I’m excited to *officially* share the front and back covers of my upcoming book, Bonjour Kale!
This project has been one of the most mentally and emotionally challenging things I have ever done. First off, I don’t consider myself a writer. I’ve always enjoyed writing and did a few things here and there but until starting this blog, I never wrote consistently (unless you count a few journal entries in my American Girl Journal from the early 90s) and even now I wouldn’t call this blog consistent.
When the New York Times article came out in September 2013 (how has it already been nearly 2.5 years!?), I was approached by a few different agents and publishers who all different ideas of how I could do a book. In the end, I signed with the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth agency with a lovely woman who had a vision for a food memoir. We both could picture a book about life in Paris and The Kale Project, with recipes inspired by the stories.
I’d read all of the other books out there that are in this genre both about and not about France. And while I wasn’t sure if I could actually accomplish something like this, I wanted to try. How would I know if I didn’t even attempt it? Besides, writing a book proposal would not guarantee a book deal. I kept quiet about this new opportunity. I didn’t want to jinx anything.
And the proposal took forever, or at least what felt like forever. A year of working on and off, with stories, memories, recipes and ideas floating around in my head and on a giant foamboard rainbow of post-its, it was being pregnant that finally gave us the final push to send something out into the world and see if anyone would bite.
Luckily (and it was very touch and go the last few hours), I was offered a deal from an independent publisher, Sourcebooks, out of Naperville, Chicago. They are also the same publisher behind Amy Thomas’ Paris, My Sweet, which was one of the first Paris blogs (God, I Love Paris) and books I ever read. And we were going to have the same editor. In fact Sourcebooks publishes around one Paris-themed memoir a year, so I knew I ended up in the right hands. If I wrote a book about Paris, they would know how to sell it. But still not sure if I would be able to deliver an entire book, I kept the secret mostly to myself.
Sourcebooks wanted the book to be ready for May 2016, which meant the manuscript – all 90,000 words or over 350 pages of it – had to be sent in by mid-October. This meant that I was heading back to writing – in a perpetual nursing haze – when Grady was only 10 weeks old. It was only a few hours a day, but I had barely shut the apartment door when the tears started to well up with the realization that I was leaving her so young and tiny.
And if I learned anything about writing, it is that showing up is the hardest part. Some days were amazing and some days were not. Sometimes I would spend hours fiddling around with the chapter outlines or since I write by hand, hours typing a chapter’s first draft, trying to decipher messy handwriting and editing at the same time. And I edited and edited and edited.
At a certain point (and because deadlines are looming), you have to call it. With creative output, there is always the desire to revise again, to make it just a little bit better. And while that goes for this book, I can honestly say I am proud of what I did.
Was it hard? Yes! So, so hard. Writing is solitary work. And there were moments where writing about myself and our life felt even lonelier. But somehow, I did it. With 38 chapters and nearly 40 recipes, Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love and Recipes was complete! Which meant I could breathe a sigh of relief and talk about it with everyone – because it was actually happening.
The book is filled with stories of how Philip and I met, how my mom is such an integral part of my relationship with food, the struggle I faced leaving the life I loved in New York, our new life in Paris, and of course The Kale Project – trying to find kale, farmers, markets and more. It also includes recipes from chefs such as Alain Passard, Braden Perkins of Verjus, Emperor Norton and the best kale salad from New York’s Northern Spy.
It is available for pre-order now and will be released on May 3! I hope you enjoy it!