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Barbara Samuel is a seven-time RITA Award winner and the author of several novels, including The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, A Piece of Heaven, and No Place Like Home. She lives in Pueblo, Colorado.
People often ask me where I get my ideas. I always smile the tiniest bit and say, "You just never know." For example—the kernel for No Place Like Home arrived one morning when I had to drive my son, to school. I was annoyed and sleepy and scowling when a small delivery truck drove by. "Pie of the Day" was written across the side. Instantly, I was transported to the diner my grandfather owned for awhile in Temecula, California, Ed’s Kitchen. Grandpa cooked. My mother and grandmother waited tables. I loved the place—the dish room and the kitchen and the uniforms everybody wore and the smells of cleaners and French fries and pie and freshly brewing coffee all mixed up into a heady perfume that still has the power to snare me. (One very dramatic day, the Hell’s Angels, back when they were still terrifying, arrived en masse to crowd into the restaurant. My uncle rushed down to see them but I was not allowed to go.) My favorite thing was the pie safe. Something about it just delighted me, every time, seeing the pecan and peach and apple pies safely displayed inside their special glass house. All of that flashed through my mind as I watched the truck with Pie of the Day drive by, and I didn’t know it, but Jewel Sabatino was born that day. A woman who fell in love with her family’s restaurant at the age of three and never got over it, one traditional enough to bake pies for a living, but wild enough to run off with a bad-boy on a motorcycle at 17, and mature enough to deal with the consequences and face the music twenty years later when she returns to make peace with her father. All born of a sleepy moment, watching a truck drive by. You just never know. —Barbara Samuel
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