Maine Clambake Mysteries
Below is an interview by Author Barbara Ross, full interview may be seen at: Barb Ross http://mainecrimewriters.com/author/barb-ross.
When I first got my contract to write the Maine Clambake Mystery series, I was elated–and also freaked out about the food. After all, a Maine clambake is the same, or almost the same, meal every time. So for inspiration, one day when we were at the Maine Coast Bookshop and Cafe in Damariscotta, my husband bought me one of Brenda’s gorgeous calendars. It sat on my desk the whole time I wrote the book, both in Maine and when I was back in Massachusetts. So when I needed to redo my website for the new series, I asked Brenda to design the banner. I already knew I loved her work, but she blew me away with what she did. Herewith, the interview.
What’s your Maine connection? Were you born here or did you migrate? How did you arrive/stay in Maine?
I was born and raised in Kittery, Maine. In 1986 my husband and I moved to Arizona to help his mother. After living in a small town outside of Phoenix for 17 years, we decided in 2003 to move “home” to Round Pond.
Why food? Of all the things you could paint, how did you come by your focus on food?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting, but have never had any formal training. When we moved home to Maine, I started taking watercolor classes. Living in the Midcoast, I naturally started with water, trees and lighthouses. When experimenting with some apples and then onions, I discovered that I really enjoyed still life. Wondering how to proceed, it came to me one night in those wonderful 3AM dreams, that if I picked a recipe, I’d have infinite choices to paint. I chose Salsa and then Maine Lobster Bake. Shortly after, I started receiving requests for family recipes and Recipe Paintings naturally followed.
I know you do commissions of people’s favorite family recipes. What’s the strangest/most interesting/funniest thing you’ve been asked to paint?
Wow, with almost 200 paintings to think about, this is a challenging question. Every one of my paintings has so many wonderful stories that each is special. Strangest, I guess would be my own family recipe. Brewis is a recipe from Newfoundland and was prepared by my great-grandmother Rachael who at 12 years old was cooking on a fishing boat. It’s made with salt cod, potatoes, hard tack and salt pork. Cherished by my family, I don’t think I’ve ever sold a print.
Most interesting – hmm, I guess I’d have to say President Obama’s Family Chili. I picked this recipe off the social network Pinterest. Because of the painting, I’ve met Senator Susan Collins who has introduced the painting for presentation to the White House. We still have some contacts and are trying to find the best way to present it to the President and First Lady, so the project continues. After I painted it, I served it to a mixed group of friends – Republicans, Independents and Democrats. All agreed it is delicious. If nothing more, it’s been a lot of fun.
Funniest – In 2007 I was interviewed by Don Carrigan for the WCSH6 207 Show. It was a really big deal for me. Don and his cameraman interviewed me in my studio for two hours while I painted Bruschetta. Somehow I did it without shaking too much. What Don didn’t know was that I had painted and then presented to him, his hamburger recipe that he had cooked on the 207 Show with Rob Caldwell a few weeks earlier. Don was very gracious but said it probably wouldn’t make the cut for the show, while behind him, his cameraman who puts the video together, smiled with the biggest grin and said: “Oh, yes, it will be in the clip.” And it was.
I understand people are amazed how an artist can put colors on paper to express so many emotions. However, as a watercolor artist, I’m always amazed how authors such as my husband, Bob Erickson and you, Barbara, can put words together to paint such clear images that after reading it, I realize I don’t recall seeing the words. The words went directly to the image in my head. I guess an example of that would be my painting the mansion that’s in your book. After you described it in words, I then painted the house and we both visualized the same house. That was very exciting for me.