Years ago, I had the privilege of interning with a powerhouse of an editor at Putnam Publishing. Her writers included Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller and Amy Tan, to name a few. Icons all, and it was an awe-inspiring experience for an English Lit major like me. One of the most important lessons she taught me is that an editor should be the writer’s first reader, someone who can provide a big-picture view, advice, and a sounding board — but should never try to insert his or her own voice into the piece. If you don’t like a writer’s style or voice and keep wanting to change it, she told me, then go your separate ways. You’re not the right fit.
This philosophy has been the cornerstone of my own editing career. When I’m editing a piece, I strive to preserve the writer’s particular voice and style. And after 15 years, I pride myself on being a pretty good mimic. That’s why I love ghost writing. Capturing someone’s personality and translating it into a book is a huge challenge, but one I find incredibly rewarding. Some people have plenty to say, but dread putting pen to paper. That’s where I come in.
I’ve written two cookbooks for talented chefs who’d rather spend their time behind the stove than the computer. They couldn’t have been more different, and yet both were thrilled with how they could truly recognize themselves on every page. These are fantastic books that I cook from regularly, and I hope to do many more.
The Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats From the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet (Chronicle Books, April 2012)
This book, co-written with the talented pastry chef Kir Jensen, was a blast to write. Kir has an energetic, no-holds-barred approach to her life both in and out of the kitchen. I was proud to help her tell the story of how her beloved food cart was born, and craft a collection recipes that people can’t get enough of. Her vivacious voice comes through on every page.
Mother’s Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again (Taunton, 2009)
This was my first cookbook with a chef, and it was an epic undertaking. Lisa Schroeder is the chef-owner of the acclaimed Mother’s Bistro restaurant in Portland, Oregon. There, she gives comfort food classics like meatloaf and mashed potatoes a top-to-bottom overhaul using French techniques she honed in some of the best restaurants of New York. But with this book, Lisa didn’t just want to share her memoir and the recipes people were always begging her for, she wanted to teach the techniques and philosophies behind each dish, so people could reclaim their kitchen and put the family meal back home where it belongs. The result is not just a cookbook, it’s an education.