Who: Last week saw the publication of Bend author Nicole Meier’s third novel, “The Second Chance Supper Club,” the second of a two-book contract with Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon. The book tells the story of a pair of estranged sisters who reunite to run a secret supper club — and in the process, face down their painful past. “I had no idea that it would affect people the way it has,” Meier said. “I’m already getting emails and letters from people saying, ‘Maybe I should think about forgiving my sibling,’ or ‘Maybe I should think about reaching out to my father, who I haven’t spoken to.’ I just had no idea that would happen.” To learn more about Meier, visit nicolemeierauthor.com.
Q: You mentioned that a film inspired the book, at least in part. Can you tell me about that?
A: Yeah, I think it was a couple of years ago, I attended the BendFilm Festival, which I think is just a great indie film festival in general, and I watched this documentary. It was called “42 Grams,” and it was about the concept of underground dining. I had never heard of that concept before, but I was fascinated. The chef in the movie, his life was just fraught with peril, but he was really following his passion. I immediately knew when I was watching that film, there is a story behind the story there. I left the theater actually taking notes on my phone because I thought this could be a book. I am a women’s fiction author, so I always write about a woman’s journey, so I turned the idea on its head and wrote the concept about two sisters running an underground supper club.
Q: And it’s set in Arizona?
A: It’s set in Arizona. I really love the desert. It was important to me to take the characters and pick them up and put them down somewhere else and force them to kind of grow roots where they’re planted. … I am a big fan of the desert, whether it’s Santa Fe, New Mexico; or Tucson, Arizona; Palm Desert (California). I actually started writing the synopsis to this book when I was on a sabbatical in Tucson. I kind of, as a writer, like to go away alone for stints at a time and just work on my craft, and so I did that when I was staying up against the mountains in Tucson. I thought it was just a perfect setting.
Q: I read that you have three kids, and I’m wondering about your writing process, because it can’t be easy to write at home with three kids.
A: Yeah, it’s not easy. So my thing is when I’m writing the first draft I always get up at 5 a.m. and write from 5 to 7. The house is quiet. No one’s calling me. I’m not getting any texts. I light a candle, write in my journal and begin. I do that every morning. And then … when the children wake up, it’s kind of chaos.
Q: Have you always written?
A: I have always written. When I was a kid, I wrote. I did not realize that not everybody did that. I thought it was something that all kids did. The older I got, I sort of became more self-conscious about it. I was a terrible student in high school, so I kind of kept my writing hidden. Then I went off to college and studied creative writing and left college wanting to be a writer, but not having enough self-confidence to kind of strike out on my own and write a novel. So I just worked at magazines, and I usually shadowed the editor. It wasn’t until much later in life that I decided enough is enough — if you have a dream, it’s time to follow it. So I started small, which I always recommend to other writers. I had another author at the time tell me that advice, and I didn’t really understand it at the time, but looking back it was the best piece of advice.
Q: So don’t overshoot and say, “I’m going to write my memoir”?
A: Yes. I literally started writing travel pieces for the Bend Visitors Association. I’d just write small travel blogs, and then I started my own travel blog, and I started getting freelance articles, and then I got more confidence and learned how to work with an editor, which was extremely important, and take criticism with grace. … Then I finally wrote my first manuscript, and I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference. That was huge for me. That changed everything. I walked into that lobby of editors and agents and publishers and writers, and I was like, “I’ve found my people!” And then I just went gangbusters from there.
Q: Do you have your fourth book in mind, or are you just promoting “The Second Chance Supper Club” right now?
A: Yeah, I mean, a writer’s always writing, so I do have something that I’m beginning, but I’m not sure what it’s going to be quite yet.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin