Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

The Next Big Thing

May 23, 2013

Apple harvest
I first met Wendy Hinman at the Seattle7 Novel Live! Event, where a number of us wrote a group novel, The Hotel Angeline, as a fundraiser for literacy. I each got up and flailed away at an unfamiliar computer on a stage with a camera pointed at us. The result is still pulling in royalties to promote literacy.

Wendy is introducing me to the idea of a Blog Hop, which I gather is like bar hopping, but with less beer. Wendy Hinman (LINK: http://wendyhinman.com) is the author of Tightwads on the Loose (LINK: http://wendyhinman.com/tightwads-on-the-loose/) about the seven year adventure she took with her husband aboard a 31-foot boat. I am grateful to Wendy for including me. Below are the answers to a series of questions about my next book. I am supposed to introduce you to five more writers but, alas, I am so late to the game that every other writer on social media has already promoted themselves through this chain. Enjoy!

10 questions:

What is the (working) title of your book?
The Clueless Eater

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I interviewed two couples I knew who left other jobs or businesses to run small farms in the area. The essay that resulted was immediately picked up for a local anthology. People, it turned out, are genuinely interested in where their food comes from, and who grows it. Many others are committed to growing sustainable food at a local level, and are willing to lay their livelihoods on the line for it.

I thought I knew a reasonable amount about the food I consume, but have learned far more about sustainability, health and the economics of local food in the last three years than I had previously known. The ways in which we treat our land, water, trees, shorelines and farmers directly affect the food we are able to grow and eat. All of these systems are connected. We do not need to be helpless bystanders, and I want to be part of this conversation.

What genre does your book fall under?

Creative Non-fiction

Which actors would you choose to play you in a movie rendition?

Here’s my chance to choose someone young and beautiful: Salma Hayek. Everyone else will have to play themselves.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Can people on an island live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle on food grown solely on the island?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am talking to an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Three years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan; Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods, by Gary Paul Nabhan; American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michele Obama.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The land, waters, and people of Bainbridge Island. And my doctor, who called me one day and told me my cholesterol was 300.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The traditional roots of the Japanese, Native American, Filipino, Mexican and Croatian communities here provide a basis for how and what we eat today, as well as a portrait of resiliency that offers a healthy vision of the future for all of us. As an island, Bainbridge provides an easy to understand microcosm of worldwide food issues, from apples to zooplankton.
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Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
Fiction
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
Booklist
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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