Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Delicious Way to Hook Up

It's that time again! I belong to a writers' co-op called The Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit. Every few weeks, I interview a different author from the co-op.

Are you hungry today? If so, you're super lucky because I have the privilege of hosting the amazingly creative Ann Marie Michaels, who wrote Cooking to Hook Up, a practical, humorous guide for bachelors. Ann's co-writer is her ex-husband, Drew Campbell. It's a great gift book. And a TV production company is making it into a series! Ann Marie, would you please pass me some of whatever you're having...?

From the Cooking to Hook Up website:
Cooking is dead sexy.

It's a fact. Women will always choose men with wooden spoons over men with Gold Cards (unless you're in L.A.). But there's a world of difference between any dinner and the right dinner. Should you serve sushi or meatloaf? Play Sting's greatest hits or the latest Yo La Tengo single? Wear the Birkenstock sandals or the Armani loafers? It all depends on the Girl.

Casanova, arguably the most successful seducer in history, had a simple philosophy: Get to know the woman, find out what she lacks, and provide it. Seduction through food is a time-tested technique. However, and this is the big however, you must choose the right food, the food that works for that particular girl. Cooking to Hook Up gives you complete meals designed for every female taste.

Sound complicated? It isn't. All you need is a small supply of tools, a permanent stock of twelve staple foods, and ten additional ingredients you can buy through the express lane (plus a pit stop at the liquor store). There are fifty complete meals, including dessert and optional "bonus points".

Is she a Party Girl? Make her Very Happy Hour: Bar Food and Screaming Orgasms. Is she an Academic Girl who loves Hemingway? Pack up a picnic of Papa's Tapa's: A Moveable Feast. Is she a Gourmet Girl up on the latest trends in cuisine? Serve her the Spanish Surrealist menu, There's No Taste Like Foam.

The right food is only the beginning. We give you Girl-specific tips on which CDs to play, which flowers to buy, and which magazines to leave on the coffee table. There's even a easy wine-buying guide to give you the goods on the grapes. All of the critical information is here, including chapters on Preparing the House, and Bailing Out: Dealing with Disaster.

If all goes well, you can proceed to the last chapter, So You Got Lucky: Recipes for Breakfast.

So, what kind of Girl is she? Read Cooking to Hook Up and find out.

But there's a quicker way to find out what kind of girl you are... or, if you're a guy, what kind of girl SHE is. You go to Ann Marie's site and take the quiz! For me, the results were pretty danged clear:

Ann Marie was NOT surprised!

And now for the interview...

MO'C: This seems to me the perfect book for a naughty auntie to give to a guy graduating from high school, to his delight and his parents' angst. Do you envision this book as a gift book, a book guys go and buy on their own, all of the above, etc.?

AMM: All of the above, yes! We tried to make it friendly to both sexes.

MO'C: I find it so interesting that you and your ex husband teamed up to write this book. Can you talk a little more about how this worked? And who wrote which parts?

AMM: We collaborated/brainstormed/outlined the whole thing and then we split it up. I wrote most of the Gourmet, Indie, Career, Academic and Uptown Girl menus. He wrote most of the Girl Next Door, Athletic, Party and Progressive Girl menus. We split up the Granola and Career Girl about half and half.

MO'C: One thing I love about this book is the way it is completely realistic for the way most guys live. For instance, in one recipe you give the guy 15 minutes to chop the onion and the chicken breast. ABSOLUTELY on-target. Are these recipes all flight-tested?

AMM: Yes, they are. We tested every single one -- usually more than once. Which from what I heard from a reputable source, is not at all the norm.

MO'C: How did you come up with the different categories of girls?

AMM: We wanted to limit it to ten. We started with certain types of girls we knew -- such as the Indie Girl, the Uptown Girl, and the Granola Girl. We expanded from there.

MO'C: Do you plan to write a guide like this for women?

AMM: I'm not sure what the next book will be, but I think that would be a lot of fun. Instead of what kind of shoes to wear, it could be lingerie.

MO'C: Which recipes were the most fun to write? The most challenging?

AMM: The most fun for me were the Academic Girl recipes about etymology and Cockney rhyming slang. And the Gourmet Girl's Surrealist Spanish menu. The fortune cookies were a bitch.

MO'C: What has been the most surprising thing to you about the writing and publishing experience?

AMM: That it's really not that hard to get a book published. Everyone thinks it's such a big hairy deal, but all you have to do is come up with a strong concept, write a good proposal -- and then get it out there. I think that is the hardest thing -- believing in yourself enough to do it. Look at me -- it took me thirty-(cough) years!

MO'C: Can you talk a bit about your novel-in-progress?

AMM: I'm writing a chick lit novel called The Summer of Collecting Men and Shoes. I'm fascinated by the relationship of fashion and gender roles and how women are becoming less like "women" and men are becoming more "metrofabulous." I wrote about it on my blog.

MO'C: Will you be doing classes in tandem with promoting the book? I can see this as a very popular workshop on college campuses.

AMM: I will be teaching singles' and couples' cooking classes at Sur La Table and other schools here in Los Angeles (to start) with author Diane Brown (The Seduction Cookbook). We are also in negotiations with a TV production company who wants to option the book for a show.

MO'C: Any words of advice for aspiring authors?

AMM: If you want to write, just do it. Do it in email, do it on a blog, but do it. I actually have always written better for an audience. Keeping a journal that only I read is so anti-climactic. Kinda like cooking a real meal for yourself when you are a singleton. And then you have all those leftovers. What's the point? I say blog. Get your words out there -- and more importantly, you'll be writing. And the more you write, the better you get. And most importantly, the more you write, the more confident you are about your writing.

Thank you so much for answering these questions, Ann Marie!

You can buy Cooking to Hook Up for yourself or for someone you love (or hope to love) at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion or my VERY FAVORITE source, your local independent bookseller via Booksense.