The Next Best Thing: Week Ten

Zoe Brooks of Zoe Brooks Books and More ( tagged me to participate in a blog networking project called The Next Best Thing.  I am to answer ten questions about my work in progress and then tag five other bloggers who will answer the same ten questions next week.

by Judith Newton/@jnewton@70

What is the working title of your book?

The Joys of Cooking: A Love Story

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was unpacking my cookbooks and thinking that I ought to prune the collection when I unexpectedly began longing for a cookbook I’d disposed of on a previous move. It became clear that I was attached to  the cookbooks not just because they contained a history of my past but because they had also been agents of my recovery– from childhood misery, from profound self-loss, and from my fear even as an adult that the world would never seem like home. “I’d cooked from them to save my life and I’d succeeded.”  I knew then that if I were to tell the story of my long journey home, I would tell it through my cookbooks.  And that was the beginning of the memoir.

What genre does your book fall under?

 Food memoir.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Judith: Amy Adams; Dick: Ryan Gosling

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 The Joys of Cooking: A Love Story is the  history of a woman’s emotional education, the romantic tale of a marriage between a straight woman and a gay man, and a chronicle of the ways in which cooking lays the groundwork not only for personal healing and intimate relation but for political community as well.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is being published by She Writes Press, a new hybrid press for women.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me about a year for the first draft and two more for completion.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

MFK Fisher, Gastronomical Me. Like Fisher, when I write about food and hunger, I write about “love and the hunger for it,” and when I write about those who shared meals with me, I am writing about “their other deeper needs for love and happiness.” Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate. As in Esquivel’s novel, cooking is a force that keeps women and men alive—not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and politically as well.  In Joys of Cooking and in Kim Sunée’s Trail of Crumbs search for self and home drive the narrative and a love story is predominant. I was also inspired by Janet Flammang’s A Taste for Civilization which argues that mealtime rituals of food production, serving, and dining lay a foundation for the value of civility and the importance of the common good.

 Who or What inspired you to write this book?

 I think it was Frances Mayes’s Under the Tuscan Sun that first made me admire food memoir.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

 Part of the “love story” involves a cross-race community which I helped to create through cooking.

Now it is my turn to tag other bloggers.  Please visit their pages.  They will be answering the same questions during the week of September 10. More names to come.

Cindy Vine

Edith O’Nuallain

Based in the Bay Area, Judith is an author and Professor Emerita at U.C. Davis

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *