Your Novel is Set WHERE, again?

NYC. Paris. Los Angeles. London. San Francisco. Rome.

These are where so many of my favorite novels take place—and with good reason. They’re incredible cities where the setting itself becomes its own character.

But for my last three novels, I’ve eschewed these popular locales with good reason. The stories I wanted to tell belonged in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

I can’t tell you how many times people have said “Your novel is set where?” Or asked why I chose a place where winter sticks around much, much longer than it should.

For me, one of the best parts of reading is being transported some place I’ve never been before. And considering I grew up one state over in Wisconsin and lived in Minneapolis/St. Paul for eight years, it’s been fun giving readers a window to a place that’s basically known for one thing if you’ve never had a chance to visit.

But the Twin Cities are so much more than subzero temperatures. There’s a vibrant music scene. Art museums. Local and Broadway theater productions. A number of sports teams I root against because they’re my teams’ rivals. Phenomenal five-star cuisine and charming low-key haunts that serve fried walleye.

And you’ve never seen happier people than during a Minnesota summer. They’re biking around Lake Bde Maka Ska or taking in one of the famed 10,000+ lakes by boat; checking out the bounty of fresh vegetables and local specialties at a number of farmers’ markets or playing frisbee golf or cornhole at a park.

Despite the mosquitos and humidity, it’s their moment to be outside without scarves and boots — and you better believe they take advantage of it.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed author J. Ryan Stradal’s novels so much. He gets the Minnesota spirit and it translates to the page so well in Kitchens of the Great Midwest, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, and most recently, in Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club.

Instead of traveling somewhere new with every turned page, I’m journeying to somewhere familiar and nostalgic. Which is exactly why I can’t help wanting to spotlight it.

Stay tuned for updates on my latest novel The Honorary Italians. Set in St. Paul, it’s the story of a motley crew of Minnesotans who cook their way through all 20 regions of Italy during the winter months. And as they cook and eat together, their intertwining lives prove that Julia Child was right when she said “people who love to eat are always the best people.

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One Comment

  1. Love that you pay homage to our fair state.

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