What do you think of that cover art? I love it. Wicked. Funny. Kind of sexy. All of these things make me excited to read Friend Of The Devil.
For today, I have an interview with Author Mark Spivak and a glimpse inside his book.
There’s also a giveaway, so don’t forget to enter!
Enjoy the Interview
What are four things you can’t live without?
First and foremost, love and affection (two things, but we’ll count them as one). Then, in no particular order: sushi, Bourbon and dogs. The world would be a very sad place without any of those.
What is your favorite television show?
I don’t watch a great deal of TV, except during a major election season—I’m a political junkie. On a regular basis, I do keep up with several reality shows, particularly Survivor. I think it’s the most interesting of the batch. They obviously put a lot of effort into choosing the cast, and always include enough dysfunctional personalities to make it worth following.
If you could be any character, from any literary work, who would you choose to be? Why?
That’s a tough question, but I’d be tempted to say Huck Finn. He was fortunate to grow up on the American frontier, and he made the most of it. And of course, we all have an Aunt Sally that we’re running away from.
What have you got coming soon for us to look out for?
I’ve actually completed drafts of two different novels. The first is a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq. The second is titled The Secret Life of Sylvia Epstein. It’s told from a female point of view. The main character is a woman who stumbles on some very disturbing revelations about her mother after her mother’s death, and struggles to reconcile them.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
I’d have to say Hemingway. While there are things he could be legitimately criticized for, his prose is a model or clarity and directness that is often lacking in many “classical” writers.
Friend Of The Devil
by Mark Spivak
Genre: Thriller (Culinary)
In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, cut a deal with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.
Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.
Several years after the opening of Chateau de la Mer, the triumvirate of Avenzano, Walsh and Ross appeared to be one big happy family, although there were rumors of strains in the relationship. One night, at the height of the Festival of Champagne, there was an incident. Ross, a notorious womanizer, was sipping Cristal with a redhead at the restaurant’s corner table. His wife slipped through the front door of the mansion, unannounced. Walking slowly through the dining room, past the Medieval memorabilia and dramatic cast-iron griffins, she strolled up to Ross’s table, took a revolver from her evening bag, and calmly shot him through the heart.
The ensuing chaos did more to establish Joseph Soderini di Avenzano in the American imagination than his designer pasta, his Bedouin-stuffed poussin, his recipes transposed from Etruscan or Old Genoese, or his library of 10,000 cookbooks. This was more than a good meal, after all. This was sex and death in Palm Beach. Even more intriguing was the Chef’s refusal to comment on Ross after his death, except for informal and effusive eulogies in his famous baritone.
“Watch that Cristal,” David’s friend Bill Grimaldi told him before he left Manhattan to do an assigned story on the 25th anniversary of Chateau de la Mer. “It’s a killer.”
Author Mark Spivak
Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on www.palmbeachillustrated.com. He is the holder of the Certificate and Advanced diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Mark’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. He is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). His first novel, Friend of the Devil, is published by Black Opal Books.
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