On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, Karen Stephenson talks about what inspired her to write her new Foraging Cookbook and the creative process that went into creating her recipes.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Karen Stephenson about her life and career, what inspires her writing, and the research and work that went into her wild food recipes book, Foraging Cookbook.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Although I always enjoyed non-fiction writing, the desire to write a book never interested me until about 2005.
When did you take a step to start writing?
During my time as a freelance writer, I was approached by the owner of a website to join his team of writers. I was thrilled with this prospect as it was right about the time I was getting that urge to write a full length book. This was the first step on my way to writing many books as a ghostwriter.
Over the years between being part of this Canadian writing team, and through other people who approached me, I have written almost 20 books of which 16 are published.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
My first published book in which my name appears as author was not my original idea. A publisher in New York approached me as a result of exploring my website and asked if I was interested in writing a wild food cookbook for them. They provided me with a basic outline and over the period of a couple of weeks I worked with them to arrive at a format in which I could work with.
All this work was done prior to signing a contract. From the time I signed the contract to the release date was only six months.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Foraging Cookbook?
Writing a cookbook was never on my list of things to do. What was the deciding moment for me to write Foraging Cookbook was after years of being a ghostwriter, I would have my own book. The funny thing is, in December 2019, I was talking with my family and said for the first time in my life I will make a New Year’s Resolution. Typically, my attitude is if you are going to do something – do it. Don’t wait until New Year’s to make a resolution.
So I told them that in 2020 I will either have or will be well on my way to having my own book as I had a brilliant idea. On January 4, 2020, I received an email from an acquisition’s editor at Callisto Media and I was shocked. The only resolution I ever made and it came to fruition. (As for that original idea, I am finally back at working on it.)
What were your biggest challenges with writing Foraging Cookbook?
The biggest challenge of writing Foraging Cookbook was the time restraint given by the publisher. They provided me with a schedule and sticking to this was challenging due to creating recipes using wild foods, and even more challenging, some wild foods that are not even in my geographical area.
What was your research process for Foraging Cookbook?
Researching for this involved getting in touch with other wild food educators across North America. I needed first-hand knowledge of plants and berries I do not have access to in order to get to know their taste and texture.
Once I knew the taste and texture of wild foods unknown to me, I was able to create delicious recipes that not only worked out well. Also, I was able to recommend other wild plants (or cultivated) people could swap out to make it work for them.
How did you plan the structure of Foraging Cookbook?
This took an immense amount of time. I needed to ensure that there were wild food recipes that people could use in almost every corner of the U.S. and Canada. A wall in my home was covered in brown paper and on it I was matching which berries and plants grew in which geographic location. This wall was my map that got me where I needed to complete Foraging Cookbook.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Foraging Cookbook need?
The beauty of being approached by a publisher is that they provide you with a one-on-one editor. The actual editing that they did was little as I have also worked as a freelance editor. Most of the editing I needed to complete were what I call the nitty gritty such as spacing, margins, headers, etc.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Follow your dreams with an open mind and flexibility. Having dreams is important but sometimes they do not materialize; or they come to us but not in the way we hoped. Also, never rely on online edit checks – they are not always correct.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I am in the midst of several projects, one non-fiction book and writing a series of children’s books. However, I am working with a publisher once again on a book that is geared toward the beginner mushroom forager. The release date of this book is September 2022. As the release date nears, I will be making announcements on my social media channels.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am proud of my accomplishment more so because a publisher approached me. Having that recognition of credibility up front by those in the publishing industry meant a lot to me. It was affirmation that the years of research, writing, and creating recipes for my website was worth it.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
My website: https://www.ediblewildfood.com/
Facebook: EdibleWildFood.com https://www.facebook.com/EdibleWildFoodcom-255985697755345/
Pinterest: ediblewildfood https://www.pinterest.ca/ediblewildfood/_saved/
YouTube: EdibleWildFood.com https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5BpcDICcOLVFVmVNLRXM8w/videos
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