For years, Branch’s fan mail has cheered her, but the blog allows her to interact with the people who support her on a more immediate basis. “The blog is where we can all talk to each other,” said Branch, noting that readers from New Zealand, England, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and even Africa follow her blog. “I have gotten mail over the years, but there is no way to connect [readers] to each other,” said Branch. “Now they can read and talk to each other. And I get to talk back to them. It makes that word community a true thing.”
All Branch’s recipes are rigorously tested in the sunlight-filled kitchen of her 1849 home. From her vantage point at the counter or sink, she can watch the birds as they visit her well-stocked feeders and sing to her as she works. Despite Branch’s easy-going manner, she perfects each recipe. “Cute is nice, but without good recipes, no one will buy book two,” said Branch about her precise, careful methods.
Two months before her first book was published, Branch met Joe Hall, former general manager of the Black Dog Tavern. They had their first date two months after the book landed on store shelves, and they have been together ever since. For a while they split their time between the two coasts, but the excitement of the changing seasons, the deep friendships they have nurtured on the island, and the soul-deep feeling of belonging keep them on the island year round now. “I felt more at home here,” Branch says.
“Nothing is an accident,” says the writer. “One thing leads to another. When people used to ask me what I wanted to do, it drove me crazy because I never had an answer. I had to get something under my belt first. Follow your heart along the way and sooner or later, it will all meld together.”
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer from the Boston area.