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Georgia's State Flags,
Home of Good Eats
and Myself


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MICHAEL
    So your book's doing well?

ALTON
    Well, you know, it's hard to say, yet.

MICHAEL
    You made number six on the L.A. Times list.

ALTON
    We fell off this week.

MICHAEL
    Did you?

ALTON
    There haven't been a lot of critical reviews, yet. We've got a very nice review coming up in Publisher's Weekly which is important. Supposedly there's going to a feature between now and the beginning of June in Entertainment Weekly. That'll be good. I'm holding to see what the food periodicals do to me: Bon Appétit, Food and Wine. I'm not very popular in the food community because I thumb my nose at a lot of traditional things and don't pay proper respect to certain things. That's okay. So I don't know what they'll do to me. I'd like them to like it. I'd like that acceptance. You know, you work on a book... Books are so different from television. Television, half an hour it's gone. That book sits there and people can look at that one sentence six times if they want to. In television they can't. It's scary. Books are frightening things. The whole time I was working on it, I called it The Monster In The Box. I kept it in this big cardboard box and I was often afraid of it, very often.

    Is it doing well? Well, advanced sales have been really good and I'm real thankful for that. I've got a 15 city tour coming up with maybe some more cities to be added. We'll be out at the LA Book Fair at the end of this month. We'll be doing a big demo out there. We'll see. It hasn't gotten in the hands of enough people that matter to me, yet. The fans, ultimately, that's who I wrote it for. I don't know if you saw the article in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution this week where I said it's written by and large for Good Eats fans who I'm hoping will take the trip with me. So if they like it, I'll be pleased even if the critics don't.

MICHAEL
    You called it The Monster In The Box. Did you enjoy it at all? What was the biggest difficulty?

ALTON
    It was cathartic. The thing that was most enjoyable about it was doing the illustrations. It's packed full of illustrations which it really helped me to tell the story. You know, I'm a visual communicator so that helped a lot.

    It was called The Monster In The Box because it got bigger and bigger and deserved constant attention. It never went away. And you can go back and look over something you wrote yesterday and say, "Oh, that's … I've got to redo that." And then you come back the next day and think, "Oh, I've got to redo that." You have to let it go. You have to be done with it. You have to eventually know when to say, "Don't touch that anymore." And I have a really good editor in New York who's like, "I'm taking that away from you now." It's like, "Don't touch that."

MICHAEL
    Are you looking forward to your book tour?

ALTON
    Yeah, because I like being out with the fans. The thing I miss most about the fact that Food Network Live—the live shows that we used to do [that] was stopped—was being able to actually be out and talk to fans, listen to what they had to say, what they were thinking. So, yeah. I'll like it from that standpoint, certainly.

    Like any author, I'm scared to death of showing up at some bookstore with a box full of pens to sign things and sit there alone. I worry about that because I'm doing a book signing here in town in just a few weeks. It's like, I'm scared to death that I'm just going to be sitting there twiddling my thumbs looking at my watch saying, "Oh my dear God, let me out of here."

MICHAEL
    I know at least some people are making the trip from South Carolina and Florida.

ALTON
    God bless them. Tell them to come pull up a chair and stay awhile because... You know, if a hundred people show up that'll be a success. And maybe a hundred will. I don't know. I have no idea. I don't really have a grasp on what the fan base is. I just don't know. I don't know. I just hope somebody will show up. Even if they don't buy a book, just show up.

MICHAEL
    Well, a lot of people have questioned will these places that you go and sign a book require that they be purchased at the store? Do you know that?

ALTON
    I don't know that. That's a real interesting question that never crossed my mind. I would suggest to those people, call the bookstores. I'm going to call the bookstores and list that information on my website because I don't know. All I know is, if a fan puts something in front of me and ask me to sign it, I'm going to sign it.

MICHAEL
    Within reason, I hope.

ALTON
    Yeah. I'm not signing any frozen turkeys or anything. Well, I guess I'd sign that. If I had a pen that'll work on that. Sharpies are alcohol soluble … that should probably be able to write on that. I've never been asked to sign anything unreasonable before.

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Copyright © 2002 by Michael Menninger
Last Edited on 08/27/2010