Now for something a little bit different
A couple of Qs with Geraldine DeRuiter
I’m slightly obsessed with Geraldine DeRuiter’s writing.1 Her Invisible Pie Labor post perfectly combines food and feminism from completely unanticipated angle. She’s also taken on Michelin-starred restaurants and orange-clogged icons in honest, smart, and everyday ways.2
Because of my slight obsession, I saw on Threads that DeRuiter was looking for promotion opportunities to boost pre-sales3 of her new book, which’ll come out in March. Hey, I thought. I have a way to spread the word. And so here we are, a Q&A.
(Scroll to the end to save 25% off of a pre-order from Barnes & Noble Jan. 24-26.4)
Q. When did you realize that food, feminism, and fury would be the focus of this collection? Was it when the marketing team started pitching subheads? Or is it an intersection of ideas that you knew was your beat? Or, of course, something in between?
I feel really lucky in that I knew this was what I wanted the collection to be about from the very start. The foundational posts around which the book is built—my essay about Mario Batali's cinnamon rolls and my essay about Bros, and the backlash I got as a result—embody those concepts so well.
Q. What has surprised you the most about the publishing industry? The least? And has that changed from your first book to this one?
I think the thing that amazes me about publishing is that it's this industry that is simultaneously so old, and in a lot of ways very established in its ways, but it's shifting and changing with new media at the same time. We see it completely transformed and influenced by TikTok, by Bookstagram, by even video games in all sorts of ways, yet at the same time there are some agencies that still only accept written or faxed queries from writers. So it's such a mix of new and old school coming together. I'm also stunned that it is such a woman-centric industry. So many people in publishing—both at the houses and agencies—are women. I worked in tech for many years, and often I was the only woman in the room—so it's a big departure to be on a call and have everyone be a woman or female-presenting.
How have things changed? My last book was published in 2017, and Twitter was huge—the loss of that still stings for those of us with big followings. I got my last book deal in April of 2022, and my Twitter following was nearly 140k, which definitely influenced my book going to auction and me getting the deal I got. At that time, Booktok and Bookstagram were definitely not the powerhouses of influence they are today (TikTok hadn't even launched internationally yet), so there were fewer channels where your book might be seen or promoted. This feels almost like a double-edged sword—just a few years ago, there were fewer targets to shoot for (a few celeb book clubs, a few major paper reviews, etc.). At the same time, the stakes were higher. If you missed, it was a big deal.
Q. Do you have an idea that you keep picking at but can’t quite get all of the pieces to line up? What’s your white whale?
Oh my glob, yes. I keep dreaming about writing fiction. All the time. But I get so caught up on the details of worldbuilding. I love mysteries, I love romantic comedies, I love hijinx, I love capers, I love adventure. I have a few ideas milling around in my head, and every now and then I fall in love with a new one. Some people I know are just brilliant at writing both fiction and non-fiction (my friend Laura Lippman comes to mind), but I am not one of those people. I just don't understand how to string a plot together. I don't understand what details you include and which ones you don't? One day, if I can get a story to form properly, I will sit and bash out my capery-hijinx-adventury-rom-com book. It might be terrible, but god, it would make me so, so happy.
Q. Why is food such a rich topic when it comes to talking about feminism? Or could *any* topic work because of *waves hands around at the world?*
Ultimately, I think any topic could work because misogyny is so prevalent in our lives: tech and feminism? Yes. Video games and feminism? Absolutely (it's a topic my friend Anita Sarkeesian has covered so well over the years.) Movies and feminism? Definitely. For me, food and feminism was what I was writing about anyway. The stories were coming up in my life—I wasn't seeking them out. I think it's because food defines so much of who we are, and gender is an inherent part of the conversation. For years, cooking was seen as a distinctly feminine act, and yet to this day the most lauded celebrity chefs continue to be men (despite the fact that more women are graduating culinary school than ever before). If you're a woman on the internet dealing with harassment, you'll undoubtedly be told to "get back into the kitchen." There's this misogynistic idea that the kitchen is both our domain—a place where we belong—but also the only place where we belong. And of course there's all the ways in which dieting culture and body image come into play. It's such a complex thing. And I really wanted to explore that, because I think food and cooking are wonderful things—for everyone to enjoy.
Q. What question do you wish I’d asked you? And what would the answer be?
What advice would you give to anyone who is working on a book/writing right now?
Own your platform. Get a blog. Write on it. If the fall of Twitter and (what I think will be) the impending demise of Substack have taught me anything, it's that you need to be in control of where you publish. I haven't always regularly blogged, but I've kept my blog active for the last 15 years,5 and it's the smartest thing I could have done, because it's something that cannot be taken away from me, ever. It's a guaranteed place where I can always put my work up. You need to have something like that. Don't be vulnerable to other platforms, to the whim of billionaires, to sites that could get sold or close shop. Get thee a blog.
THE DEAL: Online only from 1/24 – 1/26 , BN is offering 25% off list price at checkout for preorders at their site with coupon code PREORDER25 on ebooks, audiobooks, and physical books. Premium Members get an additional 10% discount off physical preorders. To take advantage, people must enroll or already be enrolled in one of BN’s two new membership programs. Premium is a paid membership, but Rewards is free for anyone to enroll.
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I’m not obsessed with Geraldine herself, mind, even though I think we would be fast friends if we lived in the same place but I’m not going to collect all of her toenail clippings or anything to prove my … you know what? I should stop talking.
FWIW (and just on a hyper-local level (my house)), she’s also tried to wrap her arms around the history of Ireland, which I literally just returned from and OMG the British have so much to answer for but that’s another story.
Pre-sales are everything in today’s book biz.