5 minutes with: Student Cookbook writer Sam Stern

Posted by: on Sep 19, 2012 | No Comments

We chatted to the lovely and talented Sam Stern about how he managed to become a published and very successful writer whilst still being an undergraduate!

Tell us a bit about yourself… I’m a 22 yr old published cookery writer, passionate cook, greedy person, and university student. I love to eat, travel, listen to music, hang out with friends and cook for them. I also love to eat out in restaurants.  I was born in Yorkshire and that’s still where home is but I love studying up in Edinburgh and working down in London.

When did you first get into writing? I started with the first cookbook when I was 14 but I’d been doodling recipe down prior to that. I got my first food-writing gig in a paper when I was 15.

How did you become a published writer? How do you balance it with student life? It was a bit of luck really. I came up with a good idea (a cookbook for teens written by one of their own), gave it to an agent my mum knew and it all went from there. In terms of writing while still being a student – well, I cook all the time so you could say I’m doing the groundwork for the books all the time. But the holidays tend to be when I do most of my work. I was working on Virgin to Veteran every waking hour of the summer of 2011 – that’s writing and photo-shoots. I can do press interviews on the phone or email so that’s easy.  It’s not just the writing – it’s the publicity, which can take up a huge amount of time.

What do you study at University? I study Politics and Sociology (but prefer Politics!)

What inspired you to write your first cookbook? ‘Cooking Up A Storm – the teenage survival cookbook’ was inspired by rivalry with my older brother (who loves to cook too) but was really a mission to persuade people of my generation that it is a great thing to learn how to cook. I think cooking means you can be independent; you can look after yourself and your health. It’s a great social thing and once you’ve tasted the real thing you won’t want to live on junk food – though the odd take- away is very nice. That first book translated into 14 languages. ‘Real Food Real Fast’ came next (food to prep in 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes). ‘Get Cooking’ was recipes inspired by my mates. ‘Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook’ is a comprehensive collection of recipes for students to use for all occasions and budgets with a load of survival tips. ‘Eat Vegetarian’ was inspired by my 2 veggie sisters and 1 vegan sister. And ‘Virgin to Veteran – How to Get Cooking with Confidence’ is more of a cookery master class with loads of really tasty recipes to practice on and to start your cooking repertoire.

What advice can you give to other young people wanting to become published writers? Come up with an individual idea that you’re passionate about, work on it, plan it. Ask friends and family for opinions but be your own person. Don’t fit yourself into a category. Find your individual voice and stick with it. Check out literary agents on the net. Find one who publishes material or people you like. Send your stuff to them. Don’t give up if they say no.  It took me a year and loads of rejections. You can always start by blogging. Or go straight to digital and self-publish. The rules are changing so you’ve more chances now.

Check out his stuff…http://www.virgintoveteran.com/