This is an EVOLVING PAGE, so if you don’t see your question answerED here or in my bio, give me a shout on Twitter or by email.
Read about my Food Network Star experience here.
Read about my Cooks vs Cons experience here.
Where can I buy your book?
Oh, thank you for asking. You buy it at your local bookstore or here:
If you'd like a signed copy, check out my event schedule here (you can attend, or purchase a book from a store where I've had an event -- I'll be signing extras) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a signed bookplate or we can coordinate something.
How did you come up with the idea?
There were a variety of factors. First, I was once a young woman who moved to NYC and loved eating out (I still eat out… but not as often and I’m not that young). I fantasized about being a restaurant critic and then the story came out of that. How could I get there as a 23-year-old woman? How would it be amazing? How would it suck?
At the same time, a friend told me about two of her college friends. One didn’t have a sense of taste and ate super-spicy textured foods (think fried chicken loaded with Tabasco). This intrigued me. Another one of her friends was a Harvard grad and worked in coat check at Eleven Madison Park. That intrigued me, too.
Where did the title FOOD WHORE: A NOVEL OF DINING AND DECEIT come from?
It was a process. Originally, the title was BAD TASTE, but about nine months before the on-sale date, the team at HarperCollins said the title didn’t accurately portray the book’s fun food focus. BAD TASTE came off as negative and didn’t give a sense of what the book was about (compared to, say, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA).
So, my editor, agent and I brainstormed. We came up with about one hundred ideas. At some point, these were my front runners.
BITE & SWITCH
OF FOOD & FRAUD
And then I got an email from my editor that read:
At first, it really shocked me. There’s no way, I thought. I wrestled with the decision for two weeks then finally went for it. Right now, especially paired with the chic, high-end cover art, I love the title and couldn’t imagine anything better.
But it was definitely a struggle getting there. Someday I’ll write a blog post it …
How did you come up with the cover art?
Oh, this is a good story. You can read about the process here. I once worked as a creative director and really took the time to think through what I wanted.
The amazing designer Connie Gabbert took it over the finish line. Those are actual pomegranate seeds in the font!
How long did it take you to write Food Whore?
This is my first completed book, so I didn’t really write it in one go. There was writing, outlining, rewriting, outlining, rewriting. In a perfect world, I’d outline, write, then rewrite. But if I had to guess, I’d say it took me one month to outline and one year to write. The hardest, most time-consuming thing wasn’t writing -- it was finding an agent. Here's a blog post that goes over the whole six-year process.
Is the book available as an e-book?
Will it be translated into other languages?
Yes! It's being translated and sold in France, Italy, Poland, South Korea and Japan.
Where can I meet you?
My Book Club is discussing Food Whore! Do you have any resources for us?
Ah, thank you for selecting my book!! Click here for discussion questions, "book club bites" (recipes inspired by the book), and info on how to contact me for a live video chat.
Are the restaurants in your book based on real places?
Yep. Take a look at this Pinterest board that unpacks this very question.
Who is your agent?
Stefanie Lieberman at Janklow & Nesbit.
Who is your editor?
Lucia Macro at William Morrow/ HarperCollins.
Who is your publicist?
Michelle Podberezniak at HarperCollins. You can find everyone's contact info here.
Who did your author portrait?
Liz Clayman, who is a food, lifestyle and portrait photographer here in NYC.
What are you wearing in your author photo?
WHAT HAVE OTHER PEOPLE SAID ABOUT THE BOOK?
Check out some early reviews and buzz here.
Where do you get inspiration for your recipes?
Hmmm… could be anywhere: a restaurant dish, a magazine article, a blog, a color palette, an interest in a new cuisine, riffing on a tried-and-true recipe, a new ingredient that I found, an old ingredient that I want to make new.
I’m also obsessed with newness, and though sometimes that means I might never truly perfect a dish, it also means that I’m never lacking for recipe ideas.
Do you ever plan on writing a cookbook?
Maybe! But for now, my main focus is crafting (food-related) fiction.
Do you eat like this all the time?
Well, for the most part, my recipes are pretty simple. But not every bite that crosses my lips is an event. My go-to home alone dish is sautéed cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower, or kale) with canned fish (herring, sardines, mackerel). My boyfriend is allergic so I almost never have fresh fish in the apartment. But when he’s gone, the cans, they are a-openin’!
When I'm cooking for family or for my fiancé, I'll make these dishes again and again (always with a tweak because, again, obsessed with newness): chunky pistachio mint guacamole, fennel orange crab salad, curried turkey over vegetables, miso ginger garlic slow cooker chicken, buffalo cauliflower, pignoli cookies, and various fruit sorbets.
What’s your writing process?
Here are some tips I wrote on how to start and finish your novel. At some point, I’ll unpack that a little and write a separate post about my outlining process (which, to be honest, I’m still honing).
Where did you study writing?
How did you get your agent?
I’ll have to write a whole other post for this, but here’s a short version. Finish your novel (yes, if you’re a first-time novelist, you have to show your completed work). Write an awesome query letter (read mine here -- I'll let you decide if it's awesome). Find a directory of literary agents and plop them in a spreadsheet. Subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace and do your research. Eliminate agents that aren’t a good fit, rank the ones that could be a good fit. Personalize your query letters and show you put in some effort. In your spreadsheet, mark off when you contacted the person and any other notes (the date they rejected you, asked for a partial, asked for a full, etc).
Of course, if you have existing contacts, add them to the list first. I happened to get my agent with a cold email (I didn’t know anyone internally at Janklow & Nesbit), but referrals count for a lot, so if you have the connections -- use them. Here's a post about how to pick your literary agent, once you have some offers.
What are your favorite blogs?
Who designed this website?
I did! Squarespace makes things really easy.
WHEN DID YOU START BLOGGING?
I bought jessicatom.com in 2004 and have been blogging off and on and off, off, off, and on since then.
Tell me about your food photography.
Well... I just recently (April 2015) got a DSLR. So everything before that was on an iPhone 6, 5, or 4... and some of the very, very old pics were taken with my Blackberry!
I'm still learning and just hoping I'm making progress everyday. These two photos from the same session made me laugh.
Do you go by Jess or Jessica?
I use Jessica professionally and when I introduce myself to strangers. But most people call me Jess.
What's your favorite neighborhood in NYC?
Where do you get your clothes?
Oh boy. I love trying out new looks and actually enjoy shopping, so there are a lot of places/brands. Here's a start.
Brands I wear: Marni, Alexander Wang, Ayr, COS, Iro, Marimekko, Suno, Issey Miyake, Uniqlo, Calypso, Zara, Rag & Bone, Lululemon, Vince
Stores I shop at: INA Designer Consignment (Chelsea and Thompson Street are my favs), asos, theoutnet, Steven Alan, SAMPLE SALES
Places I window shop: Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi, Bergdorf Goodman.
What makeup brands do you wear?
Right now, this is my routine: Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB cream, Benefit instant eyebrow pencil, eyeko skinny liquid eyeliner, BUXOM Lash Mascara. Cheeks are either Tarte cheek stain, Nars, or Julep. Eyeshadow is either Julep, Laura Mercier, Linda Mason, or some monster kit I got at a makeup trade show. Lips, I'm all over the place, but you can always find these in my purse: OCC lip tar, ILIA, Clinique chubby sticks, Burt's Bees tinted lip balm, Mac or NARS.