As we are celebrating almost five whole years of publishing Edible Columbus, we want to invite you to get to know the voices behind our magazine a little better. We are starting this series of reflecting over our past 19 issues with one of our original contributors, Nancy McKibben. Learn a little bit about Nancy's writing process and where you can find her work outside of Edible through our Q&A with her.
Edible Columbus: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Nancy McKibben: In the second grade, my mom asked me copy something I had written in class and send it to my grandma (I remember it had an Easter chick in it.) I don’t know whether she actually saw any literary value, but I enjoyed getting my work out there, even then. When I was in fourth grade, I started a novel about the first girl jockey in the Kentucky Derby (there weren’t any women jockeys back then.) So I was already thinking of myself as a writer.
EC: Who are some of your favorite authors, particularly food writers, and why?
NM: Food: Molly Wizenberg for voice; Mark Bittman for practicality; M.F. K. Fisher for style; Ottolenghi for making me hungry when I read.
Non-food: I read mostly fiction. Michael Chabon is the best prose writer around. I also like Ruth Ozeki (try My Year of Meats - a novel, but food-centered.) I like Joanne Harris for the magic she evokes and Laurie Colwin for her novels of manners. Alan Furst writes wonderfully atmospheric novels set in the Europe of World War II. And I have a thing for British humor, especially P.G. Wodehouse and Nancy Mitford. I have about a hundred book reviews on my website, if readers are interested.
EC: What was one of the most fun assignments for edible Columbus over the last five years, and why?
NM: Let’s see. I loved writing about Honeyrun Farm (The Sweet Life at Honeyrun Farm) because the day was idyllic, the family was delightful and later I learned a lot in my research about bees. The two mornings I spent with Albert Thurn (The Wurstmachers) were also wonderful; what a work ethic he has, and what a lot of energy he invests in his fabulous meats! Research is often fun; I liked learning about bison and pawpaws and Buckeye chickens.
EC: What writing projects are you working on now?
NM: I was partway through the third novel in my trilogy (the first two are The Chaos Protocol and Blood on Ice) when I decided to do a children’s book of postcards to keep in touch with my long distance grandchildren. That is presently a Kickstarter (Kitschy Cat Alphabet Book). I’m contemplating a novel about honey laundering and I’m writing some children’s songs to add to those I wrote when my children were little. And maybe another Kitschy Cat book? I need to pick something and concentrate on it!
EC: If you had one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
NM: The old saying about writing every day is still the most valuable piece of advice. But I think I would also encourage aspiring writers to be open-minded about new possibilities in publishing. Blogs and websites and social media have made it easier to find an audience - not to mention the rise of ebooks. It still amazes me to think of people reading my books on their phones! So the old legacy model of agent and New York publisher is no longer the only way to go, and probably not the best way for most writers.