Friend of the Devil and Advice for Writers!

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Hello and welcome to my blog today! It gives me great pleasure to host author Mark Spivak. Not only does he bring us a great sneak peek of his book, Friend of the Devil, he also gives advice for writers!

Not only all that, but Mark has a giveaway running, where One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Please do leave a comment for more chances to win! Mark’s other tour stops can be found by clicking on the banner above. 🙂

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Advice for Writers

Mark Spivak

Ernest Hemingway was once asked if he had any advice for young writers, and he responded this way: “Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.”

Papa’s advice as a bit drastic, of course, but it probably contained a kernel of truth. Learning to write stories that other people want to read can be a very long and painful process. It takes years, usually decades, and is filled with false starts, frustration, rejection, and finally the tendency of the world to withhold recognition when you do master the craft. In the meantime, everyone around you is enjoying the visible fruits of success: drinking Champagne, skiing in Aspen, driving a Porsche.

Obviously it takes a formidable degree of persistence to become successful as a writer. The truth is that the rejection never stops, and it never really becomes easier. The 2000th rejection hurts just as much as the first one, particularly considering that most writers are sensitive people who don’t take rejection well in the first place.

If you want to be a writer, everyone will tell you not to give up, and they are absolutely correct. Getting to the end of the journey requires a remarkable level of persistence, the ability to push on when you feel you can’t do it anymore. Never give up. If you persist long enough, you will master the craft. You’ll learn how to tell a story that people want to read. And most importantly, you’ll experience a seMediaKit_AuthorPhoto_FriendOfTheDevilnse of satisfaction so profound that it will heal all the rejection you encountered along the way. That’s an amazing feeling, and something worth fighting for.

About the Author:

Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on He is the holder of the Certificate and Advanced diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. He is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). His first novel, Friend of the Devil, is published by Black Opal Books.


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Friend of the Devil


In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, cut a deal with the Devil to achieve fame and fortune. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.



He perused Chateau de la Mer’s large and mostly incomprehensible menu. Changed every few weeks, handwritten in Avenzano’s elaborate cursive before being photocopied, it closely resembled an annotated Medieval manuscript. Finally, he acceded to the staff’s offer to prepare a tasting menu for him, accompanied by the appropriate wines.

He was presented with a sculpture of dried vegetables in the shape of a bird’s nest, filled with a combination of wild mushrooms and chopped truffles, bathed in an intensely reduced demi-glaze. The carrots, zucchini and peppers had been cut into paper-thin strips, intertwined and allowed to dry, yet retained a surprising intensity of flavor.

He consumed a dish of tomato, basil and egg noodles, bathed in a light cream sauce, perfumed with fresh sage and studded with veal sweetbreads.

He ate an astonishing dish of butter-poached lobster, remarkably sweet and perfectly underdone, flavored with sweet English peas and garnished with a ring of authentic Genoese pesto.

He was served a slice of Avenzano’s signature Bedouin-stuffed poussin—a turkey stuffed with a goose, in turn stuffed with a duckling, in turn stuffed with a poussin, or baby chicken, with a core of truffled foie gras at its center, covered with an Etruscan sauce of chopped capers,

raisins and pine nuts. This dish had been the source of much controversy over the years, since it bore a close resemblance to a Louisiana terducken. It predated the terducken, however, and was supposedly inspired by a creation first served to the French royal court. For good measure, Avenzano had added influences from the cuisine of the Middle East.

24 Comments on “Friend of the Devil and Advice for Writers!

  1. Happy Memorial Day and saying thank you to all our military men and women who served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. God Bless our Military men and women and their families.
    Thanks for this opportunity to win this giveaway

  2. Thanks to everyone for their kind comments. I look forward to your input.

    Peggy: Writer’s block hasn’t been an issue for many years—it was when I was younger, due to all the aforementioned fun I was having. These days I’m pretty focused. Regardless of whether you’re writing full time or pursuing a day job, I think it’s crucial to block out a space in your head that is strictly a fantasy zone for current and future projects. I don’t own a smart phone, because I don’t want the distractions: if I’m not actually working, I want to be thinking about it. all of this helps to eliminate blocks.

  3. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

  4. Dear Mai: that’s really a tough question, largely because of my ignorance of pop culture (lately, I seem to be finding that a movie has to be at least 20 years old to be any good). The most difficult role, obviously would be the chef. If I could bring Brando back, I think he’d be perfect!

  5. Harmony: I’ve been writing since I was eleven, so I’m a hard-core addict. I wasted a lot of time along the way, having too much fun, but always came back to it. This particular book is a story that I carried around in my head for decades before I was finally able to do it.

  6. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

  7. Good morning Harmony! It’s just dawn on this side of the pond, but I wanted to check in and thank you for your attention and kind words. I’d be happy to answer questions anyone might have.

  8. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.