ABOUT AUTHOR: Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben and Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

What do you hope readers take away from this novel?

In contrast to the sweetness of candy, I wanted to look at the idea that sin spoils us all. Though we like to judge ourselves on a gradient, the fact is that it doesn't matter whether a sin is ‘large’ or ‘small’; God doesn't compare us to each other, he compares us to his perfect son. I’m hoping that readers will grasp that although there’s no hope of ever being able to earn God’s grace, we all have the chance to simply reach out and accept it as a gift that’s been freely offered.

When you described Lucy’s trip to Europe you talked about "the ballrooms of Vienna” and the “Cathedrals of France, described how it felt to stand on the “Jungfrau” and “see the world laid out at my feet.” Lucy loved it. Have you ever been to Vienna? Seen the Cathedrals of France? If not, are they places you’d like to go to? Why? 

Capital Visitors Center

I lived in Paris from 1996 – 2000, so I was able to see some of the places Lucy described. Though I never had the chance to visit Vienna, I have seen many of the cathedrals of France. My husband and I helped out with the high school youth at our church and their summer camp was in the Alps in Switzerland, so I’m well-acquainted with those majestic mountains. I've seen many of the great museums on the continent as well. In centuries past, there was a well-established tourist circuit in Europe that put a fine polish to a classic liberal arts education. Though individual itineraries could differ, it generally started in France, progressed to Switzerland, wound through Italy, and then went back across the Alps and into Austria and Germany. World War I largely put an end to that tradition.

Nora: That sounds like a great time. 

 Lucy describes all the treats and unusual things she ate in Europe. Some unusual items were mussels, eel and snails; she said they were delicious! Have you ever eaten these items? What did you think about them? If not, what have been the most unusual things you've eaten? What unusual thing surprised you? What could you see eating again if you didn't have to cook it?

Between living in Europe and living in Japan, I think I've had a chance to taste them all! Mussels are delicious and are a particular specialty of Belgium. Snails (escargot) are wonderful as well. They really don’t have a distinctive taste, so they absorb the flavor of the sauce they’re served with. Eel I've had on sushi. Can’t say it was a favorite, but it wasn't terrible.
Abbaye de Fontievaud
When we lived in Japan, we visited the town of Tottori which is located on the west side of the country, on the Sea of Japan. Our Japanese host wanted to take us to a traditional dinner, so we drove on narrow winding roads through what I considered to be a blizzard to eat that night on the tatami mat-covered floor of an inn. Among other things, we were served raw crab that had been fished from the sea just that day. It was incredibly delicious! Even sweeter than cooked crab. I’d definitely eat raw crab again. As far as surprises, I've eaten tripe on accident. (Let it be said that I would never again eat it on purpose.) Same goes for black sausage (boudin noir). In most cases I’m of the ‘try it once you might like it’ school of eating.

Nora: I don't know about the try it once theory! There are somethings I couldn't get past the look or smell to try it. Your a brave woman! I did try Alligator  frog legs and other cooked items. I'm not a fan of raw foods except veggies!! Grin!

This story is about some fierce competition in the candy business back in 1910. Did you base it on something real, or did you make that up? If it’s real could you tell us where this event took place and what candy they were fighting about?

Attending a Friends Wedding

It’s all real. Candy-making was very competitive. It still is! The competition between chocolate giants Hershey and Mars is legendary, but it’s less widely known that at one time, they were partners in business. Back at the turn of the century, candy companies would send representatives to Europe to tour candy-making facilities and sometimes even work in them so they could duplicate the process, machinery, and recipes back home. 

Chocolate-making is especially difficult due to the different substances that have to be blended and bound together. The kind of chocolate bars and candies we’re familiar with today only started being made in the mid-1800s. 

The Hershey bar was created in 1900. In fact, the whole idea of this book came when I was researching types of candy for my 1890s book, She Walks in Beauty. I was shocked to learn about the competitive ruthlessness of the industry…it seems like it should be so ‘sweet’. And that was the draw of this idea for me: the contrast between candy and the ruthless nature of the selling of it.

Nora: Who knew? Thanks for sharing. It brings your book to life reading this information. Thanks for including it!

In your research for Unrivaled, what surprised you about candy making? 

How exact an art it is. And how much time it takes. As I read old recipes for making things like meringues, I realized that all the beating and mixing we do today with appliances was done by hand. You had to have a lot of strength and patience to make candy in eras past.

You mentioned Salzburg Mozartkugeln in your book and that it one of Lucy’s candy treasures, discovered in her travels. What is a Salzburg Mozatkugel? Have you ever eaten it? If so, what made you mention it in your novel? 

A Salzburg Mozartkugeln is a fabulous ball of dark chocolate-coated pistachio marzipan and nougat. Aside from being absolutely delicious, this particular candy came to symbolize the industry as a whole for me. The original maker, Fürst, still makes the product by hand, selling the candies only in its shops and via internet. There are several other shops that make the candies by hand as well. But because the recipe isn't patented, there are many other makers that produce them in factories and package them as Mozartkugeln. This has been going on for decades. But very recently, Fürst went to court to try and trademark the name (not the recipe). They were awarded the right to call their candies Original Salzburg Mozartkugeln…but other companies have registered the names ‘Real Salzburg Mozartkugeln’, ‘Real Reber Mozartkugeln,’ and ‘Original Austria Mozartkugeln’. 

