Judith Ryan Hendricks Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Judith Ryan Hendricks

Judith Ryan Hendricks

An interview with Judith Ryan Hendricks

A Conversation with Judith Ryan Hendricks

How did you learn to bake bread?
Even though I worked in a bakery, I never made bread there. I learned to make bread by reading and experimenting, beginning in the '70s. When I first graduated from college, I lived in New Orleans for a few years and I got very into cooking -- mostly gourmet, very complicated, almost ritualistic recipes. Baguettes were the bread of choice then. When I moved to Texas, I simultaneously discovered the women's movement, which was trying to get women away from being kitchen slaves, and the trend towards whole/natural foods. I began baking the kind of bread that Wyn describes when she talks about "throwing every grain they could find into the mix." It was healthy bread, but some of those loaves were regular little bricks. On a trip to France I discovered what I now think of as "real" bread in all its glory. I came back and started trying to recreate it. I just kept reading and experimenting -- and of course, books on bread kept getting better as bakers rediscovered the old ways to make artisan bread.

Where did you get the title for your book, and why?
One of my favorite bread books is Bread Alone, by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik. I think that was always in the back of my mind. Also, the Bible verse, "Man doth not live by Bread Alone…" Deuteronomy 8:3. I used it kind of ironically because for a while, Wyn does live by Bread Alone, and that's what gets her through.

Like Wynter, you have worked at a number of diverse jobs. Have you settled on writing as a career? Do you have any advice for readers who are looking for ways to make their lives more satisfying?
In spite of the fact that I've had a gazillion different day jobs, I've always been a writer. I had never written fiction, but I've written and sold nonfiction, and I've always kept a journal. The great thing about writing Bread Alone, was I finally discovered why I had a gazillion different jobs -- it's because I was searching for what I was supposed to do, and in some ways, getting ready to do it. Now that I know I want to be a novelist, I plan to do that until I'm pushing up daisies. My advice to anyone who wants to make her life more satisfying is two-pronged: First, don't settle for a life you don't love. Keep searching for whatever it is that's going to make you glad to get up in the morning. Second, once you discover what you love, don't let anything stop you from pursuing it.

Can you describe the experience of writing -- and publishing -- your first novel? Are you making any plans to publish anything more?
When writers describe the experience of writing and publishing a first novel, about half say it's like giving birth and the other half say it's like riding a roller coaster. I would have to say it's more like giving birth while riding a roller coaster. And I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. The best part has been getting to meet so many interesting -- and genuinely nice -- people. I'm very happy to say that William Morrow has bought my second novel, tentatively titled Ysabel's Daughter. The story takes place in New Mexico and it deals with a young woman searching for her mother and ultimately finding herself.

What's your favorite recipe?
One of my favorite recipes is Ellen's Cornmeal Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
or 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

With electric mixer on medium/high speed, beat butter and sugar together till fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. In separate bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add to sugar mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. Stir in nuts. Shape into three 12 inch-logs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm -- several hours or overnight.

Cut in 1/4-inch slices, place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for about 8 minutes or till golden brown. Remove and cool on wire rack. Makes 6-8 dozen. Great with hot tea or a glass of wine.

Enjoy!

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  166The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.