RS: You recently completed the Dad Magazine book along with Matt Lubchansky and now you're already at work on another book. Can you tell us a little about your new project?
JS: It's a historic cookbook, so totally different than Dad Magazine. Essentially it'll look at lost, influential and beloved restaurants across America, featuring short histories of them and their recipes. I'm hoping I can also track some trends in restaurants, and use that as a lens through which to talk about the changes in America's dining culture in the 20th century. But you can also ignore that and just make some weird recipes from the past.
In addition to WRITING BOOKS, you're also quite prolific as a freelance writer, as well as with regular stints at places like The Hairpin and The Daily Dot. What's the process been like for you building relationships with different publications? Are you ever too swamped and just have to say 'No'?
Sometimes I feel like it's taken me a long time to get where I am, and then I remember I'm 28 so it can't have been that long, really. But it's been a few years at least, and I've only recently transitioned into full time freelance! The first time I ever wrote for a publication I didn't work for was The Hairpin, where I frantically emailed [then editor] Edith Zimmerman about Qream and she accepted my pitch. From there it felt like my network just naturally expanded--I met people through The Hairpin that went on to do other things, and other writers I already knew got better jobs and kept me in mind. I've become honest friends with a lot of people I've worked with, which is great on many levels, and in general I try to be a nice person who doesn't miss deadlines. I'm not sure if that's what's gotten me where I am, but I hope trying to be a decent person helps.
I'm at the point with the book though that yes, sometimes I have to say no. It's weird to do, but I'm lucky to have some steady gigs and advance checks I can work off of so I don't have to overwork myself and take every job offered.
You're pretty good at karaoke, but what's your worst karaoke performance?
"Pretty good," what is this backhanded bullshit, Sartor? I'm great. But I had to build my way up to the top. When I was in college my friends and I started going to a karaoke night at a local bar every Tuesday, and would routinely stay until 4am and sing ourselves hoarse. One night I decided it would be funny to take the stage (there was an actual stage, with a stripper pole) for "Who Let The Dogs Out" and pretty much forgot that it was a whole song, with lots of fast lyrics, and not just its chorus. Also it's incredibly long. It was a total disaster.
What can people expect from your reading?
It'll be sad and funny and probably pretty good, but if you don't like it you can focus on what I'm sure will be an incredible outfit I pull together.