Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Meredith Mileti

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


How excited am I to welcome my amazing friend and writing colleague Meredith Mileti to WRITERHEAD to celebrate the publication of her debut novel Aftertaste?

Almost as excited as I’d be if I could actually host Mira Rinaldi–the main character in Aftertaste–herself. Mira is one of those characters who will stay with you forever. She kicks ass in all the best ways (literally and figuratively)…and I love that.

For the past week or so, Aftertaste has kept me up at night turning the page, urging me onward. I was so bummed when I had no more pages to turn…but also satisfied and content.

(And for all you Pittsburghers out there, you’re in for a hometown treat. Part of the book takes place in the ‘burgh and many favorites make guest appearances–Mineo’s, Pittsburghese, the Strip District, Mellon Bank, the Post-Gazette, and loads more. It’s like coming home.)

Remember, I’m giving away 3 signed copies of Aftertaste today. Just leave a comment here to enter. (Complete guidelines below).

The Scoop About Aftertaste

Mira Rinaldi lives life at a rolling boil. Co-owner of Grappa, a chic New York City trattoria, she has an enviable apartment, a brand-new baby, and a frenzied schedule befitting her success. All of that changes the night she catches her husband, Jake, wielding his whisk with Grappa’s sexy waitress. Mira’s fiery response earns her a court-ordered stint in anger management and a demotion to lunchtime cook at her own restaurant, but that is only the beginning of Mira’s legal and personal predicament as she battles to save her restaurant and pick up the pieces of her life.

Mira falls back on family and friends in Pittsburgh as she struggles to find the right recipe for happiness. Slowly, buffered by her best friend, her widowed father’s girl friend and an unanticipated career twist, Mira starts to assemble the ingredients for a new, very different life. But the heat is really on when some surprising developments in New York present Mira with a high stakes opportunity to win back what she thought she had lost forever.

For Mira, cooking isn’t just about delicious flavors and textures, but about the pleasure found in filling others needs. And the time has come to decide where her own fulfillment lies even if the answers are completely unexpected.

The Buzz

“Meredith Mileti’s Aftertaste is as honest, hearty, and deeply satisfying as the Italian peasant fare cooked by her heroine. A delightful debut novel about the important things in life: food, family, and love.” ~ Ann Mah, author of Kitchen Chinese

“I loved this unflinchingly honest portrayal of a woman’s fresh start—in life, in love, and in her very special kitchens.” ~ Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School

“Hot. Funny. Sexy. This is one delicious story and Meredith Mileti is one steamy good writer!” ~ Jamie Cat Callan, author of French Women Don’t Sleep Alone and Bonjour, Happiness!

First Sentence

“The best thing about the location of the Manhattan County Courthouse is its proximity to Nelly’s.”

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And now, Meredith’s writerhead

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

You can’t plan or induce writerhead, but I can often tell from the moment I open my eyes whether it will be one of those blessed days. (I realize there’s no scientific evidence to support this contention, but I suspect that if you were to take a PET scan the brain you’d be able to actually see writerhead glowing silvery-blue or plum, or some equally incandescent and mysterious color.) Externally I feel a gentle tingling, a slight buzz in the surrounding atmosphere, a bit like I imagine someone might feel just before they spontaneously combust. It’s nerve-wracking, thrilling, heart-stopping and wonderful all at once.

If I sense it might be a writerhead day, I tread softly and take extra precautions to try to minimize the interruptions. I’m an early writer. I love being up in the morning before anyone else is awake in my house. I make a vat of coffee and retreat to my office, making sure my “Disturb Under Pain of Death” doorknob sign is in place. I don’t check my email. I just jump in.

Often I can’t type fast enough. Words and images swirl around my head waiting for me to corral them and assist them onto the page. Writerhead, at it’s best, is like listening in on a party line conversation between two characters who have come to life in a way you hadn’t imagined. I’m just the scribe.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

Once, years ago, when my son was small, I was working on a something—I can no longer even remember what it was, (probably for the best)—when Mark toddled into my office. He was in that language acquisition phase where he would repeat one word over and over. He sidled up to my chair and began repeating “button, button” over and over again and, mad to finish the paragraph I was writing, I kept repeating “button, button,” with all kinds of goofy inflections, trying my best to forestall the inevitable interruption. Suddenly, my screen went blank. He had pushed the “off” button on the computer tower and, of course, because I was in my altered-writerhead state, I was not focused on the earthly and mundane task of saving my work. The word “button” still occasionally strikes terror in my heart. We both ended up in tears. Happily, Mark has lived to almost-adulthood and the scars barely show anymore.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

I recently started running. (Actually, I’ve been saying I’m a runner for years now, but that meant I’d made it 4 times around the high school track without feeling like I needed CPR.) You always hear runners talking about “the runner’s high.” Well, I never felt anything but achy, cranky and occasionally on the brink of death until this summer when I finally managed to break the 4-mile barrier and experienced my first runner’s high. (Okay, there’s probably not a marathon in my future, but still it was a big deal for me.) It feels like you could go on for miles, your body tingling, your feet barely skimming the ground; it’s peaceful, heady and exhilarating; all the outside distractions seem to fall away. It’s very much like writerhead. Now, if I could only write while I run…

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Meredith Mileti lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their three mostly grown children. Since producing her first batch of gluey brownies from her Easy-Bake oven, Meredith has loved cooking for her family and friends. She is an adventurous and eclectic diner, and appreciates any well-cooked meal, whether from a lobster shack in Bar Harbor, a friggitoria in Naples, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris or an undiscovered little gem in her Pittsburgh neighborhood. Aftertaste is her first novel.

Hungry for more? Visit Meredith at her web site. Give her a high-five on Twitter (@winsomechef). Or raise a glass to her on Facebook.

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Q4U: Readers / Writers / Looky-Loos / Cooks / Eaters / Pittsburghers / Primanti Fans: The sign Meredith hangs on her office door when she’s writing reads “Disturb Under Pain of Death.” What does your sign read?

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Today—Wednesday, August 31, 2011—I’m giving away 3 signed copies of Meredith Mileti’s debut novel Aftertaste.

RULES: To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment right here on WRITERHEAD for Meredith. Tell her that you pre-ordered Aftertaste and have just cracked the spine. Talk to her about a particular dish you love to cook for your family and friends. Describe your favorite spice. Delight in a shared writerhead moment. (Or for you Pittsburghers out there, you can even dish about your favorite Primanti’s sandwich.)

*Comments must be posted before the clock strikes midnight on September 1, 2011. (That’s Eastern Standard Time U.S.)

**This contest is open internationally.

***Winners will be drawn on Thursday, September 1. Be sure to check back to see who wins.

****Though I welcome all charming comments, only one comment per person will be counted in the contest. (I know, I know…but this isn’t American Idol.)

****The winner will be drawn randomly by the highly scientific method of my 3yo pulling a name out of a hat (or some other convenient container).