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Louisa Edwards swings by for a lil' chat..

September 22, 2009
So, yesterday I posted a review of Can't Stand the Heat, by author Louisa Edwards. Today, I'd like to extend a warm welcome as she visits drey's library, and answers some questions. Welcome, Louisa!
drey: So, to jump right in, what prompted you to become a writer? Has this always been an ambition, or did you wake up one day & say, “Hey! Nobody’s writing what I want to read, so I guess I’ll just have to do it myself!”?

Louisa Edwards: I think all writers start out as readers. My love of romance novels began around age 11, when I started stealing Harlequins out of my grandma’s suitcase when she came to visit. Then, a year later, I found The Shadow & the Star by Laura Kinsale, and I was hooked. By the time I finished college, I knew I wanted to write. But I thought it might be smart to get a job in publishing and learn about the business from the inside first.

d: What’s different about being on the writer side of the industry, compared to being on the editor side? Which is easier? Which has better perks? *grin*

LE: I loved being an editor. Essentially, you’re paid to read! What could be more glorious? (d: ahh, my dream job!!) As a writer, though, I have more control over what I read, and I’ve been able to rediscover reading as a joy rather than as a work task, which has been wonderful.

d: Was Can’t Stand the Heat a story that was just waiting to come out? Can’t Stand the Heat pits a cook and a critic against each other. Where did you get the idea for that?

can't stand the heatLE: Honestly, I came up with the idea for CStH because I read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and just fell in love with him. As a writer, as a character, as a chef—I decided I wanted to write a chef hero. And who has the most obvious, immediate conflict with a chef? A food critic. So there was my heroine. It just kind of flowed from there.

d: How did you do research for what goes on in the kitchen? I imagine cooking in a restaurant is slightly (!) different than throwing together dinner in my kitchen! All the different stations, the role each person plays, to bring food to those on the other side of the doors...

LE: I read a lot of chef/kitchen memoirs, first-person accounts of working in professional kitchens from Heat by Bill Buford to The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. I’m also lucky enough to have several close friends who are chefs; I trailed them at their restaurants and bugged them with incessant questions.

d: The next few questions assume you like to cook, and I came up with “food groupie” from “food porn” on your blog... How much of a food groupie are you? Do you like to cook? Do you have one of those “cook’s kitchen’s” as HGTV calls ‘em? If so, how do you find your way around one of those? If you haven’t noticed already (from the questions), I’m not much of a cook...

LE: Food groupie—I like it! Foodie doesn’t work for me, as a term, because it implies I’m only interested in the food itself, not the cooking. For me, the cooking process is part of the fun! I love to cook—not to get all Julie Powell on you, but after I moved to Ohio I did, in fact, start cooking my way through Julia Child’s cookbook. Not with anything like the dedication of a Julia Powell, but still. The experience has been invaluable; I’ve learned so much technique just through trial and error. My kitchen might be classified as a “cook’s kitchen”—I’m not really sure! I find my way around easily, because it’s indisputably my domain. I placed every piece of equipment, every pot, every pan, every spatula, every whisk. I live in my kitchen.

d: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert?

LE: Breakfast, without a doubt. I could eat breakfast for every meal. We have omelettes for dinner all the time. And pancakes and waffles? They’re basically dessert, no matter when you serve them.

d: Follow-up to the previous question: What's your favorite dish? Do you like cooking it, eating it, or both? =)

LE: My favorite thing to cook is also one of my favorite things to eat—my mother’s recipe for buttermilk cornbread. You bake it in a cast-iron skillet and eat it with hot pepper jelly—honestly, it’s so damn good. You can’t even imagine.

louisa edwardsAnd the 10-question Proust-lite:
  1. What is your idea of earthly happiness? A farmer’s market
  2. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Frozen food
  3. Who is/are your favorite heroine(s) in fiction? Anne of Green Gables
  4. Who is/are your favorite heroine(s) in real life? Eleanor Roosevelt
  5. What sound do you love? My laptop waking up in the morning
  6. What sound do you hate? My dogs howling
  7. The quality you admire most in a man? Sense of humor
  8. The quality you admire most in a woman? Sense of humor
  9. If not a writer, you would be an Editor! Seriously, it was a great life. Either that, or I’d open a bakery.
  10. What is your favorite swear word? What I find myself actually using all the time is a phrase my mother says: “God bless America!” I know, doesn’t sound like a swear. It’s all in the tone, though. It’s more “God bless America!”
Isn't she just LOVELY?? And now I'm hungry again...

