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Friday 15 January 2016

ℚ♫ Simmer and Smoke: Squash Blossom Trilogy [1] - Peggy Lampman

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author (and food blogger)  to talk about Simmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice (, Peggy Lampman, 381 pages), a Women's Contemporary Fiction novel.

Simmer and Smoke was awarded First Place Fiction 2015, Royal Dragonfly Awards.

"…an eye-opening and thought-provoking must read.” - San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars.

Kirkus Reviews on this deliciously rendered novel that illuminates the power of mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness and hope: “A sweetly told saga, bubbling with appealing characters and food-related talk…A poor country girl and a fashionable city woman learn about life in a tasty novel that blends romance and recipes.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Peggy Lampman; thank you for joining us.

To begin Peggy has shared with us the music playlist that inspired her while writing her book, Simmer and Smoke - enjoy!

Ella Mae – Pieta, Zoe & Constie Brown
     Couldn’t listen to this one enough. It put me in the right frame of mind to write, Shelby’s voice, even though it wasn’t her story.
Glorious – Mamuse
     I listened to this when I wrote about Squash Blossom Farms.
Strange and Wonderful – Mamuse
A Long Ride Home – Patty Griffin
Trust Me – Shelby Lynne
     Love her! Mallory’s music
Soft Talk – Shelby Lynne
Anyone Who Ever Had a Heart – Shelby Lynne
Top of the World – Dixie Chicks
September When It Comes – Roseanna Cash (et al)
     this song played a continuous loop in my brain
A Feather’s Not a Bird – Roseanna Cash (et al)
Misguided Angel – Cowboy Junkies
I’m so lonesome I could Cry – Cowboy Junkies
Clean Getaway – Maria Taylor
That Old Feeling – Allison Krause
So Long So Wrong – Allison Krause
Gone, Gone, Gone – Allison Krause
Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson – Allison Krause
Something in the Water – Carrie Underwood
Mama’s Song – Carrie Underwood
One Voice – The Wailin’ Jenny’s
On The Dock of the Bay – Sara Bareilles
Brave – Sara Bareilles
The graveyard in Stewartville.
Visit Peggy Lampman's website to view more
images and tidbits about Simmer and Smoke.
What was the inspiration for Simmer and Smoke?
"One December afternoon in 2010, I was visiting my ancestral graveyard in Stewartville, a back-woods, confederate flag-waving town in Alabama.  As I watched a young woman and child wander down the road, I wondered how a young mother could escape a town of racism, poverty and crack houses.  That evening I wrote the first page of "Simmer and Smoke"."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"One of my protagonists, Mallory, is a version of myself in that we both had similar upbringings in the Deep South and both share a love of cooking, writing and photography.  As well, we both had by-lines in a newspaper and then, dot com.  Mallory is a more twisted, tortured and exaggerated version of who I was at her age, and—unlike Mallory— I’ve had a couple of kids and a divorce under my belt.

Having owned a specialty food store, and worked in advertising and hiring in the grocery industry, I’ve gotten to know many Shelby's in my life, as well.  (Also, please see the answer to the question above; I grew up in both Mallory and Shelby’s world.)"
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Simmer and Smoke - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I found Derek Murphy on The Book Designer site.  His work appealed to me even though I was, at first, hesitant; I didn’t see many examples of women’s fiction in his body of work.

We spent a long time trying to capture the feel of the story.  Clip art was a pain; I couldn’t find a proper skillet.  I ended up taking that cover picture of the fry pan.  In the end, I’m quite pleased with the cover as it reflects the emotional backdrop of the story.  I especially love the font that Derek created."
Why should we read Simmer and Smoke and what sets it apart from the rest?
"What separates the story from some others in my genre is that I don’t shy from dicey, controversial issues.  Not that I proselytize, but I express my feeling that there are many paths up the mountain, no matter race, creed or country of birth.  Also, my style can be offbeat; I use odd imagery and the story is told in three distinct voices that alternate between back-woods South in one chapter, then up-town, sophisticated South in the next."
Can you tell us something quirky about Simmer and Smoke, its story and characters?
"There is quite a bit quirky in this novel; particular in Coryville, Shelby’s hometown.  The imagery around Miss Ann’s glass eye and the tormenting Jackalope contribute to making the story unique.  My husband has relatives that live in “colorful” communities; I have drawn tremendous inspiration from these folks that I’ve come to love, and appreciate their giving me license to draw intimately from their landscape."
Who would you recommend Simmer and Smoke to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"If you enjoyed Fanny Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes”, Laura Esquival’s “Like Water for Chocolate”, and Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Secret Lives of Bees”, I believe you will enjoy this story.  If you enjoyed those books, love to cook, and well as reading stories set in the American South, I’m fairly certain this book will be a slam dunk for you.

Although tame, there is some profanity, sex and other adult themes such as substance abuse."
If you could / wished to turn Simmer and Smoke into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"It would be a high-budget film with the actors I have in mind.

