Geraldine DeRuiter is an American author who runs the Everywhereist blog. Her new book, If You Can’t Take The Heat, is out now. It’s a series of essays about food, feminism and fury.

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Geraldine DeRuiter

Geraldine DeRuiter is an acclaimed author, world-renowned public speaker, and the voice behind the award-winning Everywhereist blog.

She finds it very difficult to be self-promotional, so she hopes that you understand how hard that last sentence was for her to write.

Time magazine named Everywhereist one of their blogs of the year in 2011. Her memoir, All Over the Place, was published in 2017.

While ostensibly a travel writer, Geraldine also writes about dessert, feminism, and Jeff Goldblum’s entire filmography. TIME Magazine described her work as “consistently clever” and The New York Times said her writing was “dark and hilarious”. Her blog has received accolades from The Independent, Forbes Magazine, and The Huffington Post, because sometimes features editors get drunk.

When not on the road with her long-suffering and infinitely patient husband, Rand, Geraldine can be found in Seattle, usually fighting with people on the internet.

Strategy Sessions Host – Andi Jarvis

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Interview Transcription

This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.


Eyup and welcome to the strategy session. My name is Andi Jarvis. I am the host of your show. My guest today is Geraldine DeRuiter. Geraldine is an author and her new book is out now. It’s out right now. Out right now. You can go and buy it. There’s a link in the show notes. Buy it now. It’s called if you can’t take the heat, and it’s tales of food, feminism and fury. This isn’t necessarily a book podcast. It’s more about a marketing podcast. It’s about how you bought the book and how you sell a book in 2024. But for this book particularly, you’ve got to understand the backstory to it because it’s hilarious, it’s terrible, it’s fascinating, it’s wonderful, and it gets us to a point where you understand the background to the book and really get a feel for how and why it’s written and taken shape. Did I say buy the book link in the show notes? Click it and buy it. Before I go, I just want to tell you one more thing. If you’re in Belfast, where I’m based, I’ve got a couple more events that you can come along to.


They’re called lunchtime learning, taking place at the black box. Again, there’s a link in the show notes, but it’s on Wednesday, which is today, the day the episode is released, and the next two Wednesdays after that as well. We’re covering marketing for hospitality businesses. We’re covering how to be a copywriter in a digital age and marketing for professional services. Three guest speakers. I’m just there to kind of keep things ticking over, but have a look if that sounds like your thing. You want more information, click on the link below and go and get a ticket. They’re only ten pounds as well. Fantastic value. Right, enough of that. Let’s get into the episode and you can listen to Geraldine and part two of our women’s History Month miniseries Geraldine DeRuiter. What one thing do you wish you’d have known ten years ago?


I’m sure you have. You’ve heard the quote, when people show you who they are, believe them the first time. I’ve heard that before and I kind of listen, but I wish that I paid a little more attention to that. I do tend to make snap judgments about people and then I respond to that snap judgement and I’m like, oh, I shouldn’t make a snap judgement about someone. And the problem is my snap judgments are almost always right, which is awful to say, but I think the corollary of that, too, is that I’m quite wary when people are good.


And so if someone comes, why are they being.


Yeah, yeah. Are they trying to sell me something? Is this part of a multi level marketing scheme where I’m going to have to sell shakes on Facebook? So I think I’m also wary of when people are really kind, and I think when people show you that they’re kind, maybe just accept it.


Okay. And that is maybe a good life lesson. There’s maybe two lessons in there, isn’t there? Which is trust your gut, but also believe people the first time as well.


Yeah. I think the trusting your gut thing is very. It can be very difficult. I don’t know. Do you deal with this at all? Do you listen to your gut? Does your gut make a lot of noise?


My gut does make a lot of noise and my wife would tell me far too much noise. I believe in the goodness of people generally. I tend to wander around the world looking at it as a glass half full as opposed to a glass half empty, which does occasionally lead to somebody taking advantage of you. But having travelled quite extensively, I generally find if you think someone’s going to be a good person for you, they will be. And bad people the world over in mys look quite similar. There’s a look in their eyes and a shiftiness to their intentions. And it doesn’t matter what language they speak, you can usually see that quite early on. So, yeah, I think I do tend to work on gut quite a lot. Having said that. Now, once this episode comes out, watch me get made a mug of several times by people going, yeah, look at Andi. He thinks he can trust his gut. Look at him. He can’t. But, yeah, I think I’d trust my gut.


I think, yeah, I think there’s also this question of, like, when you get into that mindset, are you being too cynical? And that I’ve noticed that the times that if I think someone is trying to rip me off, I remember last time I was in New York, there was a guy and he was probably, he was a little bit younger than me, but definitely an adult man. And he was crying, this large adult man, and he was crying and I was like, oh, my gosh. And he walks up to me and he says, can you help me? And I was so thrown off. And I was like, what do you need? And he said, my ride ditched me. I’m here studying and I need a ticket to get back downtown. I need, like a train ticket. And I thought, well, I can buy you a train ticket. I’m like, where can I buy you a train ticket? I will buy you a train ticket. That’s fine. And even if he’s lying about what’s going on, I’ll buy you a train ticket. Who cares?


You’re going to be at, what, $10?


Is that $510? I’ll buy you a train ticket. And he says, well, you can buy the train tickets right over there in a pharmacy, a drugstore. What do you call them? Chemists.




Chemist. I’ll speak british for you. So I went to the chemist, and we’re walking, and I’m like, wait. Because in Italy, you can buy train tickets at essentially, like the sort of drugstore pharmacy. Like, maybe. Maybe the UK is the me. Maybe New York is the same, which is weird. My brain is getting addled, right? Like, I’m already like, wait, what’s going on? So we’re walking through the drugstore, and then we take the escalator down, and I’m like, oh, no, right? Things start twinging a little. And he goes to the gift card section, and he grabs a gift card and he says, here, can you buy this for me? And I’m like, wait, you needed a train ticket? And he’s like, yeah, I’m going to use this to buy the train ticket. And I’m like, no. And at this point, we’re in the basement of the drugstore alone. And I’m like, no, I’m so sorry. That is not something I am comfortable doing. And he responded really well. He was like, okay, I understand. But it was strange because I trusted his original intent. And then when he said that, I started to question it, and it got into a very strange, like, we got into a strange place.


