Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dana Bate is the icing on the chick lit cupcake...plus a book giveaway

Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

I first met Dana Bate a year and a half ago at an event in Georgetown. She sparkled with personality and was telling me about the novel she had in progress. It sounded delicious (literally, since it was about food) and I knew I would have to read it as soon as it was published. We exchanged contact info and stayed in touch regarding her upcoming publication.

Well, the time has finally arrived and I am honored to feature Dana at Chick Lit Central!  She's not only a great writer, as you can see from my review of her debut novel, The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, but she's also a lot of fun to interview. She doesn't just give one sentence answers. This interview was practically a novel in itself!

Even though "Foodie" month at CLC isn't until March, Dana is here today to talk about food (what else were you expecting?!?) and share some fun information about her books. I'm also excited to share that she has her own "bun in the oven," waiting to make an appearance in March! That kid is going to grow up with some amazing culinary experiences! She currently lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, where she cooks in her spare time!

Thanks to BookSparks PR, we have one copy of The Girls' Guide... for a lucky US reader. (Have no fear, UK readers....it's only £1.99 for Kindle!)

You can find Dana at her website and on Facebook and Twitter.

First off, tell us about your awesome debut novel, The Girl's Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, and what inspired you to write it…
The book is about a twenty-six-year old woman named Hannah Sugarman who is having a quarter-life crisis. On paper, she seems to have it all: impressive job, brilliant boyfriend, famous intellectual parents. But all Hannah cares about is cooking, and unfortunately, no one takes her passion seriously. So when her relationship falls apart, she decides to start an underground supper club out of her new landlord's town house – a secret venture that is both wildly successful and highly problematic, given that it isn’t exactly legal. Suffice it to say, not everything goes as planned.

The idea came to me after I’d quit my job and moved to London with my husband for a few months while he worked on a project there. I had been toying with various ideas for a novel, when one morning I came across an article online about a woman called MsMarmitelover who hosted a secret supper club out of her London flat. Total strangers would come from all over and pay to eat her food, even though the whole operation wasn’t technically legal. I thought the idea sounded really fun – and risky – and that sort of became the launching pad for my novel.

How is your main character, Hannah, similar to and/or different from you?
Both Hannah and I love to cook – although Hannah is no doubt more skilled than I am! But like her, I follow tons of food blogs and own an unreasonable number of cookbooks and love whipping up new recipes in my kitchen. Before I met my husband, I was also a little incompetent when it came to relationships, so I suppose that’s a quality we share as well.

That said, Hannah and I are very different in many ways. When I want to do something, I usually just do it – whether that’s becoming a broadcast journalist after majoring in science, or writing romantic comedies after working in financial news. Hannah prevaricates and lets her parents’ wishes paralyze her. That isn’t to say I’m a huge risk taker. I’m pretty conservative about most things. But I’m not as risk averse as Hannah. I’d also like to think I have better judgment than Hannah does in certain situations…

What did you do to celebrate having your novel published?
I know this will shock – shock! – your readers, but my celebration involved food. My husband and I went to one of our favorite restaurants (a place in Philadelphia owned by Marc Vetri called Osteria), and we stuffed our faces with vegetable antipasti, rye bucatini with pheasant sausage ragu, and other delicious dishes. YUM.

If your novel were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Oooooh, that’s a tough one! I’m really bad at this kind of thing, since I made up all of the characters in my head, but maybe Emma Stone as Hannah, Chris O’Dowd as Blake, Ian Somerhalder as Jacob, and someone like Chace Crawford as Adam.

There are some elements of Judaism in your novel and you are also Jewish. What is your favorite Jewish holiday and what is your favorite food to go along with that holiday?
Another tough question! I think I’d have to say Rosh Hashanah. I love the idea of a new year and starting afresh – and I adore the combination of apples and honey. I also could eat challah until I passed out, and there is a kosher bakery near us that makes the most unbelievable round challah during the high holidays. It’s almost like cake. I could seriously eat an entire loaf by myself (not that I ever have…ahem…). I love lots of Jewish foods – brisket, latkes, Hamantaschen – but that challah is positively heavenly.

Since you have lived in Washington DC up until recently, and based your novel there, tell us your favorite things about living in the nation's capital.
I loved the monuments and the free museums and the cherry blossoms, but you know what I loved most of all? The people. Most of the people I met and befriended in DC were smart and passionate and full of life. Whether they were in Washington to work on education policy or international affairs, they were there to make a difference. Even when friends’ opinions or politics differed from my own, I found myself saying, “At least they have opinions!” You don’t find many apathetic people in Washington, and the spirit of the city is infectious.

Hannah makes some themed supper club meals, and one is based on food from where she grew up (in Philadelphia). This starts a conversation about popular food items in other cities. If Hannah were to make a meal based on popular Washington DC restaurants/food items, what would be included?
Washington is such a transient city that it doesn’t have many “signature” city dishes, in the way that Philadelphia has the cheesesteak and Chicago has deep-dish pizza. A lot of the dishes are regional in nature (Maryland crab cakes, etc). But DC does have the half-smoke, which is similar to a hot dog but bigger and spicier and is usually served with chili on top. It also has the “jumbo slice” – a massive slice of greasy pizza, usually served to drunk people after the bars close – but most Washingtonians would eschew the jumbo slice. Oh, and Senate bean soup, which is served in the Senate’s basement cafeteria.

