Received
Mitchell
interview
Valerie Anne Faulkner
interviews Seri Mitchell
for
Christian Fiction On-line Magazine, November, 2008
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Siri Mitchell
Siri Mitchell

    November’s officially arrived.

    From my view point, my back porch, I see the Florida foliage has slowly but surely changed in color. We’
    ve turned off the air conditioners-and evenings are almost cool enough for hearty winter meals.

    “Stew?” Bill asks.

    “Hummm…Not that hearty,” I reply. “Like everybody else, we better get energized. The holiday’s are just
    around the bend- the race to get everything done- is on! Turkey, stuffing, trimmings and of course pie!”

    “Apple pie…topped with a slice of cheese?” Bill asks, with his ‘hungry-man’ grin.
    Ah, my mom always said, ‘a way to a man’s heart was through his stomach!’ “Of course, I’ll make apple
    pie! I’ve dusted off the cook books and I’m already deciding which pies to bake for the company that will
    gather at our home for Thanksgiving. I’ll probably make pumpkin, and lemon meringue, and blueberry. And
    yes, Bill…even walnut! But first we are heading north.”

    “Think you should make a pie for the road?”

    “Will-yum…”


                                                                               ***

    Valerie: You have traveled to and lived in other countries. What did you miss most about life in the U.S.A.
    and wished for while you were away?

    Siri: Being able to drive a car and park it. Somewhere. Anywhere! While I loved the pedestrian-friendly
    lifestyles of Tokyo and Paris, I really, really wished I would have been able to go grocery shopping with my
    car instead of my own two feet. A bag of oranges, a pack of yogurts, a box of laundry detergent . . . it can
    get quite heavy!

    Valerie: If you could make your own country—Siri’s Country—what would the recipe call for?

    Siri: In my country, people would enjoy life the way the French do. They would also have at least five
    weeks of vacation days (– paid!). But when they worked, they would do it with the attention to detail that
    the Japanese have. And, like the Japanese, they would actually notice the world around them. Things like the
    flowers in the park or the individual leaves on trees. People in my country would never be too busy to sit on
    their front porches and talk. They would be laid-back, like the people in Australia, and they would have the
    same easy way of conversing as people in the South. They would tell great stories like my Aunt Shirley, and
    when they say they’ll do something, they would actually follow through. In my world, kids could run out
    the door to play in the morning and not come back until the afternoon. They could do that because in my
    county, just like in Japan, it would be safe.

    Valerie: Thanksgiving is celebrated this month—what tradition has your family reserved for this day? Do
    you go “all out,” or do you all go out?

    Siri: We’re very traditional at our house. Turkey, cranberries, stuffing, and potatoes, green bean casserole,
    sweet potatoes . . . but we always have chocolate pie for dessert! (Nothing against pumpkin, it’s just given
    the choice, I prefer chocolate.)

    Valerie: Do you say a grace before your meals, and if you do would you like to share your blessing with us?

    Siri: Yes, we do, but it varies from day to day. When my husband and I worked with a youth group in
    Paris, the youth minister always included this phrase in his grace: “Thanks for the food you’ve given us,
    because we know that not everyone gets to eat today.” I always found that especially meaningful.

    Valerie: You speak English and French fluently; any other languages?

    Siri: No. I tried learning Japanese before we moved to Tokyo, but the language has three different ways of
    “spelling” words and at least three different ways of counting. At that point in my life, it required too much
    concentration. If I ever move back, however, I’ve already promised myself that I will make the effort!

    Valerie: Do you have a favorite quote? If it’s in anything other than English, would you interpret it for us?

    Siri: I have a favorite motto: Sisu. It’s a Finnish word that’s almost untranslatable, but Finns use it to define
    their national character. It’s signifies something close to determination and perseverance over a long period
    of time. Believe me, you need a whole lot of sisu in this profession! My great-grandmother was Finnish, so I
    guess I come by my fascination with the word honestly.

    For more information on sisu,

    Valerie: Crisp fall weather floods my mind of childhood memories. Would you feel like telling us of one of
    your own autumn antiquities?