Yeah, but when he came up, I was like, yes, absolutely. But then I felt so guilty when I left. I felt so guilty. I was like, you know what? He needed that gift card. Even if he’s scamming me, maybe I should have just gotten him the gift card.


It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Because you’re probably never going to know. You will never know what his intentions were with that gift card.


But at the end of the day, he needed a $20 gift card more than I did. Right? He needed it more than I did, which is such a strange position to be in. Yeah.


That’S really interesting. I think there’s a bunch of people as well who say things like, oh, you shouldn’t have helped him or even try to help him, because we can’t help everybody. So there’s no point trying to solve this problem.


And I always think, who said that?


That’s such a weird take. We shouldn’t try and solve homelessness one person at a time, because we can’t solve it that way. And you’re like, okay, are you a serial killer in hiding? Or what is this sort of thought process? Such a strange way to look at it.


I mean, I do agree that it is a massive, complex societal problem. Also, if somebody asks me for money and I have it, I’m going to give it to you. That’s just fundamentally how it works. And it is proven that one of the best ways of really alleviating poverty is to give people money with no strings attached. So just give directly, I think is one of the organisations that Rand’s really passionate about. Rand is my husband. For people who are listening and don’t know, and that’s just his name. I could talk more about him, maybe if we want, we could talk about relationships. We could talk about relationships, but we’ll.


Only talk about him through the lens of cooking, I think.


Okay. But he’s very passionate about give directly, which gives people money with no strings attached. And it’s proven to work. It’s proven to very, very left leaning for the US, which means probably makes.


You quite central or right wing, even for UK and certainly french standards. But for the US, yeah, you’re almost a communist.


I suppose I am. I’m so left for the US. That was rude, by the way. Please never tell me I’m right wing.


Right leaning, yes.


Never say that.


But it’s an interesting mention of politics because I think there is the next sort of half hour of this discussion are going to be interwoven with politics and your beliefs. And if people are thinking, what’s he talking about? We’re going to talk.


I’m glad you’re warning the warning.


Politics, Claxton. We’re going to talk about your book. Because I was in researching for this, I put your name into Google, was the first thing I did. There’s no real in depth research going on here. And it just says, geraldine DeRuiter is an american author who runs the Everywhereist blog. We’ll talk about that. Time magazine named Everywhereist is one of their blogs of 2011. 2011. Her memoir, all over the place was published in 2017. We’ll talk about that. But what it doesn’t say is that your new book, if you can’t take the Heat, is available from the twelveth of March this year. There you go. What a great roundup. It was a terrible roundup. So let’s talk about your new book. If you can’t take the heat, there’s a great backstory to this, so tell everybody the backstory.


Okay. And I don’t want to go too far, but we could start. I was born a tiny baby. Tiny, chubby baby. We won’t go back that far, but we should start in, I believe it was 2017. So I was a travel blogger for many years, and that kind of is how I got my first book deal, which we can talk about if people want to talk about the blog or are interested in the blog to book kind of path, which I think is pretty interesting. But in 2017, I hadn’t really been travelling as much. I’d kind of gotten burnt out on travelling, and I wasn’t writing that much. I was kind of in a well, and we were coming up on the height of the Me too movement, and it was a very emotional time. I think for a lot of women, I think this was kind of the political felt very personal, as it often does. And this was one of those moments Mario Batali sends out. And for people who don’t know, Mario Batali is a quite famous american celebrity chef. He’s also from my hometown originally. He’s from Seattle, and he is italian.


And I am, as you know, there are layers to this. He sends out a newsletter every month, I think, or every week, and this time he sends it out. And it includes an apology for allegations of a sexual misconduct. The allegations turned out to be much bigger than that. He ended up settling a lawsuit, several lawsuits, but along with the apology letter, he includes a recipe for cinnamon rolls. And everyone in the culinary world kind of goes a little bit bonkers because they’re like, this is so incredibly tone deaf. This is such a terrible move. And he describes them as a fan favourite, which, if you have, I’m laughing.


Here, and I really shouldn’t be.


No, but it’s absurd. It is absurd to the point of laughing. If you’re talking about, hey, do this because it’s a crowd pleaser and everybody loves it. It’s like you don’t actually know what people like because you don’t understand consent. You are not the arbiter of anything. But I’m also looking at the recipe, and it’s a pizza dough cinnamon roll recipe, and I can already see your face is kind of like, what? So I’ve made his pizza dough recipe before. It’s savoury. It’s a savoury pizza dough. And if anyone is familiar with cinnamon rolls, they’re kind of brioche like. So I already know these two things are not going to work. And I decide to make the cinnamon roll recipe and write about it through the lens of the MeToo movement at the time. And I feel like this is kind of a critical component of the whole thing. I pitch publications all the time, or I did, and no one wanted my work. In 2017, I would pitch Bon appetit. I would pitch sever, which I can barely say. I would pitch all of these food publications, and they were like, so I was talking to my husband and he was like, don’t write for other people.


Just put it on your blog. It’s not worth it.


He said.


It’s not worth it to create content for other people. So I published it on my blog. And the blog post goes, I would say bonkers. Viral. It gets picked up by Martha Stewart, is retweeting it. The food and restaurant reviewer for the New York Times, Pete Wells, is retweeting it. The New York Times calls it dark and hilarious. I get over. I get something like 5 million visitors in a week to the blog. The blog keeps crashing. I’m in a bunch of food publications. I mean, all these food publications that never wanted my work. The Washington Post is contacting me about writing for them. So it is a game changer in a very big way. And then the following year, I win a James Beard Award for journalism for the Peace. And for people who are unfamiliar, the James Beard awards are a institution that you can kind of think about, like the Michelin stars, but they also give awards for food journalism, and they’re a little bit more expansive in the categories. So at that point, I’m like, holy crap, am I a food writer? And I don’t think I am. I don’t think I am.


