Updated: Jan 23
Writer Name: Grace Sammon
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Years of Experience: 30+
Available for writing projects: yes
Niche/Beat/Genre: education, non-fiction, women’s fiction, entrepreneurship, always learning/contributing
Portfolio website: gracesammon.net
Books: The Eves; Battling the Hamster Wheel; Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities
Favorite food: Is all a category? ️
Writing tip for fellow writers: Read, or better yet, have someone read your writing back to you.
Grace Sammon is an educator, school reformer, consultant, entrepreneur, writer, and new novelist. She says that her writing began with overly dramatic letters to her parents about her siblings and never stopped.
Tell us a little about your writing background.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It all started out as overly dramatic letters to my parents about some transgression committed by one of my siblings, morphed into poignant, pre-teen poems, and then turned to the technical, research-based writing needed for my work as an educational consultant.
In that arena, I published multiple articles and manuals, as well as three books focused on high school reform and achievement (Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities, and Battling the Hamster Wheel: Strategies for High School Improvement (Corwin Press).
It’s a great joy now to explore the world of novels, with the release of The Eves in June 2020 and The Egg, hopefully in late 2021.
Do you believe that being a writer helps you enjoy or appreciate food more?
In the sense that a good meal is like a good story, well thought out, well presented, interesting and memorable, yes.
Do you write about food?
Yes! Not as a food editor or even as food being the primary focus, but as an important element to build vibrant stories. For me, ingredients, aromas, food, and shared meals are all the platform from which key story lines are told.
In "The Eves" there are multiple scenes where food brings the characters together. There’s a key harvest scene where the lead character revels in the feel of freshly harvested beans in her hands, then several shared meals, and gifts of Ethiopian coffee.
Food brings us together. Again, in "The Eves," there is a simple as Bisquick Coffee Cake and an incredibly complex, start-to-finish, authentic and detailed Argentinian meal. These scenes, along with the romantic meal Roy prepares, bring richness to the story in the same way they do in our lives.
In my upcoming book, The Egg, we first meet two sisters who emigrate to the United States because of food rationing and a family’s inability to provide its daughters with more than one egg between them a week. This is based on a true story. Throughout the 100-years’ time span the novel covers, I’ve needed to research food and food trends across cultures. That’s been fun and is an ongoing process.
I always include some recipes in my books and on my website. I want the food experience to carry on, so I make suggestions for how those recipes and ideas can enhance a Book Club experience. I’m a big fan of book clubs and join them virtually whenever possible. (Invite Grace to your book club by writing to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Do you ever travel for food?
While I don’t travel for food, I make sure to explore local cuisine whenever I travel. Some obvious highlights are the riches of Italian food and how it varies from Tuscany to Sicily. My best food experience there is surprising, even to me: crisp Italian bread, hearty olive oil, warm tomato and the most delicious basil in the world. The fact that it was shared with my son in the picture-perfect town of Taramina may have helped.
The splendor of Louisiana usually results in immediate weight gain upon landing at Louis Armstrong Airport. I have little self-control when it comes to warm beignets, oyster po’ boys or Muffuletta. Most people are unaware of the strong connection of Sicilian food to New Orleans cuisine; so again, there may be a theme here.
My most adventurous and mouth-watering eats were in Trinidad. The mix of British, Indian, African and South American cultures have developed a distinctive “Trini” cuisine that I truly hunger to re-experience again. Trini is one place I would go out of my way to have “Bake and Shark” (a shark sandwich with 15 condiments, preferably eaten at Maracas Beach, but perfect anywhere. Rotti is a popular stew. And, Doubles is a sandwich popular for breakfast, late night snacks and as street food. Made of two fried flatbreads filled with curried chickpeas, tamarind sauce, and sometimes green mango pickle, they are simply astonishing. While I can usually find a restaurant with a specific cuisine I am craving anywhere here in the States, the taste sensations of Trini simply are unavailable anywhere else.
Do you grow your own food?
When it comes to growing my own food, I’m lazy. I have a fantasy that I want to do this, have a farm with llamas, lambs and goats, have a perfectly defined herb garden, and a seasonal harvest. Instead, I have a lemon tree that I mostly remember to harvest, am grateful when the neighbors deliver their mangos, and I write about a world where people farm and garden.
