Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
"Tell us about yourself" is the most awkward question to answer – I never have any idea what to say!
Well… I'm an Aspergian Polymath, which is just a fancy way of saying that I know a lot of stuff – and do even more stuff – with a brain that runs on a different operating system than most – Aspergers.
Because of that, I've had a pretty weird, varied career.
I'm a trained mixologist, competitive cake artist (I've since retired from the cake business), professional costumer, and – last but not least – author.
I've won awards and been featured in major magazines for my cakes, dabbled in floral design, costumed for Olympians and professional wrestlers, baked for brides, celebrities, and even Klingons. I even had a quick stint on a major cooking reality show.
As of now, I've developed and published 5 cookbooks:
The Spirited Baker: Intoxicating Desserts & Potent Potables
Evil Cake Overlord: Ridiculously Delicious Cakes
Sweet Corn Spectacular
Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking
Hedonistic Hops: The Hopheads' Guide to Kitchen Badassery
As well as 6 specialty sewing manuals (The "Spandex Simplified" series, with books on sewing for Synchro Swimmers, Figure Skaters, Gymnasts, Fitness Competitors & Bodybuilders, Pro Wrestlers and Cosplayers, as well as recreational swimwear).
Finally, in 2012 I published "Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir", about day a tornado smashed our house, and the recovery from that event.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called "Hedonistic Hops: The Hopheads' Guide to Kitchen Badassery". It's a cookbook that centers on the use of hops for flavouring.
It was inspired by my husband who is – of course – a hophead. We grow them, I cook with them, and it just seemed like an obvious thing to do – despite the fact that no other such cookbooks exist!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I try to have two books going at a time, or – at least – 2 projects going at a time. I can't focus on just one thing, so I need a second project to be able to use as a "break" when I need it.
Sometimes it's another book, sometimes it's a big costuming project. It really helps!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
It may sound silly, but a kid's book from when I was about 4 years old!
It was called "The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur", and it was part of the Value Tales series.
I spent the first half of my life hell-bent on becoming a virologist, as a result. Life took me in another direction, but I never did forget that book, or the message.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on my 6th cookbook! It's a sequel to my first Gluten-Free cookbook, "Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking".
It's 90% done, with photography completed for the existing recipes. I'm stuck on developing recipes for a couple "holy grail" type items – bagels and pretzels – so that's all that is remaining in terms of development.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
This is going to sound terrible – but Kickstarter.
I'm awful at self promotion. To be honest, by the time one of my books is off to the publisher, I never want to see it again! I'm very much a sprinter rather than a marathoner, so with all of the time that goes into the development of a book, I just get exhausted by the time it comes to really promote it.
I like Kickstarter, because it forces me to promote *before* the cookbook comes out. While each campaign I've done so far for a book has been successful, if the time comes where one doesn't fund, I won't do the book. It's a good motivator, and it's also good to see what people actually WANT.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Follow your own voice. You know the story you want to tell, and the book you want to put out there. Be open to constructive criticism, but also be careful not to sign up for having your ideas completely changed.
On that note, be really careful about signing up with a publisher. Read the terms carefully, and if they don't work for you, walk.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
"Celebration Generation, you know who you are!"
It was a line that a Canadian Dj – Chris Sheppard – would shout out while performing. The "celebration generation" referred to his fans.
I was listening to one of his recordings at a time of crossroad in my career, and that sentence just really uplifted me and gave me focus. I know it sounds corny, but it just really resonated with me at that moment.
I ended up naming my company "Celebration Generation" as a result, and have 'known who I am' – and followed that – ever since!
What are you reading now?
"Kindred" by Octavia Butler, and Tolkien's "The Silmarillion"
What’s next for you as a writer?
I'd like to write a Canadian cookbook. Not in the same vein as most Canadian cookbooks, mind you – rather than focusing on the traditional dishes of my country, I'd like to focus on recreating the food items that expatriate Canadians are unable to access in their new countries. Canada, for Canadians away.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Oh boy, that's a tough one.
Probably either The Silmarillion, the Valuetales book I mentioned earlier, or Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone".