Best-selling Christian author Hallee Bridgeman pens action-packed, edgy romantic suspense. But she also writes cookbooks. Parody, whole-food cookbooks with a Christian theme that are inspired by her passion for cooking and her desire to confront various aspects of secular pop culture.
Hallee is a member of the Published Author Network of the Romance Writers of America, where she serves as a long time board member in the Faith, Hope, & Love chapter. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Writers, and Novelists, Inc.
She and her husband, Gregg, and their three children live in Kentucky.
What sparked your writing journey?
I had never planned on being a writer. It’s nothing to which I aspired when I was young. I never wrote short stories or poetry. I was 27-years-old and one night had a dream. It woke me at 2 a.m. It was so vivid and so clearly a book. I got out of bed and started typing. Six weeks later, I had a 100,000 word novel finished.
After that, the story ideas kept coming. They flooded my mind and I wrote them as fast as I could.
How does your faith play into your work?
I did not start off with that novel being a Christian novel. It was secular romance and filled with all of the things that are in secular romances. I didn’t start publishing until ten years after I’d written that first novel. When it was time to publish, I was convicted on a major level to change my genre from contemporary romance to Christian romance and Christian romantic suspense.
Faith is the reason I’m doing what I’m doing. I pray every day before writing. I want God’s words to come through in my work. Every book has a spiritual message. I believe each book was written for someone specific God wanted to reach.
God sometimes sends us down an unexpected path in life—one that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
My entire career has been a Divine Detour. Once I opened my heart up to what God wanted done with my writing, everything became for HIM and not for ME. As I embraced that, God threw open every window and door around me and the opportunities and missions just continue to pour in.
This year, we will see so many new adventures with my writing and so much more out of our publishing company (Olivia Kimbrell Press). I am so excited about what is coming.
Let’s talk about your latest “parody cookbook,” Iron Skillet Man: The Stark Truth about Pepper and Pots (House of Bread Books, March 2014). Please tell us about it.
Simply, Iron Skillet Man is “just” a whole-food skillet cookbook. It’s full of 89 recipes that can be cooked in a skillet—from whole roasts to breads to desserts to vegan meals. It contained cooking tips, tricks, and even includes a section on how to season a cast iron skillet.
But, there’s more to it than that. I will explain with the next question…
It’s the third book in your cookbook series. What gave you the idea to write parody cookbooks?
While driving through a terrible snow storm in the mountains of Maryland Christmas 2012, right as the whole Fifty Shades phenomenon was taking off, my husband and I stopped at a country store to take a break from the weather and road. While there, we were pursuing the spinning rack of little Christian books and he saw Fifty Shades of Grace. He said, “I wish we’d thought of that. How clever.”
It was my turn to drive so I took over and we were silent as I dealt with road conditions. About an hour later, my husband said, “Fifty Shades of Gravy! Do you think you can come up with fifty gravy recipes?”
So I did. And Fifty Shades of Gravy; A Christian Gets Saucy! was born. It is full of 50 of real-food gravy recipes. However, I also included an introduction that talked about the cultural phenomenon that had gripped our nation in the form of that book series, and it was all about bondage and pain and attempted “healing” through that pain. I explained how, through Christ, we are released from our binds and set free. And, I used it as a platform to give a salvation message in an attached “invitation.”
Because it was kind of sitting out there alone, we thought we might want to do another parody. The Walking Bread; The Bread Will Rise! was next. While it IS full of really amazing bread recipes—all of the breads that I make on a regular basis for my family, it also has an afterward that tackles the fascination our culture has with death and how in Christ we are all alive.
Iron Skillet Man; The Stark Truth About Pepper and Pots! takes on the love we have for the superhero and that billion dollar industry. And while I *love* superhero movies and have two sons who count down days from one blockbuster to the next, I explain in my book that Jesus has already saved the world and how wonderful is that?
I have many more cookbooks coming. One day, I may compile them and “just” have them be cookbooks without messages. But that’s not in the plan immediately.
You write fiction as well. Please tell us about An Aria for Nick (Olivia Kimbrell Press, November 2013), your latest novel.
An Aria for Nick is book 2 in my Song of Suspense series. Aria Suarez aspires to be a concert pianist and has had a serious high school crush on Nick Williams, an abused, poverty stricken kid from her school. He’s attracted to her as well, and after high school joins the Army. He regularly sends her letters while she is in college studying music and she clings to the hope that one day they will be together. On a mission in Iraq, his helicopter goes down and as far as the world knows, he’s dead. At his funeral, her wrist is crushed. All of her hopes and desires for her future are destroyed with Nick’s death and with the crushed hand.
Ten years later, she is a nuclear engineer and accidentally stumbles upon a plot to assassinate several leaders of our nation during a summit. She becomes a target of the terrorists, and the man who shows up to help her is none other than Nick Williams, a special field agent of the government.
With trust in God, Aria and Nick will have to risk everything to save everyone and find love again.
A few fun questions…
What’s your favorite recipe from your new cookbook?
Lamb Loin Chops – 2 per person
extra virgin olive oil – less than 1 TBS
1 clove of garlic per 2 chops
1 sprig of rosemary per 2 chops
Kosher or sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
Lightly spray or using your finger, wipe, olive oil on the chops. I used an olive oil spray, but it was pure olive oil and non-aerosol. I wouldn’t recommend using the packaged aerosol cans, just because I think the taste would be sacrificed.
Chop the garlic and rosemary. Rub onto the lamb. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let sit (refrigerated) for several hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Cook on a hot skillet for about 5 minutes per side, or until seared and brown. Place entire skillet in oven and cook until desired doneness. We like our lamb medium to medium-rare and it cooks for about ten minutes. If you want it done a little more, cook it to your taste.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Despite my current series, The Song of Suspense Series, being all about musicians caught up in some suspenseful plot, I have absolutely no musical talent of which to speak. I have no ear for music and am completely tone def. On my playlist is my audio Bible—I don’t even listen to music much.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I pray that I would be a deeply moving worship song.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I’m the strong girl next door who can help problem solve while whipping up a delicious meal to feed the super heroes.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
I have a dog named Nina who is half Blue-Tic Coon Hound and half Pit Bull. Her mother was struck by a car while her puppies were in utero, and ended up losing her leg—an operation performed while she was still pregnant. Our Nina is a good dog, but she’s a bit altered, and we’re sure it was a result of the trauma she suffered before she was born. I couldn’t have hand-picked a better dog for my young children.
I also have two cats—Twix and Snickers. They are rescues from the Human Society and aren’t quite one. Both are chocolate and caramel colored calicos, and have two entirely different personalities. Twix is a fierce hunter and aggressor, and Snickers is queen of all she surveys.
Thank you, Hallee! It’s been fun to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you so much for having me!!
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For more information about Hallee, visit her blog or her website.
To purchase Iron Skillet Man and other books by Hallee, logon to:
Thank you SO much for having me! I really enjoyed answering your questions!
My pleasure, Hallee! Your cookbooks AND the recipe you shared today look wonderful!
As always, a wonderful interview, Kathy! Thank you. And thank you, Hallee, for a peek behind the author. What fun!
Thanks, Tammy (who, I have to mention, is another great cook and recipe guru!)
Oooh, my husband loves to cook with iron skillets! Now I know what to get him for father’s day! Thanks, Hallee!
Great idea, Cathy! And the bonus is that you can enjoy the gourmet benefits. : )