I think I’m this weird interloper who has won a food award, who’s written one thing about food. So I kind of go back to my malaise of like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m kind of in a creative rut. COVID hits and I am not travelling anymore. No, I’m not travelling at all. At this point, I want to say I’m so not productive, which is such an unkind lens to look at things. I think it’s really interesting that in COVID, people were staying alive under unprecedented circumstances or trying to. A lot of people were dealing with huge loss, either very real loss of relatives or people they cared about, but also loss of community and loss of their everyday lives and loss of social connexion. People were homeschooling their kids. They were now doing video calls instead of seeing people face to face. And it was this huge shift. I mean, it was this huge, traumatic shift for so many people. And also, along with that, everyone was like, well, now’s the time to create my big project. Now’s my time to make art, which is such a huge emotional burden on yourself. Did you do this?


Did you have a huge COVID project?


I launched the podcast that was as expansive as I got. I was like, I’m going to talk about work some more.


That’s a big emotional spend, right?


In fact, when this episode comes out, it was May. So we’re probably by the time people hear this, about six weeks away from it being the four year anniversary of launching the podcast.


Oh, my God.


But, yeah, I found it. So many people were sat there, oh, I’m learning Mandarin. I’m doing this, I’m teaching myself. I’m reskilling. I’ve got paid for a master class. And I was like, I’m not doing any of that. I’m going for a run once a day and hoping that I’ve got enough money coming in at the end of the month to keep the business going. I felt I had to do something, and there was almost like a pressure to do something other than just binge watch Netflix. But it was difficult, really difficult times. When you think back.


Oh, it was. I don’t think we’ve actually appreciated it. And so many people, you know what? I look at what we kind of put ourselves through. A friend of mine had a newborn and she decided to take extension classes at Harvard. And she graduated with honours from a programming class at Harvard during COVID with a newborn, literally holding a newborn. And I’m like, what? Rest assured, friends, I did not do any of that. Here’s what I did. I gave my husband a couple of haircuts, which were excellent, and he was very critical of them. But if you go to Instagram, they are beautiful and you can see them.




And he did not return the favour. I just want to say he tried and did not. And it was bad.


Probably for the best that you only let him do it once.


Oh, it was bad. But anyway, that is an aside. I started writing. Here’s the other kind of clincher. In October 2019, I pitched my agent with a fiction book about a global pandemic that destroys the world and separates two protagonists. And he is a restaurant owner and has to deal with kind of his restaurant slowly collapsing as the world is falling apart. And she is a journalist who is dealing with the rise of a multibillionaire who is spreading misinformation. So that is what I pitched to her in 2019, pitched the news section.


Of the New York Times.


And then slowly, I watch as everything starts to unfold, and I’m like, well, I can’t write this book because it’s the news.


Yes, we should take that book idea, drop it to the trash can, and let go.


I’m still so heartbroken because, man, if I could have pulled that off before.


It came out, Nostradamus would have been retired and it had been DeRuiter.


Here’s the thing, though. I think we all saw something on the horizon. I think we all did. There was something going on. We read something. I think a lot of us did. So I don’t write that book, obviously. And at this point, I’m like, what am I doing? And I end up when COVID restrictions lift, we don’t say COVID is over, obviously, but when restrictions lift a little and we can travel to Europe, my husband and I go, and it’s really emotional because we’re seeing relatives that I do not think we’re going to see again. And we’re seeing family that I do not think we’re ever going to see again. And at the end of this trip, it is now October 2021. At the end of this trip, we go to this restaurant in Italy, and we have this big three star Michelin dinner. And it is the worst meal of my life. It is so bad, it defies explanation. It is 4 hours of not being fed in a hot, windowless bunker. The crowning kind of glory of it is they bring us these ramekins that are these circular mannequins with these mouths, gaping mouths inside, and there’s kind of a little alcove inside the mouth, like a little sort of recessed groove in which they have served food, but there’s no spoon.


And so you’re told that you have to slurp the food out of the mouth. And so at this point, you’re starving because you’ve been fed, like, 14 calories over 2 hours. So you’re slurping the food out, and then the staff comes back, and they flip it over, and they say, oh, lucky you. And they tell you which chef you got, because apparently the mouth is a cast of the chef’s mouth.


I’m getting Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom monkey brain surprise kind of vibes to this for a reference for those of a certain vintage.


Anyway, that’s a Gen x cut, that movie. Yeah. I’m glad I’m not going to watch it again as an adult, but it is a truly horrifying moment. Right? And it’s so bizarre and so funny. So of course, I write about it. I write about it. And again, this blog post goes, it goes more viral than the batali piece. So it is in, the Washington Post is calling me. The Today show is calling me and does a segment on it. I’m on. Stephen Colbert does a segment, like an extensive segment on the piece. He doesn’t say my name correctly, for the record. Not as good as I am. No, not nearly. Not nearly. And again, like, the New York Times does an article, and it’s actually kind of a hit piece on me. It frames me as the big, mean blogger who’s taking down this chef. The italian press picks it up. And one of my colleagues said he knew the story was a big deal when his colleagues in Romania were texting him about it. So I was hit. We’ve hit kind of a strange nerve here because now I’ve had, the two biggest pieces of my life have been food pieces.


And I’m talking to a friend of mine and I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I haven’t written anything, like, substantive in a while. And she goes, why don’t you just write a book of food essays? And I was like, I’m not a food writer. And she goes, oh, you’re not? Okay.


Maybe I am.


Maybe I am. Point taken. That’s interesting. So this is some drama that we could get into a little bit. But I left my old publisher, I offered them the book. I was not happy with their response. So they published, let’s see. I know there’s very few people watching on YouTube, but they published my first book, and I was not happy with the offer that they made. I know it’s a little, you’re not allowed to say these things, but here we are. We’re going to be honest about it. So I walked away and the book went to auction, which is great. It’s awesome. It’s a big deal when it does. And I was kind of able to pick, choose your own destiny. So I was able to pick my publisher from the auction, which is very cool.


Come back to the details of how that works in a minute. That is unusual, isn’t it, to get that sort of opportunity?


Usually, yeah. So if more than one publisher is interested in your book, your book can go to auction and, yeah, we can talk about the details. It’s pretty fascinating.


Yeah. Cool. We’ll get to the book because we’ll come back because I think it’s all connected to the market.


We can get back to that. So I write the book in a year, which is, for me, breakneck speed, because I’ve been effectively had writer’s block for forever. Write the book in a year. And then it’s been a year of kind of editing, marketing, figuring everything out. And then it’s coming out. Oh, God. In, like, two weeks.


