Interview with Kimberly Fish
Comfort Foods reads like a book written in real time, how long ago did you write this story?
I’ve known for a long while I’d have at least four books in the Comfort, Texas set of stories: Comfort Plans, Comfort Songs, Comfort Foods, and in 2021, fingers-crossed, Comfort Zone. Though the other three novels had been plotted and rough-drafted years ago, Comfort Foods is my COVID-19 novel. While in lockdown in Spring of 2020, I wrote this book with liberty that comes from having no other distractions. Thankfully, a wonderful editor was also benefitting from lockdown and we were able to produce this story in record time.
Was Lacy Cavanaugh based on a particular social media celebrity?
Lacy Cavanaugh came to life many years ago as younger sister to Kali Cavanaugh while I was writing the serial Emeralds Mark the Spot. Several elements of her character were already in place and I leaped off what I’d previously written and gave Lacy the pizazz and shine of the self-styled lifestyle bloggers popular on Instagram and Facebook. She came to the story mostly fully formed because of her role in the EMTS novella, but it was a pleasure to work on the internal conflicts particularly the perception that beautiful women date easily and have instinctive skills to navigate difficulties. Logically we know that not’s true, but in today’s oversaturated, visually stimulated world, that’s a truth easily forgotten.
Who inspired your character of Rudy Delgardo?
Though I’ve had the pleasure of knowing several chefs, I’d say the movie “Chef,” starring Jon Favreau, really informed my decision to explore the world behind the kitchen door. I then spent countless hours watching YouTube videos of famous chefs talking about their life stories and the dynamics of a professional kitchen and trying to get a handle on what drives that need for precision and creativity. Rudy Delgardo, despite his excellence in the kitchen, is a mess in his private life—and I think that when someone enjoys marshalling others at work, they forget how to interact on the home front. That made for a rich playground of potential conflicts in this story, and I wish I could have written more about Rudy’s very complicated backstory. Maybe another time.
You seem to be creating an active friend group with your Comfort stories, will all the characters always appear in every novel?
I’m a victim of their charm and can’t let these characters go. Plus, I know how vital a friend group is for navigating life. For those without tight families, it’s the peer group that gives the sounding board for all the deep questions and decisions. Colette and Beau Jefferson, Kali and Jake Hamilton, AJ and Luke English, Lacy Cavanaugh and Rudy Delgardo, step all over these pages because friends frequently ignore boundaries. This group is growing quite large and may be too big to give free reign in the upcoming story, but in Comfort Foods it was important because Lacy is Kali’s sister, and they don’t have a traditional family dynamic so their friends play the role of parents and extended relatives.
The cast of supporting characters in the Comfort stories transfer from story to story also, right?
Yes, several minor characters pop in here and there, because in small towns you run into many of same people doing errands, attending church, and going to social events. I keep a notebook so I can remember who these folks are, and in each novel, I try to expand the town’s cast. Comfort itself is not a big place, and it would make sense to see familiar faces between the books. There are a few of these characters I particularly enjoy and like to give them a speaking role as often as possible.
Is there a dog in this story too? You’ve written a dog into every other Comfort book.
My characters, like many readers, can’t resist a puppy. But, with the exception of Beans in Comfort Songs, none of the dogs in my books are truly cute. Cornbread was an old, gassy blood hound, and the mutt in Comfort Foods is a complete—and smelly—scoundrel. But these guys also manage to steal the show, and make people love them, so it’s hard to ignore a creature with such personality. I guess, I could try my hand creating a loveable cat. Do you think readers would like a cat in the next story?
How many more stories will you create and set in Comfort, Texas?
I’m at work on Comfort Zone, and for now, that feels like the last of this particular Comfort set. But, knowing me as I do, I wouldn’t say that’s the last story I will set in Comfort. Something about the heat, rocky soil, and call of hawks flying overhead is just too entrenched in my imagination to walk away and never revisit that area for another book.
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