When choosing the subject of her latest book, local author Kathy Johncox picked food.



She didn’t plan it that way, mind you. Rather, it came as a sort of epiphany when the Rochester resident started compiling a collection of short stories she’d written over the years.



Johncox would meet with a fellow writer to do writing exercises that involved picking a topic to write about.



“I found myself writing about eggplant, scrambled eggs and dark chocolate, she said.

When choosing the subject of her latest book, local author Kathy Johncox picked food.
She didn’t plan it that way, mind you. Rather, it came as a sort of epiphany when the Rochester resident started compiling a collection of short stories she’d written over the years.

Johncox would meet with a fellow writer to do writing exercises that involved picking a topic to write about.

“I found myself writing about eggplant, scrambled eggs and dark chocolate, she said.

Over time, she expanded these tidbits into 16 fictional short stories in which the food may be the subject but represents something different, such as jealousy, lack of commitment or loss of innocence.

Johncox decided to self-publish the collection of stories told in her book, “The Last Generation of Women Who Cook.”

Here, she explains more about the writing process and how food unites readers and storytellers of all backgrounds and stages in life.

Where did the book’s title come from?

I've had coworkers throughout the years, including women who say, “I don't cook or want to cook.” There’s a number of us who might be in the last generation of women who cook, and I thought, Oh boy! I think that for women with children growing up, it does resonate with them.

Why did you pick food?

I'm not a foodie (and I looked up the definition of foodie to be sure) ... It more and more occurred to me that food isn't just about sustenance — it’s not all about eating it.

Everybody has a story about food. When I go out to a book club or a reading, someone will always come up to me and say, "My grandmother had this recipe," or "My niece made this cake," or "I burned this dish,” it relates to a situation they're in.

People can use food in different ways. You can use it to be passive aggressive, to bribe, or show love. There are ways that food is more of a metaphor for things in our lives than a thing we actually need to survive.

Do you have a favorite story in the book?

I like the Dark Chocolate story. It's about a young girl turning 16 who wants a summer of adventure. She has not gone after the bad boy, so that's what she decides to do.

It took you 10 years to finish this book. What was the most fun part about the process?

The funnest part about writing it was writing the story, putting it away for a while and then reading it like it was new and being pleased with it. That was fun because if you read it again and it's not speaking to you, it's not fun. The most fun part about publishing it was talking to people about it.

How would you encourage fellow writers to follow through on writing a book?

I think a lot of people have a story in them, "The Great American novel." And I think the message I would like to give us is it's hard work but you don't have to be afraid to do it. Because you do have support (writer’s groups, Writers and Books, etc.) there are a lot of resources for that. I think you shouldn't be afraid to do it, but if you do it, you've got to do it with class. You want it to be as good as you can get.

What else are you working on now?

I’m finishing my “chick lit” novel and am also working on a serious domestic drama that involves baseball and religion. I'm getting requests to write more food stories, so now when I'm looking at dinner I'm thinking, How can this be a food story? I've done some book clubs, and a lot of people tell me these stories resonate with them.