J. Ryan Stradal is a writer from Hastings, whose novels weave in parts of Minnesota with heartland food and drinks and lots of heart. His newest novel, “The Lager Queen of Minnesota,” follows two estranged Minnesota sisters and one of their granddaughters as they try to navigate life and their relationships with plenty of pie and beer to go around. Stradal will be in Fergus Falls on Sunday, Oct. 6 to talk about “The Lager Queen of Minnesota,” published in July this year, answering questions and giving some background on his novel.
“I love being back in Minnesota. One of the wonderful things about being on tour for a book with Minnesota in the title is that I get sent here more often!” says Stradal. “I’m extremely fortunate to see many different parts of the state on this book tour — and I often get to see old friends or relatives and try a local beer at each stop. That’s as good as it gets. I feel like the luckiest writer in the world to be back here, traveling the state and meeting readers.”
Speaking of local beer, the Saturday event begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Fergus Brewing Company taproom. They’ll be doing a tour of their brand new brewery which just celebrated their grand opening this month. Helen, one of the sisters in the book, marries a man whose family runs a brewery business.
After the tour, the library will have root beer, pie and pizza available during Stradal’s talk at 6 p.m. Edith, the book’s other sister, is a celebrated piemaker, so all the food and events planned for the night tie thematically to Stradal’s book.
“I’ll be talking about the people who influenced the characters in the novel — my mother and grandmother, in particular — and I’ll touch on the 3 1/2 years of brewery research, much of it in Minnesota, that guided the story,” says Stradal.
Stradal’s first book, “Kitchens of the Great Midwest,” was published in 2015 to national acclaim, winning awards including the 2016 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award and the Indies Choice Book of the Year Award — Adult Debut Winner. It was also named the year’s top novel by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association.
Stradal’s shorter writing has appeared in publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and Los Angeles Magazine among others. Today, he lives in Los Angeles County, California, and is a contributing editor at TASTE.