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Former Inland Empire Food Editor Shares Book at Public Library

By Breeanna Jent
Staff Writer
01/23/2014 at 12:30 PM
The San Bernardino Public Library opened its doors to former Southern California food editor Margo Wilson on Jan. 11, as the Pennsylvania resident made her way back to the Inland Empire to share and discuss her novel, The Main Ingredient. The Oshkosh, Wisc. native welcomed her audience that Saturday afternoon, where she read excerpts from and answered questions about the novel — a book about food, friendship and making amends with the past. The Main Ingredient tells the story of three women who open a restaurant in their Wisconsin hometown but the eatery soon burns down. To avoid spending years in prison, the women must track down the culprit who set the blaze. As they hunt for clues they discover things about their pasts that may have been better kept secret, and find answers in the process to how much a person should do for friends, family and for one's self. The novel also lends itself to a unique style and to its author's past as a food editor — Wilson's resume contains 20 years of journalism experience, including her tenure with the San Bernardino County Sun, the Press Enterprise and the LA Times OC Edition — with each chapter opening with a recipe, ranging from percolator coffee to Schaum Torte. Writing the book was a years-long process for Wilson, who worked on the piece while holding down a full-time job. "It took me about two years off and on to write it," she said. "I wrote the bulk of it while working at the Press Enterprise and LA Times." At the same time she was working on a MFA degree in creative writing, so it was a busy time in her life. In disciplined writer's fashion, Wilson would often wake early to work on the book. "I would get up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and work on the book for an hour or two," she said. "It was difficult but it was a nice period of time that I could devote to my writing." Getting the book published was another matter entirely. "It took about 10 years to get it published," Wilson said. "I started with agents and I came close a few times, but then they would quit their jobs and just disappear." The experience was tough, she shared. "It was difficult and I would get discouraged," the former journalist, who now teaches journalism and English at California University of Pennsylvania, admitted. But her experience as a reporter wouldn't allow her to give up on the book. "I was persistent in getting it published," she said. "As a journalist, you're sort of trained for that." Finally, she found the perfect fit with Ramsfield Press, and published her first novel — she has written another that is not published — this year. Wilson, who worked as a food critic for years for Inland Empire-based daily newspapers, is one of several authors to have spoken at the San Bernardino County Public Library since the program began 10 years ago, shared library program coordinator Linda Adams Yeh. Wilson joins the ranks of famous sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and Emmy award winning writer Alan Brennert. The library also hosts author festivals two or three times a year, hosting several dozen authors at once, along with the occasional individual author presentation, Yeh explained. "I think it's cool for kids and adults to meet the authors," Yeh said. "That way they're not just reading a book without any information about who the author is as a person; now they can read with some more insight." Wilson's advice to those looking to write or publish a manuscript? "Stick in there. Don't ever give up. If you want to do something, stay with it and persevere because it's worth it."