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Powell's Q&A

Julie Powell

Describe your latest project.
On the eve of my thirtieth birthday, stuck in a dead-end secretarial job, living in a hideous apartment in Long Island City, Queens, and dreading what seemed like a life of terminal mediocrity, I came up with a panicked notion — to cook through all 524 recipes of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in a year, and blog about it. Julie and Julia describes my efforts to hold on to my job, marriage, and sanity while blazing a nonsensical trail toward fulfillment, with Julia leading the way.

  1. Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
    $4.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist
    "This is a joyful, humorous account of one woman's efforts to find meaning in her life." Booklist
  2. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1
    $25.00 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1

    Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

  3. Mastering the Art of French Cooking #2: Mastering the Art of French Cooking
    $19.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
That's a tough one, especially as a heterosexual woman. It seems to me that for some reason, as a general rule, women characters are much more attractive than male characters in fiction. All of Jane Austen's heroines, for instance. Scarlett O'Hara — as irresistible as she is ridiculous. Lucinda of Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda kicks ass. But I guess these are women I want to be like, not be with. As far as males go — and this is a somewhat embarrassing admission — I tend to fall in love with adolescents. I guess it's something about all that latent, frustrated sexuality — I just find it delicious. I think Will from the Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is utterly adorable. And Johnny Tremain — now there's a young man who can step up.

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false. Why or why not?
I think writers may be better liars than some because it's a bit easier for them to fit themselves into the truth of the lie. Writers make lies not to deceive, but to tell the truth better than the actual truth does. I often think that if I'd written a novel, it would have been more truthful, in a way, because I wouldn't have had all those inconvenient facts to deal with.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Vodka gimlets and wine are my most usual indulgences. I also have been known to play a bit of Civilization or Vice City when my brother's visiting. I'm unhealthily addicted to Pepsi One, and sometimes I really get the jones for a bag of Skittles.

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
It's not so much that so very many people read my blog, it's just that they do tend to pop up in the oddest places. When I was working on my first draft, in the summer of 2004, I took my dog Robert up to the Adirondacks, to this primitive cabin all by itself in the middle of nowhere. It was just me and my dog and my laptop. On the afternoon of the fourth day we were there, having not seen a soul the entire time, Robert, who's not much of an athlete, suddenly leapt up from the patch of dirt in front of the cabin where he'd been sleeping for the last few hours and raced off, barking his fool head off, toward a terrified looking couple with a small dog at the edge of the woods. I tore off after him, shouting, "He's okay! He won't hurt you!" — Robert is a sweetheart, but he weighs 115 pounds, and can be intimidating. So, I gathered up Robert and got to talking to the couple, about how beautiful the country was, and how quiet, and how I like the cabin — the only one on this particular tract of land that had electricity. I offered that I needed electricity to power my laptop, since I was working, so they of course asked me what I was working on. I'd barely gotten out "Well, I'm writing this book about how I cooked all the recipes in Mastering—" when the wife said, "You're Julie Powell! I'm a huge fan. I read your blog all the time!" That was pretty gratifying — if just the teensiest bit creepy.

What do you dislike most?
Bananas. And people who are assholes to waiters and send their food back at restaurants for being "too rare" or some such shit.

Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?
I'm a big Samuel Pepys fan. I like that he didn't think too much of himself to record when he got ignominiously refused by someone else's scullery maid. I kind of like to think of my book as like Sam's diaries, only with a lot less plague.

Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
I'm actually a dreadful blogverse citizen, and I read very few blogs. My husband's always giving me hell about that. The fact that I read members of the Gawker empire is, in itself, enough to lose me all my street cred, probably, but I adore Wonkette, and have quite a soft spot in my heart for Fleshbot, as well. Bookslut's always good. And I have a friend who writes a blog called Using Bees to Effect Vengeance. He's a brilliant guy, and his blog's a good way to keep up with him and all our brilliant friends, but mostly I'm just in awe of that title. My husband has threatened to start a blog innumerable times, and all his ideas are mind-bogglingly good, so if he ever actually comes through and does it, I'll read his.

Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
All of the above, though I might substitute love birds for budgies. And giant tortoises aren't technically turtles, are they? That's what I really want. spacer

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