A handful of days. Yeah. From when we’re recording. So March twelveth, it’s coming out.


Yeah. And the book is. It’s the story behind those stories, because a lot of things happened. I was contacted by people who had allegations of abuse against the chef from the Michelin starred restaurant. I had my Twitter account hacked after the Batali piece came out. So it’s a lot about food, but it’s also about. It’s obviously about feminism, it’s about online abuse. It’s about the lens through which we experience the world. Whenever you go into a restaurant, whenever your doctor tells you what your BMI is, whenever they say, maybe you need to lose a little weight. Everything that we experience as humans with bodies, I kind of explore a little bit, and I try to do so in a funny and light hearted way, but also in a very sincere way. Yeah, that was probably longer than you wanted. I think that was 20 minutes talking about the genesis of this.


That’s all right.


And it all began when I was a tiny baby.


Tiny baby. Well, which is where most begins for most of us. So, having read a number of your posts and a lot of your social media output, I won’t say all of it because there’s quite a lot of that.


I expect you to read all of it, but go on.


I will go back through. I started with your Twitter, but you do come at things with a great lens, and that’s. Sorry, I’m just aware of how patronising that sounds. But I enjoy the way that you fact that you manage to find a fun angle to lots of serious issues while never failing to absolutely nail the point. And that’s what I really like about it. And I think I’ve said to you before, possibly after I’d had more than one drink, but I almost find when I see things going wrong in America, I don’t go to the New York Times or the Washington Post. I go to social media to see what you’re writing about it, because I like the way you approach the subject. And going back to you talked about me, too, and Black Lives Matter, and you’ve got murderers driving cars and a bunches of people protesting in Charlote and things like that, and you get the angle and the fury from the news. But what you missed, I think, in all the output, and that’s not criticism of the news, it’s just the way they report it. But when I went to your Twitter feed to look at what you were saying about that, there was a humanity to it, which I think was missing from how other people were talking about it.


And there was fury there, undoubtedly. And there was a little bit of fun there as well about kind of holding a mirror up to the inconsistencies of how politicians are saying and using language about certain groups of, like when something goes wrong in America, I want to see what you’re writing about it, so I can’t wait to take delivery of my pre order of the book. I’ve already pre ordered it, so hopefully.


It’Ll arrive on the twelveth.


I’m really looking forward to it dropping.


Thank you so much. Thank you. I’m really bad at accepting praise, but I’m trying to be better at it.


Yes. Thank you.


Thank you. Thank you. Yes, I deserve it. This book is awesome. As am I. This is me leaning in.


So before we talk about how you promote a book, first thing I really want to know is how were the cinnamon rolls?


Batali cinnamon rolls?




Not good because they were pizza dough. So it was kind of savoury and salty and then chewy where it needed to be sort of brioche and soft and kind of hard and dry in places.


For a man guilty of many crimes, I mean, this feels like it’s up there in his top three of crime.


I don’t want to go that far. I would say it is one of the apex of his culinary crimes. Can we safely say that? Yeah, I think that’s going to get us in safer territory.


Excellent. Thank you very much for that.


He’s done some bad things. He is not a good allegedly. Let’s not get our allegedly. Yeah, let’s throw some bad things.


Yeah. In Casey. I’m sure his lawyers will be all over this. Allegedly.


We’ll. Because we’re important people.


Absolutely. Big hitters. Absolutely. So you’ve written a book and being an author. Being an author means you’re good with words and you’ve spent years building a following on Twitter as well. And you have lots of followers on Twitter. You have a very popular blog with some very popular posts, but then Twitter.




Because some asshole takes it over. Allegedly an asshole. Sorry, but you know what you’re talking about. So your main channel for reaching your audience is suddenly managed by a complete lunatic and becomes just a cesspool of hate. The alternative that lots of people are saying you should jump on is TikTok, which is a very different media to Twitter. And you’ve got a book coming out, you’ve got a publisher who’s just bid for your book at auction, and they want their money back. It’s the reality of it. That book needs to sell because I don’t know how the deal structured, but they’re going to make some money from it, probably before you make more money from it anyway, but however that’s structured, so they want you to promote the hell out of this book. So how do you go about promoting a book when your main social media channels fall into pieces? You’re getting pushed to go onto a video medium when you’re a writer. And, yeah, what’s the challenge and how have you faced into that?


So, first of all, it’s flat out terrifying. So I had 140,000 Twitter followers at kind of the apex, and it’s down to, I think, 100 and probably 20, a little less than 120,000. So I’ve dropped about 20,000 followers due to, I think, just people jumping ship. And I will say that the prevailing lesson of all of this is that you need to own your platform. Because I think if I had spent less time on Twitter and more time writing on my blog, that would have counted for a lot. And I am really grateful that I still have my blog. I started that blog in 2009, and it’s been 15 years and I still haven’t. And I think that’s not something that people do year after year. That is not something that we see. And so even though I’ve kind of petered out, I’m still there and I’m still producing content. So I think that that is sort of the critical lesson in terms of how to promote a book. I mean, I’m really learning as I go. I think one of the things that I did is I very much have asked people, what should I do here?


What should I do? And can you help? And really been very open as to reaching out to people and saying, hey, you covered my piece about this, or you covered my article about this. Would you like to cover my book? Can I be back on your show? I’m a regular on your TV show. Or I’m a regular on your radio show, can you have me back on to specifically talk about my book? Emailed a bunch of friends, emailed people and said, hey, do you have a newsletter? Do you have a podcast? Do you have anything that you could let me do? That is really uncomfortable for me. That’s so uncomfortable. But I realise, one, people can say no, that’s okay. That’s a very easy boundary to enforce, and I hope that they do if that’s what they want. And two, I’m hoping that it’s not that imposing of an ask, because people get these asks a lot. So it’s not that out of turn. Like, the discomfort is not that crazy because this is what people do. And the worst thing that can happen is people say no. And the best thing that can happen is they say yes.


