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Author Joanne Fluke to make appearance at Sanibel Public Library

February 22, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The simple suggestion by her mother to rewrite an ending to a story turned into a fulfilling career for author Joanne Fluke.

"I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't writing," she said. "My mother used to read to me every single night when I was a small child."

One of those nights, her mother finished reading a story and asked Fluke how she liked the book.

Article Photos

Author Joanne Fluke’s “Banana Cream Pie Murder” will hit the shelves Feb. 28.


"Oh I loved it mom, but I really didn't like the ending," was Fluke's response. Her mother replied, 'Well good for you. I didn't like it either. Why don't you write another one.'"

Fluke, 8 years old, spent about a month crafting a new ending to the book. When she handed it to her mother, she instantly sat down, read it, and responded, "Oh honey, I like your ending so much better."

That response started the love of writing.

The home Fluke grew up in had three large garage stalls, a third of which was turned into a playhouse. The walls were painted and a curtain was made for a stage.

"Everybody was using their old Halloween costumers and I would write the play," she said for the neighborhood kids.

Her first book, "The Step Child" was released in 1980. Since Fluke enjoyed reading such authors as Stephen King, it was the first of 11 thrillers.

When she wrote the thrillers she became really involved in the story, which terrified her as the murder scenes, or scenes where people were chased, developed. Those scenes would haunt her, causing nightmares.

"When I was about half way through the book, I would wake up at night with nightmares. I would wake up screaming," Fluke said.

Those events would cause her husband to turn on the light, ask her if she was OK, which was always followed by a cup of hot chocolate. The nightmares would occur three, or four times while writing one book.

Her husband eventually asked her to stop writing the thrillers.

This is when the Hannah Swensen series was born.

The newest in the series, "Banana Cream Pie Murder," will hit the shelves Feb. 28.

"I just hope everyone enjoys the book," Fluke said. "It's one of my favorites."

Fluke will make an appearance at the Sanibel Public Library Monday, March 6, at 7 p.m. during the Author Series.

"I love to get out and meet the people that like the Hannah books. They are the nicest people in the whole world," she said.

A good friend of Hannah's mother is the one who is murdered in "Banana Cream Pie Murder." Hannah, who is on her honeymoon cruise, was told on the last day of her cruise of the murder. Hannah and her new husband then set off to solve the murder.

The book also includes numerous recipes, some of which include - banana cream pie with a pretzel crust and caramel whip cream, peanut butter cheesecake and oven french toast.

"There are some really good recipes in this book," she said.

Fluke's love of baking began at the age of four, after her mom painted a white stool designed with roses that she could stand on and help stir whatever was being made.

"I got to sample what came out of the oven first because I helped make it," she said, igniting a love of baking.

Fluke has 17 shoeboxes in her kitchen full of recipes from her mom, grandmothers, aunts and neighbors, some of which are on the back of envelopes and on pieces of scratch paper.

"I have all of these recipes. I have been slowly making my way through all these boxes," she said laughing that she could tell which recipes were good because of the chocolate and butter splatter.

Before a recipe is added to her book, she tests it three times and it must work every single time. Her son's girlfriend is the final taster of the recipe because if she can follow it anyone can.

"I want them to be easy," Fluke said of the recipe. "I do explain recipes in detail. The reason is because kids read these books. I have some readers as young as 8 years old."

The recipes are sometimes originals, from family, or from fans. She said when a fan submits a recipe, after testing it, she will provide a reference to the person in her book.



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