In my role as a writer, I have found opportunities to make unique connections with people from all over the world. This is a gift that connectivity through the internet has given us in the 21st century, which I have leaned into, both in my personal and professional life.
Over the years, I have shared many of my conversations with other writers in my author interview posts. I enjoy this avenue of learning about and from others. I also enjoy the creative process of asking questions and turning my conversations into a post to share with hope to inspire others as well.
I recently had an opportunity to share a conversation with Maya Wilson, author of the newly released book Alaska From Scratch. Maya is a mom of three, blogger and food columnist living on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. I first came across Maya’s blog a couple of years ago when I was searching for a recipe for Halibut Tacos, to savor and enjoy some of the last of the halibut steaks that we had in our freezer from one of our most memorable family vacations. (In 2013 we flew to Anchorage and rented a camper and explored the Kenai Peninsula.)
Visiting Alaska was absolutely amazing experience, one that I will never forget. I hope to find an opportunity to find my way to Alaska again, maybe going back to the Kenai Peninsula, or maybe exploring a different area of the vast state. In the meantime, I have enjoyed seeing pockets of the Alaskan landscape shared by following Maya’s Instagram feed and most recently in her book Alaska From Scratch.
On the recipes you feature on your blog you share a little bit about your surroundings (ex. Temperature, what you are listening to). Tell me about your surroundings and perspective, today on this day of our conversation.
Today we are expecting snow, it is about 22 degrees. The sun is shining.
Typically, I'm homeschooling my 7th-grade son this time of day while my oldest and youngest are at public school, but this week is different because it’s spring break and they’re all on vacation.
Later on, I will be going to the grocery store in preparation for some recipe testing.
Your photographs and narratives a dimension to your book that makes it much more than a cookbook. When I first received it, I was drawn in by the feelings of comfort and warmth evoked on the front cover image, as well as the striking, scenic pictures of Alaska and that of the food and beverages you feature throughout the book. Tell us a little bit about your career as a writer and photographer as developed and grown
I started my blog 2011 after my family made a big move from California to Alaska. We sold almost everything we had and started our new life, from scratch, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. My blog has been an outlet for me to share snippets of beautiful Alaska with my friends and loved ones who were outside of the state and also to share, given my perspective living in a more remote community my journey cooking from scratch. I have always loved writing and being in the kitchen and my blog has been a creative outlet to merge those two passions.
From there it grew. My blog became more popular and as the blog grew I grew as a writer and photographer. I got more practice the more I wrote and my writing developed a rhythm. I learned from my readers, their comments and I have grown in courage and confidence finding my own voice and it has become who I am.
I was invited to write a food column for the Anchorage Daily News, which has given me experience writing for a different audience.
Writing a cookbook has been a unique experience as well. I like to think of my book as part cookbook, part memoir and part love letter to Alaska.
Why Alaska? Summarize for my readers about your journey and how you found yourself where you are today.
When I was living in California the pace of life was not healthy for our family. It was too intense. There seemed to be such a focus on workaholism and outer appearance. I had reached a point of burnout and our family made an intentional change gravitating toward a slower, more intentional pace of life where we could live from a quieter, more simplified and centered place.
In your book, you talk about how, growing up in poverty, you learned at an early age how to cook out of necessity, in your words, “to make something out of nothing (or very little).” Describe to my readers how this helped prepare for life as a food blogger and columnist in Alaska.
We moved up to Alaska in the wintertime, so it was if I was plunged into a frozen wasteland. Access to grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops are not as conveniently located here and fresh produce can be very expensive. I learned quickly that if I didn't have something I have to make it myself. My childhood was marked by food insecurity, when I was younger I learned how to make something out of very little. In Alaska, when faced with different, but similar challenges related to access to food, I realized that I could do it, because I had done it before, but this experience was framed around a much more positive experience.
What advice would you give to others, like me and many of my readers, who are inspired share themselves with the world through their writing, photography and other creative outlets.
With my blog I have developed the confidence through practice to lean in with purpose and resolve, finding my own style and voice. To do this you need to take some creative risks. At first, I wanted to please everyone, but I learned that this was not possible. This was evident with some of the comments on my blog. Over time I learned how to weed out feedback that was constructive and valuable vs. what I needed to leave behind.
It is important to find your own voice, don’t try to emulate anyone else, whether that would be bloggers or photographers. Find your own style and voice. When you share what is unique about you, that is what will make you successful. Readers will come because it is something they have not seen or heard before because it is you.
Remember to be confident with who you are and what you are putting out there.
What’s next for you?
I don’t fully know the answer yet. I have an upcoming book signing tour and some food demos scheduled.
Recently I’ have been working on some projects with Alaska Seafood Marketing.
Now that the book is on the shelves, I will see what other opportunities present themselves. I think it is likely I have another book in me.
Photo credits: Maya Wilson
Thank you, Maya, for this inspirational conversation. I wish you the best in the success of your book!
Now for more fun! I am happy to share that I have the opportunity to offer Kids and Eggs reader a chance to win a copy of Maya's book!
To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post.
If your comment is selected by the random number generator, you'll win! Giveaway ends 3/30/18 7:00 a.m. CST.
terms of the giveaway: no purchase necessary - entrants must be U.S. residents