Greetings, Reader! I’m Aletta Thorne, and I’ve been a chef, a teacher, and a ringer of church tower bells–for real. These days, I’m mostly a writer. Although I’ve published a lot of poetry and young adult fiction under another name, this is my first for-real big girl romance. The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins has ghosts, good eats, spicy bits, and readers tell me it’s very funny, too. Which is good, because I meant it to be!
Let’s Get To Know Aletta Thorne
Q: What are the top five books that have influenced your career?
A: You have to understand that I am a wildly eccentric reader. I read cookbooks like novels, and I also write a lot of poetry in addition to my romance-writing!
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (and also the whole Emily series)
- The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Q: If you could go back in time before you published your first book, what advice would you give yourself about publishing?
A: Don’t be afraid to check out independent presses! You don’t need an agent! And don’t give up.
Q: Pick a super-power and tell us what you’d do with it.
A: I’d like to be able to be in two places at once. That way, I could write as much as I want and need to, and still have a very tidy refrigerator and well-promoted books. Maybe the clone-me would be just sort of a smiling, never-gets-annoyed chore-doer, and the creative juice me could live at my desk. The clone-me could also drive the creative-juice me around so I could look out the car window at stuff.
Q: What’s your favorite AND least favorite thing about being a writer/author?
A: My favorite thing is being in flow with a book, when the characters start chattering away with one another, getting attracted to each other, getting mad at each other…and hours pass and I have no idea hours have passed. It’s like watching a movie, sometimes; I don’t even feel myself typing. My least favorite thing is what happens to my lower back when I get in flow with a book too much.
About The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins by Aletta Thorne
Autumn 1982: MTV is new, poodle perms are the rage, and life just might be getting better for Alma Kobel. Her ugly divorce is final at last. Her new job as chef at Bright Day School’s gorgeous old estate is actually fun. But the place is haunted—and so is Alma’s apartment. Bartholomew Addison Jenkins’ ghost has been invisibly watching her for months. When he materializes one night, Alma discovers Bart—as he likes to be called—has talents she couldn’t have imagined…and a horrifying past. What happens if you have a one-nighter with a ghost?
“Ghosts have … relationships?” Alma remembered her metaphysical poetry class from New Paltz. “The grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace,” she said. “Oops. Guess I mentioned death again. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
Bart chuckled. “Oh, that’s fine. Andrew Marvel. Good. Very good. ‘To His Coy Mistress.’ He was utterly wrong, of course. About embracing. Of course, it’s a bit … challenging for us, but hardly impossible.”
Alma shook her head. She’d finished her omelet, and put her plate in the sink.
“Please,” said Bart. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you for months and months. Why don’t you finish your wine in the living room? I’ll turn over the record. I’ve been enjoying the music. Both sides of that album are really very good. I like ‘The Fountains of Rome’ too. We couldn’t have imagined Respighi during my days in the flesh.”
“You’ll turn over the record. Oh, because you…”
“I do like to keep up. Who poured you wine from the … refrigerator? Although, I don’t understand why people of your age prefer it so icy.”
Alma followed Bart into the living room, still wondering why things didn’t seem odder than they were. She remembered the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons she’d seen as a little girl. This ghost was acting—well, perhaps a bit more flirty than friendly. He only glowed a bit as they walked through the dim hallway that connected her rooms. You can hardly even tell he’s translucent. What had he seen of her, though? She was glad her frustrating night with Sid had been at his place.
As Bart bent over the turntable and flipped the record, the reading lamp by her couch highlighted the silver buttons of his coat. She curled up on the couch and put her wine glass on the glass-covered orange crate she’d turned into a coffee table.
Bart sat beside her, suspiciously close. He put an arm over the back of the couch, and Alma shook her head again. That’s the old sneaky-arm trick—like a high school kid. It’s kind of cute. She pulled her legs up under herself, and they quietly listened to the music.
“You’re right,” she said after a few minutes. “‘Fountains’ is really good, too. I almost never listen to that side.”
Bart made a quiet harrumphing noise.
Do ghosts clear their throats? Apparently so.
“Dear lady,” he said. “Although I do try not to snoop, as you would say, I have indeed observed your solitude. Let me assure you, your life will soon be happier.” He slid even closer to her.
Okay. Now the ghost is absolutely coming on to me. This is really happening. Oh, hell—why not? He’s not bad—for a dead guy.
“Um, Bart?” she said. His eyes really were a startling color—almost bronze… “You can’t actually be…”
Bart set his fingertips on her cheeks, looked into her eyes, and sighed. Then he smiled. “You think this is a ridiculous situation. It’s not ridiculous,” he said. “Not at all. Allow me to demonstrate … with your permission, m’lady.”
Somehow, that was funny, and Alma giggled. “Granted.”
Bart’s hands were impossibly soft and gentle—and his touch had some of the same fire-and-ice buzz that she’d felt before in the kitchen when he’d tried to get her attention. He guided her lips to his, and gave her what would have been a tiny peck—from anyone else. It shot a bolt of fire straight through her.
“Oh,” she said. It took a minute to get her breath.
My favorite quote from The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins is:
“What’s your name?”
“Bartholomew Addison Jenkins,” he said. “These days, I just use Bart.”
“These days. But you’ve been here since you…”
“Since 1784,” he said.
“Which was when you died, I guess.”
“I must tell you, dear lady, saying that to one of us is considered rude. In better ghostly circles, that is. Some of us are not aware we are dead. Some of us do not like to be reminded of it.”