About Louisa:
Louisa Edwards grew up in Virginia, surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. By age 11, she was sneaking Harlequins out of her visiting grandmother’s suitcase, making her parents nervous about what, precisely, their little girl was learning from those books. Naturally, they were relieved when Louisa decided to attend Bryn Mawr College, hoping the Seven Sisters vibe might instill the intellectual rigor she thus far seemed to lack.

To their dismay, however, even the ivy-covered halls of Bryn Mawr couldn’t distract Louisa from her addiction to romances. Instead, she traded in her Harlequins for longer, juicier single titles, reading everything from Laura Kinsale to Jennifer Cruisie. She also managed to graduate cum laude with a degree in Romance Languages (which is not as sexy as it sounds—mostly she studied Spanish, French, and Italian literature, although some of that French stuff did get fairly racy.)

After graduation, Louisa moved to Manhattan, landing a job as an editorial assistant at Penguin Group (USA), where she worked directly for the smart, savvy president of Mass Market Paperbacks, Leslie Gelbman, who guided Louisa as she built her own list.

Vindication! It was possible to make a living from reading romance novels. Louisa’s parents were equal parts surprised and thrilled. While at Berkley, Louisa was lucky enough to work with some great authors, assistant editing Leslie’s heavy hitters, Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. Louisa’s own list included, among others, Lucy Monroe, Jennifer St. Giles, and Shelley Bradley. All of which led to Louisa being promoted to assistant editor.

Then real life romance ensued: Louisa married a journalist and was promptly exiled to Ohio so her husband could work for his family’s newspaper. There Louisa started reviewing romances for FreshFiction.com and took a part-time job at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. Personal interaction with chefs, plus the limited repertoire of local restaurants stoked Louisa’s interest in food. She began critiquing restaurants for the local newspaper, got sucked into Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, trailed a chef friend at his restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina, started cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and decided to bring it all together by writing CAN’T STAND THE HEAT.

Now she awaits the response of the masses to her foodie-inspired romance. Meanwhile, Louisa will continue to eat in as many wonderful restaurants as possible—purely for research, of course. Find Louisa online at her official website, www.louisaedwards.com, and her blog, Recipe for Love.

LE apron & spatula setAnd, wait! There's more. To help celebrate in Louisa's new release, here's a chance for one of you to win a CStH apron and spatula set! Here's how:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share: Are you a food groupie? Why or why not? =)
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 5th. Good luck!

49 comments:

Louisa Edwards said...

Thank you so much for having me, Drey! This was a fabulous interview with questions that really made me think. And thanks for the review, too! : )

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the fantastic interview!
It was one of the best I've read.
Thanks for sharing Louisa!
It's fun to learn about the author whose writing I admire.
Love & Best Wishes to you & yours,
RKCharron
xoxo

traveler said...

I enjoyed this interesting interview and loved learning about your love affair with reading. Your new release sounds fascinating and looks appealing. I enjoy food, learning more about cooking and enjoy food groupies greatly. Best wishes and all the success in your writing career. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Mary said...

Great interview, Drey and Louisa!

Please enter me in the giveaway!

* I'm a food groupie in that I will stop and watch any Food show on tv, love to watch it when I'm on the treadmill. Love to eat, wish I was a more confident and adventurous cook.

* I'm a follower

* Blogged in my sidebar giveaways:
http://bookfan-mary.blogspot.com

meah56 at gmail dot com

Louisa Edwards said...

