The Divining Wand

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Guest Darien Gee aka Mia King on
The Bread That Inspired a Novel

March 29, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[One of the most frequently asked questions of an author is: “Where did the idea for your novel come from?” In today’s guest post, Darien Gee aka Mia King (Good Things, Sweet Life, Table Manners) explains how her novel Friendship Bread “started.”]

Guest Darien Gee aka Mia King on the Bread That Inspired a Novel

If you’re never heard of Amish Friendship Bread, your life is about to change forever. Mine certainly was.

Amish Friendship Bread is similar to a quick bread except it’s made with a sourdough starter. If you’ve ever seen (or smelled) a bag of fermenting batter, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it’s something you won’t likely forget.

Amish Friendship Bread is similar to a chain letter in that after ten days you’re asked to divide the starter into four portions, keep one for yourself and give the other three portions away to lucky (and unsuspecting) friends or neighbors so that they can do the same. After five rounds, there will be 1,024 bags of starter floating out there. After ten rounds: 1,048,576.

That’s a lot of starter to emerge from one bag of the stuff.

I’m often asked if Amish Friendship Bread is really Amish. I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone else does, either. There’s no documented evidence of its origins, and I know some people’s suspicions are raised when they see instant pudding listed among the ingredients. But what I do believe is that the inspiration behind the bread is undoubtedly Amish in nature. It’s about friendship and community, about sharing what you have with others and expressing gratitude for the good things in your life.

Friendship Bread was inspired by my own experience with the bread, when my daughter brought it home along with a bag of starter she’d received from a friend. I was eating the last few crumbs when I started to think about a woman who receives the starter and just doesn’t want to do it. I saw a sadness hanging over this character and I knew I wanted to find out more. I started writing and the story quickly took shape—more importantly, it soon became clear that the book wasn’t about any one person, but an entire community ready for change and connection.

Friendship Bread is about what can happen when one person is willing to reach out and help another. It may seem like an overly simple solution, but maybe it’s not as insignificant as we think. Maybe there’s more power in it than we realize, and all it takes is one person who’s willing to give it a try.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Rebecca Rasmussen’s The Bird Sisters in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Rebecca Rasmussen and The Bird Sisters. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

The Revealing of Darien Gee (aka Mia King)

March 23, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

When Darien Gee was about to publish her first novel, her husband– Darrien Gee — was also releasing his first nonfiction golf book. Although their two genres were miles apart, to avoid any confusion Darien took the pen name of Mia King and became the author of Good Things, Sweet Life, and Table Manners. That was then and this is now, specifically April 5, 2011 when the first Darien Gee novel Friendship Bread will be released.

Although brief and simple, this one sentence best describes the novel: An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

Even the following early praise offers a taste of the story:

“As comforting, warm and delicious as a slice of freshly-baked friendship bread.”— Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Promises to Keep

“The wonderful characters in Friendship Bread face life-changing adversity of the sort that either brings us down or transforms us into better people. Darien Gee has a writer’s heart and a baker’s sense of mixing it all just right. The result is a book you will read over and over.”—Nancy Pickard, New York Times bestselling author of The Scent of Rain and Lightning

“Deliciously entertaining! You’ll root all the way as these characters stumble toward forgiveness, understanding, and, ultimately, celebration. A perfect book club selection, Friendship Bread is a treat worth sharing with all the women in your life.”—Kate Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Friendship Bread for Monday, April 4, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official: bio:

Darien Gee is an author, wife, and mother of three. She’s a Libra Monkey, a chocoholic, and of late, an Amish Friendship Bread addict. A former California resident, Darien served on the board of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library and ZYZZYVA, an award-winning literary journal. She’s an alum of Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her next Avalon novel, Memory Keeping, will be published in 2012 by Ballantine Books.

And now let’s get to know Darien, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Learning more and more about myself every day.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Do the things that bring you joy, and let go of the things that don’t.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Being true to yourself and feeling good about it—no guilt, no anxiety, no second guessing, no explaining.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Fear. Fear has a way of turning you upside down, of making you stop listening to yourself. It is, both figuratively and literally, a killer.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Let’s see … I live in the rolling green hills of a beautiful tropical island in the middle of the Pacific with a husband and three children I love and who love me … I think I’m good! But if pressed, well, France or Italy would be runner-ups, provided I have my gang with me.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: Really? Seriously? No, really?

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d love to be musically gifted with a gorgeous singing voice and the ability to play guitar and piano.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I had a home birth after a cesarean. I’m such a wimp when it comes to pain that I never thought I’d consider this option, much less go through with it. But I did, and it was an incredible experience.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I don’t say no when I should.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My intuition.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: When I get into other people’s business. There’s always a tendency to render an opinion or get involved in a situation that you may have strong feelings about, but it really has nothing to do with you. If anything it just makes things worse—you think you’re helping, but you’re really not.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’m told I talk fast and have a lot of energy.

Q: Who is a favorite fictional hero?
A: For me, every protagonist is a hero whenever they overcome odds and have a stronger sense of themselves by the end of the book. I just finished Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman—CeeCee is a wonderful, sweet character that you root for all the way.

Q: Who is a favorite fictional villain?
A: General Woundwort from Richard Adams’ wonderful novel, Watership Down.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Tiger Woods. Was it worth it?

Q : What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Overflowing laundry hampers. It’s just not right.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Homeschooling my kids or possibly starting up another business. I’m an entrepreneur at heart.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Movie producer.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Kindness, compassion, intelligence.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Kale. But I’d have to have access to olive oil and an oven, too.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: I’m always changing so my tastes are always changing. Here’s what I’ve been listening to the past year:

Begin Again by Colbie Caillat
Bottle it Up by Sara Bareilles
I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas
Never Know by Jack Johnson
Somewhere over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

Q: What are your 5 favorite books?
A: I’m always changing so my tastes are always changing—even favorite classics move to the back burner from time to time. I’m happy to crack open any of the following books, anywhere in the book:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Volger
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Friendship Bread is more than a novel, discover what Darien is planning by following on Twitter, becoming a fan on Facebook, and a friend at the Friendship Bread Kitchen.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Lori Roy’s Bent Road in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Lori Roy and Bent Road. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.