GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Kelly Fiore, Author of TASTE TEST

Today on the blog we’re interviewing Lucky13 author Kelly Fiore, whose debut young adult foodie contemporary, TASTE TEST, releases TODAY!

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

If you can grill it, smoke it, or fry it, Nora Henderson knows all about it. She’s been basting baby back ribs and pulling pork at her father’s barbeque joint since she was tall enough to reach the counter. When she’s accepted to Taste Test, a reality-television teen cooking competition, Nora can’t wait to leave her humble hometown behind, even if it means saying good-bye to her dad and her best friend, Billy. Once she’s on set, run-ins with her high-society roommate and the maddeningly handsome—not to mention talented—son of a famous chef, Christian Van Lorten, mean Nora must work even harder to prove herself. But as mysterious accidents plague the kitchen arena, protecting her heart from one annoyingly charming fellow contestant in particular becomes the least of her concerns. Someone is conducting real-life eliminations, and if Nora doesn’t figure out who, she could be next to get chopped for good.

With romance and intrigue as delectable as the winning recipes included in the story, this debut novel will be devoured by all.

TASTE TEST is contemporary YA set in the world of contemporary cooking shows – a seriously awesome combination. What shows inspired the book, and did any of the contestants you’ve seen inspire the characters?

Top Chef was certainly a big influence in terms of the cooking – particularly the momentum of the challenges and the Contestant Interviews, stuff like that. But the actual characterization was more inspired by shows like Gossip Girl, Glee and Vampire Diaries. I watched a lot of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix when establishing Nora’s rough-around-the-edges exterior – she is very Joey Potter in my eyes and that’s totally intentional.

I will say that Marcel Vigneron from Top Chef Season Two definitely gave me some ammunition for some of Christian’s self-importance and backhanded “zingers” when sparring with Nora.

Southern food and barbecue are definitely the highlighted cuisines in the novel, though everything sounds delicious. What cuisine is closest to your heart and why?

That’s a good question – I’m a big fan of cooking local, fresh ingredients. Throughout the country, they have CSA programs – these are “Community Supported or Sustained Agriculture” and it involves getting a “share” of food from local farms. We’ve done this for four or five years now and it’s been amazing to work with ingredients literally just off the vine or out of the ground. When it comes to recipes, I think that my best dishes are the ones I grew up eating – my mom’s recipes. Maybe they just taste best because of the history and family connection, but they are called “comfort food” for a reason, right?

You have an MFA in Poetry and have studied under some really great writers. What are the odds of us seeing some in future novels, or even a novel in verse?

I’d say the odds are pretty good that you’ll see it in the future – not a novel in verse, necessarily, but poetry is never too far behind for me. Things I’ve written, lately, I can start seeing how it’s feeding into my prose. It’s pretty gratifying. I knew I’d use that poetry degree one day! 🙂

I couldn’t help but notice while I was already anxiously awaiting the release of TASTE TEST that you sold another book, JUST LIKE THE MOVIES. What can you tell us about the follow-up to your debut?

That it was a BLAST to write and research – this is the first time I wrote from alternating perspectives and it was so great to develop two teen girls with such different backgrounds and the same love of movies as each other (and me.) And I will say that the infamous Say Anything scene with John Cusack and his boom-box has gotten a 21st century makeover in my book 🙂

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

My favorite book as a smaller child was Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. I loved all the “Frances” books, but that one in particular had great food descriptions. I think it says a lot about why I wrote about food in my debut.

My favorite book in elementary school was Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. I LOVE THIS BOOK. If you are trying to teach figurative language, or you just want a refresher for yourself, this book and it’s metaphor and description are invaluable. I re-read it every couple of years and I always get something else out of it each time.


Kelly Fiore Picture 3Kelly Fiore is a foodie, a Fiat owner, and a hair metal enthusiast. She lives in Maryland with her husband and son. TASTE TEST is her debut novel.

You can add TASTE TEST on Goodreads, or buy it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Indiebound, Powell’s, and wherever else awesome books are sold!

Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and writes contemporary YA and blogs at the Daily Dahlia and YA Misfits at every spare moment in between. She lives in NYC with her husband and their overflowing bookshelves. Her debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, releases from Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 24, 2014.

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