Friday, October 21, 2011

Author Bethany Wiggins' Buttermilk Syrup

Bethany Wiggins has always been an avid reader, but not an avid student. Seriously!!! She failed ninth grade English because she read novels instead of doing her homework. In high school, she sat alone at lunch and read massive hardback fantasy novels (Tad Williams and Robert Jordan anyone?). It wasn't until the end of her senior year that the other students realized she was reading fiction--not the Bible 
Seven years ago, Bethany's sister dared her to start writing an hour a day until she completed a novel. Bethany wrote a seven-hundred page fantasy novel that she wisely let no one read--but it taught her how to write. Since then she has completed six more novels, each one a little better than the one before.

The fifth book she wrote, "SHIFTING," is represented by Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency, published by Walker Books September 27 2011.

Hi Bethany, welcome to Pots ‘n Pens. If you were serving one of your characters in you new book “SHIFTING” her ideal meal, what would it be and why?
Fried pork chops, string beans, potato salad, fried collard greens and chocolate cake with extra icing. Maggie Mae, my main character, LOVES southern food. She's a foster child and one foster home she lived in was with a southern family who cooked the most amazing food.

Let’s say your characters, Maggie and Bridger, are raiding your fridge right now, what are they most likely to eat? Are they disappointed or excited about what they find?
If they raided my fridge right now they'd have bacon and eggs, a spring mix salad, and milk. Maggie Mae, who has been a step or two from starvation before, would have no complaints. Bridger on the other hand, wouldn't know what to do with raw bacon or raw eggs. And the salad greens? Totally wrong dressing (I only have Italian). He'd be thoroughly disappointed and call for takeout!

Is there a food you’d love to learn how to cook or a different genre or type of book you’d love to try to write?
I would love to learn how to cook Thai food! And I'm tinkering a bit with science fiction lately.

What’s your favorite kitchen accessory or appliance? How about a favorite writing accessory or reference?
Kitchen appliance=my blender. If I'm in a rush and need something nutritious, I whip up a green smoothie. Favorite writing accessory=GOOGLE!!! I would shrivel up and die without Google. I search a lot.

What is your A+, number 1 writing snack?
*hangs head in shame* I DON'T HAVE ONE! I never let myself eat while I read or write because I don't taste the food (to mentally absorbed I guess) and figure it's not worth the calories if I ain't gonna taste it!

If you could borrow one person’s zest for writing and/or life, whose and why?
My mom has more zest than anyone I know. She's in her mid-sixties, yet she goes sledding, does triathlons, travels (to places like China and Italy), goes fishing . . . her zest overfloweth!

What inspired your latest book, and what ingredients do you hope make it a tasty treat for readers?
Shifting was inspired by three things: the Navajo legend of Skinwalkers, a friend of mine who died her hair black, and an abandoned mine I used to play by as a kid. Its main ingredients are horror, mysticism, romance and good food.

Can you share a bit about your next project?
STUNG (Winter 2013) is a novel that was inspired by two things: a nightmare, and the mad rush of insane people trying to get vaccinated against the swine-flu a couple of years ago. Here's the blurb from Publisher's Marketplace: The government's attempts to save endangered bees by genetic modification causes their sting to induce deadly, flu-like symptoms in humans, and a vaccine created in response changes children into ferocious, killer beasts; the uninfected have built a wall to keep the beasts out, and a girl has awakened on the wrong side.

What’s your go-to meal when you need to serve something quick and easy?
My grandma's buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk syrup. Best. Meal. Ever!

Tell us about your edible specialty, and rate your skill in the kitchen:
My edible specialty is baklava, hands down. If I weren't a writer, I'd make baklava and sell it for an exorbitant amount of money! As for skill in the kitchen, I'm a pro. Cooking is right up there with writing!

Describe the best cook you know and something wonderful he or she has served you.
I have a friend named Meggan. She made the most delicious pound cake that probably made you gain a pound per bite. But it was divine! And I'm not normally a cake-lover.

Fill in the blanks: Writing books is like cooking Baklava. You never know if all the work is really worth it--until you sample the finished product!

Leftovers can be great, especially when the same ingredients are retasked into another magical meal. Name a book that you wish had a sequel (or another sequel) and what kind of story you think that literary remix would tell.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I wish that book had a sequel! I want to know that the main character goes on being okay.

Not every idea is a winner. Written or not, what’s the most ill-conceived story idea you’ve ever had?
Wow. I have about one ill-conceived idea a day. I once wrote a fantasy novel about a girl who lived on a primitive island and had a modern fishing pole. So embarrassing!

Tell about a time when food inspired your writing or a book inspired your cooking.
LOL, all my recipes are scrawled on the backs of edited manuscript pages. And SHIFTING has a lot of food in it! Writing it inspired me to eat a lot of Mexican food. I think cooking and writing both take a bit of creativity.
If you could retell a book as a meal which book would you choose and how would you tell it?
My book of course! I'd open the meal with something normal, like crackers and a cheese ball. The salad would be a little unusual--let's top it with pistachios and blueberry-crusted goat cheese. The soup would have to throw you for a loop--fennel and squash soup anyone? And the main course would be totally unexpected--leg of lamb with mint jelly. But the dessert, chocolate cake with cherry-chocolate icing, would make the whole dinner experience worth it--so much so that you'd want to do it all over again tomorrow.

If you could invite a character to dinner who would it be and what would you serve?

Bella Swan from New Moon. I'd slap her upside the head, tell her to get over Edward and for crying out loud stop moping! And then I'd serve her a nice steaming plate of sweet pork on tossed greens, smothered with tomatillo dressing and sprinkled with grated cheese.

Well said, because come on, wouldn’t we all like to do that to Bella at one point? Anyway, if you were marooned on an island, and Pots 'N Pens granted your wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose?
Book=How To Survive On a Deserted Island. Food=chocolate.

What favorite recipe do you have for us today?

Buttermilk Syrup

·                           1 1/2 cups white sugar

·                           3/4 cup buttermilk

·                           1/2 cup butter

·                           2 tablespoons corn syrup

·                           1 teaspoon baking soda

·                           2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a saucepan (and use a big pan! This stuff likes to grow), stir together the sugar, buttermilk, butter, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, and cook for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and baking powder.

Thank you, Bethany. This was so much fun getting to talk to you. Everyone MUST read your book, it's very good!


  1. I have never heard of buttermilk syrup, and now I absolutely must try it! SHIFTING sounds like a must try also.

  2. I've had her baklava...she's not kidding. It's AMAZING. I'd turn over my next advance check for another batch of that stuff :D

    Awesome interview ladies!!

  3. Yes. The baklava is to DIE for. I got a whole plate of it for my b-day, and I ate it all. By. Myself. Great interview! Now I'm hungry.

  4. Fun blog, great interview and amazing book!

  5. Thank you everyone! Thanks Laci for having me on here. And you must all try buttermilk syrup (B.J. Anderson's recipe as a matter of fact).

  6. (Hehe, some great grandmother's recipe as a matter of fact! I can't take credit for that genius.) :D

  7. I agree--buttermilk syrup and SHIFTING are now on my to-do list. Nice to get to know you, Bethany!

  8. Wow, I am intrigued by the buttermilk syrup recipe - must try that ASAP!