by Jenny Nelson
The best advice I ever received about writing a novel was to write the book I wanted to read. Not the book I thought readers wanted to read, or the one my mother would love, or my father would proudly display in his den, or my husband could share with his mountain biking pals, but the one I wanted to curl up with, hanging on to every word until I’d gobbled it up completely.
When I started writing what would eventually become Georgia’s Kitchen, I had already decided: I wanted to read about a chef. A successful, funny, savvy, thirty-something chef who’s arrived at her position with some difficulty, but who clearly belongs where she is. Someone who’s both tough and vulnerable, who doesn’t disappear into the wallpaper, who rises to the occasion (except when she doesn’t – and there are definitely a few of these moments in Georgia’s Kitchen!) and who wouldn’t even consider giving up without a fight. The setting was never in question: New York City, the big-time for chefs and one of my favorite places in the world. And because I’m a huge Italiaphile who loves all things Italy (food, wine, people, architecture, film, clothing, design), I decided to send Georgia to Italy, mecca for chefs. It didn’t hurt that my husband and I were married in Tuscany and that some of my fondest memories have taken place along those ancient streets, or in charming trattoria and [amazonify]1439173338[/amazonify]beautiful villas. The chance to revisit these settings, if only through the eyes of Georgia, was too tempting to pass up.
I also knew that, while I wanted to read something humorous and entertaining, with a touch of glamour and tons of food, I didn’t want to read something that lacked gravitas entirely. I wanted Georgia to deal with real emotions and conflict, to be pushed outside her comfort zone and, ultimately, to triumph. I wanted a heroine I could root for until the very last page.