Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed co-author Devon Loftus about her career working in women’s health, what motivates her, and her latest book, The Mooncycle Cookbook.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a storyteller and author finding inspiration in the human experience. I’ve always been fascinated by the way we work as humans; what makes us tick, what triggers us, how our past affects our present (and our future).
My dad was a social worker and I was a psychology major when I first started college, so I think having a true interest in others — who they are and why — can be seen greatly in my writing. I often joke that vulnerability and intimacy are my aphrodisiac, but it’s true. Spill your heart to me and I’m hanging on every last word.
I also specialize in visceral pieces with a touch of whimsy and a dedication to sensory based descriptions. Seeing the world in this way has been a soothing technique since I was a child; paying attention to my senses grounds me and reconnects me with myself. I find the world to be a very magical place and have an appreciation for the fact that whimsy can be found in the most ordinary of places if we slow down long enough to notice.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I started writing “books” when I was about 6 years old. I’d run downstairs in the early morning and write about fierce, independent women and the adventures they’d go on. I started reading early for my age and loved how it felt to feel alongside characters and into whole worlds. I’d always walk away feeling more grounded in myself — through writing and reading I learned about myself in a very intimate and safe way that nothing else really offered (besides my real life humans, of course).
I decided to actually go after writing a book in 2019 when my husband and I spent two months traveling through Europe. Call it the whimsy or the space to get really clear on what made me feel like me, but something happened on that trip that pushed me to find a literary agent when I got home. And so I did.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I was an English major in school and eventually graduated and began working with a newly acquired website in San Francisco, CA at the height of the Silicon Valley boom. After almost a year of working there, they laid off the entire editorial team and I stopped writing. I stopped writing for almost 5 years while I did everything else – hosted at a restaurant, went to design school and soaked up the bay area as much as I could.
When I started writing again, it felt like coming home but was, simultaneously, a new voice. I leaned into it, curious at what I had to learn. I’m so grateful for that time spent living — it brought me back to writing but in reality, it brought me back to myself, which is the only place I can truly write from with integrity.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
From the time I signed with my literary agent to the time of the cookbook release, it will have been a 2.5 year journey.
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Moon Cycle Cookbook?
Because the cookbook is based around the menstrual cycle, the structure of the book felt easy and natural. What came as a challenge was creating rituals that felt realistic, relatable and accessible.
In the wellness world, there is what I find to be a dangerous mentality that you are only as well as the products, supplements and wellness paraphernalia you can afford when SO much of it comes down to mindset, simple movements and every-day choices.
The healthcare system and parts of the wellness world do not support most humans, especially minorities. We wanted to create rituals that felt like they were easy to integrate and possibly even things that people are already doing but don’t yet label as supportive.
Once I was clear on my intention, it became easier to create ritual ideas that I thought would be most supportive for readers (and things that I have found helpful). This looks like ritual ideas where most of them are free, do not take up a lot of time or space and are scientifically shown to make a lasting impact when practiced.
What was your research process for The Moon Cycle Cookbook?
My research consisted of scientific studies around certain rituals such as deep breathing or how and why gardening helps to lower blood pressure. I also researched the different cycles of the moon and the different archetypes that lived there such as the crone, wild woman and more. It was fun learning about the history behind the moon cycle and the many different cultures that celebrate it.
How did you plan the structure of The Moon Cycle Cookbook?
The structure of the book was easy to plan. We knew from the beginning that it would focus around the menstrual cycle so we knew that we would break it down by the four phases. We also knew that we didn’t want a TON of scientific information in the beginning. Education is number one for us (and is prominent throughout the cookbook), but we wanted to make sure it was easy to understand and easy to integrate.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Moon Cycle Cookbook need?
Yes! We are so grateful we had Storey Publishing as support. We could not have made this book without them (in many ways!). We went through 3 rounds of edits as a team.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Get really clear on why you want to write a book. I think the “why” behind anything we do is important and throughout a process like publishing, it will come up over and over. When things feel scary and uncomfortable, vulnerable or hard, you’ll have your why to lean on. When you hear “no” or feel rejected, you’ll have your “why” to lean on.
Having confidence and compassion with yourself and staying clear on why you feel this deep need to write will nourish you over and over again. It will also allow you to stay open to the publishing process, which is so critically important for both the success of your writing/book and the enjoyment of the process.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Yes! I’m currently writing my second book with Tarcher Perigee due to release in fall 2022. This book is a collection of my personal writing, a creative and fictional memoir of sorts, that focuses on emotional well-being through personifying emotions. It’s my truest form of writing (for now! Evolution will only reveal more) in regards to creative writing and it’s an idea I’ve been working on slowly for almost 5 years. I am so excited about it and look so forward to sharing more.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Every single bit of it. I have never felt so proud of myself for so many reasons. Writing is the truest thing I’ve ever done and to continue to see that through feels liberating.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
For The Moon Cycle Cookbook: https://www.mooncyclebakery.com/pages/moon-cycle-cookbook
For more of my writing, courses and updates on future books: https://devonloftuswrites.com/
Moon Cycle Bakery social media: https://www.instagram.com/mooncyclebakery/
Personal writing social media: https://www.instagram.com/devonloftuswrites/
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