As an author, I am often asked questions about myself, not just about Immigrant soldier.  Here is a sample of a more personal Q & A.

What appeals to you about historical fiction?

My two favorite genres to read are historical fiction and what I call location fiction—that is a story which takes place in a foreign country such as China, India, or France.   I think it is because both types of novel show ways of living that are different from my own.   The basic needs of the characters are usually universal and familiar, but the details of daily life and the norms of society in the past or in another culture fascinate me.   I think this is why I also love living history museums and travel.

What kind of travel do you like?

I like long car trips combined with staying in a few special places for days or weeks.  Recently I enjoyed a trip to southern France and Spain. This combined a 3 week home exchange in a small town in Provence with excursions around the area by car, then by train to Barcelona and by car from there to Madrid.  I loved the home exchange because it allowed me to really get to know one village. I could go to the local markets, the boulangerie, the charcuterie, the boucherie, and the fromagerie for supplies to take “home” and create meals in the local style.

I also like traveling to more exotic places and have been to South America, Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and India twice – the first time by car overland in 1972 and, more recently on an educational tour.

I’ve never been on a cruise and, though I am sometimes tempted by the good food and the promise of not having to deal daily with luggage, I really prefer traveling in a way that allows me to be immersed in the local culture.  There is nothing I like more than wandering through outdoor markets — antiques, vegetables, local handicrafts — it doesn’t matter, I like them all.

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?

My automatic response is to say – travel!  But that’s more than a simple pastime, it’s a passion.  On a daily basis, my favorite activity when I get up from the computer is cooking. For me preparing food is simply another creative outlet. I like to try new dishes, experiment with different ingredients and flavors, cook from scratch, and I especially like to make dishes inspired by the foods I have eaten during my travels. Sometimes I use a recipe as a starting point and sometimes the dish comes straight from my imagination.  I cook for my family on holidays, prepare small dinner parties for friends, and I even cook for myself when I’m on my own.  No packaged dinners or take-out for me.  And when the weather is fine, as it is most of the year in Southern California, I eat outdoors in my lovely garden.

What is your favorite dish?

It’s almost impossible for a “foodie” like me to narrow it down.  I admit to a real weakness for European cheeses like Brie, Chèvre, and Manchego. They are great to cook with and also delicious just to slice and nibble.  A am very fond of all kinds of fresh vegetables and prefer chicken and fish to beef.  My favorite seasonings are lemon, chili, and garlic. With these ingredients I often make a lovely Moroccan inspired seafood stew that includes fennel, shallots, and tomatoes too.  Though I was able to mention a few dishes such as pickled herring and Stollen, the German Christmas cake, in Immigrant Soldier, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to work in more scenes where I could describe food.  Perhaps next time I’ll write about a chef.


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