Interview: Steff Deschenes

Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now eleven-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at her website.

Enjoy this interview.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

When I was a sophomore in high school I wrote a research paper on the strike zone in major league baseball and, as a result, one of the newspapers in Maine hired me on to be a sports clerk (which is basically an on-desk reporter). That’s when I think I first realized that not only did I excel at it, but I truly loved writing nonfiction. Throughout high school and college I wrote personal essays and research papers (which I thrived off of!). I think this surprises most people since I’m such a storyteller; but, the best stories to me are directly inspired by real life.

Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

The Ice Cream Theory is a charming, tongue-in-cheek exploration of the parallels between human personalities and ice cream flavors. Utilizing humor and satire, it brings together anecdotes from my own adventures with broader-reaching social commentary to help others recognize the wisdom and joy inherent in a beloved dessert. In the same way people have ice-cream preferences, people also have people preferences. Like ice cream flavors, social preferences shift based on age, experience, even mood. There are exotic flavors that one craves when feeling daring, comforting flavors to fall back on, flavors long-enjoyed that eventually wear out their welcome, and those unique flavors that require an acquired taste. Like people, no ice cream flavor is perfect every single time, and it’s in this realization that the crux of the theory lies.

Ideally, I hope that my readers not only find it relatable, but also are able to take something away from it that will inspire or encourage them. I think most self-help books force some very opinionated central theme down the reader’s throat, which, in my opinion, makes it counterproductive. The Ice Cream Theory, I think, does an exceptional job at letting the reader interpret, digest, and gleam what they specifically need to from it.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

I recently started writing my next nonfiction book about my adventures as an alcohol spokesmodel, and it would be just incredible to have it done by next summer. Other goals include possibly taking my current foodie blog and making some sort of sassy, smart, vegetarian cook book with it. I really enjoy editing and proofreading other people’s work as well, so that might be an interesting direction to take my writing life in.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

There’s been quite a few, including: Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin; The Driver by Alexander Roy; and, The Shack by William P. Young.

Favorite authors?

William Goldman, Tamora Pierce, Suzanne Collins, Janet Evanovich, Graeme Base . . .

Book you’re currently reading?

I like to juggle two books at the same time: one fiction and one nonfiction. My current nonfiction read is Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman. I’m in between fiction books right now, but my queue includes Play Dead by Ryan Brown and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I just write when the mood hits. Although, I usually am my most productive in pajama pants!

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m totally a believer! I get past it by reading. It’s a glorious thing to be inspired by other writers.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

I see writing as a form of art. I once had a friend who was a musician and he told me that when I stopped writing to write and started writing to make money, then I should do everyone a favor and just quit. So to me, being a successful writer means that I’m creating something beautiful and unique using words as my medium just because. Because it, like breathing or blinking, is an involuntary action I physically need to do in order to be me.

Advice for other writers?

Keep writing. And reading! Like I mentioned earlier, allow yourself the time to be lost in someone else’s words for a while. It will keep your own literary voice fresh.

Where can we learn more about you?

If you really wanna get to know me intimately, check out my website. I post pictures of myself eating dinner every single night (it’s another social-experiment I’ve been working on)! I can also be reached via email (steff@steffdeschenes.com), Facebook, and Twitter. The Ice Cream Theory also has its own Facebook Fan Page!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for this opportunity! I’ve been really blessed through this whole process. It’s been an incredible learning experience as well as a confidence booster that I’m most certainly on the right path.

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