RKCarron - Thanks for being here! The interview was fun.

traveler - I think a love of reading is the essential component of any writer. Why do it unless you enjoy the end result?

Mary - It's weird how satisfying it is to watch food shows while working out. You'd think they wouldn't go together, but they totally do!

Maureen said...

I don't know if I am a food groupie. As I was raising my children and working there just wasn't enough time to spend trying out different recipes but now that they're older I am slowly trying different things. It's fun to try a new recipe and find that everyone likes it.

I am a follower

mce1011[at]aol[dot]com

Anonymous said...

A wonderful interview...

Please add my name to the giveaway.

I love watching cooking shows: the Food Network; Cable shows; Public TV shows. You learn something new all the time.

Would love to read this book, too.

karen k
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

Janel said...

I am most definitely a foodie! I love to cook and eat and you should see my bookshelf dedicated to food-related fiction and memoirs.

+I am a dedicated follower :)

jgbeads(at)gmail(dot)com

Louisa Edwards said...

Maureen - I know, sometimes it's really easy to lose enthusiasm for cooking; it becomes just another chore. I'm glad you're starting to rediscover the joy of trying new things in the kitchen!

Karen - I'm so addicted to food shows. My favorites are Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, and Iron Chef.

Janel - Oooh, food memoirs! You've read My Life in France by Julia Child, right? That's another one I love.

rubynreba said...

Yes, I am a food groupie! I do like to try out new recipes and love to bake. Since we've been married my husband has been putting on weight and he blames me for all the food I cook and bake!!!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

I follow and subscribe

Pam said...

I would consider myself a food groupie. I don't cook as often as I should but I am an adventurous cook when I do (luckily, my 3 yr. old isn't a picky eater!). I also love good food! I have a weakness for a beautiful cookbook (it needs photos though - part of the attraction for me!) but I don't actually watch a lot of cooking shows.

I am a follower.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Jane said...

Congrats on your debut release, Louisa. I am a food groupie. I love watching Tyler Florence cook. Good Eats with Alton Brown is my favorite show.

I'm a follower of this blog.

janie1215 AT excite DOT com

Virginia said...

Hello! Yes, I am a food groupie, a foodie and a fool for food. I read cookbooks like some people read bestsellers. I was born in the kitchen. The theme from "Paula's Home Cooking" is my second national anthem. I am a Google Connect Follower, Google Reader Subscriber, and email subcriber.
gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Louisa Edwards said...

Rubynreba - Tell your husband to quit complaining and join a gym! Cooking is too much fun to give up just because of a little thing like your pants not fitting anymore. ;)

Pam - Ooh, there's nothing like a beautiful cookbook! I can happily spend a whole afternoon poring over the pages of The French Laundry Cookbook.

Jane - Alton Brown rocks! I love learning about the science behind food. And Tyler Florence, rowr!

Virginia - Yay, a Paula Deen fan! I met her once at a book signing (I was actually helping with the signing, got to stand by her and Michael) and she was unbelievably charming.

Nicole said...

I am a foodie. I subscribe to several food magazines for new recipe ideas. I love to cook with fresh ingredients and bake from scratch. No premade cookies or dough for me.

Nicole said...

Forget to add. I follow.

Becky W. said...

What a great giveaway! Thanks for hosting! The interview was great, and another book has made my wish list. It sounds awesome!

I'm a follower, and as far as food groupie, I'd suppose that's a yes. I watch many, many cooking shows, and have blank index cards by my chair in the living room in case I need to take down the recipe. That doesn't meant that I actually cook though!!

kysmom02 AT hotmail DOT com

Stacie said...

I would consider myself a food groupie. I love watching cooking shows, reading books about food and trying new food items in restaurants and at the grocery store.

I am a follower.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

DarcyO said...

I love watching shows on the Food Network, but the cooking is too ambitious for me. If I can't make it in one pot, I won't make it!

I am a follower.

dlodden at frontiernet dot net

Lee P said...

I would consider myself a food groupie. I love cooking different things and trying new recipes. I really enjoy watching cooking shows on television. They make it look so easy. Thank you for this nice giveaway.

chinook92(at)gmail(dot)com

Lee P said...

