We’re so pleased to wrap up our time at the ball with debut author, Jenny Nelson here today. Her new book, Georgia’s Kitchen just came out this month. Georgia’s Kitchen tells the story of Georgia Gray, the talented, thirty-three-year-old head chef at a trendy New York restaurant who, suddenly finding herself unemployed and unengaged, travels to Tuscany, where she helps open a trattoria, finds romance with a vineyard owner and embarks on a crash course in self-discovery before returning to New York to salvage her reputation and open her own restaurant in the city she loves.
And guess what? You can win a copy here today. All you have to do is leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win.
Jenny stopped by to answer a few questions. Welcome, Deb Jenny!
A lot of the Debs love to cook. Do you? We know you have kids, so you probably don’t get much time alone, but if you had a night to yourself to cook whatever you liked best, what would it be? I do love to cook and, fortunately, my six-year-old twin daughters are fairly adventurous when it comes to tasting new things (which, sadly, is not the same as liking new things), so I do get to try out some new recipes now and again. If I were home alone with the whole delicious evening to myself, I’d make a super simple grilled wild salmon rubbed with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest, sautéed swiss chard with plenty of garlic and good olive oil, and quinoa salad with black beans, corn and tomatoes. I’d wash this all down with a glass of Sancerre, then finish off the meal with a serving or two of Death by Chocolate ice cream (in a mug, not a bowl — it tricks me into believing I’m not eating as much), no explanation necessary.
Even though you’ve undoubtedly been asked this a million times already, we want to know. What’s your connection to Tuscany that led you to send your main character there? I’m a huge Italiaphile who loves all things Italy – food, wine, design, architecture, clothing, people and, above all, the country itself. My husband, Warren, and I have traveled extensively throughout Italy and were married outside of Florence in a villa overlooking the Duomo. Warren’s mother’s side of the family live in Milan and he speaks Italian fairly fluently, so we decided that gave us the perfect excuse to get married there. Once I’d decided that Georgia, my main character, was a chef, sending her to Italy was a no-brainer – what chef wouldn’t want to go to Italy, the land of truffles, San Marzano tomatoes, artisanal pasta, and so many insanely delicious wines you couldn’t possibly name them all? Plus, it allowed me to revisit Tuscany, if only through Georgia’s eyes, which was like seeing it for the first time all over again.
It seems like the day after your book debuts, people start asking about your second book. What are you working on now?I’m working on a novel about a thirtysomething woman who trades in her cosmopolitan city life for life in the country. It explores themes of love, family and self-discovery and, like Georgia’s Kitchen, has a food motif running through it, though in a very different way.
What was the most exciting thing about your debut week? I’d have to say my book launch party. I’m not one for the spotlight, and throwing parties for myself is not something to which I’m accustomed. So I was a little nervous beforehand, worried that the food might not pass muster or the wine wouldn’t be up to snuff or – gasp! – no one would show. But the minute I walked into Kenmare, the restaurant in New York hosting the party, all my cares disappeared (I’m sure the seriously stiff Sicilian Margarita I swilled had something to do with that!). As one friend remarked, the party was the perfect mix of family, old school friends, new friends, industry types and randoms. The common thread was that everyone there knew how hard and how long I’d worked on Georgia’s Kitchen and everyone was there to celebrate that effort. It was a warm and lovely event I’ll never forget.
Anything you wished other debut authors had clued you in to before your big debut this month? It’s such a whirlwind and it brings up so many emotions it can be overwhelming. Elation at being published, anxiety about the book not selling or not being well received, angst about completing book number two, delight upon seeing the book in real live bookstores. I wish someone had told me to savor the moment and not to let my emotions get too far ahead of me. And I really wish someone had warned me to never, ever check my numbers on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. With a simple click of the mouse you can find out how well or poorly your book is selling online. The fluctuations are wild and I honestly have no idea what the numbers even mean. Every day I vow that I’ll never ever check again and then I go back! If I were to pass on any advice to future debut authors, I’d say take some time to reflect on what getting published means for you. As Ann Lamott says in her fantastic book, Bird by Bird, it won’t change your life, or provide fame and fortune overnight, but it’s something you carry with you always. And that’s pretty cool.
Thanks, Jenny for being a Deb for the Day! Congratulations on your release. Don’t forget everyone, a comment gets you entered to win your very own copy of Georgia’s Kitchen. Contest ends today at midnight Pacific time.
P.S. I should also add a note to the new Debs who take over tomorrow…If you ever are in charge of interviewing someone for the site and you totally forget until the morning before, you better hope the person you’re supposed to interview is as nice, quick and accommodating as Jenny Nelson so that you don’t look bad on the very last day you’re a member of The Debutante Ball. I’m just sayin’. Thanks Jenny for saving my (tofu) bacon.