Wednesday is All Write: 7 Questions with Candace Walsh, author of Licking the Spoon

In November of last year, I discovered Candace Walsh after reading about the release of her memoir, Licking the Spoon, on my Twitter feed. 

Candace Walsh- cool author, indeed
It was one of those random - maybe even fated - moments when a post caught my attention in all the Twitter clutter. A memoir about food? Family? And identity? Yep, I clicked that link. The more I read about Candace and her book, the more I wanted to connect with her. So, instead of standing on the sidelines, I friended her on Facebook. And Candace (cool author) immediately friended me (an odd stranger) back.

Due to holiday budget constraints, I wasn't able to order Licking the Spoon until January. The second I downloaded it to my iPad's Kindle application, I started reading, only intending to peruse the first chapter. One chapter soon turned into ten.

Damn, with an Emeril Lagasse BAM, this woman can write!

Most of you guys know, as an aspiring memoirist myself, I read A LOT of memoirs and hers rose right to the top. Honestly, there have been a few reads I've wanted to throw across the room — really unadvisable when your "book" is an iPad. Licking the Spoon, though, was different from all of the eye-rolling reads. Candace's story drew me in, the chapters ranging from being very poignant to heartbreaking to funny— honest on every level. Her prose was so poetic, her descriptions savory morsels of goodness.

I finally had to put Licking the Spoon down because it was dinner time. Not only was I hungry after reading her beautiful words, so was my family. I have since renamed Candace's book Licking the Page. And I give it five sparkly stars.

Without further ado, here's more on Licking the Spoon and an interview with the coolest author around, Candace Walsh.


“In the spirit of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, Candace Walsh uses the story of her passionate relationship to food to frame a powerful and honest account of her life.”
—Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Recipes and cookbooks, meals and mouthfuls have framed the way Candace Walsh sees the world for as long as she can remember, from her frosting-spackled childhood to her meat-eschewing college years to her post-college phase as a devoted Martha Stewart’s Entertaining disciple.

In Licking the Spoon, Walsh tells how, lacking role models in her early life, she turned to cookbook authors real and fictitious (Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, Mollie Katzen, Daniel Boulud, and more) to learn, unlearn, and redefine her own womanhood. Through the lens of food, Walsh recounts her life’s journey—from unhappy adolescent to straight-identified wife and mother to divorcée in a same-sex relationship—and she throws in some dishy revelations, a-ha moments, take-home tidbits, and mouth-watering recipes for good measure. A surprising and rambunctiously liberating tale of cooking and eating, loving and being loved, Licking the Spoon is the story of how—accompanied by pivotal recipes, cookbooks, culinary movements, and guides—one woman learned that you can not only recover but blossom after a comically horrible childhood if you just have the right recipes, a little luck, and an appetite for life’s next meal.

7 Questions with Candace Walsh

1) Tell us a little bit about your publishing journey. In Licking the Spoon, you mention landing your first agent at the age of 26 after pitching a YA novel. You then moved on to edit two anthologies, Dear John, I Love Jane, and Ask Me About my Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On. What sorts of trials and tribulations have you faced as a writer?

Well, one trial I faced was freaking out when my YA novel was out to publishers. It received about 12 rejections and one maybe that became a rejection. Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm was rejected 19 times before it was bought, but I didn’t have a sense of perspective about it. I was so young and sensitive that I felt devastated every time a house passed on it.  I should have kept it out in the market. My agent believed in me, but I didn’t believe in myself. To this day, that manuscript is sitting in a box in my office closet.

I did intend to revise it, but then I got married, and pregnant, and found that those new demands sidelined any kind of long-form writing for several years. In fact, my long-form writing was dormant during the course of my first marriage, so I think that the climate of my marriage was just not a good one for my writing. But other than those things, I’ve been very lucky to connect with Seal Press and then with my current agent.

2) You have what the industry would call a very strong platform. Your writing has appeared in numerous national and local publications. You had a very interesting stint working at Condé Nast. Now, you’re the managing editor of New Mexico Magazine. Do you feel your platform has helped your book sales in a significant way? Or is platform just hype? Now that Licking the Spoon has been released into the wild, what challenges are you facing? And, what are you doing to overcome said challenges?

I think I could have a stronger platform. I wish I did! I “should” have had a blog with posts that came out three times a week, for the entire time I was writing my book, as a way to cultivate my audience. But it was simply impossible to do that, and write the book, and hold down a full-time job, and be a present mother and wife. So the blog posts didn’t happen. I do think that it helps when I publish a Huffington Post column that gets traction. But that means playing to that audience, which tends to love the sensational. Platform helps when it’s done a certain way. If I wrote a book all about New Mexico, my position at the magazine would have a positive impact on sales. But I didn’t do that.

