Take 5: Barbara O’Neal and THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET

AllYouCanDreamOur own Barbara O’Neal is with us today; she’s the author of over forty novels, and has won 7 RITA awards from Romance Writers of America and was admitted to the Hall of Fame in 2012. Her latest, THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET (Bantam) was released on March 4, 2014. Her new novel of food, friendship, and the freedom to grow your dreams brings together four very different women longing to savor the true taste of happiness.


Q: What’s the premise of your new book?

Lavender Wills, the 84-year-old owner of an organic lavender farm decides to have a birthday party for herself to find an heir.  She summons her three fellow food bloggers (“the Foodie Four” as they call themselves) to the farm in the lush region outside Portland, Oregon, where each of the women has a problem to work out and they find strength in their relationships with each other. There are a couple of intriguing men, a kitten and a dog, and a vintage Airstream trailer. And food, of course.

Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

It is a book about second chances and fresh starts and the truth that it’s never too late to create the life you want, and shed the things that are holding you back. I love writing stories about women and their relationships with each other—friends, sisters, mothers and daughters. For many of us those relationships are the bedrock of our lives.

Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenges do you set before them?

Ginny, a former supermarket baker turned quiet superstar blogger, is caught in a marriage and a place she is desperate to escape. She challenges herself  to drive an Airstream Bambi across the country to Lavender’s farm.  Ruby is pregnant and broken hearted and looking for her place in life.  Val, former ballerina and widowed mother of a hostile, grieving, lost teenage girl, is trying to save her child.  And Lavender wants to preserve her legacy, an organic farm that has become important to the organic community.

Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

One major thread in the book is about how to bring food the table humanely, with grace and conscience.  I wanted to write about why it matters, but this is a very touchy subject. I was afraid it would put readers off, but when I found myself on a real organic farm in Oregon (and even visited the rooms where the chickens are humanely killed!), it was easy.  Lavender showed me the way—there is honor in every step of her journey.

Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

Honestly, I loved the farm. I could live there, growing lavender, tending chickens, contributing whole, delicious, fantastic food to the world. It would be a good life.

 Like what you read here? Follow Barbara on her blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.



  1. says

    Oh, this book sounds luscious. I love the fact you took the chance and wrote about organic farming, Barbara, and it certainly strikes a chord for me. I wish everyone would jump on the bandwagon and it’s happening more now than in the past – hopefully.
    Thanks for telling us your story.

  2. says

    Love the feel you’ve created here for this one, Barbara. I love Oregon. I think if I ever left MI, Oregon would be one of my choices. Heading over to order it right now. Have a great night in Brooklyn tomorrow!

  3. says

    I love food. I love lavender. I love Oregon. What a delightful combo. I presume there are recipes too? Can’t wait to read it.

    • says

      Oh, yes, recipes, too!

      Sorry for my low attendance today. I have already come to NY for my book event with Therese! Spent the day walking one of my favorite cities.

  4. says

    Oh I love anything set in Oregon, but this sounds like such a great read. And I agree there’s something really special about the relationships women form. WTG Barbara!

  5. says

    My copy of “The All You Can Dream Buffet” came in the mail on Friday. Although I’l like to gulp it down in huge, airless gulps, I’m forcing myself to eat slowly, to savor every chapter. And to think about each one as I finish.

    Lovely book. It’s exactly what I needed.

  6. says

    I look forward to reading this Barbara! Reading the synopsis transported me to Sequim, WA where fields of lavender grow. The small community seems very rooted in the earth.

    I’m surprised that a cat didn’t land on the table in that cover :)