For the Love of FACS, Reading in the FACS Classroom

Meet Author Joanne Fluke

Promoting literacy in the FACS classroom is a top priority for Fresh FACS. Recipe for Reading, a curriculum based on Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder and Candy for Christmas is one of our best selling titles. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first novel in the Hannah Swensen culinary mystery series written by Joanne Fluke. Ms. Fluke was kind enough to answer some questions for me about how she develops her novels and the original recipes included in them. I think you and your students will find this Q & A both interesting and entertaining. Enjoy!

The questions posed in this Q & A focus on the content of Ms. Fluke’s novels that relate to the FACS curriculum.

FF:  The title of each of the novels in the Hannah Swensen series is based on a different food product.  As you develop the story line of a new novel, does the food inspire the story or the other way around?

JF: It’s a little of both.  One consideration is what the cover art will look like.  Another is whether or not I already have a recipe for the title dessert.  Once my editor and I have agreed on a title recipe, it influences the story setting and background.  Sometimes it works the other way.  For example, a Christmas story needs a Christmassy dessert.

FF:  The original recipes incorporated into the body of each Hannah Swensen novel play an important role in bringing the story to life.  Can you summarize the process you follow to develop the recipes for your books?

JF: I imagine something I’d like to eat and then I try to figure out how to make it.  After that, I experiment until I come up with something that meets Hannah’s standards.  I work hard to make the recipes as simple and yummy as I can.  My husband helps by taste testing every experimental batch.  He almost turned purple trying blueberry muffins.  The dear man never complained about this arduous chore!

:  As you develop the recipes for your novels?  Who do you ask to taste test your dishes?

JF: Everyone I know.

FF:  When did you learn to cook?  Were you ever enrolled in a Family and Consumer Science course (Home Economics) in middle school or high school?

JF:  Like Hannah, I’m a seat-of-the-pants small town baker with no special training other than one home economics class in high school.

FF:  The concept of a bakery which serves exclusively cookies is unique.  Is Hannah’s bakery, The Cookie Jar, an original business concept of is it modeled after a store that you have visited?

JF: There are a number of bakery-coffee ships in Minnesota small towns although none concentrate on cookies that I know of.  Of course Hannah does serve other goodies, but cookies are her main endeavor.

Joanne has a lot more to share!  The Q & A continues tomorrow!  In the meantime, you can learn more about the delectable novels in the Hannah Swensen culinary mystery series at