For fans of the red Mozart-stamped, foil-wrapped Mozartkugeln you can by in the U.S., I’m sorry to say that though they may be ‘real,’ they aren't ‘ original’! They’re also smaller and don’t have quite the same center that the original versions do. (If you want to become a Mozartkugeln specialist, one of the confectioneries that still produces them by hand offers a course in Mozartkugeln.)

Nora: Now you've made me want to try the original for sure!! Sounds Yummy!

You mention President Roosevelt in your book going up in an airplane. It was new and scary. People didn't know what to think and thought the President was a risk taker going up in one. Would you have taken a ride in a plane back then? Was this a true event? If you wouldn't go for a ride why not?
VA Festival of Books

Yes – that presidential airplane ride at Kinloch Field truly took place! President Roosevelt (though he was a former president by then) was the first president to fly in an airplane. There’s a video of the event at this web site 

(note that the year of the event is not correct; it actually happened in 1910): (the president comes into the video at about 2:15).

Would I have gone for a ride? No way! Flying was very dangerous back then. For sixteen months, in 1910 and 1911, the Wright Brothers organized exhibitions and competed in air meets across the country trying to demonstrate the distinctive maneuverability of their aircraft in order to drum up sales and recoup some of the cost of their early development efforts. They trained seven men specifically for this purpose. And just as today’s test pilots push the limits of their airplanes, so did those early twentieth-century pilots as they broke altitude records and performed breathtaking stunts.

Arch Hoxsey, the pilot who flew Roosevelt would die from a crash in Los Angeles a little over two months later. By the end of 1912, four of those seven exhibition pilots had died in plane crashes. If you’re interested in the stories of those early pioneering pilots, you can read more here:

Nora: Thanks for including these video links Siri. It makes your story even more fascinating! I'm with you about not flying! Grin!


Where did you live growing up? 

I grew up in quite a few different places: Everett and Anacortes, Washington; Wilmington, Delaware; Portland, Oregon; New Brunswick and Ontario, Canada. 

What did you like about growing up there? 

I loved moving. Loved being able to observe new people in different situations and discovering the differences between the U.S. and Canada – politically, geographically, culturally.

Name two jobs that you've had people might be surprised at. 

My first job ever was working at the McDonald’s in Kenora, Ontario after school and on the weekends. My third job was working at a paper mill in St. Helens, Oregon. I cleaned bathrooms, cleaned up paper pulp spills, and worked on the paper roll wrap assembly line during the swing and night shifts. 

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play? 

Inefficiency and wasted effort drive me crazy. I’d probably be the one to say, “Why don’t we do it like this? Why don’t we organize our efforts this way?” And then I’d get to work doing just that.

What movie greatly impacted you as a child? 

The Sound of Music. Why? 

Outside of all those wonderful songs, there were so many great themes in that movie, and romance as well as suspense. I consider it one of the best movies ever made.

What is your favorite book of all time (besides the bible)? Do Tell! 

The Anne of Green Gables series. (Particularly Anne of the Island and Rilla of Ingleside)


Thanks so much for having me on TBCN and thanks to all of you for coming by. I hope you have as much fun reading this book as I did writing it!


I did enjoy this story along with both your leading characters. I cared for them and their situation right away. THANKS for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your new book UNRIVALED.  

I’m thrilled that Bethany House is giving away 10 copies of your new book at The Book Club Network’s contest this week and ends MARCH 30th. I hope that you can join in the discussion. The readers and book club leaders enjoy the author interaction.

Blessings to you in your writing adventures in 2013 


You Must JOIN TBCN in order to participate. It’s FREE and full of BOOK FUN!! Answer one of the questions to be entered into the discussion for your chance to win one of these books. Also to interact with Siri!!


Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!!


  1. I would love to win,Enter me!!!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!!
    I am a member of the Book Club Network.
    Sarah Richmond

  2. Thanks for this interview with Siri. I really enjoy her historical books; there is always an interesting bit of history to learn about plus a fabulous story. I'm currently reading her book, The Messenger. I entered the contest on TBCN and would love to win a copy of Unrivaled Thanks for the giveaway..

  3. Hi, Sarah; I did private message you about entering the contest at TBCN It's free but you must join the network in order to enter the drawing that Bethany house is doing there. This book is fun and I cared about her characters. I did learn about candy making too! Fun! I wish I could have tasted the candies she talked about in the books! Grin!

    THANKS for leaving a comment her Pam. I'm glad that you were able to enter. I know that Siri has popped in at TBCN and has joined the discussion. This is the first book I've read by this author. It won't be the last. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked the interview. I enjoyed getting to know this author too!!