JENNIFER TRAINER THOMPSON is the author of the best-selling Beyond Einstein, as well as seven cookbooks. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she and her young family are developing family traditions of their own.
THE AUTHOR SCOOP What's been sitting in the back of your fridge for more than a year? Armageddon Hot Sauce. It's made by a former Navy Sea Dog who runs a bar in the Adirondacks that you can only get to by snowmobile in the winter. He marinates chicken wings in this incendiary sauce, and if you can eat a dozen, you get your name on his "Wall of Flame" next to his live tarantula. (I have not succeeded.) Are you "six degrees of separation" away from anyone famous? Well, my father's name is Harry Potter Trainer. My kids think it's pretty cool, and a Boston radio station once reported that Harry Potter was alive and well living in the Bay State. Last year he had stickers made up that say "Harry Potter was here" and leaves them all around - on the examining table at the doctor's office, on the underside of the toilet seat in my kids' bathroom, and so on. What was your first job? My first real job was supposed to be at the U.N., editing a new magazine about the African kingdom of Lesotho. The night before I was to start my job, I got a call that the king had been deposed and the job was off. I already had my car packed, so I moved down to New York anyway, found an apartment in the East Village, and got a job working as a lowly editor's assistant at Simon & Schuster. I got fired after six months, and my boss told me I should be writing instead - best advice I ever got, and I signed my first book contract several months later.Where were you when you found out your first book would be published? I was in my apartment in the East Village, which had been abandoned by the owner (we tenants were just starting to figure that out because we'd gone over a month with no hot water or heat and the landlord was unresponsive - he was in Hawaii, avoiding city authorities and a jail sentence). It was very cold in the apartment, and I was all bundled up; I remember I was wearing gloves and making myself tea, when I got a call from Carol Houck Smith at W.W. Norton. It was like getting a call from God. She remains a friend to this day. Do you have pets?It's a joint family effort, led mostly by my nine-year-old son. He has a pet gecko and we also have 5 chickens. We live in a really small town -- last year when some dogs crashed through the chicken fencing, our neighbor (thankfully) called the dog officer, who called the chief of police. When the chief of police couldn't find me, he called my husband's office and told his secretary to get him out of an important meeting - it was a "chicken emergency." The girls, as we call them, are good layers, providing us with eggs and atmosphere daily.