And you never know until you ask. So I’ve just kind of been out there trying to ask. But Twitter is a huge loss. And I realised that that audience is probably part of the reason I got the book deals that I did. And I haven’t pivoted to TikTok. And this is something that everyone’s like, you should be on TikTok. And this has come up time and again. The issue is, I am not a video creator. I am not. I’ve done it a couple of times on Instagram. I’ve gone viral a couple of times on Instagram. I have a couple of videos that have, I think, close to 2 million views. But that is not my forte and that is not my strength. And I am not comfortable with even the level of vitriol and hate. And I’m someone who is accustomed to vitriol and hate. I’m not comfortable with the sort of vitriol and hate that comes from video responses. It is a whole different game. And so that is not something I’m comfortable managing. But the other thing is, we all have our strengths, and I think it’s important to play to your strengths.


But I think the world in which we’re living in, we’re asking people to do everything, and a lot of times those things are not their strengths. And I told a friend of mine, I’m good at writing. I’m not good at video creation. I’m not good at doing cute dance videos. I’m not great at photography. I can barely say photography. That’s a very hard word. And so what if my book, this thing that I have written, that is getting great early reviews, like, the early reviews are phenomenal. I’m getting starred reviews from the industry publications. What if my book fails? Because the only thing I’m really good at is writing.


And that’s a terrible thing to say. Not a terrible thing for you to say.


No, but it’s a terrible reality. It is a terrible reality.


Yeah, I know. There’s an element of this that it’s always been thus in some way or another. There’s always been an element that books need a little bit of promotion. And sometimes a book by somebody who’s semi famous, who maybe knows, maybe in this country anyway, posh or went to the same school as somebody who works at the publisher, gets a lot more support of their book. Therefore, it does better than a book that’s better written, but maybe doesn’t have that support behind it. But it always feels like maybe there’s been a democratic way of that kind of rising and being managed, let’s put it that way. Whereas now it does feel like to get own in the media, in any form of media, whether it’s being on TV or getting a radio show or even having a book that’s a success, is you have to have a social media presence that is big and successful, or you struggle to get the deal, and then you struggle to make it a success of the thing that you’re doing. And that must be a strange pressure to say, well, I can’t just be an author. I have to be an author and video creator and a TikTok star.


That sounds just tiring more than anything else, right?


I’m not a chef, but because my book is food adjacent, like, create food in a beautiful way, do all of these things. And it’s strange, too, because the flip side of this is that we also have created a system that is very egalitarian in some ways. Right? Like, there is a pathway for a lot of people to be successful. But I do think that that success reinforces the platforms and maybe not the person. So there’s a TikTok star. I think he has the most followers on TikTok. I can’t remember his name. He is a young black man. He’s a young black man who does videos of, like, he doesn’t talk, but people will do something. Like, they’ll have trouble doing something, and then he just shows himself doing it simply and, like, throwing up his hands.


Right. I have a vague idea. He was on the TV once, and I was like, I’ve never even heard of this guy. Yes, I’m vaguely aware of who you are.


He’s everywhere. As an interesting aside, he’s italian and no one knows this. And I do think that that is kind of an interesting narrative, that it’s just sort of like an inherent social racism, that we don’t perceive this person as italian because he’s black. But that’s just kind of like an aside that I could talk about forever. But it is this thing where it’s like, he’s famous. He is the one who has created all of this content, and he has all of these followers, but I don’t know his name. And my association with him is he is a TikTok star. He has done something for the platform. And so it’s this weird thing where his work has reinforced the platform and it strengthened the platform. At the end of the day, he’s made TikTok better, even though he. And he’s doing all the work. And I don’t know that he is getting everything that he should out of it. He’s offered value to TikTok, but I don’t know if TikTok has gotten him all the value that he.


Prof. G. Scott Galloway, who I like, but also have some significant issues with.


I have some significant issues with him as well. We could talk about that.


But he talks about TikTok being the biggest threat to people like Netflix because of that very thing that Netflix can’t create anything without having to invest in all the people around the show. TikTok continues to create infinitely more content in a day than Netflix creates in a year by not paying anybody to do anything. And he talks. So that’s their sort of the fact that the creators are doing it essentially for free. At least YouTube and Google, for that great left wing bastion of the US, Google and YouTube, at least they pay people. You get a share of ad revenue, which I think is lacking still. Is it on TikTok, or do you get a share these days?


You get a share, but it’s a diminishing return. They really make you try hard to compete. They’ll give you some money, and then it kind of dwindles, and it’s almost like this gamification system. And even if you have a tonne of followers, they don’t show your content to your followers. So my brother has a hundred thousand TikTok followers. He’s got, like, a sizable following. His handle is Ed underscore in underscore Berg, because he’s in Edinburgh and his name’s ed. And he does.


See what you did there.


Yes. It’s funny, right? And he does fish out of water videos, kind of about being in this guy from LA being in Europe, and they’re funny and people are interested in that. But he is creating so much content, essentially for another platform. And I look at what happened with Twitter, and to a degree, I look at all, everything that I wrote. I wrote so many jokes, I wrote so many viral tweets. I mean, I had tweets that had 100,000, 200,000 retweets, and that was for someone else. I spent so much time on that platform, and that was for someone else. And granted, it did serve me. It served me as well. But it comes down to, I don’t know, maybe owning our own platform. At the end of the day, maybe that’s what we need to do.


What about comparing it with your first book then, in terms of the pressure and the demands on an author now compared to 2017? So sort of maybe through 2016, 2017, when you’re promoting that book and you know you’ve got the deal and it’s coming out, what were the pressures then? Were they the same? Was it a bit easier because Twitter was bouncing at the time? How did that feel? What were the differences?


For my first book, I remember doing a couple blog posts, taking in a couple pictures for Instagram and posting it on Facebook and tweeting about it. I tweeted about it a lot. That is what I remember. But I also remember thinking, this is all I can do. This is the extent of what I can do. And the book is going to do what it’s going to do, and that’s okay. And the book did all right. I think it sold 20,000 copies ish. Somewhere in there, and it’s still selling.


That sounds great to me. I don’t know what that looks like in Seattle, but to me that sounds fantastic.


It’s not bad. That puts me in, like, the 99th percentile, right? Like, of books sold. It’s not bad, but it felt like a quieter book and the advance was smaller. And the pressure. Yeah, it did feel like a lot less pressure, I will say. And this is to my publisher’s credit. My editor reached out to me and she was like, look, all this work that you are doing is amazing, but please do not burn yourself out. Please do not. And that was a great thing to hear. That’s a lovely thing to hear. It’s nice to know. And they are constantly like, thank you so much for all the work you are doing. So the pressure does not inherently come from the publisher necessarily.


