Thursday, December 5, 2019

How I Hooked a Big One by Peggy Thomas

There I was sitting by myself at a book signing table trying look engaging as people passed by without a glance, when a woman stepped up and introduced herself. “You should write about Henry Ford,” she said.

The look on my face must have appeared as perplexed as I felt, because she explained. “He did lots of stuff with farming, too.”
This bit of news about Ford and farming was not as random as it sounds. My last two books had been about the agricultural interests of two presidents. Still, I couldn’t see myself writing about a millionaire car manufacturer. Then the woman said, “He even grew a car.”

Sometimes I have to fish around for a while to find my next project. But this woman had conveniently dangled a fat, juicy, still-wriggling idea in front of me, and I was hooked. What do you mean, he grew a car? How do you grow a car? How come I’ve never heard of this? We chatted a while longer, I signed a book for her, and made sure I got her name. Then I grabbed my phone and googled it.

She was right! There was a photo of Henry Ford standing next to a portly sedan. The caption read, “Built with soybean plastic panels.” The more I dug, the more fascinated I became. “Every Ford contains a bushel of beans,” a car advertisement announced. I found the recipe for Henry’s favorite soybean crackers, and the printed menu from a banquet where every course featured soybeans. Henry even wore a soybean fiber suit!


It is rare that a book idea comes personally delivered, and so I will be forever grateful to Amelia Miller from Michigan for providing the spark that led to Full of Beans, How Henry Ford Grew a Car.  

Hey, Amelia. Got anymore bright ideas?


  1. I love this story! Years ago I was an intern at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and never heard of this. Your fat, juicy, worm of an idea looks like an amazing story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What an incredibly story on both fronts — the story itself, and how you learned of it. Thanks!

  3. Now on my wish list... Sounds like a fantastic story. Glad Amelia shared with you and you shared it with us!

  4. A hand-delivered wonderful! Congrats on taking that idea and turning it into an amazing book that's sure to entertain and inspire!

  5. Great story! Ideas are all around us--we just have to have our eyes and ears open. :)

  6. That’s such a great detail to hook a story! How lucky are you to have gotten the scoop and what a fun story angle to write from.

  7. Well I never knew that! I’ll have to get your book to read how you put this altogether. Looking forward to reading!

  8. I love how the idea for this amazing book was “planted” as a suggestion. What a wonderful way to plant the seeds of this fantastic message!

  9. Fantastic book!
    Mary Warth