Broadway fans know Sutton Foster as a two-time Tony Award winner for her lead performances in the musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes. TV viewers—and publishing folk—may recognize her from her starring role on Younger, set in a heightened-reality version of the book trade. In her forthcoming memoir, Hooked (Grand Central, Oct.), she reveals another persona: devoted crafter. Foster spoke with PW about the similarities between writing and crafting, the best part of any project, and how Younger did and did not prepare her for the publishing process.
How did you land on the structure of this book?
I have all these different interests and I was trying to find the common thread, pun intended, so I was like, “Okay, what’s been the thing that’s been constant throughout my life? Crafting.” The book is a collection of essays based around things that I’ve made. When I was going through my divorce, I was in such a powerless situation, so I turned to the only thing I knew how to do—I made a blanket. Now, I make things for my daughter and it’s not filled with sadness and pain; it’s filled with love and caring. Each piece is a window into a specific time in my life.
You write that crafting is a meditative practice that helps ground you. How so?
I turn to crafting as a way to handle situations, handle stress. I’m in London now, in rehearsals for a show, and I could feel my anxiety level going up because we haven’t done this in so long. My brain was working on overdrive, and I thought, “I’m going to bring my crochet to rehearsal. Let’s shift that energy into something tangible.”
Did the writing process offer similar benefits? Could you approach it with a crafter’s mindset?
Yes and yes. I worked with an amazing collaborator [journalist Liz Welch] and it’s like making anything: this will take time and every day we’ll add a little bit more to it, and one day we’ll go, “Oh my god, look, it’s done! We’ve made a book!” It was a two-year process. We originally wrote it chronologically, and then we revamped the whole thing. That happens with any type of project. You look at it and you go, “oops!” and you start undoing rows.
Did working on Younger ready you to publish a book of your own?
It prepared me a little for pitch meetings, I guess. I had no idea. The first time I ever stepped into a publishing house is when I stepped in to pitch this book. I walked into Grand Central Publishing and I was like, “Ohmigosh, it’s like the set of Younger!” I wouldn’t say that with Younger I knew all the nuances of book publishing, but at least I was able to keep up with some of the lingo.
What’s your favorite part of crafting?
It’s the beginning of the project I get really excited about. I’ll have multiple projects going on at the same time, because I might get tired of one, so I switch to another. I have blankets or projects that I haven’t touched in years, but then all of a sudden, I’ll go, “Oh, I’ll pick that back up and finish it.” I have bags of half-finished things. So it’s not the finishing, it’s the starting that gets me excited.