Courteney Cox (with bad makeup and a pot belly) would play Mama (Note: one of my best friends growing up, Virginia Cox, was Courtney’s big sister.)

Billy Bob Thornton or John Hawkes would play Lester;
John James Preston [Chris Noth] would play Tony;
Jennifer Lawrence (with brown contacts) would play Shelby;
Julia Roberts would play Mallory;
Reese Witherspoon would play Itchy;
Chris Hemsworth (with dark hair and green contacts) would play Cooper.

I’m stuck on Miss Ann.  Do you know any great six-year-old girl actresses that can perform gyrations with their eyes?"

Uhm... I'd have to think about that one...

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"There are experiences in life that change you, and there is no closure for me until I write about these experiences. I write about what I know, and the truth I’ve found that helps me to defeat despair about the world we live in. I write to get to the pain and pull myself out––to find hope, joy and laughter in all the crazy chaos. My greatest desire is that my words will transport the people who read this book to this same place. Writing is my way of sharing my soul with the world.

My genre is woman’s, high-concept fiction. I’m not drawn to Sci-fi, paranormal, self-help or chick lit.  If pressed to pick a favorite genre I enjoy reading, Women’s Literary Fiction would be it. But I’m a fan of literary fiction, in general––particularly books that deal with the complexities of finding compassion and love (in all its guises) in today’s world.  Quirky, very original takes on this theme are especially enjoyed.  A good example of this would be the last book I read, Jonathan Franzen’s “Purity”.  It’s not women’s fiction, but there were intriguing twists, turns and psychotic nuances, particularly between the mother and daughter.

My favorite piece of historical literary fiction, to date, is Sue Monk Kidd's “The Invention of Wings.”  My favorite memoir is Patti Smith’s “Just Kids.” "
What is your writing process?
"I write best after awaking from my dreams.  So the morning hours are most productive for me. I “stream” 500 words one day, then go back to them and file and shape them the next day.  I try to stick to this discipline but life does get in the way."
What is in store next?
"“Simmer and Smoke” is Book 1 in the Squash Blossom Trilogy.  I’m working on Book 2 now:  “Where There’s Smoke”.  I’ve a solid outline and have written close to 15,000 (clean) words.  It’s taking me down an interesting, lively path…"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?

"Here’s a photo my hubbie just took of me.  I’m at my favorite place in the world, at our home on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  It is snowing and I’m holding my Pachamama that I recently purchased in Peru.

Pachamama is a goddess revered by the people of the Andes and while traveling through Peru, she was often referred to in casual conversation by the locals.  I felt her presence in all I experienced—village harvest festivals, while climbing mountains, chewing coca leaves, at Machu Picchu.  She is a fertility goddess who, in Inca mythology, presides over planting and harvesting; she embodies the mountains, and also causes earthquakes.  Pachamama is an ever-present and independent deity who has the creative power to sustain life on our mother earth."
I like that - mythology, especially anything to do with South Americat truly fascinates me. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
"Thank you for inviting me to your book club. I am continuously updating my food blog and author page. I would love hearing from you @"

Simmer and Smoke
Available NOW!

UK: purchase from US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads


dinnerfeed said...

Wow, Books Chatter! (Yes, isn't South America mythology fascinating?) What an incredible interview this has been. Thank you! I especially appreciate your making this song list of songs that were so inspirational to me as I wrote "Simmer and Smoke". I always tear up when listening to Ella Mae. My news: my agent called on Monday. Lake Union Publishing is buying my book and giving me an advance for the second. (Sorry for the redundancy for those following the tour.)

The scary news is they want me to write a book and it's not the book I've been writing for the past few months! Scarier, they want it within the year. We have cooked up an idea, quite intriguing to me. Do any writers out there have tips for working under deadlines??? Peggy

Majanka Verstraete said...

Good luck writing your new book! And in a year, yikes.

Majanka @ I Heart Reading

dinnerfeed said...

I know, I know, Majanka. I'm going to the library now. The neighbors yippy dogs are making a ruckus and I'm scared of what I'll do to them if I don't leave the house (-:

BooksChatter said...

Hi! (Yep, it sure it!)
I love playlists as they introduce us to new, forgotten or favourite pieces (and I am very eclectic ;-) )

What exciting news! Personally I work better with a deadline, as, not having a choice in the matter, I HAVE to focus and crack on! (although I am not a writer... I can only admire what you do!)

Just think about what you CAN do, and do not get bogged down on negatives or details. Don't worry about it - just do what you do!

Wishing you all the best!


dinnerfeed said...

Thanks for that encouragement, Flora. I know I can do it; I did 20% of the outline today and I'm feeling very good about it. Maybe because Pachamama has been in my thoughts? You've got a great blog that I look forward to following. The music idea is a fabulous addition. Very unique!