Submitted by Susanne Bacon
“The first time I got one of these in a restaurant I thought my order had been mistaken.” This is the opening sentence of the fourth and latest book in the Wycliff novel series by Lakewood-based author and columnist Susanne Bacon. “Clean Cuts” is located in the fictitious quaint Victorian town of Wycliff on the shores of South Puget Sound, “somewhere between Olympia and Seattle”, and though a stand-alone it also is an answer to some of the questions the preceding novel, “Telling Truths”, has left open. But, of course, the plot introduces an entirely different perspective of the small-town and its people.
This time the protagonist is a young chef who has been injured and faces life as a paraplegic. In his despair he considers himself a failure as a chef and as husband material and withdraws more and more into a world of his own. As his girl-friend frantically tries to keep up their bistro-restaurant and their relationship, an old friend comes to the rescue from thousands of miles away. But his own set of problems might make them all fall down.
As always, there are real companies and real people knit into the story, and readers will recognize places in Western Washington that are real as well. “The toughest part was when my protagonist had wrapped himself in such a bubble that I could hardly get him talk to anybody anymore, not even me as his creator,” Susanne Bacon says about the writing process. “He became a tough person to like, and I had to be very patient to let him come back of his own accord.” Which is one of the reasons why the author took her time writing her latest story about the life and times in Wycliff. Another was intense research on what it means to be newly disabled and about therapeutic measures. “Of course, this is fiction, not a documentary, and I hope my readers always remember that real life doesn’t finish with a happy ending after only a few hundred pages,” Bacon says. “The time frames of a novel are limited, and I need to keep my readers interested.”
A parallel storyline leads behind the scenes of restaurants, combined with a culinary tour through Europe. Foodies might enjoy the delicious facts that head each and every chapter as well as some of Susanne Bacon’s family recipes in the back of the book. Yet the cover photo, as usual taken by the author herself, doesn’t just suggest the context of food preparation.
“Clean Cuts is about my protagonist’s sudden thrust into an entirely new situation in life. But it is also about people making decisions to cut themselves loose from habits, attitudes, and ways of life,” Bacon explains the title of her new novel. “It shows that such cuts are never isolated incidents, but that they have an effect on the entire network of the person who is cutting away from it.” She ought to know, as she immigrated to the US only eight years ago and has, since then, dropped her German citizenship in favor of the American one.
If you want to find out more about the Wycliff novels and their author, visit www.facebook.com/susannebaconauthor. “Clean Cuts” is available as an AuthorHouse soft cover edition (286 pages), online via AuthorHouse book store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at any local bookstore (ISBN 978-1-5246-3672-6, $20.99). Also coming soon is an e-book version (ISBN 978-1-5246-3672-3, $3.99).