The Divining Wand

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The Revealing of Jael McHenry

March 30, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Skilled amateur cook and creatively talented writer Jael McHenrty combines Julie & Julia with Jodi Picoult in her debut novel, The Kitchen Daughter to be released on April 12, 2011.

In a one sentence description:

The Kitchen Daughter is about a woman who discovers she can invoke ghosts by cooking from dead people’s recipes.

And the critical reviews prove the book a literary feast:

“Skillfully rendered from Ginny’s point of view, McHenry’s debut novel is a touching tale about loss and grief, love and acceptance.” Kirkus Reviews

“McHenry’s debut novel is a sensitive and realistic portrait of someone living with Asperger’s. Readers looking for good family-themed women’s fiction will enjoy this novel, and the magical element of the cooking ghosts will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen.” Library Journal

“…an intelligent and moving account of an intriguing heroine’s belated battle to find herself.” Publishers Weekly

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Kitchen Daughter for Monday, April 11, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Jael McHenry is a talented and enthusiastic amateur cook who blogs about food and cooking at the SIMMER blog. She is a monthly pop culture columnist and Editor-in-Chief of Intrepid Media. Her work has appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Indiana Review, and the Graduate Review at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in New York City.

Now it’s time to look beyond all that and get to know Jael, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: A small town girl, citified along the way.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: “To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.” I read it on a teabag.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: I wouldn’t – I don’t want to jinx anything!

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Just the run-of-the-mill stuff – car accidents, roller coasters.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: On a beach chair in Lanai, Hawaii, overlooking the ocean. Reading.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: You’ve heard the saying “Well-behaved women rarely make history?” I’m really well-behaved, so the people I identify with, we’ve never heard of them.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My mother.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: No one who is actually cool uses the word “cool” as much as I do.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’ve always wished I could run.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: In college I was on “Jeopardy!” – I didn’t win, but I made a killing in consolation prizes.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Constant and insidious overthinking.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I want everyone to be happy.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: That we only get one go at life, since there are so many fascinating and amazing things to do with it.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I kind of like being me!

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Apparently I don’t have one – people always tell me I remind them of someone else they know.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Westley from The Princess Bride.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Also from The Princess Bride: Prince Humperdinck.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I hardly know any athletes – I’d probably want to meet the two Harlem Globetrotters who were on “The Amazing Race”, Flight Time and Big Easy, just to talk about what their experience racing around the world was like.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: When someone walking too close behind me steps on the back of my heel. It drives me NUTS.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Cooking.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Supermodel. (I could never constrain my eating enough to maintain a model’s weight, but you did say “fantasy.”)

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

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Toasted everything bagels with butter.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors by Moxy Fruvous
Vampires in Blue Dresses by Margot & the Nuclear So-and-Sos
Fast As You Can by Fiona Apple
Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello
Groove is in the Heart by Deee-Lite

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Lady Oracle and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
All About Braising by Molly Stevens

Incredibly creative and engaging, Jael McHenry is a new author to follow on Twiter, become a fan of on Facebook, and be a regular visitor to her SIMMER Blog.

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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 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.