Lunch With Buddha by Roland Merullo – Interview & Giveaway

Welcome to Author Roland Merullo

Roland Merullo is an awarding-winning author of 14 books including 10 works of fiction.Breakfast with Buddha, a nominee for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, is now in its 14th printing. The Talk-Funny Girl was a 2012 ALEX Award Winner and named a “Must Read for 2012” by the Massachusetts Library Association and the Massachusetts Center for the Book; Revere Beach Boulevard was named one of the “Top 100 Essential Books of New England” by The Boston Globe, A Little Love Story was named one of “Ten Wonderful Romance Novels” by Good Housekeeping and Revere Beach Elegy won the Massachusetts Book Award for non fiction.

A former writer in residence at North Shore Community College and Miami Dade Colleges, and professor of Creative Writing at Bennington and Amherst Colleges, Merullo has been a guest speaker at many literary events and venues and a faculty member at MFA programs and several writers’ conferences. His essays have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Yankee Magazine, Newsweek, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His books have been translated into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean and Croatian.

Roland Merullo lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.


What is your favorite breakfast food?
I am not much of a cook.  My repertoire is very limited.  But I do have something I like to make for breakfast about once a week.  I sautee onions and garlic in olive oil, then boil water and put in about 1/3 cup of bulghur.  When it’s softened up a bit but is still chewy I strain it and mix it into the frying pan with the onions and garlic—they’ve almost browned.  I let it sit in there a few minutes then stir it around and eat.  Once in a while I’ll mix in red peppers.  It sounds funny to have garlic and onions for breakfast, but with a cup of coffee and maybe a slice of apple it makes for a great healthy breakfast.  Otherwise I’m a piece of toast and fruit and coffee guy.

Why should we read your book?
I think/hope it’s an entertaining and funny road-trip book that has some meaning of life/spiritual search material in it without being heavy or preachy.

Do you have other books in the works?
I’m finishing up something about a Catholic woman who feels called by God to be a priest, and this gets her in all kinds of hot water.  Also, since I’ve now done Breakfast with Buddha (in its 14th printing), and Lunch with Buddha (just out), I can’t help thinking and musing about a possible Dinner With Buddha road trip novel.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be.
Italy.  I’ve been there nine times, usually for a month or more, mostly with my travel-loving wife and daughters.  The food is spectacular, the people are warm, the landscape is varied and often striking, the art and architecture unbeatable.  But mainly it’s the way of life, which is a little more family-oriented, laid-back, and less stressful than life is here for most of us.  Also, the winters are milder in most of the country, and after all these decades in New England, I’m ready for that.

What is your most rewarding experience since being published?
I’ve had a lot of them in the 21 years since my first novel came out.  A lot of wonderful emails and letters from readers saying that one of my books or another has meant a great deal to them.  A few weeks ago Danbury, CT did a community read of Breakfast with Buddha and invited me to talk to high school and college classes and to give a talk to 600 people there.  That was high on my list.  I met a lot of fine people of all ages, many of whom had read the book.  The community really came together around it and made me feel most welcome.

What is a typical day like?
Since we had children fifteen years ago there have been no typical days.  I used to have a regular writing schedule but now I focus on the kids and write when I can.  Luckily, I can write in small bits of time or large, and at all hours, at home, in libraries, in cafes, in the car.  I get up around 7 and have breakfast and help feed the kids—though they don’t need much help now and my wife Amanda does a lot of that work, too.  I drive them to school and then usually do a meditation session for half an hour, then work for a few hours, often go out for a light lunch and to do some emails, try to squeeze in a long walk or a session of yoga or both, pick up one of the kids from school, take them to a soccer game or a doctor’s appointment, do a little more work in there maybe, have supper together, maybe a little more work after supper and a bit of reading or Italian language study.  I don’t watch much TV, sometimes take a day off to play golf with friends.  But every day is different—and I like it that way.

What is your favorite food?
A three-way tie:  hummus, cherries, scallops.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I loved to read and write as a boy but it was a working-class neighborhood and the idea of actually making a living as a writer was simply not on the radar screen.  It stayed off the screen until I’d done other things—worked in the USSR for the US Government, been in the Peace Corps, gotten a graduate degree, done a lot of different kinds of odd jobs from carpentry to cab driving.  In my mid twenties I finally was able to ask myself—what do you really want to do every day for the rest of your life—and writing was the answer.  Twelve years after really starting to write seriously my first novel was published by Houghton Mifflin.  A very crooked and often rocky path.

Do you have a hidden talent?
I’m a good carpenter, which saves you money when you own a house.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Sure.  Never give up.  If that is what you really really want to do, then you have to walk the walk, put in many many hours, read, go to readings, make mistakes, learn from whom you should take advice, find your own voice but more importantly say what you really want to say, or tell the story you really want to tell.  Endure rejection and criticism.  But mainly just don’t give up.  Make sacred time for your writing even if it means sacrificing other things you love to do.  Never ever ever ever ever ever ever give up.  I have a whole book on the subject—Demons of the Blank Page.  The basic message is. . . .Never give up!

Lunch With Buddha

On the surface, Lunch with Buddha is a story about family. Otto Ringling and his sister Cecelia could not be more different. He’s just turned 50, an editor of food books at a prestigious New York publishing house, a man with a nice home in the suburbs, children he adores, and a sense of himself as being a mainstream, upper-middle-class American. Cecelia is the last thing from mainstream. For two decades she’s made a living reading palms and performing past-life regressions. She believes firmly in our ability to communicate with those who have passed on.
It will turn out, though, that they have more in common than just their North Dakota roots.
In Lunch with Buddha, when Otto faces what might be the greatest of life’s difficulties, it is Cecelia who knows how to help him. As she did years earlier in this book’s predecessor, Breakfast with Buddha, she arranges for her brother to travel with Volya Rinpoche, a famous spiritual teacher — who now also happens to be her husband.

Learn more about Lunch with Buddha at the book’s website,

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Lunch with Buddha
Open to US & Canada Only
Ends 11/30/12

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