Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

It is a first here on That’s What She Read – a post written by someone other than me. For the first time in almost five years, an author is going to share some insights into her book. It is an interesting piece on just how closely the ties between author and character can be. Without further ado, I give you Mary Simses, author of the very cute The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe.

Mary Simses Author Photo

Mary Simses

What Ellen Loves

Ellen is the main character in Blueberry Café. Although the book is not autobiographical, Ellen and I do share some traits. Here are a few of the things Ellen (and I) love:

Old jazz standards. Ellen loves the music of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Hoagy Carmichael, and other artists of that bygone era. Those geniuses created hundreds of incredible songs, including, “Night and Day” (Porter), “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Kern, with lyrics by my friend Billy Harbach’s father, Otto), “Our Love is Here to Stay” (George and Ira Gershwin; featured toward the end of my book, by the way), and “Georgia on my Mind” (Carmichael). One of Ellen’s favorite musical artists of today is Diana Krall. She’s a fabulous singer and pianist and her interpretations of those old standards are amazing. Whenever I play Diana’s rendition of “It Could Happen to You,” I imagine it as the perfect opening song to The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe, if it was ever made into a movie. Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Window and Window Boxes

Window and Window Boxes
Photo by Mary Simses

Photography. Ellen is always thinking about how things would look through the viewfinder of her Nikon camera, a habit she shares with me. When I was in high school, back when people still used rolls of film, I had a darkroom and I would while away hours in there. Now it’s so different with digital photography, but I’m glad I learned the old-fashioned way. There’s something about seeing an image appear, first ghostly faint but soon emerging with robust grays and blacks, that I’ll never forget. In the very first pages of Blueberry Café, Ellen gets into trouble because of a photograph she is trying to frame in her camera. While I might have bumped into a few people while backing up to take a photo, I think that’s been the extent of my photography-related problems.

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses

Good food. Ellen is treated to a variety of delicious things to eat while in Beacon, Maine, including warm apple cider doughnuts from the Three Penny Diner, clam chowder (“chow-da”) from the Antler, and the Thanksgiving sandwich from Grover’s Market (where the “R” in “Market” is missing from the sign, leaving only the outline of where the letter used to be and a distinctly Maine pronunciation!). I was inspired to write about these foods because of my own experiences. My favorite doughnuts are made by Chefcorp of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and are sold at a Green Market in West Palm Beach. My favorite clam chowder is made at a little restaurant in Darien, Connecticut, called Rory’s (their chowder has won the Newport chowder competition), and my favorite turkey sandwich (the “Thanksgiving Sandwich”) can be savored at the Firehouse Deli in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe Tour Schedule

I don’t know about anyone else but now I feel a strong desire for a warm apple cider doughnut to eat while savoring the soothing strains of good jazz. Thank you, Ms. Simses, for your interesting essay! 

Don’t forget to check out Ms. Simses’ novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe and the rest of the tour stops!

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