It’s a tough market. I really just need to get the book in front of as many simpatico people as possible. I have been marketing the book to book clubs, and so far, three  book clubs have picked Licking the Spoon. It helps that my book’s website,, has a downloadable book club reading guide with a bonus recipe.

I’ve been harnessing social media and I’ve also been making the most of tools on Goodreads. I encourage the many people who do love the book to recommend it to others, as word of mouth is so powerful. And I have three events coming up in Seattle, Portland, and New York City. Writers are in a unique position right now—they have so many options—tweet, blog, Facebook posts, Pinterest, web ads, pursue radio and tv appearances…I’m basically doing all of it. It’s exhausting but I owe it to the book—especially since so many people have told me that they’ve found the book to be healing for them.

3) Publishers and booksellers package their titles in neat little boxes. What tags would you choose to describe Licking the Spoon? Is there a specific message you want readers to grasp?

It sure doesn’t fit into a neat little box. But that’s great, because there’s something for everyone. There’s food, recipes, ethnicity (Cuba and Greece), the Ellis Island story, love, betrayal, abuse and addiction, marriage and divorce and remarriage, transcendence and inner peace, motherhood, letting go of unhealthy family and romantic relationships, coming out later in life, stepping out in faith into the unknown, because of an inner knowing that what I most wanted was waiting for me.

A specific message? I think that different people find different messages; it’s what they needed to find. The messages are overwhelmingly positive, though. I don’t want to interfere with what people might find by saying too much. For me, I found that food and love were both things that were harming me, because of my own choices. I had to go through a process so that food and love were instead nurturing, delighting, and nourishing me instead. I also had to stop living my life in order to please others. I had to figure out what I actually wanted, and then pursue it, in order to be content. One of the major ways that manifested in my own life was that when my first marriage ended, I decided to start dating women. It was something that had always been there, waiting for me to be brave enough.

4) In Licking the Spoon, we learn you are of Irish, Greek, and Cuban descent, and that you’ve had a long going love affair with France. When did you become a self-professed Francophile? How has French culture influenced your life?

It’s so funny. When I was a kid, my mother always used to say, “French sounds so beautiful, it even sounds beautiful when they say, ‘I’m going to take out the trash.’” That definitely made an impression on me. I still laugh whenever I hear the word “poubelle,” (trash) because it does sound so cute! I took French in high school, and loved it. I loved the language, the cadences, the intonations. It’s so musical. I didn’t focus on it too much until I met my former husband, who is half French. Then, he introduced me to France from an insider’s perspective. We traveled the French countryside on our honeymoon, and I fell in love with Burgundy. I was immersed in the wonderful food and wines. I’ve been in love with France ever since. French culture has influenced my life in the way that I like to entertain, with Provencal tablecloths and napkins. I loved dressing my babies in sweet French outfits from Tati and other relatively inexpensive venues. I’ve built up a scarf collection, and do feel somewhat naked if I leave the house without one.

5) It took some time, and more than a few struggles, but you ended up leaping into a new life. Would you consider yourself an adventuress?

Yes! My wife Laura likes to refer to my “cockamamie schemes.” I love to travel, I’m very spontaneous, and I’m full of ideas. I can’t pursue all of them, but I would much rather do new things than stick to the same old same old. That’s why I’m always trying new recipes instead of sticking to a stable of old reliables. Laura is more risk-averse. She reins me in, saves me from getting into too many scrapes.

6) Do you believe in happily-ever-afters?

I do! Meeting Laura has been a happily-ever-after. But it’s not effortless. Relationships take work. Our relationship is a good one because we each bring so much to it. We go the extra mile, we’re considerate, patient, honest, and committed. We are really well matched.

7) What can we expect from you next?

I’ve got a novel idea that I’m batting around. I’m also going to be gathering bonus material—Licking the Spoon outtakes, basically, that weren’t cut because they were deficient, just because I wrote way too much—and I’ll be releasing them in some kind of format. Still figuring that one out.

And now for some fun: 7 random questions

1)   Ropa Vieja or Boeuf Bourguignon
Boeuf Bourguignon, because it involves good red wine and at the moment I could really go for a glass of the stuff.
2)   Bungee or Parachute jump
Oh, dear. Neither. I’m serious. I’m very afraid of heights. I’d die of fright first.
3)   New York or Santa Fe     
Santa Fe is home now, but I love visiting New York!
4)   Brigitte Bardot or Frigide Barjot
Brigitte Bardot, because of her fabulous eyeliner.
5)   Lipstick or Chapstick
Lipstick—I hate Chapstick! It’s so asexual to me.
6)   Macarons or Freshly Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
Macarons, because they’re like cosmetics in cookie form.
7)   Julia Child or Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart, not so much because of the food, but because the lifestyle is so seductive.




To close, I'd really like to thank Candace for agreeing to this interview. When I clicked that Twitter link back in November, I not only discovered an AMAZING read, of which I inhaled in two single bites, I also made a new, albeit virtual, friend.

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