Monday, April 26, 2010

Cakes and Writing - an interview with Lindsay Eland

We are incredibly excited to have Lindsay Eland on MFB for today - it's her first stop on her blog tour to promote the very sweet, very cute "Scones & Sensibility".

1. What came first for you when you sat down to write Scones & Sensibility? Polly’s voice or the overall story? Polly’s distinct voice came first, and completely cracked me up. She’d respond in my head to something that I was doing or watching or reading and wouldn’t really leave me alone. And when I finally sat down and started writing the first line of Scones and Sensibility, her story kind of just emerged from her over-romantic and over-dramatic commentary in my head. Of course there was a whole lot of revision of her story, but the overall plot didn’t change from my initial draft.

2. Why write for the middle grade audience? I love the growth and experiences that happen at this age and the blending of new experiences with the innocence of a childhood that is still very much present. This was the age (when I was in fifth grade) where I really fell in love with reading as well as decided I wanted to become a writer. Life was magical and confusing, filled with so much emotions on every extreme. It’s a time where girls and boys are transitioning in so many ways, and rather than bemoan those transitions, I long to celebrate them with funny and thought-provoking stories that encourage and treasure this delicate time.

3. What do you think it is about books like Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice that make us long for a more romantic time and place? Well, in my humble opinion, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Anne Shirley and Elizabeth Bennet are two of the most endearing, funny, confident female protagonists in literature. They embrace their situation with hope, humor, and an indomitable spirit that so engage readers that we’d follow them anywhere…even with Zombies. I also think that the longing for a more romantic time springs from the knowledge that something precious is lost and cannot be got back again. I read and re-read and re-re-read those books cause I want to experience something that I never have and never will.

4. You set Scones & Sensibility in a small seaside town – do you think it would have worked in a larger city? How much did placing it there, specifically, affect you writing S&S? I think Scones and Sensibility could’ve worked out okay in a larger city, though honestly, it never even crossed my mind to set it anywhere else than a beachside town. Polly needed to know her town and it’s inhabitants almost too-well while in search of matches to make. And her town is based around one of my very favourite places in the world to visit, Ocean City, New Jersey. I’m actually going for a week this summer with my family, and I can’t wait to smell the salt-water, eat Mack and Manco’s pizza, and stroll along the Boardwalk!

5. Polly’s voice is very unique – very sweet, slightly scatterbrained and dare I say it “feisty”, as befitting the heroines she loves so much. Was it hard work for you, keeping her voice true whilst you were writing and how did you manage it? It actually wasn’t hard at all. Polly was incredibly fun and entertaining and I remember anxiously awaiting my next writing session to see what she would do or say next. The hardest part about writing in Polly’s voice was keeping myself from talking like her after I was done writing for the day. I started many an email with the words, “My dearest So-and-So.”

6. Are we right in assuming that you enjoy pastries and delicious bakes? And if so, what is the recipe you are known for? Personally, everyone loves my cheesecake so I’ve become “Liz will do the cheesecake” invitee to parties. I do enjoy pastries and delicious yummy bakes! My best recipe is my chocolate ├ęclair recipe, which is also wonderful because it isn’t temperamental to high altitude like a lot of baked items can be where we live. Oh, and will you do the cheesecake for my next party please? (Liz says: if you pay for my flights, I will be your resident cheesecake baker!)

7. Please tell us about your road to being published. As with all published authors, my road to publication is shorter than some and longer than others and filled with rejections, critiques, revisions, and acceptance! I started out my journey writing picture books and actually had some success. I won an honorable mention in the Writers Digest Annual Writing Competition for one of my picture book manuscripts and then won 3rd place the next year for a different manuscript. At that time the middle grade novel was something I looked at with longing to write but always thought it was something impossible. But I decided to give it a try, and instantly fell in love! I wrote a novel called You Gotta Be Kidding M,e which I began querying to agents with in the summer of 2007. I signed with my amazing agent in February 2008 and she began to submit a different manuscript that wound up receiving very wonderful rejections…though rejections all the same. In the meantime, I wrote Scones and Sensibility and gave it to my agent that summer. She pulled the first manuscript from submission and began to submit Scones and Sensibility. It was about two to three weeks later that it went to auction for a two-book deal!

8. I noticed on your blog that you are mentioning a second book and that it is not a sequel to S&S – are you allowed to share with us what it is? But of course! It’s called A Teaspoon of Rosemary and it’s a story about a shy young girl who, on her way to becoming a young chef, learns to find confidence and strength inside herself.

