Today 2 Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome Barbara Barrett who brings Reese Dunbar from And He Cooks Too, a March 22 release from The Wild Rose Press.
Hi, Reese, tell us about “And He Cooks Too”. It is the story of how I salvaged my tarnished career as a chef in one of New York City’s better restaurants by signing on with a local cable cooking show. Although I thought it beneath my talents to serve as someone’s production assistant, when you’ve been blacklisted in most of the city’s restaurants, it was about the best option available. Little did I know that I’d soon be co-hosting with the show’s hot chef, when a bad sprained ankle temporarily limited his mobility.
This is so timely with cooking shows being the hottest ticket in town on Cable TV stations. What did you think the first time you saw Nick Coltrane? I was standing on the curb, trying to flag down a taxi during one of the busiest times of the day. I’d just quit my job because I didn’t get the promotion I’d been promised – walked out on evening service, a no-no in the food service industry, which is what got me blacklisted – and Nick, who’d been eating dinner at the restaurant and witnessed my little scene with my former boss, came running after me and offered me a job on his show. Yes, he was attractive. I could see that even through my tears and running mascara. I thought he was trying to pick me up, but in my state, I wasn’t in the mood for a man.
Very cool. And your second thought? Then he handed me a business card with the name of the show on it. I realized he was serious and on the level, but I wasn’t interested in a cable cooking show. I was a chef, not an entertainer, like my dad had been. I took the card to be polite, but I didn’t take the offer seriously. Not until I’d all the best eateries in town refused to talk to me or even take my calls.
Did you think it was love at first sight? Attraction, yes. Nick’s a gorgeous guy with that dark, curly hair and inky blue eyes. Even attired in that expensive sport jacket, I could tell he had quite the build. He also had an air of confidence that I was lacking at the moment and a voice that wrapped around me like a caress. But love? No, or if it was, I wasn’t admitting it at the time, even to myself. I had my career to think of.
What do you like most about him? Nick had the ability to go with the flow, take life as it came, and charm his way out of any situation he didn’t anticipate or couldn’t control. I, on the other hand, needed more structure. As least I thought I did until we were forced to co-host our first episode unscripted. Nick brought out a spontaneity, a sense of humor in me I never knew I possessed. Our chemistry in front of the camera followed us off-screen.
How would you describe him? I already gave you a physical description and told you about his charm. Did I mention he was a former actor? His good looks and acting ability got him several parts on stage plus a co-starring role on a police procedural out in L.A. until the powers that be decided to go a different way with the storyline and let him go. That’s why he was available to help out his aunt when she wanted to executive produce a show called “And He Cooks Too.” She built the show around him, portraying him as the uber urban male who could do anything he set out to do, including cook.
How would Nick describe you? He would tell you that I’m a stickler for the truth. Guess that goes way back to when, at the ripe old age of ten, I learned that my parents’ marriage was a sham. They’d stayed together for my sake. Ten-year-olds don’t appreciate sacrifices like that. They just feel betrayed, and in their young minds, vow never to be part of living a lie like that again. As I grew older, I came to understand that out of their love for me, they’d stayed together all those years to give me a stable home, but that need for truth stuck with me. It’s ironic that for years I’d been lying to myself about my part in my father’s sudden death and living the lie that I had to become a top chef to bring fame to my father’s name, since he died too soon to realize his own success.
What made you choose the culinary arts as a profession? My parents’ divorce hit me hard in my early teens. I was estranged from my father because his music career took him on the road so much. My mother met a man she really did love and started a new family. Although I came to love my stepfather and half-brothers, I was lost until I discovered cooking. Not only did I have a knack for it, but it gave me a feeling of accomplishment I’d never known before. My father died when I was sixteen. A few years later, I used my inheritance to finance my tuition at one of the better cooking schools.
What is your biggest fear? Two things: First, discovering someone I love has lied to me. I never got past that feeling of betrayal from when I was a kid. I’ve had to develop a thick skin and strong ego to develop as a chef. I’m tough in that way. And I’m a good chef. I’m a terrific chef. I can defend myself whenever anyone suggests otherwise. All qualities I needed in order to deal with our executive producer, Nick’s Aunt Leonie. The second thing I fear is not meeting my goal of making a name for myself by the time I’m thirty-six, my father’s age at the time of his death. I was on my way to being one of the city’s top chefs when I got myself blacklisted. I had four short years left to reinvent myself and meet my goal.
How do you relax? I go home to visit my family in Connecticut. They are my support system. They even have gone so far as help me develop my own show, even though they’re amateurs.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? I tend to read cookbooks and autobiographies of the great chefs instead of fiction, so it’s not easy to answer this question.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? You’ll have to read this for yourselves at the end of And He Cooks Too. It comes from Nick, no surprise there. He makes me question my goal to be this big success.
It's author Barbara's turn in the hot seat. What movies or books have had an impact on your writing? I decided to write romance novels years ago when I watched the television soap opera, “Another World.” I fell in love with the character of Felicia Gallant, a romance novelist. Yes, I was intrigued by the fame and fortune that followed this character, but I also idolized her strength of character, loyalty to her friends and decisiveness. About the same time, I read Shana by Kathleen Woodiweiss. Her writing appealed to my emotions. I couldn’t put the book down and found myself staying up until two in the morning reading as much as I could, even though I had to be up with children at six and off to my own job shortly after that. When I actually started writing romance, the book I have referred to most ever since is Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict.
We could agree more completely—about Shana, which happens to be the first romance we ever read and were immediately hooked, and Deb Dixon. Her book is our bible.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. My publisher for And He Cooks Too is The Wild Rose Press. It has taken about a year from my first submission to them to the release of this book on March 22. I decided to submit this manuscript and a few others to several epublishers because I felt the credibility of ebooks had grown to the point where I felt they were a viable and growing influence in the publishing industry.
What influenced your decision to submit to them? From the very first I was impressed with The Wild Rose Press, because they acknowledged my submission within a few days of receipt and followed that up by telling me how long before I should hear back from them as well as who would be reviewing my submission.
Tell us a bit about the submission process. How long did it take from query to release? They wound up rejecting it, but sent me a detailed note telling me why and indicating they would be happy to reconsider it if I made the changes they suggested. It took a few months to do that, but my efforts paid off. Last August, they indicated they wanted it. Edits and galleys were done by November.
Edits and galleys completed within 3-4 months of a contract offer? Wow!! Best of luck to you, Barbara with And He Cooks Too and with future books.
Kat and Veronica
To learn more about Barbara Barrett and the stories she creates go to: www.barbarabarrettbooks.com.
To purchase “And He Cooks Too”, go to www.thewildrosepress.com