Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?
My debut novel follows a seventy-five-year-old Southern woman as she writes an inventory of her family’s heirlooms. Those possessions end up telling a different story than the one she intended, about her family’s troubled history in rural South Carolina. My book explores the way we often engineer family narratives to suit our personal needs, and it examines how the objects around us that we imbue with meaning have stories to tell about us, too.
Which character did you most enjoy creating? Why? And, which character gave you the most trouble, and why?
The voice of my first-person narrator, Judith Kratt, was a pleasure to create. She’s a sharp-tongued, compellingly flawed older woman. Frankly, she’s difficult. And I consider that a compliment. Early on in my life, growing up in South Carolina, I had decided that if you were a Southern woman, it was in your best interests to be difficult!
Judith’s father, Brayburn Kratt, was an uncomfortable character for me to write because he does some pretty awful deeds. I tried to approach him with empathy, to understand why he moves through the world in the way he does and why Judith still admires him.
Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.
My novel is based on a piece of my family’s history—a murder that happened in my family two generations before me. In early drafts, I attempted to write a faithful retelling of that story. But the problem was that I knew how that story ended. There was no sense of discovery, and it showed in the manuscript. Once I freed myself from the details of the real-life event, my revised manuscript took off. I had sent one of the early drafts to agents and ... crickets. But once I overhauled the manuscript, I signed with my (wonderful) agent almost immediately.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
To follow your intuition when writing as if you’re composing a piece of music. Kazuo Ishiguro offered this advice when he gave a craft talk at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a literary arts nonprofit in Denver.
My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?
I was surprised by how much my first-person narrator’s voice evolves over the course of the novel and how she comes to see that, even if her voice is the predominant one, she’s not necessarily the center of the story.
Who is your ideal reader?
My ideal reader is one who isn’t afraid to slow down and savor a book. I hope that my novel’s plot will keep readers wanting to turn the pages, but I also hope that readers will feel compelled to slow down and enjoy the measured Southern pace of the prose.
Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)
There’s a family dinner table scene in the middle of the book that is fraught with tension. (Aren’t all family dinner tables fraught with tension?) That meal has a citrus-inspired Southern menu, including pork tenderloin glazed with orange marmalade; asparagus with flecks of orange zest; and a dessert called Orange Supreme or Orange Fluff, which is a concoction of mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, and cottage cheese. I’ll include the recipe for the dessert, but I’ll admit that it might be an acquired taste! [See below…]
READ MORE ABOUT THIS AUTHOR AND THIS BOOK: www.andreabobotis.com
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Orange Supreme, or Orange Fluff
A Southern citrus dessert, perfect for summertime
Featured in the novel The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
- 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 package orange-flavored gelatin (like Jell-O)
- 8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 8-12 ounces cottage cheese, small curd (may want to drain)
Pour all ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.
Refrigerate for several hours before serving.