Do you ever catch your own food?
NEVER! When it comes to catching my own food, I am not only lazy, I am scared! I went fishing with my brother when I was 10, maybe 12. I still have images of me screaming as he made me cut off the fish head.
Do you enjoy creating budget-friendly meals?
I do love to cook and have tried to share this joy with my husband. I’m working on trying to entice him with the readily available five ingredient or 30-minute meal magazines.
Do you focus on healthy food?
Right after the pandemic :-)
Do you support local food efforts?
Yes! It is staggering to most people when they discover the true degree of hunger and food disparity in this country. School breakfast and lunch programs are critical, not just for students, but for their families. In my community, All Faith’s Food Bank #AllFaithsFoodBank does an amazing job of raising awareness, as well as hosting events to raise money and donations.
The pandemic has also brought, for me, a need to support local farmers and farm stands. Small business has been hard hit, growers in a special way. Here in Florida, the Farmer’s Markets really start taking off in October, so supporting these is important for me.
Do you have any favorite food books/cookbooks?
I love picking up magazines at the checkout and pretending I am actually going to cook what I see! Until recently, I had a rather large magazine stack. It was a good Covid project to go through them again and whittle them down to a “more likely to cook” few, neatly categorized by brunch, appetizers, mains, sides, and desserts.
Any favorite kitchen products?
I am decidedly disappointed in the Sous Vide. To me it seems like one extra step in a process with mixed flavor and texture results. I am loving having an electric wine bottle opener.
I love that the old women in "The Eves" each brought their wooden spoons to The Grange House, mixing their cultures and their histories. I cherish my collection of wooden spoons, some from my grandmother and mother, others gifts from friends and family, still others a remembrance of special trips. The little wooden spoon on top of my salt, with the little beads shows up in "The Eves."
Favorite food writers, chefs, or food-related TV shows/movies?
I like #Rachel Ray. I like her simplicity, creativity and style. I could watch and re-watch, and have re-watched “Chef” (it’s not only a wonderful movie but a great help in understanding the power of social media) and “The Hundred Foot Journey” because it is so delightful and focuses on following your dreams and your heart. Oh, and there is a lot of food involved.
Favorite restaurants or food travel destinations?
Italian always. Ethiopian, hard to find in Southwest Florida. And, if only I could, Trinidad, see above. #mustgoback
Where do you turn for great food or food inspiration?
I like to create a pallet, an array of foods that somehow fit together, with a little something “off” for interest and the adventurous. So, I pick a theme and then research away.
What do you eat when you're on deadline?
Red grapes and blue cheese.
Anything else you'd like to add about food?
As important to me as the food itself, is creating an event and a presentation around the food.
Whether it’s a simple Friday night “stop by for cocktails” or a holiday dinner for 30 (remember those days!), I love to set tables, create centerpieces and themes, and set a savory tone.
If you weren’t born in the 50’s you might not know the household name of Emily Post, socialite, author, and expert of all-things etiquette – think an early version of Martha Stewart and Joanna Gaines. My mom rivaled them all!
I was taught to line up wine and water glasses from every angle in the room, to pick out the colored liners for the lace table cloths and then drape the lace perfectly evenly on top. This was not just for Sunday supper but every night.
While I hated the chore then, I relish the opportunity now. My mother also threw great themed parties. Fifty-plus years later I still have relatives who remember me in my Hawaiian luau skirt greeting them with a hearty “Aloha” and lei at the front of our suburban home on Long Island. I carry my Mother’s spirit to events today. I’ve given up the hula skirt, but Easter has plastic eggs floating in the pool and small baskets at every table.
Anything else you'd like to add about being a writer?
I believe there is a distinction between being a writer and being an author. Anyone can be a good writer with training. But a true author has to tell her story. I love that writing is either in, or not in, your blood! Once authors have an idea, that idea has to take flight. We think in book titles, we eavesdrop and make notes on conversations, we gather factoids that will find their way into a story, we make the voices we hear in our heads work for us. Writing is the food that feeds our souls!