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The next big thing (find out what I’m working on)

By Ann | October 18, 2012

I was so honored (and, to be honest, a little nervous) to be tagged by the novelist Stephanie Cowell on this questionnaire about my current work in progress. I always feel a bit weird talking about a book that’s not yet published. But I also wanted to share a little of what I’m working on with you. So — deep breath — here goes:

What is your working title of your book?
Mastering the Art of French Eating

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was in the shower in my apartment in Paris, when the idea for the book appeared, almost fully fleshed out. Why not write a food memoir set in France, investigating the true story behind the country’s signature dishes like boeuf Bourguignon, cassoulet, or crêpes, to name a few? The year I spent in Paris alone, while my diplomat husband was posted at the embassy in Baghdad, would be the thread that tied the story together. By the time I’d washed the soap from my hair, the title had appeared as well. Really, I think my subconscious was just looking for an excuse to travel around France and eat.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a food memoir but it also offers a bit of gastronomic history. And there are recipes. After all, I had to share the secrets I gleaned from talking to French grannies!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is a weird question for me. Weird because the book is a memoir, so the main character is, well, me. Weird, also, because I’m Asian American and there are about two (and that’s being generous) Asian American actresses working in Hollywood right now. But I do think Philip Seymour Hoffman would be terrific as the charcutier who teaches me how to make andouillette, or tripe sausage. And I could definitely see Maggie Smith as a tart-tongued Provençale grandmother zealously protecting her soup recipe (I wore her down in the end, though).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A memoir in food, a blend of travel, gastronomic history, and personal journey by a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris when her husband is sent to Iraq, and who then discovers France through its regional cuisine — and learns to build a balanced life — dish by dish.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking next fall, 2013. In one of life’s odd twists of fate, my editor is actually my former boss — I worked for her out of college as an editorial assistant. I still remember how she takes her coffee.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me almost two years to complete both the research and the writing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It feels very strange to compare my book to so many I admire. But here are a few that have inspired me: Heat by Bill Buford. My Life in France by Julia Child. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry by Kathleen Finn.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
France herself — her veneration of history, the respect for the land, the continuity of place and food, the pride in one’s region, the generosity and eagerness to share. The more I traveled around France, the more I wanted to eat. The more I ate, the more food stories I discovered, stories that begged to be shared.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This book talks about most of the things I love — France, food, my husband and family — and it feels extremely personal. As a reader, I know that some of my most favorite books reveal the vulnerability of their authors. But as a writer, I’m pretty terrified to share this with the world.

Okay, phew, thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about my new book, check out these posts here and here.

Meanwhile, I’m delighted to tag four talented writers below and I hope you’ll follow me over to their sites to find out more about their next big thing:

Zoe Fishman, fellow veteran of the editorial assistant trenches, author of Saving Ruth, which I just finished and loved!

Alison Singh Gee, journalist, memoirist, former Hong Kong expat.

Laurel Zuckerman, American expat in Paris, founder of Paris Writer’s News, author of Sorbonne Confidential.

Sion Dayson, another American in Paris, blogger at Paris Imperfect, MFA (Vermont College of Fine Arts), and novelist.


Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
Be sure to line up your five people in advance.

Topics: Book, Mastering the Art of French Eating | 25 Comments »

25 Responses to “The next big thing (find out what I’m working on)”

  1. Sion Dayson @ paris (im)perfect Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Wonderful, Ann! Fall 2013 can’t come fast enough – looking forward to reading this tasty tale!

    I’m also so honored to be tagged here. Like you, I am nervous talking about unpublished work, but look forward to sharing. Deep breath. Post soon!

  2. Lil Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I’m looking forward to the book! Sounds a wonderfully delicious adventure :D

  3. Bobbi Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Sounds amazing and I love the title.

  4. Voie de Vie Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Can’t wait to read it – and I think keeping works in progress under wraps cuts across many creative disciplines. I didn’t say *one word* about my first accessories collection prior to publishing it (just this week). Talking about it didn’t feel comfortable *at all.*

    And that’s the rub of good writing, eh – the vulnerability lets the reader in and gets them hooked, but screwing up the courage to actually be vulnerable on the page …

  5. Edna Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Oh my goodness now I’m really excited for this book to be published! I love the one-sentence synopsis. And I totally feel you on the “Who would you want to represent you in a movie” question :)

  6. Hadley Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I love the title! And cannot wait to read the book.

  7. Lindsey Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Can we take this to your editor and demand this book hit shelves in the spring instead? So eager to read it! I too think some of my best ideas have materialized in the shower. Imagine how many would come to me if I were able to take nightly bubble baths!

