Molly Wizenberg’s food blog, Orangette, attracts almost 8,000 people a day. Through her blog, Wizenberg met her husband, landed a monthly column in Bon Appétit—and snagged a book deal with Simon & Schuster for her memoir, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Wizenberg talked to Cooking the Books from her home in Seattle about blogging, writing a book, and where she finds recipes.
PW: What do you think of the irony of a new technology—e.g., a blog—spawning an old-media creative outlet like a book?
MW: I don’t feel like I’ve taken a step backwards in technology. For me it feels more like a lateral step. I think that blogs and books go very well together. They both feed each other.
PW: In your book, you write, “At their best, blogs are smart, funny, and informative. At their worst, they’re blush-worthy rants written at 2:00 a.m. after a bad breakup.” Would you say the same goes for writing a memoir?
MW: Yes, the perils of writing a memoir are similar to the perils of writing a blog, in the sense that you have a space to tell your story. It’s a tricky balance to achieve: to give your readers enough information to satisfy them, but also to keep private the things in your life that don’t belong to anyone but you. I don’t know if I’ve achieved it; I hope I have.
PW: What do you think books give readers that blogs can’t?
MW: Blog posts seem to have a rhythm or built-in length limit. There are some stories that require you to build a little world for them. You bring the reader into this world for awhile, and you tell them a story. I think that’s something a book can do better than a blog. With a blog, you can click away so quickly. There are so many distractions.
PW: How are you using the blog to promote your book, and vice versa?
MW: I’ve built a page off the blog that lists book events, and the book cover image is on the blog. The blog is a huge help to me because it’s introduced me to so many other bloggers. So far bloggers are really good at supporting each other. I’m hoping a lot of them will write about the book.
PW: Where do you find recipes?
MW: I’m a big cookbook person. Most of the time when I get a cookbook I sit down and read it and put Post-It notes on pages, so the books like they’re wearing jackets with fringe on them. I use the Web, too. The blogs that I tend to use for recipes are ones with distinctive voices, where I have some sort of a relationship with the writer. By reading them every week I’ve come to trust them. My top three are The Wednesday Chef, Smitten Kitchen and The Traveler’s Lunchbox.