Lucy Muir is leaving her husband. It's complicated. They're joint owners and chefs at one of the best restaurants in town, so making a clean break is tough. But, let's face it, a woman can only take so much cheating, recipe stealing and lack of good grace.
Despondently driving around the back streets of Woolloomooloo one night, Lucy happens upon an old, empty terrace that was once the city's hottest restaurant: Fortune. One minute she's peering through grimy windows into an abandoned space, the next she's planning a pop-up bistro.
When Lucy fires up Fortune's old kitchen she discovers a little red recipe book that belonged to the former chef, the infamous Frankie Summers. As she cries over the ingredients for Frankie's French Onion Soup, she imagines what Fortune was like in its heyday. It's strange, Lucy can sense Frankie beside her, almost see him there...
This fiery chef, who lived with a passion for food and women in almost equal measure, just might help Lucy cook herself up a better life. But is she brave enough to believe?
A surprising, smart, charming novel that shows every day brings with it a second chance.
J.D Barrett is an Australian television writer and script editor with a passion for good food and creating great meals. She has worked on the writing teams for Love My Way, East Of Everything, Bed Of Roses and Wonderland. J.D. lives between Sydney, Byron Bay and Los Angeles. The Secret Recipe For Second Chances is her debut novel and she is currently working on her next book.
The Secret Recipe for Second Chances
Author: J.D Barrett
Question: What inspired the story of The Secret Recipe for Second Chances?
J.D Barrett: Originally I wanted to write something about food – I thought it would be a collection of essays about meals that had changed my life… I stop started that a few times and then one day the character of Frankie popped into my mind…Sitting on my kitchen bench in a kaftan. From there I morphed the idea into a TV series concept, probably because that's the form of writing I've had the most experience in. I have also been a huge fan of The Ghost and Mrs Muir, both the original film and the TV series. I was living in LA for the year and had written a TV pilot and I loved the characters. At the time I was doing a lot of -meetings' which are simultaneously exhilarating and soul destroying! I was also mourning the loss of two people who were close to me and feeling lost with a way I could comfort those who loved them most. I wanted to spend more time with Lucy and Frankie in a bid to understand more about what I was experiencing and hopefully bring some joy to others.
Question: What motivated you to make the switch from screenwriter to novelist?
J.D Barrett: A very dear friend of mine who loved the script and had for a long time been encouraging me to write a novel, suggested I try The Secret Recipe for Second Chances in that form. I was hesitant but I gave it a whirl… For the past twenty years I have kept a journal. In some ways novel writing, to me was a union of journaling and script writing. Following much procrastination I started… and then I couldn't stop. Possibly too because I'd been living with the characters for a while they had a lot to say… so they ran the show. I would never have believed just how comfortable I feel with novel writing as a medium. It's a good fit.
Question: What was the best part about creating the character of Lucy Muir?
J.D Barrett: The love of food and the adventure of starting over… she's relatable even though her experience in the novel may be considered out of the ordinary. I also love that Lucy is flawed and messy and, like the rest of us, is trying to figure out who she is in the world and to begin allowing herself to really stand in her own power and triumph!
Question: What was the reason behind the Woolloomooloo setting?
J.D Barrett: I truly love the area, it has an amazing history and I enjoy the stark contrasts, which in some ways epitomise Sydney for me. I love that Otto and and Harry's Café de Wheels are just metres from each other. I love that Woolloomooloo attracts all types and flavours.
Question: What did you learnt about yourself whilst writing The Secret Recipe for Second Chances?
J.D Barrett: What a great question! I learnt my love of food, my curiosity to understand people and my desire for happy endings are all without bounds. I learnt that, like script writing, you have to repeatedly surrender your ego if you are going to serve the story and your characters. I learnt patience and I learnt to tune in at a deeper level to my own voice as a writer.
Interview by Brooke Hunter