Some of it’s internal. I’m a big sports fan, so I’m sorry that I always make sporting analogies whenever I talk to people. But it reminds me a little bit of the star player who does really well at one team, then gets transferred for a ridiculous fee to another team. 100 million euro goes to another team. And what’s different, I feel like I have to deliver every week because they’ve paid 100 million euro for me. But the pressure is no different to what it was six weeks ago. But internally you perceive that pressure to be different. So it’s interesting that it’s not your first book anymore and this one has to do better and it’s based on the viral blog post, so the internal pressure must be quite huge on that.


Yeah. Oh God, I just had this awful realisation, Andi.


Oh no, what have I done?


Oh, no. More people will have read my blog posts than will read this book.


So far that is 100% true because the book’s not out yet. But give us.


No, but I think it’s almost certain there’s no way I’m going to sell 5 million copies of this book.


There’s a yes, but to this, though. Yes, but. So maybe you’re not going to sell 5 million copies, but 5 million people read the blog and didn’t pay. So if you sell 50,000 copies of the book with people paying, I don’t know what the price is. In the US, it was like so.


Expensive, $28, which I think comes out to four pounds. I don’t know how.


I think it was about 1516 pounds, something like that. But 50,000 people handing money over for something is probably better than 5 million people not handing any money over for something.


Yeah, that’s true.


No, you’re right. You may be right. And you never know. There is a chance.


No, you’re right. That’s really true. That’s really true. That’s really true. People will do anything for free.




Yeah. To get someone to pay money for something is kind of an incredible thing. And the fact that people are, and this is interesting too, is I want people to read this book. So I want people to read my work, I want people to read this book so badly and at the same time I feel guilty when people buy. I’m like, oh, no, what if you’re disappointed? What if it’s good?


Let’s talk about disappointment for a moment as well. Not necessarily disappointed at the book because genuinely, I can’t wait to read it. But you talked a little bit, maybe a topic in the book as well, and you talked about having to deal with criticism on the Internet when people are disappointed with what you’ve written or disappointed with your take on something or anything like that, and you seem to get a fair amount of criticism from a certain type of male person on the Internet, and that must be quite. I’ve had some stick from some people at some points, but generally speaking, most people who interact with me online are fairly pleasant. That’s not necessarily the case for you all the time, is it?


No, it’s fascinating. Most recently, and this is truly a mind boggling situation. So I’m on threads. Are you on threads?


I am on threads.


You’re hilarious. You are. You’re hilarious on threads.


I mean, I am literally talking to half a dozen people on threads. But if you’re not on threads, which is Twitter, but better. Come on over.


Come on over. Also, follow Andi on threads because it’s this unfiltered kind of. Oh, my gosh, just the light stream.


Of consciousness because there’s so few people reading it. I’m just unfiltered the whole time.


You’re so sardonic. It’s so great. Andi on threads is kind of my favourite. So. So I’m on threads and I posted something. So, Andi, we mentioned we were talking about this kind of before we started recording, so my aunt just passed away and she and I were super close. It feels strange to call her my aunt because I feel like that doesn’t quite encompass what this woman was to me. And someone crashed her funeral. And when I say crashed, I mean this was an intimate affair at a far out funeral home, like on the fringes of town. And we’re all packed in there and everyone’s crying. It’s a super emotional time. And this woman walks in in this pink mini dress and giant white hat, and literally none of us know who she is. And when we start asking, she is unable to come up with a clear story of how she knows my aunt. And then she’s proceeding to, we later realise, she is cornering people and asking them questions about who people are and how they know my aunt. And then she is using that as her story.


Inspector calls effectively, she’s the JB Priestley book. Where?


Oh, I don’t know.


Anyway, sorry. She’s finding snippets of information from people.


Yeah, basically Doris. She talks to Doris outside. She’s like, how do you know my aunt? Basically? And Doris tells her, and then Doris walks in and then this woman walks in after and my cousin sees her and sort of stops her and is like, how do you know my mum? And she goes, oh, I know her. Through. I don’t. I don’t know that woman. So it was very crafted. And then she proceeds to raid the food table and just acting, like, taking photos with my grieving family. It is weird. It is weird. And we don’t throw her out, but it is a bizarre situation. And my mum is, like, writing down her licence plate number. We’re not sure what to do because you’re in a state where you’re already emotionally heightened and you don’t know what to do. You don’t want to make a scene. And I snap a couple of photos because I’m a little worried that this woman is. She’s doing certain things, like asking about my uncle in certain ways, that I’m like, is she going to do something strange or try to do some sort of identity theft? I don’t know.


But I posted on threads that this woman crashed my aunt’s funeral. And I posted a picture of her, which I didn’t feel too bad doing because she’s wearing giant sunglasses and a huge hat, and she actually is in essentially a disguise.


Yeah. And it’s not an outfit for a funeral, is it, that she’s wearing?


It’s not. You can go to threads and see it and I’m probably going to write about it further. And people piled on and they were like, how dare you? How do you know this woman was crashing? How do you know she wasn’t your aunt’s friend? And I thought I was taking crazy pills. One woman was like, you’re an unreliable narrator. I don’t believe you.


I’m sorry.


No, it’s bonkers. It’s bonkers. And so this is what the Internet is, this bonkers place where people are telling you that the woman who crashed your aunt’s funeral stole a bunch of food and he’s grabbing your crying cousins and making them take pictures and then did some other stuff that I can’t even talk about because it was so weird. Was a welcome guest. At some point, you have to realise that people are. Can I cuss?


Yeah, absolutely.


People are assholes. That’s the lesson. And you just have to be so sure of this and so convinced of it. That’s the only advice I can give in dealing with this, is that some people are assholes and they’re wrong about you, about things.


I feel like we’ve come full circle. We’ve come back to where we started.


We have.


I found the picture of the woman. I’d seen it when you posted it and I read the post and it didn’t feel like one I should reply to, because I was like, I don’t quite know what to say to the post. I didn’t really want to share it because I didn’t want to share it as kind of like, entertainment value. So I just read it and kind of looked at it and then moved on. But I remember looking at the picture of the woman thinking, if I was going to crash a funeral, I wouldn’t dress like I was kind of flying somewhere. She looks like she’s dressed to fly to Puerto Rico or something like that.


