The Debutante Ball Welcomes Back Deb Alicia Bessette

This week the Debutante Ball has the distinct pleasure of welcoming back Deb Alicia Bessette, from the Deb Class of 2010. She’s here with us today to celebrate the release of the paperback version of her debut novel.

Alicia Bessette’s first novel, A Pinch Of Love (also published as Simply From Scratch), became an international bestseller immediately upon publication. People magazine dubbed it “tasty” and Library Journal raved, “a strong, richly detailed debut novel, with a truly lovable heroine.” Alicia was born and raised in central Massachusetts. A pianist and freelance writer, she and her husband, novelist Matthew Quick, live in New England. For more information visit

[Wow — husband and wife novelists! Talk about a creative match-up. Stay tuned, because Matthew has agreed to be with us in March to share the release of his next YA novel, BOY21.]

Here’s a little about A Pinch of Love:

Rose-Ellen “Zell” Carmichael Roy doesn’t cook, but she wears her late husband Nick’s camouflage apron every day. That’s her widow style. It’s been more than a year since Nick’s tragic death during a post-Katrina relief mission in New Orleans, but Zell can’t bring herself to move on.

Then, a postman’s error spurs her to enter a baking contest in the hopes of donating the grand prize to the hurricane survivors in Nick’s memory. After Zell’s first attempt at baking goes embarrassingly awry, she meets Ingrid Knox, her motherless nine-year-old neighbor, and the two forge an unlikely friendship that will alter both their lives forever.

Need a little more inducement? How about this:  “Fans of Cecilia Ahearn’s PS, I Love You will find a lot to like here.” —Library Journal  

Alicia took the Deb Ball Interview for us. Must have been fun to be on the other side of the questions this time.

Where do you love to be?

Outside. Especially in the mountains, near rivers and lakes, with trees all around. It’s always been that way for me. When I was little I used to talk to trees. I suppose I still do, in a different way. I feel most myself, most relaxed, most capable, when I’m on a wooded path, or a mountaintop, or a secluded riverbank. I’m all about negative ions, baby! Fresh air and sunshine might not be a cure-all, but they lift my spirits.


Do you have any phobias?

I have so many phobias. A lot of them are weird.

I’m afraid of insects getting tangled in my hair. I’m afraid of very crowded places (such as Versailles palace at the height of tourist season, which I had to leave in order to avoid full-blown panic). I’m afraid of paper near my eyes; if someone comes running at me waving concert tickets or a birthday card or a newspaper all up in my face, I freak out.

If anyone reading along feels like sharing a phobia in the comments section, that would make me feel less alone!


Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.

The occasion of this interview. I was a Deb in 2010, the year of release of my debut novel. Now it’s out in paperback. To think I’m writing and making a living from it makes me so happy.


Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.

One storyline in A Pinch Of Love that was edited out concerned a mountain lion. The big cat appeared in and around the town of Wippamunk, and some of the main characters — the good friends who support the narrator, Zell, through her grief — caught glimpses of it. If you read the book closely, you’ll find vestiges of this storyline.

I still think about the mountain lion. What her secrets were. What she wanted. Why she was there. I suppose she symbolizes something, both in my book and in my life. I’m not sure what yet. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out.


What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Persist. Stick-to-it-itveness is the most important quality a writer can develop. You might craft phenomenal sentences, you might be adept at self-editing, you might take criticism like a pro. But if you quit after the first disappointment — a rejection, a bad review, poor sales, whatever — none of those skills will amount to anything.

In 2007 I was rejected by eleven creative writing MFA programs. Eleven. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so low. In 2008 I racked up more than one hundred rejections from literary agents for a novel I was pitching. I reached a new low and spent a few months crying. Eventually I scraped myself up off the floor and started working on the novel that would become my debut, and an international bestseller. The moral of the story is, if the world tells you your writing isn’t ready, it might not be. But that doesn’t mean it won’t ever be.

Keep writing. Keep going. Believe. You must! Persist.


Alicia has agreed to give a free copy of A Pinch of Love to some lucky commenter — HOORAY! Now would be a good time to share your phobias. Come on, spill!

17 Replies to “The Debutante Ball Welcomes Back Deb Alicia Bessette”

  1. Hi Alicia! A PINCH OF LOVE sounds like a delightful read — can’t wait to get hold of it myself.

    Great advice for writers. Honestly, just keeping at it (while, of course, continuing to improve your craft) is the most important part of the process. The one way to guarantee you’ll never succeed is to give up trying.

    As for phobias, cockroaches will send me screaming into the night. *shudders* Not terribly fond of spiders, either, but for some reason cockroaches are worse.

  2. Yay! Congrats on the release – love the paperback cover!

    You do have very unique phobias. Mine are boring – heights and flying. Generally I pride myself on the fact that I’m not scared of much, but right now I’m feeling very inadequate!

    1. I’m with you on flying. I think for me it’s related to a certain level of claustrophobia — the thing I hate most about flying is being stuck in the cabin with no way to get off the aircraft if/when I want to. (Well, no GOOD way… *grin*)

  3. I hate crowds, too. I dream about being stuck in small tunnels. Somebody will come up with all kinds of strange reasons for that, I’m sure.

    Good advice to writers and a lovely book that sounds right up my alley! Can’t wait for the paperback release! I’ll be in line.

  4. Hi Alicia! Oh, you are NOT alone! The whole paper near my eyes thing–that’s me too! (Deep breath of relief ensues…)

    I LOVE the cover for A PINCH OF LOVE and being a Katrina evacuee myself, I am so enamored with the premise. It’s been on my radar for a while but now it’s at the top of my pile. I can’t wait to dig in–it sounds absolutely wonderful.

    Thanks so much for coming back to visit with us!

  5. Thanks for being with us, Alicia! I loathe crowds, too. And bugs in my hair and really anything creepy/crawly/maggot-like or with more than four legs.

    All the very best to you on your paperback release!

  6. This sounds like a good book and I’d love to win it.
    As for phobias, I dependent on supplemental oxygen.
    Each time I leave the house, I fear running out of oxygen
    before I get back home.

  7. Hi Alicia! A Pinch of Love has a lovely cover 🙂
    My phobia is with insects and bugs, everything from spiders to flies to snakes. Don’t like them, want to see them or have them near me. I have an odd phobia as well with balloons. I’m scared of them popping them near me and will go out of my way to keep my distance.

  8. Yay Alicia! So happy to meet you here again… and congrats on ppbk pub day of your wonderful book. xoxo, Sarah
    PS I’m phobic about flying, and sitting in the middle of a full row of seats during crowded events – movies, concerts, etc.

  9. Oooh, the book sounds good! I started following Debs after Alicia’s class so I’m glad to get introduced again.

    It sounds like a readers have a wide variety of phobias. I do not have any of the ones mentioned. I have a hyper sensitive sense of smell and I fear being stuck next to someone who has an odor.

    Congrats on a successful book! Now I want to check out your music too!

  10. I read the book and absolutely loved it. in fact, I’d say it was one of my favorite reads this year! I’m wondering when we can expect your next? I’m looking forward to it.

    Also, since I got some bad writing news today, thanks for the advice to persist. I needed that reminder.

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