Peggy Lampman – Author Interview: Simmer and Smoke

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Peggy Lampman will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.



Author Interview: Peggy Lampman

1. Woohoo! You are a published author. Describe a strong character trait you possess, good or bad, and how it helped you become a published author. When I have a creative idea, I’m a dog with a bone, which no one can dislodge. I set monthly word count goals and insist on absolute quiet several hours most days to write. This is a good trait for a writer in that there will be a finished product, come hell or high water. Thus, I’m a published author.

It’s a bad trait for me in that I need to be open to new ideas on the book’s journey and willing to change with fresh input. When goal-oriented and driven, it’s easy to close into yourself. I make a concerted effort to get out there and suck in the people and environments of my characters, even if I get behind in my word count goal.

2. Sometimes an author begins writing a story before they are aware of its genre. Did you choose your genre, or did it choose you? My genre chose me. I enjoy writing in the genre I like reading. I’m drawn to women’s literary and high-concept fiction. It’s a slam dunk if that women’s fiction is set in the American South and/or has a food focus, like my book. Think Sue Monk Kidd, Laura Esquival and Pat Conroy. I also love Ann Patchett and Donna Tart. I tend to gravitate to women authors, but I just finished “Purity”, by Jonathan Franzen. Fabulous read; esp. loved the quirky mother-daughter relationship.
3. The plot thickens, or does it? Which one are you, a pantser or a plotter?  I’m a plotter and yes, my plot thickens (like a blackening roux) as the story progresses.  Occasionally I’m a panther, letting the journey––seatbelt unfastened––rip and ride, but I prefer using a road map.
4. Fear 101: As writers it is our duty to make our characters face their fears. Have you ever included one of your own fears in a storyline? Yes. I am fearful of bad things that have already happened to me (as are my protagonists) happening again. But it’s a form of neurosis to live your life fearful of the past. Another fear is losing myself (like protagonist Mallory) to the story. Am I writing the story or is my story writing me?
5. Fear 102: Yes, deadlines are terrifying. Have you conquered the juggling act between writing and the rest of your life? What do you do when it feels like the balls are dropping all around you? I worked with daily deadlines for a PR firm and then newspaper. I was disciplined and never missed a deadline that I can recall. Now, I make my own deadlines and stick to them. When the balls are dropping, I give myself slack; like a nice boss would give to a good employee. I work at being nice to myself! So, for the most part, I’ve conquered the juggling act (but I don’t have small children anymore, either.)  FYI: When balls are raining down, and I’m irritated and overwhelmed, it’s a good time to write Cliff notes about my feelings to later recreate in my stories.
6. Switch positions with one of your main characters in a scene. What is the outcome, disaster or divine intervention? I’m switching places with Mallory in one of the last chapters. In my book, “Simmer and Smoke”, things turn out well for Mallory in the end. But now I’m Peggy and things don’t go so well. After the incident in the smoke house, I don’t trot down the road of redemption. I don’t get rid of my “arsenal”. Indeed, I write the final note and swallow the bottle, washed down with a Burgundian Chardonnay.
7. Where is your favorite place to write? Add that one comfort food that you can’t do without. My favorite place to write is on the porch of my home overlooking Lake Michigan. My favorite comfort food is oyster stew; I had this every year on Christmas Day. The soup conjures up my mother and grandmother, stirring, stirring, stirring up the past. A slow-smoked barbecue sandwich served with hot slaw is another comfort food. And, oh, fried okra. I’m listing comfort foods that are typically served where I was raised: Alabama. There’s a cool whiskey bar and New Orleans diner about 10 minutes away from my home in Northern Michigan. The cooks are from the South so I’m never far from home.
8. Writing inspirations? Developing some form of intimacy with people, places and cultures that are unfamiliar to me. I can get this traveling to the other side of the planet, visiting an off-the-grid, off-the-wall distant relative, or even hanging out by the fish tank at Cabbalas. (Miss Ann, in part, was developed after one of those visits.) Can’t get enough of this. Entertainment, such as music, the visual arts, cinema, and literature can also be sources of inspiration.)

9. You are introduced to your favorite author. Who is it, and what is that one burning question you must ask them? Sue Monk Kidd: “I’d love to have you over for dinner. I’ll make your favorite foods and supply your favorite wines. Can you come?”
10. I’ve gone mad – why don’t you come with me? Some people just don’t understand us writers. Name a quirky, writer-thing you do that friends wish you didn’t. When I steal—that’s a bit rough—when I take artistic license with a friend or family member’s story, then exaggerate and distort their reality. In fact, I torture their story so much, they find this amusing and don’t seem to mind. Another writer thing: My husband and kids (when they’re around) are not thrilled with the zone of silence I cocoon myself into when I write. I get pissed when I hear so much as a sneeze––how obnoxious is that?


MediaKit_BookCover_SimmerAndSmokeSimmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice

by Peggy Lampman

GENRE:  women’s contemporary fiction




A single mother who dreams of becoming a chef.

A food writer who just lost the love of her life.

Two women discover what’s worth fighting for in this deliciously rendered novel that illuminates the power of food, love, friendship and family on the human heart


Shelby Preston–a young, single mother trapped in a hardscrabble life in rural Georgia–escapes her reality as she fantasizes herself a respected chef in a kitchen of gleaming stainless steel and pans shimmering with heat. Mallory Lakes–an Atlanta newspaper food writer–may lose her job, and searches for her muse in a shot glass of illusion.


Mallory secures her job by crafting a zealous doppelgänger to satisfy the expectations of an illusive cyber audience. This also mollifies the memories of her lover who recently bolted; no warning. Shelby persuades her mother to take care of her daughter so she can pursue her dream of going to chef school in Atlanta. She cooks them a special dinner said to bring good luck; Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good.


Chasing desires and ambitions, the women’s lives unravel down a path beyond the kitchen, then weave together in an unsettling culinary landscape of organic farms and shadowy borders–some borders not meant to be crossed. As Mallory combats her demons with booze and pills, and Shelby battles the odds stacked against her for becoming a chef, the women discover what’s really worth fighting for.




Ashes in a box vanished into the ground. All my life I’ve yearned for something more, something I struggle to define. An image lies in wait, appears in a flash, then gone. It’s in the brushed edge of a dream that leaves behind no memory, only a warming prickle of joy. It’s in the smell of fresh-turned soil after a frost, ancient and newborn. It’s in the taste of honeysuckle nectar—what the wood nymphs drink, I tell my child—that we dot onto our tongues every spring.


MediaKit_AuthorPic_SimmerandSmokeAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in communications, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for Hill and Knowlton, a public relations firm. She moved back to Ann Arbor, her college town, and opened up a specialty foods store, The Back Alley Gourmet. After selling the business, she wrote under a weekly food byline in The Ann Arbor News and MLive. This is her first novel.


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