She’s in a pink mini dress. Yeah.


And she’s got a cardigan or some sort of jacket on, but, like, easy take off, fold up, put around you. It’s just so bizarre. But the fact that you’re the one in the wrong there to so many people on the Internet is just a very strange place to be. Yeah, because sometimes people are wrong online, but factually wrong.


I never have been, but no, some.


People are, but others aren’t. So you get quite a lot of this sort of behaviour from people. Do you then just start not bothering you? Still read it and you still engage it, but do you just sort of let it bounce off you now? Because do you treat it as not real, but it must still have an effect on you when you put something out there and people just want to take you down for it?


It always surprises me what people? Because some things people don’t respond to, it always surprises me because you’ll see somebody post something and people will pile on, and then somebody will post something that you expect people to pile on to, and they won’t. So it always surprises me. I am not a thick skinned person by nature, and yet I think just by so many years of this, it’s been so many years. And the thing that I realised early on is I started travel writing in 2009 and I got death threats in 2009. For travel writing, I posted a picture of me and my husband in front of a waterfall, or, like, one of us eating a cupcake and writing about a cupcake shop. And it was just pure, like, vitriol. And at that point I realised it is clearly not me. It is clearly not about me and is not about what I am doing. So if they are going to hate you, and if they are going to be this toxic, no matter what, I might as well write what I want to write about, because I can’t stop. Yeah.


I had Seth Gordon on the podcast a couple of weeks ago now, and I asked him. He’s been writing a lot for a number of years, even longer than you believe it or not. And I said to him, look, if you look at scientists and physicists, they love kind of 20 years later, going back and debunking things that they wrote back then, because they learn more and things have changed. I said, what’s your view on that? And he sort of pondered for a second, and one of the things that he said, he was such an advocate of what the Internet could bring and the goodness of connecting people that he didn’t see that giving everyone access to almost everything might lead to the assholes on the Internet just coming at authors for daring to write about cupcakes or posting pictures of people who’ve turned up at an emotional family moment when they’re not invited. He didn’t see that potential downside for those connexions. And I don’t know that anybody did, though, in the early days of the Internet, did they? It was just people have, as we often do, taken many things that were good and made them shit.


No, that’s completely true. It was this beautiful place. I think you’re younger than me. Can we. How old?


I’m 44, so I think that makes.


Oh, my God. Okay, so we’re exactly the same age. I turned 44 this year. What’s that?


God bless you. Thank you for that.


It’s because you get no sun in the UK. I mean, we don’t get sun here either. No one ages. But I remember I was taking a trip with my mum in 2004. I was blogging in 2000. I had an early iteration of my blog, and I was so stressed out because our plane tickets, you couldn’t get digital tickets in 2004 if you were travelling internationally, it did not happen and you could not pick them up. If you were travelling internationally, they would not give you tickets at the airport, so you had to get them delivered via ups. And if your tickets didn’t arrive, you could not get on your flight. And so I was waiting for my plane tickets to arrive in the mail and they hadn’t arrived. And it was the day before my flight, and they finally arrived the afternoon before the morning that we were to leave. And if you think about that, that is such an inefficient way to do anything. And the Internet has fixed that. I can book a flight from sitting where I am now. I can book a flight. I can buy clothing, I can pay my bills.


I can talk to people across the world. What we can do is so incredible, and people use it to hate one another. And I think that that is such a horrible, horrible sign of what humanity is that whatever we do, whatever we create, whatever it is, we’re like, how can we use this to be assholes?


Yeah, absolutely. And I think there is some thoughts that there’s a bit of a. Is dissonance the right word? People will say things because they’re saying it into their handset and you’re not necessarily there in front of them that they just wouldn’t say to you if you stood in front of them. Therefore, it’s easy to have a go at Geraldine because I’m just bashing buttons into my phone when I’m doing something else. Whereas if Geraldine was in the room and I disagreed with you, I might ask you a question and say, geraldine, I quite disagree with this take, and here’s my nuanced point about why I disagree with you. And we’d have a discussion, but online, it’s just amplify the hatred. Yeah. So maybe VR headsets are the way to get around this. So once everybody’s maybe had VR tattooed on their eyeballs or something, we could then bring you back into the room so that you are in front of everybody who sends you a nasty thread. You can then just pop up in front of them and go, can we have this discussion properly?


I would hope it would make a difference. But for some of them, they’ve done tests. So a lot of people who are online trolls, meet the dark triad, psychological metric, which has to do with. They are, and I’m not going to remember this properly, but essentially they have psychopathic. Is that correct? Sociopathic tendencies and sadistic tendencies. So essentially, they cause you pain. They enjoy causing you pain, and they do not feel bad about it.




So that is what a lot of them do. Now, whether or not they have. I do think you are correct, though. There is dissonance. And I have had this experience. I have know my husband has a lot of trolls. Rand has a lot of trolls, too. And I was at a conference where there was this man who was horrific to him online. And I met him in person and I kind of looked at him and I’m like, oh, I know you. I’ve seen what you’ve said to rand online. And this man, tail between his legs, turned into a cowardly. I mean, this man was huge. I’m five two. He turned into a cowardly child. Like, he was so embarrassed by how he had behaved. And I thought, not that I respected you before, but at least, my God, at least be consistent.


Yeah. Look, I clearly don’t like your husband. He’s a bit of an asshole. Maybe I could ease it back a little bit online, but he’s a bit of a dick.


Sometimes. But hey, at least you’ve stood up for your opinion.


You must agree sometimes, Geraldine, come on. You must agree sometimes that he’s an asshole.


Can I tell you something, Andi?


You’re going to make me feel sick, aren’t you?


Yeah. He’s so good all the time. Oh my God, he’s so good all the time. I don’t even know what to do. He’s never been an asshole. He can be somewhat. There are times when I’m like, you are being slightly trying. You are being a little high maintenance. You are in a bad mood. It is few and far between, but asshole. I don’t think I have ever called Rand Fishkin an asshole. Me, however, there are days. There are days where he’s like, he’ll put his hand up, like above his head and he’s like, you’re here. And then he’ll lower his hand and he’s like, and I need you about here. And I’m like, okay, that’s fair.


