Sunday 21 May 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Author Natalie MacLean.


This week you will meet Author Natalie MacLean. She is sharing news of her new book,

 Wine Witch on Fire.

Natalie is an accomplished author and recipient of many awards. Please check out her website below.

Read on, my friends.





Natalie MacLean, named the World's Best Drinks Journalist, has also won four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. She’s the bestselling author of Red, White and Drunk All Over.

She hosts the NYT recommended podcast, Unreserved Wine Talk, and offers popular online wine and food pairing classes at


Working Title: Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much.  A Memoir


Synopsis: Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much is a powerful memoir about how one woman resurrects her life and career in the glamorous but sexist wine industry.

Natalie MacLean, a bestselling wine writer, is shocked when her husband of twenty years, a high-powered CEO, demands a divorce. Her year gets even worse when an online mob of rivals comes for her career.

Wavering between despair and determination, she must fight for her son, rebuild her career, and salvage her self-worth using her superpowers: heart, humour, and an uncanny ability to pair wine and food. 

Natalie questions her insider role in the slick marketing that encourages women to drink too much while she battles the wine world’s veiled misogyny. Facing the worst vintage of her life, she reconnects with the vineyards that once brought her joy, the friends who sustain her, and her own belief in second chances. 

This true coming-of-middle-age story is about transforming your life and finding love along the way.


The Story Behind the Story: This is a deeply personal, revealing memoir. Was it difficult to write with such openness and vulnerability?

I try to get everything on the page before I think of anyone else reading my work. I reassure myself that I’ll edit later. Otherwise, I’d never write a word. It would be like flooring the gas pedal while the brake is on. They’re two different mind states.

When I get to the editing phase, I do think about how people react, especially those mentioned in the memoir. That’s why I had friends and family read the book while it was still in development.

While I hope a broader audience will like the memoir, I know that’s out of my control. This is a very difficult statement for a control freak to make .

Fortunately, most of those who’ve contacted me about the book have been positive.


 **Do you feel more exposed for having written this memoir? You’re a wine professional in the public eye, and you write about your own issues with drinking too much. 

Yes, I do feel more exposed. I’ve written openly not only about the times when I drank too much in response to my divorce and online bullying, but also about my issues with hyper-competitiveness and perfectionism.

That’s why, for the first year I spent writing this book, I had no intention of publishing it. It was a private exercise in making sense of what happened that year.

I realized, though, that keeping this story to myself was a way of not connecting fully with others, like I had done with my mother, partner and son. My life had great curb appeal because I had kept all my imperfections hidden.

However, openness is the way to live a full, rich life. Vulnerability in this story opens a door and invites people inside my life to show them the cracks that they might recognize in their own lives.

Extending that openness to them is how I connect with readers, letting them into my story. In turn, they’ve let me into their lives with stories that have moved me deeply.

Putting my story — and my flaws — out in public is also a way of holding myself to higher standard of accountability. Now if I slip up, it’s no longer in private. But that’s actually reassuring as I have more people supporting me than when I was going it alone.


**Why did you change your mind about publishing the book? 

Many memoirists say they publish their stories so that others feel less alone. I believe them, but what does that mean? How do my words comfort someone when our situations can be so different?

As parents, we help our children to find the words they need to articulate their feelings. We ask them if they’re hungry, tired, sad, etc. Naming the emotion and talking about it gives them another way to deal with feelings beyond crying and tantrums.

As adults, many of us lose touch with our emotions or we haven’t developed the vocabulary for more complex feelings. Dr. BrenĂ© Brown says we can usually name just three — happy, sad, and ticked off — but there are actually more than 87 that she explores in her book Atlas of the Heart.

Just as a doctor must diagnose symptoms to treat a disease, I believe we need to identify our feelings so we can deal with them. Otherwise, they roam inside us like unnamed ghosts.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” He believed if we can’t describe something, it doesn’t exist for us. I believe that, too.

The specifics of my story are different from others’ experiences, but the feelings are universal, as is the need for healing.




A question before you go, Natalie:

Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila?  Neat or notes everywhere?


I write from my home office overlooking a wide-open field and beyond that, a river. It’s peaceful to rest my eyes on this pastoral landscape when I’m weary from the computer screen.

I prefer quiet, but if I have music on while writing, it’s slow jazz or classical with no lyrics. I have a large pot of decaffeinated green tea constantly steeping. Caffeine would have me climbing the ceiling Spiderwoman-style.

My desk is bare except for the large screen computer, keyboard and a mug of steaming green tea. Early mornings are when I get the best writing done before the froth of emails and phone calls washes me out to a sea of daily activity.

Get the free wine guide that suggests tips on organizing an informal wine tasting with friends and wines to pair with this book and other books at:

Indigo/Chapters just named it one of the "Most Anticipated Books of the Season" and it has hit #1 on Amazon.

"Funny, zesty, edgy, intense, a page turner." - Frances Mayes, #1 New York Times bestseller of Under the Tuscan Sun



Thank you for being our guest this week, Natalie. Wishing you continued success on your writing journey.


And a special thank you to all our Visitors and Readers. We do it all for you….





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