Exaclair is honored to feature authors from around the world who are willing to share the secrets of their success; including tips and techniques for aspiring writers, and a behind-the-scenes look at their life and latest work.
Maggie Green is a culinary dietitian, cookbook author, and cookbook coach. Through her company, The Green Apron, she coaches and supports aspiring cookbook authors who are in the process of writing a cookbook proposal, building their author platform, and discerning the route of publication for their book. She has also authored her own cookbook, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook.
Tell us about yourself. I understand you were born in Kentucky, and now live in the northern part of the state?
Yes, I live in a tri-county region of Kentucky, referred to as northern KY. I live on the “south” side of Cincinnati, 5 minutes from downtown in a bedroom community of Covington that was built and developed in the 1950’s and 60’s.
I grew up in Lexington, KY – located in central KY with its bluegrass, limestone fences, rolling hills, and thoroughbred farms. I didn’t grow up on a thoroughbred farm, though. I lived in the middle of town. My husband did grow up on a horse farm, where his father was the maintenance manager. He says he took the “view” for granted – manicured fields, white fences, running mares and their foals, etc.
Where else has life taken you? How did you come to settle where you are now?
I lived in Baltimore for 1 year when I was fresh out of college, and had a job as a Clinical Dietitian in an inner-city hospital. It was a fun year. I lived part of the year with my sister, her husband, and their 2 year old son. We had a good time together, and then I rented an apartment of my own. After The Best Male Cook and I were married we lived for 3 years in central Michigan. We moved back to KY due to a job transfer and are glad to be back “home” in Kentucky. I miss Michigan summers though. They were cooler and less humid than Kentucky summers, and Michigan’s fresh-water lakes are beautiful and fun to visit.
Because of my love for Michigan summer, we’ve vacationed in northern Michigan twice in the past 5 years. We place importance on a yearly vacation with our 3 children (two teens and one tween). This past summer we vacationed in Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Jackson, Wyoming. The mountains in this part of Wyoming are spectacular, and the geological wonders of Yellowstone fascinating. Not to mention the wildlife and wild game on the menus around the area. I love that we can visit places like this in the U.S. I try to remember that our children are only “around” and vacationing with us for a finite period of time. I love that we can share fun trips with them. It’s these times together we’ll not soon forget.
How did you get started in publishing?
My “start” in publishing came when I was offered a job as a recipe tester/developer with Ethan Becker, co-author of the Joy of Cooking. I met Ethan and his wife Susan as the result of a fundraising event where I volunteered to work. After proving myself in the Joy test kitchen, I became the lead editor for the Joy of Cooking Trust (family)and the 2006 edition of JOY. I was responsible for editing chapters for the trust, and maintaining day-to-day communication with our editor in New York. This work led to other opportunities to edit cookbooks, test and develop recipes for cookbook authors, and then, after I met the Acquisitions Editor for the University Press of Kentucky, the opportunity to write a cookbook of my own.
Can you describe the inspiration behind your cookbook?
The true inspiration for my cookbook came from what I know and what I live, day in and day out. And that’s the commitment I have to feed myself and my family with food that’s cooked at home using fresh seasonal ingredients.
What about the writing process? I understand you kept track of what you ate in a notebook for two years to pull together the recipes. Do you still write down what you eat each day?
That’s true. I kept a journal for two years of everything I cooked for our evening meals. I made notes about recipes I cooked and developed. This formed the basis of my cookbook, and introduced to me the concept that my meal preparation has a seasonal flow. I don’t keep track any longer of the meals and cooking piece. My next book probably might not be a cookbook, per se, so I’m keeping notes about another project. Keeping notes and keeping track of stuff is always part of my writing process.
Do you have any particular writing routines – a certain place, time of day, etc.?
My best writing comes with a deadline attached. I write a monthly column for a local newspaper, and I get in the groove about 3 days before the article is due. I write a draft and then revise 2 times. I tell a story, and share a seasonal recipe. This formula has kept the column popular for 7 years. My favorite time of the day to write is in the morning. I write my first draft long hand. I use a spiral notebook for this kind of writing, so I don’t have to fuss with trying to keep the journal open while I write. I’ve recently started using fountain pens, thanks to a friend, a fountain pen aficionado, fellow writer, and a reader of your blog. I usually write in my “lower level” where I have my office, computer, nice lighting, a candle, some music, and even window for natural light and a door I can open for fresh air. I like it to be quiet when I write, so I pick a time no one else in the house is awake or a time when I am alone. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s easy for me as a writer to procrastinate. If I’m sitting at the computer, drifting from Twitter to reading blogs, I’m probably procrastinating. I’ve learned over the years to just sit down and write the first draft, long hand, away from the computer. My best writing then appears during the revisions of that draft.
What are your favorite things to eat this time of year?
Caramel apples rolled in crushed peanuts, kale, pumpkin pie, butternut squash and chickpea curry over rice, and popcorn. I also love homemade cookies and milk, a glass of red wine, a cup of hot green tea, and an occasional bourbon cocktail. That’s the Kentucky girl in me I guess.
The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. For more information about the book, her recipes, or for a complimentary copy of her Cookbook Writer’s Resource Guide, please visit Maggie’s website.