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Interview: Steff Deschenes, Author of The Ice Cream Theory

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Many of us have a deep love for ice cream, but few as deeply as author Steff Deschenes. Ms. Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru, after a surprisingly failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college. Taking that love a step further, a delightful book titled The Ice Cream Theory, a twelve time award winner, was born. Life is a lot like ice cream, and those around us each similar to a flavor.

As a self-proclaimed foodie, Steff Deschenes began exploring food on a more universal level, resulting in the creation of her photo blog, where she shares, daily, herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state.

In addition to her book, The Ice Cream Theory and her blog, Ms. Deschenes 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 www.steffdeschenes.com. Steff Deschenes can also be found at www.theicecreamtheory.com.

Please tell us a bit about your book: The Ice Cream Theory

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.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Well, the book is nonfiction, so I’ve already met the people I wrote about! However, if I could re-experience any one person from my book The Ice Cream Theory, it would be my grandfather (“Pistachio” in the book). He was one of my best friends. He passed away in 2006, but I would love the opportunity to steal away an afternoon to do nothing more than sit, eat ice cream, and talk about baseball with him.

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?

There’s a series called The Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. I’ve read the series every summer since I was eleven years old. The books follow the adventures of a short, stubborn, freckled girl who decides to become a knight instead of a lady. I always thought (I still do!) that the series was secretly written about me as I look and act identical to the main character Alanna. It would be a dream come true to be able to write a screen adaptation of the series, but it would be even cooler if I could play the Lady Knight as well!

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc that help set your “writing mood”?

I don’t really have any particular habits – when the mood to write hits, I drop everything else I’m doing because I don’t want to miss that window of opportunity. However, when I do actively make time to sit down to write, I’m my most productive in PJ pants with a cup of tea!

What are you reading right now?

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.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

William Goldman really helped me define my literary voice. His works (specifically The Princess Bride and Which Lie Did I Tell?) encouraged me to embrace satire, my erratic thoughts and fragmented sentences, and most importantly, the ability to manipulate a true encounter and create it into something where the truth becomes questionable. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin; The Driver by Alexander Roy, and The Shack by William P. Young, are all great books, too. I also thoroughly enjoy kid’s books, specifically anything by Graeme Base or Maurice Sendak.

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Charles Bukowski. He scares and intimidates me, and for some strange reason, that’s exciting! I think I might immediately follow-up that interview (which no doubt would be held in a brothel with a bottomless bottle of whiskey) with an afternoon coffee with C.S. Lewis to discuss theology.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory:

I don’t have one: I can’t sum up a favorite part of my life’s journey thus far in just one single memory. I think I’m too caught up in living!

Please describe a perfect meal — including menu and those present:

I’m a foodie, so my “perfect meal” tends to frequently change. Right now, at this very moment my favorite meal is a BBQ’d tempeh-arugula-and-tomato sandwich with an avocado spread on one side and Vegenaise on the other with a side of salt and pepper Kettle Chips. For dessert, any of the following would do: blueberry beer bread (which has become a weekend staple in my house) or my mom’s apple crisp (since autumn isn’t that far off – I saw my first red tree already!). My perfect company is easy and unchanging though: my mom, my sister, and my best guy friend. I would take the three of them with any food in any situation for the rest of my dinners if I could.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

I like to play the guitar, although I don’t seem to do that as much as I once did. I’m also a big fan of just spending time with loved ones with nowhere to be and nothing to do – there’s nothing more satisfying to me than existing in an unhurried, unplanned moment with the people I love the most. Throw some food into that situation and – ah! – bliss!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I already live there! I’ve lived in England, Ireland, Spain; I’ve traveled Canada, the Pacific-Northwest, and the South extensively. And no matter where I go, nowhere ever compares to the great state of Maine. We have the most genuine and humble people of anywhere I’ve ever traveled. I love our music and arts scene, I love our diverse geographical and social culture, and I love the seasons in this state. You’ve never seen anything more glorious!

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be?

Janet Evanovich – she never fails to make me laugh.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

My ultimate dream? To make my living as a writer in a farmhouse on the coast of Maine that has a giant garden filled with sunflowers and tomatoes with all my loved ones close by and taken care of. That’s the big picture dream! I am fairly impressed with how life so far has fulfilled other dreams of mine, like wanting more than anything to be a published writer. Not only did that come to fruition, but the book has been received unbelievably well! After winning its eleventh award, I knew I was on the right track to those sunflowers and tomatoes!

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Apple dumplings. There’s this apple orchard in my town that I’m absolutely besides myself with (I love it so much I have the coordinates tattooed on my forearm) – of all the places I’ve lived or traveled, there’s something really perfect-for-me and peaceful about that apple orchard. Anyway, they have these apple dumplings that are gastronomically stunning. No joke – every year I gain ten pounds in the autumn because of my Saturday morning apple dumpling (and tree climbing!) rendezvous.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

That life isn’t perfect, but it’s more than good enough as is. Too many of us are missing out on living life because we’re caught up, even if we don’t realize it, with looking for something more, something else, something better. I’ll never be perfect, you’ll never be perfect, our situations will never be perfect; but, I’m finally self-approved and I recognize just how meaningful and incredibly precious life and the living of it is. Imperfection is beauty!

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