Victoria Heywood, author of Good Cook Bad Cook: 20 Rules For the Kitchen – 80 Essential Recipes, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |September 13, 2012

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Victoria Heywood

author of Good Cook Bad Cook 20 Rules For the Kitchen – 80 Essential Recipes and Possum Pie, Beetroot Beer and Lamingtons and Celebrate with Food and Wine

Ten Terrifying Questions

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in deepest, greyest, suburban Melbourne, I was lucky enough not to follow most of my primary schoolmates on to the local high school, where the pregnancy rate was reputedly higher than the VCE pass rate. Instead, I went to Fintona – a tiny, independent girls’ school where we were encouraged to think that girls could do anything. So we often did.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I wanted to be James Herriot.

At eighteen, I still did.

By twenty-two, long after I’d been kicked out of Veterinary Science, I finally realised that I wanted to be James Herriot (the writer of All Creatures Great and Small) and not James Herriot the vet who spent his days with hands up a cow’s bum.

By thirty, I was a full-time writer.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That somehow, I’d be perfectly happy spending the rest of my life preg testing cows. I also thought that The Women’s Weekly Cookery Book was the worst, most insulting, graduation prize ever. (I should mention that the boy dux got a set of encyclopaedias). Instead, that same despised prize taught me to cook and inspired a whole passion. And career.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

1. Growing up without a TV or dishwasher – “just finishing a chapter” was about the only acceptable excuse in my family for not helping with the washing up.

2. Having a family friend who was an author and also worked in children’s publishing. Having him visit was like having Willy Wonka pop in, laden with goodies – kiddie crack for a girl without a TV. I also got to go to many events at Dromkeen National Centre –formerly known as the Dromkeen Children’s Literature Collection. I met real published authors, and realised that it could be a real way to make a living.

3. Living in Russia in the 90s, during some very interesting times. This not only got me my very first paid journalism gig, but forced me to learn how to cook edible meals from elderly cabbage.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

Although all my books to date have only been released in traditional form, I suspect it’s only a matter of time. As a committed e-booker and digital reader myself, I can only applaud the advance of technology. Words are words, no matter how they’re consumed.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

80 classic recipes, where they came from, and how not to screw them up. I’ve tortured a few grannies and experts for their secrets, so you’ll know how to cook the basics to perfection, from sponge to stir fry to perfect roast lamb. I’ve also included 20 essential kitchen rules to keep you out of trouble.

(BBGuru:publisher’s blurb –

You don’t need to be a three-hat chef to know that even the best ingredients can be ruined when prepared badly. A desire to experiment is all very well, but how do you ensure your bright ideas translate into gourmet success? Luckily, enthusiastic home cook and food journalist Victoria Heywood is on hand to ensure your endeavours don’t result in a culinary disaster.

In her friendly conversational style, Victoria talks readers through the history and cultural significance of a range of ingredients and popular dishes—from bread to burgers, pesto to pies—before sharing recipe ideas and inspiring serving suggestions. Each double-page spread focuses on one recipe and comes bursting with helpful hints and advice to ensure you stay well clear of any culinary faux pas.

An informative resource for the confident cook and an excellent handbook for the novice looking to expand their repertoire and pick up some helpful hints along the way, Good Cook Bad Cook is more than just a recipe book and will delight readers with its informal yet informative tone.)

Click here to buy Good Cook Bad Cook from Booktopia,
Australia’s Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Right now, I’m obsessed with the way Australians cook and eat – I’m tired of gastroporn, totally over competitive cooking, and want people to appreciate that knowing how to cook the basics well is more important than being able to assemble a croquembouche.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Nigel Slater. Stephanie Alexander. Jamie Oliver. All of them have changed the way people engage with food in my lifetime. And not a croquembouche in sight!

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Ummm. To sit down at my desk tomorrow, despite the lure of the local coffee shop? Sometimes the toughest challenges disguise themselves in everyday clothing.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read, experience and then write. And don’t fill up your time on the reading and experience bits. Get your bum on that chair and actually write something. And don’t be precious about it.

Victoria, thank you for playing.

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About the Contributor

John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.

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