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Tessa says, “It just goes to show that you never know the talents behind the person waiting on you!” We couldn’t be more proud of our crew at Söntés—just ask your server sometime what he or she does outside of the restaurant! Right now, get to know Jody Brown. Check back in with us in April, when we’ll be hosting the book launch party for Jody’s novel. Meanwhile, read on for the story behind the story!

I was sitting at my computer one day, sending an email to a friend in Pittsburgh. I’d been moonlighting at a restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle, and was trying to explain how captivated I was by the Circle and its rather bizarre happenings. I typed the note—I’m a writer, so a note from me is more like a paragraph—and sent it off.

A year later I left D.C. and moved to Rochester with that paragraph saved in my laptop, fully intent on turning it into a book. A week ago, my own author’s copy of that book arrived on my doorstep.

I really can’t describe that moment. Okay, yes I can: I sighed, rolled my eyes, and shook my head. (I thought I saw a mistake on the cover.) So I put the book back in the box and went on with what I could change that day. It wasn’t until the next day that I picked it up again and saw that all was as it should be. (You must understand that this was the “end” of a very long process, and I think my brain was slipping.)

Since then, I’ve been tossed into the world of press releases, blogs, social media, and Tax ID numbers—not to mention Rochester city tax. My head is certainly spinning now, but I’ve decided to enjoy the whirlwind.

I don’t know how others go about writing, but what works for me is to start with a feeling in mind, something that I want the reader to experience, and then write toward it. Upside Down Kingdom began as an email about a feeling. The story is fiction, but set in a real timeline: 2000-2002 in our nation’s capital. The main character is a wry-humored young professional who is working her first job out of college and moonlighting at a trendy restaurant. Sound familiar? Well, the saying goes, “Write what you know.” I know how to wait tables.

I also have some writing experience—although this is not necessary by any means if you’re looking to write a novel. I’ve written obituaries for a newspaper in South Carolina, edited trade publications in D.C., and I have a degree in Poetry Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. It’s not a very practical degree, but we’re a world of communicators, any way that we can do it. To fund my ability to communicate, I’ve waited tables in five different states. Along the way, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things, many of which ended up in the book.

Having the book launch event in a restaurant, especially Söntés, is so exciting. It’s a great milestone for me—the kind of event where you want to make sure that all the details are in place, and you also want to feel the security of “home.” Söntés is such a part of me—aptly so, as I am a part of it. On any given night when you come to dine at Söntés, I’m your server. Myself, or any of my amazing coworkers—a mix of law, grad, and nursing students, yoga instructors, teachers, photographers… the talented list goes on. They’re an amazing group of people to work with, and we all get caught up by Tessa’s enthusiasm and energy. My undying gratitude goes out to Söntés for letting me guest blog here, and for hosting the upcoming book launch. April 19 will certainly be “one for the books.”

Upside Down Kingdom will be available for purchase at the launch, and will continue to be for sale—and the author available for signatures—at Söntés. Upside Down Kingdom is also available at Barnes & Noble at Apache Mall and the Barn Bar in Rochester. The book, in both hard copy and e-book format, is available online at BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.