What was the inspiration for this book?
I visited a place in Greensboro, Alabama called the Pie Lab, a restaurant written up many times in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, and many newspapers around the Southeast. The pie shop is a special place—small town atmosphere—great food, and personal attention, but the thing that makes it really unique is that it is a place where high school dropouts or people in need of skills and training can go and learn valuable skills—how to bake, run a register, make change, and give good customer service. I kind of fell in love with the idea of such a place in Fairhope, Alabama, a lovely waterfront community near where I live. I decided to create a shop named Pie Girls there, and thus, Searcy’s story was born.Which character spoke to you the most?
I would have to say that I love Searcy in so many ways. I was fascinated with the idea of a spoiled Southern belle suddenly losing everything and having to go “back home” with her tail between her legs…after swearing she’d never return. It’s really a double-whammy because she comes back to Fairhope, Ala. expecting to recoup and ends up running the family business and handling lots of trouble instead!What is one of your favorite scenes?
I’d have to say that there are two scenes that I equally love. The first is when Searcy’s mother in law, CC, pays her an unexpected visit in their Buckhead, Ga. apartment. C.C. is so self-absorbed and pretentious; she’s easily the character you love to hate. She totes along her new puppy, Precious, and tortures Searcy by making her talk to the dog as if they are sisters. Precious then proceeds to tear up the entire apartment without C.C. batting an eye.
The other scene finds Searcy looking for her husband, Alton, in his skyscraper office in Atlanta. She’s gone shopping and is wearing nothing but seductive undergarments, along with a garter belt, stockings, and a trench coat. She allows the saleswoman to talk her into putting on glittery lotion, and has an allergic reaction about thirty minutes later—in front of Alton’s two bosses. Needless to say, she has to get the lotion off quick…and ends up ripping off the trench coat and dousing herself in a fifth of hard liquor before it’s all done!Will we ever see these characters again?
I’d love to do a follow-up story with Searcy. She’s such a fun character, and I feel she has excellent potential to make Pie Girls a regional—or maybe national—success! When the novel finishes, she’s won over many of the townspeople, so the love and backing is definitely there.
What is a favorite recipe you are willing to share?
This is one of the 4 delicious recipes in Pie Girls. It has a slight caramel flavor and my boys adore it. Use the no-fail (and SO EASY) pie crust recipe in Pie Girls, or make your own.
SEARCY’S CHESS PIE
1⁄2 pound of butterDid you indulge in any of these while writing?
2 cups of white sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
8 egg yolks, beaten
1⁄2 cup of heavy cream or half and half
2 tablespoons of corn meal
1⁄2 recipe of Best Ever Pie Crust
Cream butter and sugar with a mixer; add yolks, vanilla, and heavy cream. Fold in cornmeal. Pour into 9-inch pie plate with Best Ever Pie Crust. Bake at 350 until medium brown on top, 45-55 minutes. Pie should be almost set before removing from the oven. Cool before cutting. Serves 8.
I sure did! I planned a PIE WEEKEND, prepared my two boys, my friends, and my boyfriend. Using all of my grandmother’s recipes, I made 9 pies in all, and taste-tested everyone! I selected three (plus the pie crust recipe) to go in the Pie Girls book.What is the recipe for a successful romance?
I definitely think there has to be chemistry and that you have to keep things fresh and exciting. Every once in a while, dress up and go out to dinner, spend a candlelit evening at home, and make time to have fun with each other. I also believe it’s just as important to like the other person as it is to love them.How does your career in media influence your writing?
I’m so grateful for the six years I spent as TV news anchor and reporter. I learned to write quickly, think on my feet, and met tons of fascinating people. I sincerely believe that everyone has a story—your mailman, the lady at the flower shop, and definitely your hairdresser! It’s amazing the things people will share with you when you are truly interested in hearing what they have to say. I’ve heard some amazing love stories—ways people have met, and funny situations people get themselves into and out of! (Yes, I need that t-shirt that says “Careful what you say, it might end up in my book!) And don’t worry, the names are always changed to protect the innocent!What is some of the best writing advice you ever received?
Write every day—or almost every day. Finish the manuscript you’ve started, even if you think it’s the most terrible novel in the world. Read a lot—it fuels my imagination. And talk to people—everyone has a story!How does writing fulfill you?
I’ve always loved books and stories—from the time that I was a little girl. Great writing wows me. I’m in awe of prolific writers. For me, I love writing a story from start to finish, seeing a character change and grow. Along the way, I like to make readers laugh and maybe cry (a little). In the end, I’m definitely a fan of happy endings. I want to give readers a satisfying conclusion, and that’s what I strive for with my own novels.What is something we may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m in graduate school right now. I’m enrolled in a master of science in interactive technology program at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). I’m learning to use programs like Camtasia, Canvas, and Audacity, as well explore topics like the impact of social media on society and how mobile devices have and will continue to change the face of education. I have exactly a year left to go, and am enjoying every minute of it!Thank you so much for your time!
And now about PIE GIRLS...
by Lauren Clark
Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.
But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.
Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s is thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.
Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.
Read an excerpt:
"Are you sure that the baby's mine?"
I feel faint and the room starts to tilt and swim. "Whatever are you talking about?" I demand, doing my best to sound indignant. "Of course it's ours."
Alton turns his body to face mine. "I'm asking, because it's impossible," he explains.
My lips part. I try to form words. What is he trying to tell me?
"Searcy," Alton leans closer. " I had a vasectomy. Six months ago.”
“What?” I squeak. “How? When?”
“You were in California with Phillipa."
My hands begin to quiver. I brace myself on the sofa.
Six. Months. Ago.
I feel sick. I want to throw up. Or launch myself out the window.
My husband's gaze doesn't waver. He's serious.
"You see," Alton continues gently. "The baby can't be mine."
I can't speak or take a breath. All at once, I am furious. How dare he do this to me? Of all of the underhanded, rotten, selfish things to do to a wife. How could he take this away from me? From us?
Usually, I’m a calm, rational person. But without another thought, my right hand clenches into a fist. My fingers curl tight and the tips press into my palm. My arm bends at the elbow and I draw my body back, gathering momentum.
I take aim.
As my first jets through the air, cutting a path straight for my husband's gorgeous face, everything screams to a slow-motion finish.
His face registers a mix of doubt, surprise, and then...in the last second...out-right terror.
I punch Alton square in the mouth.
Lauren Clark writes contemporary Southern novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.
She is the author of four award-winning novels, Dancing Naked in Dixie, Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, and Pie Girls, as well as a short story, A Very Dixie Christmas, published in the Merry & Bright holiday collection. Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Mobile Writers Guild. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.
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