. And critical praise from these bestselling authors only heightens the excitement. Consider:
“A love-letter of a novel. There’s enough warmth here to fill your house on the coldest night. You’ll wish you knew these people, this world.” —Justin Cronin, bestselling author of The Passage
“This story of a young widow edging warily back into the world is full of vivid characters and grace. Imbued with hope but blessedly lacking in sentimentality, it is a fresh, stirring take on the devastation of grief and the holiness of friendship.” —Marisa de los Santos, bestselling author of Love Walked In
“In her wise and delightfully fresh debut, Alicia Bessette has composed a tender song that rises through the clouds of loss and grief until it bursts into a joyous celebration of the human heart. To read this story is to embrace life.” —Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Also this debut novel, recently released in Germany as Weiss der Himmel von dir, is on the Spiegel Bestseller list!
The Divining Wand has scheduled a full presentation/review of Simply From Scratch for Monday, August 2, 2010 yet — in the meantime — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:
Alicia Bessette was born and raised in central Massachusetts and graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia. A pianist and freelance writer, she and her husband, novelist Matthew Quick, live near Philadelphia with their adopted racing greyhound, Stella. Simply From Scratch is Alicia’s first novel.
And now here is Alicia revealed:
How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Appreciation for beauty and humor. Willingness to engage.
What is your motto or maxim?
A: Listen, try, take the high road. Taped to my desk is the quote, “What we play is life,” attributed to Louis Armstrong.
How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: World peace (which for me includes the protection of beautiful places and the creatures living there).
What’s your greatest fear?
A: Crowds and hospitals are tied for number one. A close second: moths.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Southern France. Land of my ancestors! I’ve never been.
With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Nobody really stands out, actually. I suppose I can relate in some small way to quite a few figures.
What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I have a bit of a dirty mouth, but I’m trying to clean it.
If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Cooking without needing to follow a recipe. Also, being able to sing and play piano at the same time.
What is your greatest achievement?
A: I’ve made some major life choices that were unpopular, but intensely right for me.
What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I’m sensitive.
What’s your best quality?
A: I’m sensitive.
What do you regret most?
A: Not living abroad for a semester in college. I hope to have my semester abroad yet.
If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’d love to be a very large, soaring bird (provided I could eat vegetarian). Or, it would be cool to be the Loch Ness monster. I’m kind of obsessed with the Loch Ness monster.
What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: A physical trait? My scar from open heart surgery, which I had as a child to correct a valve defect.
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Anne Shirley, Amber Appleton, and Maude (from Harold and Maude).
Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Heath Ledger’s Joker.
If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I admire Hannah Teter and her charity work.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Snobbery. And stickers on fruit.
What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Hiking mountains, playing piano, meditating, reading, watching movies, being outside, and listening to beautiful music (especially live).
What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Concert pianist or large animal veterinarian. Wildlife photographer would be cool too.
What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Sincerity, artistry, humanity.
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Brownies, hands down.
What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: For someone who craves music like it’s oxygen, answering this question is impossible. Impossible! Instead, could I offer some songs off the “soundtrack” to Simply From Scratch? They’re all performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips:
“Didn’t You Know (You’d Have To Cry Sometime)”
“Every Little Bit Hurts”
“Every Beat of My Heart”
“All I Need Is Time”
“Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)”
For more information on the connection between Simply From Scratch and songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips, please visit the Divining Wand on Tuesday, July 27, and read my guest post.
What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Again: Impossible! I’d say three very formative books were Anne of Green Gables, Annie John, and She’s Come Undone. L.M. Montgomery gave me a love of headstrong, imaginative, earnest heroines. Jamaica Kindcaid taught me about verbs’ power and the potential potency of sensory details. And Wally Lamb’s writing is a lesson in creating fully realized, original characters, while building suspense and sympathy on every page.
I love Robert Cormier. Susan Cooper’s books are totally satisfying. I always dig Justin Cronin and Agatha Christie. Nevada Barr mysteries are awesome. The Art of Racing In The Rain made my heart swell. So did The Corrections and The Lovely Bones and Life of Pi. My favorite five fantastical novels are Watership Down, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle In Time, Frankenstein, and Dracula. I love to read far and wide!
Announcement: The winners of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Education of Bet are: Marcie Turner and Helen Joy. Congratulations.
Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Keetha DePriest Mosley’s Culinary Kudzu and one copy of More Culinary Kudzu in a random drawing to two separate individuals who comment only on this specific post, Keeth DePriest Mosley and Culinary Kudzu(s). Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Monday’s post. If you enter, please return Monday to possibly claim your book.