Thursday, September 27, 2018

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mary Strand, Author of Livin' La Vida Bennet

Lydia Bennet, the youngest (by six minutes) of five sisters who had the terrible misfortune to be named after the five Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice, stars in the fourth and last book of my modern-day Bennet Sisters YA series: Livin’ La Vida Bennet.

Freshly sprung from a year’s stay at reform school, Lydia is tough, unpredictable, and shocked at both her return to her old life and the fact that her old life no longer really exists. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her but gets a kick out of living down to everyone’s expectations of her.

Food-wise? She’s a senior in high school in Woodbury, Minnesota, her mom is the world’s worst cook, and no one else in the family bothers. So she’s stuck with cafeteria food, takeout, and eating at the Mall of America and other local hangouts.

One interesting writing aspect of my YA series: making each of the five sisters act and sound different in every way possible. Even the twins, Lydia and Cat, are different in myriad ways: for one thing, Cat is a vegetarian and Lydia loves meat, meat, and occasionally seafood. (I’m with Lydia on this.)

Lydia is also the only sister fierce enough to stand up to their sister Liz. Although it’s a new experience for Liz, she gets a kick out of it. In this excerpt from Lydia’s book, Liz calls Lydia on a dull Friday night, inviting her to grab dinner with Liz and their sister Jane.

     “Join us. We were going out for Chinese first, but we could do burgers or pizza.” She mumbled something to someone else, probably Jane, before getting back to me. “Jane doesn’t care as long as she gets Cold Stone ice cream for dessert, even though I pointed out that Milk Duds during the movie are the only dessert a girl needs. Am I right?”
     “No.” As usual. “It’s all about the popcorn.”
     “Another thing you have in common with Jane.”
     Wrong again. I had nothing in common with Jane, the world’s most perfect girl, and not just from a parent’s perspective. If it weren’t for the fact that she never tried to bug me, unlike Liz, I might even find her annoying.
     “Whatever. Hey, I’m at the Mall of America.” I might as well admit it. Knowing Dad, he’d installed a GPS tracker on the Jeep. “Why don’t we catch dinner and a movie here?”
     More background mumbling before Liz spoke into the phone. “Meet you in twenty minutes at Chipotle?”
     “No, Kokomo’s. Across from Cold Stone.”
     “Chipotle is close to Cold Stone, too.”
     “Good. You can wave to Chipotle from our table at Kokomo’s.”
     Liz actually laughed, surprising me. “I’d argue, but Kokomo’s is Jane’s first choice, too. Luckily for both of you, they have a wicked chocolate cake for dessert.”
     “I thought you planned to eat Milk Duds for dessert.”
     “That was before I knew we were eating at Kokomo’s. I try to be flexible.”

Now you know where I usually eat at the Mall of America: Chipotle, Cold Stone, and occasionally Kokomo’s. Oh, and Milk Duds during a movie are the only dessert a girl needs.

Besides the Mall of America and a made-up pizza joint in Woodbury, there’s also a Dairy Queen where I often sent the Bennet sisters. (In case you think you now know all about where I like to eat, at least when I’m not at the Mall of America, I’m actually a Five Guys and Punch Pizza girl!) Lydia and Liz can’t even agree on Dilly bars: Liz loves cherry, Lydia chocolate.

To my surprise, I wound up really identifying with Lydia in this book. But when it comes to cherry vs. chocolate Dilly bars, I’m with Liz all the way.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Mary!

You can find Mary here:

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