  8. Luisa Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Ann!
    Great title… Good luck. I can’t wait.

  9. Emma Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Your book looks absolutely fascinating Ann, I’d love to read it.

    I also love how you answered the question; who’d play your characters in a movie! It painted quite the picture for me straight away.

  10. Lindy Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Bring it on! When is the publication date?

  11. Sweet Freak Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Cannot wait! That’s all I have to say!

  12. CK Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Andouillette — ah, the smell of it! Who directs the movie?

  13. Shut Up and Cook Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Bravo to you!

    I am so excited to read it.

    Do we really have to wait a whole year?!?

  14. Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom) Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Looking forward to your book!! :-) How exciting!

  15. Heather in Arles Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    WOW. I am so excited for you–especially because it is just fantastic all around–I love absolutely every aspect of your project and can not wait to read it!!
    Bon Weekend et you rock!
    H

  16. krugthethinker Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Your book sounds amazing! Congratulations, and I can’t wait to read it!

  17. Ann Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Sion — Many thanks! I can’t wait to read more about your project!

    Lil — It was delicious research. Though maybe not the andouillette…

    Bobbi — Merci! I have the scent of drugstore shampoo to thank for the title.

    Voie de Vie — Congratulations on the accessories collection!!! That’s very exciting news. I’m heading over to your site tout de suite! And, yes, vulnerability definitely draws in readers but terrifies most writers. After writing this memoir, I have even more respect for so many authors.

    Edna — Right? Though after I posted, my husband came home and we discussed it. He suggested Sandra Oh (and not just because she’s Asian) and I kind of had to agree. His other suggestion was a young Catherine Keener. ?

    Hadley — Merci! I met so many wonderful artisans and I can’t wait to share their stories.

    Lindsey — Ah, the shower! It’s the source of all my best ideas. I think Pantene shampoo must be my version of Newton’s apple.

    Luisa — Thank you! I’m excited and nervous to send it out into the world.

  18. Ann Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Emma — Thanks so much! I was quite stumped by the movie characters question, actually. I had to look through a few celebrity gossip magazines to remind myself of actors — took quite a bit of time. And I didn’t enjoy it one bit, oh no siree ;)

    Lindy — Pub date is next fall, 2013. For the next book, I’ll must make a visit to Languedoc. Or maybe YOU should write that one?

    Sweet Freak — Merci, ma belle! I can’t wait to read about YOUR next big thing!

    Shut Up & Cook — I know, doesn’t it seem like a long time? But then I think about all the editing (and hand wringing, sturm und drang, etc) left to be done and I have to calm myself with chunks of cheddar.

    Amy — Thank you — I appreciate all these warm words of support so very much.

    Heather in Arles — Oh, that is high praise coming from someone who knows France so well. I hope my soupe au pistou recipe lives up to Arlois standards. (Actually, do we eat soupe au pistou in Arles?)

    Krug the Thinker — Thanks for stopping by and for your kind note. I’m looking forward to exploring your site!

  19. Bob Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    We are so proud of you and can’t wait til your book is published!!!

  20. Shannon Says:
    October 19th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I’m sitting in my office doing a little chair wiggle dance from excitement over this little sneak peak!

  21. Daisy de Plume Says:
    October 20th, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Brava for wearing down the Provencale grandmother-type who’d be played by Maggie Smith! Congrats on being your first boss’s client! And Whoopie for us that your subconscious having driven you to travel the country to eat! Can’t wait till fall 2013 when we can eat up your delicious words.

    In the meantime I’m counting the days till we get to S’s grandparents so I can dive in to Kitchen Chinese!

  22. Ann Says:
    October 22nd, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Dad — Aw, thanks!!!

    Shannon — That’s super kind of you to say. Also, relieved to know I’m not the only one who does the chair wiggle dance.

    Daisy de Plume — Thanks, m’dear! And bon voyage! I can’t wait to read more about your trip to South America.

  23. Devra Long Says:
    October 22nd, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Can I place my order now!!!! I know that will be the perfect Christmas gift for 2013!!

  24. Tammy Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 3:06 am

    I can’t wait for your new book!

  25. Ann Says:
    October 24th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Devra — Oh, that’s so kind! And I would be delighted to send you autographed book plates to help personalize your gifts!

    Tammy — Thanks, mon amie! I am looking forward to sharing it with happy (and nervous) anticipation!

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