Shared your giveaway on Twitter #1:

http://twitter.com/chinook92/status/4401737777

chinook92(at)gmail(dot)com

Lee P said...

Shared your giveaway on Twitter #2:

http://twitter.com/chinook92/status/4401737777

chinook92(at)gmail(dot)com

Lee P said...

I follow your blog.

chinook92(at)gmail(dot)com

edmontonjb said...

I would say I'm a bit of a food groupie. I collect cookbooks and will watch almost any cooking or food related show they put on tv.
dftrew(at)gmail(dot)com

edmontonjb said...

I just became a follower woth google friend connect.
dftrew(at)gmail(dot)com

bridget3420 said...

I am a food groupie, especially when it comes to Italian food.

bridget3420 said...

Blog follower

bridget3420 said...

Blogged

http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/2009/09/giveaway-list_4384.html

flowerchild said...

i am a food groupie when it comes to junk food..thanks
flower_child_23(at)hotmail(dot)com

flowerchild said...

follower
flower_child_23(at)hotmail(dot)com

Razlover's Book Blog said...

I'm a food groupie because I love to try out different recipes and watch cooking shows on TV.

Thanks for the cool giveaway!

Razlover(at)hotmail(dot)com

Razlover's Book Blog said...

I'm a follower!

Razlover(at)hotmail(dot)com

Razlover's Book Blog said...

I blogged about your giveaway here:

http://razloversbookblog2.blogspot.com/2009/09/louisa-edwards-csth-apron-and-spatula.html

Razlover(at)hotmail(dot)com

budletsmom said...

Fun interview - most fun one I have read in a long time.

I am a foodie - hubby was not so happy when on our honeymoon I discovered foodtv on the hotel tv lineup - we hadn't gotten it in our area yet - poor guy - still happily married though after 13 years.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

budletsmom said...

I'm a follower.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I am a food groupie. I watch cooking shows. I shop carefully and with fondness. I love to cook and eat. Now clean-up, that's a different story.

I subscribe via email.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Allison said...

I'm kinda of food groupie because I don't have enough time to always cook! Thanks for the give away
allygotts567 at hotmail dot com

Allison said...

I'm a follower
allygotts567 at hotmail dot com

enyl said...

As the global economy shrink its becoming crucial to at least be literate if no fluent in another language, it increases your opporturnity for employment.

enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

enyl said...

I'm a follower.

enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

holdenj said...

Oh yes, I love watching many of the Food Network shows, checking the cookbooks out of the library and all.

+1 I'm a follower.

Thanks!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Cindy said...

Great interview! I really enjoyed reading it.

Yes, I am a food groupie. I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to try new recipes and also use old family recipes, and I love to dine out!

This giveaway looks great to me!! Please include me!

I follow your blog on Google.

I also follow you on Twitter. My Twitter username is Soccermom213 and I tweet often about your blog and giveaways.

Cindy
Socmom213@aol.com

Karen H in NC said...

I guess I could be considered a food groupie since Food Network is among my top 5 favorite TV channels. Your book sounds great. Count me in the draw please.

I am a follower

kkhaas AT bellsouth DOT net

carol said...

I'm a food groupie. I love italian, roasts, almost everything. I love to try out new recipes on my hubby.

carol said...

I'm a follower

renee said...

I am a food groupie, love cooking new things all the time, watching cooking shows, and trying others cooking.
please enter me
reneetaylor at sympatico dot ca

renee said...

I am a follower
reneetaylor at sympatico dot ca

Book Junkie said...

Great Interview, very cool questions! Please count me in. A long time follower and fan. I posted here on my contest blog!
http://bookminded.blogspot.com/2009/10/october-contests.html

thx, brande
bjwaldron(at)gmail.com

Debbie F said...

Count me in!
No i'm not a foodie. I have little kids so we stick to the same meals (the ones they will eat). I hope one day to be able to try more things. Thanks
dcf-beth at verizon dot net

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