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Joyce Maynard shares love of writing and baking during KC 'Labor Day' tour

The life of an author is never as easy as most think, especially when your book is getting the old Hollywood adaptation. Author Joyce Maynard visited Kansas City last week to help build a little hype for the release of "Labor Day", the new film from director Jason Reitman and starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, which was adapted from her 2009 novel.

Joyce Maynard  and Josh Brolin  arrive at the LABOR DAY screening at the Toronto International Film festival at the Ryerson Theatre on September 7th, 2013
Peter Bregg

Joyce was in Kansas City to promote both the book and the film, attending the Kansas City premiere of the film, and taking part in a Q and A with the audience following the movie, where she was happy to answer questions from fans, take pictures, and sign autographs, as well as share some secrets from her other love, baking.

Spoiler alert: at the end of this story is Joyce's own personal recipe for apple pie.

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In addition to the screening, Joyce made the media rounds in KC, stopping off to make an appearances on Kansas City Live!, and KCUR's Up to Date with Steve Traske. One of the highlights of her tour stop was a fan luncheon sponsored by the Kansas City Women in Film and Television.

"You always think of writers as such introverts and Joyce is just the opposite. She is just so warm and engaging and is such a great promoter of the film" said Michelle Davidson, who hosted the Q&A at the premiere and is also the co-host of KC Live. "She brought so much context to what it's like to write a novel and the process of what it's like to see it take flight as a film."

“Labor Day” tells the story of 13-year-old Henry Wheeler and his reclusive mother Adele, who on a back-to-school shopping trip meet Frank Chambers, a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home. The film stars Kate Winslet, who snagged a Golden Globe nomination for the role, and Josh Brolin, whose casting comes with a bit of irony.

"When I wrote the book, I actually pictured Tommy Lee Jones as Frank," Maynard explained at the KC premiere. "But my Tommy Lee, from my day, was a lot younger. But Josh did play a younger Tommy Lee in 'Men in Black' so, I'm happy. And Josh is great, so it worked out."

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Getting a book adapted into a movie is still an honor for most authors. This is the second of Joyce's novels to get the big screen treatment. In 1995, her second novel, "To Die For", was adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix, and Casey Affleck. But it was still a surprise when she got a call from director

"When Jason (Reitman) called and told me he wanted to make a movie out of it, I was shocked," Joyce said at the Kansas City premiere of the film. "I love the story, but to me, I wasn't sure if it would translate into a movie that audiences would want to see."

"Labor Day" hits Kansas City theatres on Jan. 31. For more information on the movie, head over to the film's Facebook page,

As promised, below is Joyce's own personal recipe for her delicious apple pie. Use it as you will, but make sure you put a lot of love into it. And remember...the crust is everything.


3 pounds (6 to 7 large) apples (Granny Smith, Cortland, Empire, or McIntosh)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon chilled butter , cut into pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water
2 tablespoons Minute tapioca
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon sugar


1) In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Let stand, stirring occasionally.

2) Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, work in the shortening and 1 stick of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the ice water over the flour mixture, stirring gently with a fork. Continue adding the water just until the dough holds together. Shape the dough into a ball and divide it into two discs, one slightly larger than the other.

3) Place the smaller disc on a sheet of waxed paper, and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, dust it lightly with more flour. Lay a 9- to 10-inch pie pan facedown on top of the circle; flip the pan over and remove the paper. For the crust, on a sheet of waxed paper, roll out the other disc to form a 14-inch circle. Do not roll the dough more than necessary.

4) Sprinkle the tapioca on the bottom crust. Add the filling, mounding it in the center, and dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Lift the waxed paper with the remaining crust and flip it over the filling. Peel back waxed paper. Trim the edges of the crusts and pinch together the top and bottom crusts. Optional: Roll out the trimmings and cut into decorative shapes. Brush the pie with the egg, and arrange the shapes on the crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Poke fork holes or cut vents in the top crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

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