    Siri: I love autumn, too. It’s my favorite season! And one of my best memories is the year my parents took
    my sister and I out of school for two weeks and drove up to New England to see the changing leaves. It
    was gorgeous beyond all description, and we were able to visit so many important places in American
    history. Weren’t my parents cool?!

    Valerie: Would you please tell us all about, “Siri Games?”

    Siri: Sure! Siri Games is a link on my Web site to a Web page filled with computer games that my brother-
    in-law developed. He was a programmer for Sony online games and worked on EverQuest and PlanetSide
    (which makes him a super-star in the world of online gaming). At the moment he’s learning how to program
    for wii, so Siri Games are wii compatible.

    Valerie: What’s your current project?

    Siri: I just turned in Love’s Pursuit, the book that will release in June 2009. It’s set in Puritan New England
    and investigates the amazing lengths to which God will go to pursue us. A classic love story, it also includes
    the fashion element of Puritan America’s dress codes. I hope to start on a third historical for Bethany in
    October. The third book will be set in 1890s New York City. It was an era when tight-laced corseting was
    still practiced and high society women lived their lives in the fishbowl of celebrity culture the same way
    those in Hollywood do today.

    Valerie: Have your books been translated into other languages? Did you write them first in English?

    Siri: They haven’t been published in any other languages that I’m aware of. The medieval portions of
    Chateau of Echoes (the character Alix’s journals) were written in French first. I did a near word-to-word
    translation to English to give it a medieval feel. The diary entries in Kissing Adrien were also written in
    French first so that they would retain a French “accent.” I find I think and react differently in English than I
    do in French, so it’s important for me to write in a character’s primary language.

    Valerie: Have you ever had a deadline around or during the holidays? Are you very organized, or
    disorganized? What was your biggest fear of how you’d accomplish your task?

    Siri: Yes. And worse: I’ve had to do two different sets of galleys in the middle of moves. I would not
    recommend it! My greatest fear, of course, was missing my deadline and putting everyone else off schedule.
    In general, I set my personal deadlines well in advance of my editor’s deadline. That way if I’m late for any
    reason, the only person it affects is me.

    Valerie: You have been asked many questions during your career, but would you like to share a little-bit
    about yourself, with your fans? Something they haven’t asked, but you think they would enjoy hearing
    about?

    Siri: I love my kitchen! We just moved over the summer. Our new house was built in the 1920s, but the
    kitchen was renovated several years ago. The previous owners chose to put in granite countertops and
    caramel-colored hardwood cabinets. They also put i n a large bay window over the sink. It’s one of my
    favorite features because it fills the kitchen with light. They also put in a high-end stove and oven, but
    frankly, they’re still a bit intimidating. I’m going to share with you my secret for kicking a meal up a notch.
    It’s a cheese from France called Boursin.

    A bit creamier than cream cheese, the classic Boursin is laced with garlic and fine herbs. It’s a perfect let-
    everyone-make-their-own appetizer if you put out some bread and crackers. At the American Embassy in
    Paris, they sometimes use it to stuff celery. It makes to-die-for garlic bread, and you can even add a bit to
    casseroles that call for sour cream or cream cheese. And last of all, it’s a perfect but subtle addition to white
    or alfredo sauces.

    As long as we’re talking about cheese, let me tell you how to properly cut one. (I learned this from some
    friends in France.) Ideally, you want to retain the same shape/proportion as the original and/or cut it in a
    way that will leave others with the same rind-to-cheese ratio. For a cylindrical cheese like Boursin, cut the
    cheese into wedges like you would cut a pizza or a pie. For a Brie or camembert that you buy in a wedge,
    cut it along the length so that the cheese will still retain its tip. A log of goat cheese should be cut into discs.
    And a flat square of cheese can be cut at a diagonally in half and then into triangles.

    Valerie: This is great! Think I’ll try it out on my guests for Thanksgiving. Thank you Siri, I’ve enjoyed this.
    Hope you have a wonderful holiday season… and may God bless you and your family.