Oh, my goodness. Well, I was hoping for some scandal there about ranch. Obviously not. Well, we’ll move on.


Do you want scandal? I can give you. So he. When he puts his clothes in. I don’t know how you call it. In the UK, we call it the clothing hamper. When you put your dirty clothes. Okay, the wash basket. When he puts his clothes in the wash basket, he scrunches up his socks.


I mean, that is scandalous.


It’s very annoying.


Worse than being an online troll.


It’s very.


I don’t know. I don’t know how you haven’t murdered him and buried him in the back garden yet. Geraldine, I really don’t. I can see now why the subtitle of your blog is an award winning cry for help. This is your cry for help, isn’t it? We’ll send the FBI round.


Thank you. This is what I have to live with.


Well, never mind your husband anyway. Forget about him for the minute. Forget about him. And he’s very strange habits. That’s okay. It feels strange to ask you as this podcast is coming out in and around the date that your book launches.


Oh, God.


But do you kind of already have an idea of where you’re going next? Obviously, you’ve got to promote the hell out of this book for the next six months, but during that process, have you thought and thought? I think I know where my next idea is.


Do have. So Rand and I are working on this video game, so I don’t know if you know about this.


I know there’s a video game in production. I don’t know much about it. Is it kind of public yet?


Yeah. So, if you go there, you can read about it. So he suckered me into being the lead writer for this. Okay. I would say that that is the next big thing. And I would say, and I know this sounds awful, I’m a little bit book burned out, I think, right now, so I don’t want to. It’s so bad to say that when you have your dream job. Like, all I wanted when I was a kid was to write books. And I’m like, I don’t want to write books right now, so. What a privileged wine. What a privileged thing to complain about.


Hashtag first world problems.


Oh, my gosh. Beyond first world problems, like all your dreams come true problems. I would love to write some fiction. I would love to. It’s my dream. Hopefully, the next fiction book I come up with won’t slowly start coming true. Or maybe I can write it and have it be an upbeat novel and it will come true. But, yeah, that is what I would love, that. I would love to write some fiction also. Like, my secret dream that I never talk about is I would love to write for TV. I think that would be really. Oh, yeah.


A friend of mine, his brother is. I haven’t got any of his books on the shelf. I’m reading one of his books downstairs. A couple of his books, fiction writer, have just been picked up by, I think, one for TV, like a TV series type of production, maybe like a Netflix thing. And another has been picked up by a movie studio for converting into movies. I think, like everybody, I’d really love to write a book one day. I’ve got two that I started and never finished because they were terrible and they were both kind of businessy books. But I think that bit of translating fiction into moving pictures, I can’t compute how you go about doing that. So. Is that what you’re talking about? Are you talking about just writing something specifically for the TV?


Yes, I think so. And I don’t know how it’s done. My brother does it. My brother’s a screenwriter. I don’t know how it’s done. But I want to go back to what you said about the two books you wrote that you thought were not good.


They were awful.


Were they? Or do you think they were?


Well, they’re not even finished, because I kept going back to the first one, particularly, and just rewriting it, adding another bit, adding another bit, and then editing it. And I was like, maybe if I just finish it, then I can edit the whole thing. But I was just got. So you start to reread it and you’re like, I don’t even know who this is for. It’s a marketing book. And the first thing you’d look into for a marketing book, who’s it for? And I’m reading it going, it’s now for everyone. Which if anyone tells me that in marketing, I’m like, get out. Get out. You don’t do marketing for everybody. And it was just this generic nonsense. Nonsense. So I’ve been to that one. It’s still on my hard drive.


I think that there are so many projects that we think are terrible that we start on that are actually not terrible, but we get so in our heads and we start to tear them apart. And at that point, we need to figure out what is the motivating factor is a deadline the motivating factor? Could another person be the motivating factor? We need some sort of motivation that is not ourselves, because we will just tinker with that document till the end of time. But I will say that I do not think that we are good arbiters of what is good and what is bad. I don’t think that is a fair assessment.


You’re probably right.


Oh, no, I’m absolutely right. You’re definitely right. Yes, I’m absolutely right. Trust me on this one. Because I’ve written things and I’m like, that’s okay. And people are like, that’s incredible. Or I’ll write something. I’m like, this is phenomenal. And it’s like, it doesn’t do that well.


I saw a screenwriter. He was on a live podcast the other week. He was one of the co writers of a TV show called Blue Lines. I think it’s a BBC, like, british cop show. And what he said was he referenced another writer whose name I’ve completely forgot, but it was about creative destruction. And he said, make the first things you write and then just take them and put them in the bit. Write something and never show it to anyone. Once you finish writing it, edit it, make it perfect, and then just throw it away, put it in the trash. And he said, the reason to do that is that you start to get used to creating things and then finishing them and going through the process, and you learn something there that will help you with your next one and with your next one. Not necessarily a whole book. But he said, write a poem and say, right, let’s do that. And then from writing a poem, write something more, write something else. And just every time you finish it, don’t worry about showing it to anyone, because the worry of showing it to someone stops you from doing the thing.


And he said, you’ll get so comfortable with writing that by the time you go, aha, this is my work of genius. And then you’ll be happy to show it to everyone. So I’m kind of thinking maybe I’m kind of halfway through that.


So I have to say that blogging helped me with this because I produced so much stuff that I just had to get used to. It might not be great, and I just have to put it out there. I have to put it out in the world and see, and maybe some people will read it and maybe some people won’t, but it’s there. I think blogging was that for me.


Well, I’m too late to start a blog, which is why I started a podcast, because I couldn’t write frequently. So here we are. That’s why I’m podcasting. Brilliant. Well, listen, Geraldine, I have commandeered far too much of your time already.


This is lovely.


It’s been amazing to talk, to find out what it’s like being an author. An author writing about some of the strange things that happen in the culinary world. And I genuinely can’t wait for my copy to arrive through the post in the next week or so. Well, by the time anyone hears this, it’ll already be here. So I’m really looking forward to it.


Oh my gosh, thank you so much for having me. And thank you for talking to me about books and online trolls and creativity and everything that we touched on.


Brilliant. The pleasure is all mine. All mine. Thank you.