Writing Cookery Books. Challenge 1 – Organizing the Unorganizable

It’s been a little quiet on my blog lately. The reason for this is that I have been busy trying to write some cookery books. Cookery books? you might ask. Yes.

If you have read A Deal with a Stranger or The Broken Heart Refuge 1, you might have noticed that the protagonists of these stories are slightly obsessed with cooking and eating. That is no big deal, they’re Italian, and it’s quite natural for Italians to have a passion for food.

I had been thinking for a long time about writing a cookery book. But I wanted to write it as a collection of recipes from friends and family from Italy, rather than my own recipes. First of all because I don’t have that many recipes myself, I am no chef. And second because I have a huge family and many, many friends who CAN cook.

So I started this huge project which involved asking members of my family and friends in Italy for their recipes and collecting them. Not only that, I also asked them to take photos of their dish while they prepared it. At the moment I’m writing three books, one on tiramisu, one on risotto and one on pasta sauce recipes. The first book, the one on tiramisu recipes, should be published in July.

Now you know why I haven’t been so active on my blog lately.

The writing of these books has presented some challenges, which I thought I could share with you in my next articles. The first one been a purely organizational one.

My husband is an IT Project Manager and when I discussed with him what I was doing, that is, coordinating about 50 Italian people, to give me recipes and photos for three cookery books, he just looked at me with an expression that said “bonkers”. And bonkers it’s been.

The following hiccups have been experienced during the collection of recipes.

  1. Not reading the instructions on how to submit a recipe, hence recipes that come in various formats, or with dosages done by ‘eye’.
  2. People sending just photos and not recipes, saying “I’ll tell you the recipe on Skype.”
  3.  People sending just the recipe without the photos.
  4. People sending photos in such low resolution that you can barely see what’s in it.
  5. People saying they will do two recipes for you and then telling you, past the deadline, they don’t have the time.
  6. Deadline. What is such a word? People send the recipe only after you remind them several times. If they send it at all.

Anyway, the reality is, I can’t be too harsh with my friends and family, after all they’re all doing me a favour in sharing their recipes, and let’s face it, I’m not a model of great time-keeping myself. I was the last one to type my own recipes and take my photos!

Still, despite all the above, the books are proceeding well and I’m hoping to have all three books published by the end of 2014.

My mum is quite disappointed that she’ll have to wait a little longer to read The Broken Heart Refuge 2. Occasionally, when I’m on the phone to her in Italy and we talk about these books I can hear a note of sadness in her voice. Lately she asked “Was there a need to write these books? Surely everybody knows how to cook pasta?”


Image courtesy of: www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk

16 thoughts on “Writing Cookery Books. Challenge 1 – Organizing the Unorganizable”

  1. As your mother, dear Martina, I’m waiting for the Broken Heart Refuge 2. But I also can’t wait to see your cookery books. I know you’ve done a great work with Italian recipes!

    Maybe I’m one of those who gave you some problems with photos or dosage… I don’t know, I hope not. But I’m sure your cookery books will make happy many families all around the world!

    (as usual, sorry for my English…)

    • Your English is excellent, Giulia.
      And I wish everyone had been punctual and precise like you in providing the recipes and photos. Your traditional tiramisu will be the first one appearing in the book of tiramisu recipes as it’s the classic one. And I loved your ‘amatriciana’ pasta sauce, it was easy to make and delicious. Often the simple things are the best 🙂
      Thank you for taking part in this project Giulia xxx

  2. I’m desperate to read the next Broken Heart Refuge too – there’s no question, Martina, you’ll just have to work harder 😉 Only joking, you’re the hardest working writer I know. I’m really looking forward to reading this recipe book – and attempting to make some of them. I think this new project will be fantastic x

    • Thank you Jo, for your encouraging words. I’m very excited about it, although I have missed not writing fiction and Nonna Pina has been waving her wooden spoon at me with disappointment. I’ve promised to her that I will give her a chance to make an appearance as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying lots of different tiramisus 😉

  3. I suspect trying to mix ‘deadline’ and ‘friends’ in the same sentence is always going to be an upbill battle.
    I’m looking forward to making my first ever tiramisu, with your guidance!

    • Thank you, Jitka. The pasta sauce recipes book will be published this Autumn. There are some classic ones in there, but also some unusual sauces that my Italian friends have prepared. I think that you might like to try a few 😉

  4. I’m all too familiar with the complexities of compiling a non-fiction book as you know Martina so I wish you lots of luck with bringing it all together. Your recipes sound delicious! It’s ironic that you’re making the transition from fiction to non-fiction just as I’m doing the opposite. We’ll have to compare notes about the pros and cons of each after we’ve both launched haha!

    • You’re right, Diane. I hadn’t thought of that. Your thriller will be coming out this summer, how exciting! Probably around the same time as my first cookery book. We should find the time and place to meet and have a celebratory drink together and compare notes. I’m sure we’ll have a few laughs too 😀


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