9. Will you consider writing anything for the older YA market or even the adult market? I would definitely consider writing for the YA market, though right now my heart is still fully into middle grade fiction. And really I have absolutely no desire to write for adults…though I think as a whole, adults are pretty okay.

10. What is your writing day like? In the mornings, if I’m not playing a rousing game of memory, attempting to beat my five-year-old in soccer, or getting beat in Monopoly, I usually spend a little bit of time answering emails, writing a blog, checking livejournal, twitter and facebook, and working on critiques for my critique groups. Once 1:00 hits, it’s down to writing and I usually stay molded to my chair for a solid two-three hour period of time...with small breaks to eat chocolate and have an iced mocha, because of course, a writer cannot live on words alone.

11. I absolutely love your website and your blog – how important do you think it is for authors to have an online presence? I think it’s important that readers find authors accessible which means authors having a web presence. I don’t think it has to be a lot though, and really the best thing writers can do for themselves and their careers and for their readers is to write another wonderful book.

12. Do you have any writing advice for aspiring young authors out there? Never stop reading, never stop writing and never stop trying. Throw darts at your rejection letters and eat chocolate until you grow nice and plump, but don’t give up…ever! It’s only when you’ve decided to stop trying that you know you’ve failed.

Please go to Books and Literature for Teens, tomorrow to see the next stop on The Scones and Sensibility Blog Tour.


To win a random "cake in a box" from MFB, comment below and tell us what you enjoy snacking on when either writing or reading or out with your friends. It can be cake, cookies, biscuits, crisps, whatever you like.

We'll draw a winner on Friday, 30th April (because it's Mark's birthday) and announce it on the blog. Please note that this is for UK entrants only - purely because I can't afford to post perishables abroad!

Liz's Favourite Recipe: Best NY Cheesecake in the world!

175g plain digestive biscuits, finely crushed (i.e. break it up into a glass bowl and use the back of a rolling pin or a CLEAN bottom of a screwdriver / coke / beer bottle to finely crush them, not a lot of power is required, to save the glass bowl).

50g unsalted butter, melted (microwave is best - anywhere from 20 - 35 seconds)

225g golden caster sugar

3 tablespoons corn flour

seeds of 1 vanilla pod

few drops of vanilla essence

740 full fat Philadelphia cream cheese (this is where you can opt to be good - half full fat, half low fat, mebbe?)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 x 284ml carton double cream

about 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds

You will also require a springform cake tin, or a deep pie dish of approximately 23cm in diameter and at least 6cm deep. Lightly oil it and line with parchment paper.

Preheat your oven to 200 degree Celsius, 180 degree Celsius for fan or 6 for gas. Combine the crushed biscuits and melted butter in a bowl and mix till it forms a sticky mass. Press evenly over the base of the lined cake tin and put it to one side whilst you mix the scrummy insides.

Dump the sugar, sifted cornflour, vanilla seeds and essence into a bowl (if you have an electric mixer, even better because you can turn it on slow/lowest setting) then gradually add the cream cheese and meld it in, be careful not to add air here, as you don't want the cake to rise - honestly! - then add the cream and the egg and beat till smooth and smelling divine.

Put your cake tin on a heavy baking tray (for support and to catch any spillages over the side) and pour the mixture in, making sure it sits evenly in the tin. Pop that into the oven for around 45 mins (don't peak until you must) then crank it up for 5 minutes to brown the top of the cheesecake (or not, if it is already browned). Remove from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin before refrigerating it.

Serve it with quite a tangy and sharp fruit compote, as it will enhance the flavour of the cheese.


Falcata Times said...

Here you go Liz, Welsh Honey Cakes:

120g Welsh honey
1 tsp cinnamon
120g brown sugar
1 egg, separated
225g flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
120g butter
a little sugar
a little milk


Sift the flour, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg yolk and beat in before adding the honey. Add this mixture to the flour along with just enough milk to form a stiff batter.

Beat the eggwhites until stiff then fold into the flour mix. Divide this between two small cake tins, sprinkling a little sugar on top of each one. Place in an oven pre-heated to 190°C and bake for about 20 minutes. When ready sprinkle a little more sugar over the top and allow to cool before serving.

iffath said...

I am ADDICTED to crisps! They are just so..amazaing..and wow..yum ;) x

Anonymous said...

chips and salsa! Can't wait to read this Lindsay :)

Anonymous said...

Loved your interview with Lindsay, I have read the book and loved it!!

Unknown said...

Hi to my lovely Linds whose writing never fails to make me hungry! Hmmm does delicious 75% dark chocolate count? I'm not much of a baker but I love to cook.