Diana Henry on how to write a cookbook

cucumber and yogurt soup

If you have ever wondered how a cookbook comes to life, you can get a fascinating glimpse into the creative process as told by Diana Henry to The Telegraph. Henry explains that for her, cookbooks never come out of nowhere, rather they grow out of her life experiences. She adds, "It sounds a bit pretentious to say that books develop organically, but they do. First you get the kernel of an idea, then you start to talk about it to friends and family. Are they interested in the subject? Do they need information on it? You approach the whole thing as if you were making a scrapbook."

Getting the idea is the first in a long series of steps to completion. Henry intensely researches each book, doing a lot of reading and also taking notes during her travels. She notes that when developing a book she continues to focus and refine her approach, saying that frequently the "whole take hasn't been arrived at until about two-thirds of the way through. The book is the journey as well as the destination, which is why I often write the introduction last."

In addition to the research and recipe writing, Henry discusses other elements that go into a successful cookbook, like design, photography, recipe testing, and editing. "The editing process is long and protracted but you do want people to cook your recipes and have them turn out right. It is one of the most important things about a cookbook (if not the most important thing)," she states. 

One of Henry's favorite parts of the process is "the creativity that you share with other people. I'm amazed by how much people care about their work. It really moves me," she notes, adding "A book is never just written. It is made." Read more at The Telegraph, and don't forget to check out EYB's complete Diana Henry recipe index, which includes all of her books, blog, and column at The Sunday Telegraph.

Photo ofCucumber and yogurt soup with walnuts and rose petals from A Change of Appetite  by Diana Henry

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