So, with that said…Hannah might make something like mini half-smokes as appetizers (think pigs in a blanket, but with homemade sausage and puffed pastry and a spicy “chili” dipping sauce), a salad involving crab (maybe with finely diced apples and chives), Old Bay-dusted scallops over “Senate bean” ragout, and then for dessert…maybe blueberry buckwheat cake with maple ice cream. I know that last one probably raised some eyebrows, but Market Lunch at Eastern Market on the Hill makes amazing blueberry buckwheat pancakes (“blue bucks”) for breakfast, and people go crazy for them.

Now that you're married and can look back on this and laugh, what is the strangest or craziest date you have ever been on?
Oh, boy. A few dates could vie for that distinction. But the one that sticks out in my mind is a brunch date with a private equity guy, where he pressured me into ordering a “salmon and tuna omelet” off the specials board. I didn’t want to order it (Eggy salmon and tuna? No, thanks!), but he insisted and basically ordered it for me. The omelet was pretty bad, and when the bill came, I also discovered it was ludicrously expensive (at the time, I was making pennies as a journalist). When I divided the bill total in half and threw in my share, my date – who’d spent all brunch bragging about his cushy and lucrative job – pointed out that, in fact, my omelet cost x-times as much as his French toast and therefore I owed more than him. And then, as if I didn’t hear him the first time, he repeated himself and took me through the bill line by line, calculating my share down to the penny. I paid the “mathematically appropriate” amount, but let’s just say that was both our first and last date.

Thanks to Dana for visiting with us and to BookSparks PR for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs:
Please comment below with your e-mail address. (Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite food item from either where you grew up or where you live now?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

5. Follow us on Twitter and/or Pinterest.
6. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US only. Giveaway ends February 24th at midnight EST.


Book Mama said...

My favorite food item from my area are apples. Every fall we go apple picking and then I come home and make apple cake, apple pie, apple bread and apple crisp :)

I already follow this blog ... and LOVE it

I posted this contest on FB

I have been a member of CLC on FB and LOVE it


pascale said...

My favorite food that is from this area is meyer lemons: love to bake AND cook with them.

I follow this blog and love it.
I am also a mem ber on facebook.

This book sounds so good: I have read about it on other blogs and plan to read it.


Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I live in WI and we have door county cherries! So cherry pies with door county cherries!i follow blog, like Facebook page..

Loved the interview

Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I grew up on Cap Cod - so I love CLams and Lobster (can't pick between the two!). SInce everone else picked fruit - I'll also say cranberry bread:)!

I like, tweet and follow.


DD said...

I'm from Kansas, the wheat state. So we have...bread? Which is actually one of my favorite foods. Any bread. All breads. And I gave it up for Lent so it's killing me having to talk about! :)

dawndennis66611 at yahoo dot com

Nova said...

My favorite food item from the area I grew up in is Cincinnati style chili (either skyline or gold star)!
I follow this blog via email.
I follow CLC on facebook.
I follow CLC on pinterest.
I follow blog via GFC.
This book is awesome! love it!

Linda Mc said...

My favorite food items are mexican food: tamales, enchiladas, tacos. I live in Southern California, close to the Mexican border, and we have a lot of good Mexican food places to choose from.


Mary said...

My mom is from Kauai so pretty much everything she makes is my favorite, especially her beef tomato and her Portuguese beans.

I follow on Facebook, by email.


thonda said...

From southern California. Love all Mexican food.fb and email follower lomazowr@gmail.com.pintrest follower &twitter follower @rhondareads.

Linda Kish said...

Another Southern Californian here. I like anything with avocado in it.

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Nina said...

Haha as a 25-year-old I sure can relate to the quarter-life-crisis! Haha! As a NYer my answer is simple though--PIZZA! Hehe.
I also follow this blog and follow on twitter. :)

Mary Jo Burke said...

My dad was a great cook and made dinner every weekend.


TinaB said...

I'm from the south and my fave food is mac & cheese...southern style!
I follow u on fb & pinterest

karenk said...

my favourite food item is: pizza.

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful story

i'm a follower, too

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Karen White said...

Would love to win this. Happy to meet a new author!


Les J. said...

Love this giveaway. I live in an area that isn't really known for anything, but I'm not too far away from Poteet, TX that has amazing strawberries!

Love the giveaway!


EFC Chrissy said...

My favorite food item...well, it's not an item so much as a meal. I love Primanti Brother's sandwiches! They originated in Pittsburgh. Their best seller is the cheese steak - meat, cheese, tomato, cole slaw, and fries sandwiched between 2 slices of thick-cut white bread. So Yummy!

I follow your wonderful blog, facebook, twitter, and pinterest!


Maureen said...

I like the homemade apple cider.
I follow on GFC - Maureen
twitter - @MaureenCE
pinterest - maureence
tweet: https://twitter.com/MaureenCE/status/304660528960266240
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Unknown said...

I'm originally from Wisconsin, so it's gotta be beer, brats, and cheese! :)

I follow the blog
I'm a member of CLC on Facebook
I follow on twitter


Dolly said...

Apparently this is a 'Hoosier' thing, because when my family is here from out of state, they HAVE to have...breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches. I think of them as just a normal thing, but don't we take for granted that which is commonplace to us?

I'm a FB/blog follower

jcsites2002 at hotmail dot com

Erica said...

From California so have lots to choose from. But my fav are the great strawberries.

I follow the blog by email. A follower on FB twitter GFC.

wordywon at gmail dot com

bn100 said...

I'd say strawberries.

I follow the blog.


Krystal Lynn said...

I like the strawberries from Poteet, TX just outside of San Antonio. We have a festival for them and everything.


I follow the blog, on twitter, facebook and on Pinterest. :)