About the Author: Julie Powell '95

Julie Powell '95
Photo by Kelly Campbell

Julie Powell
(view alumni profile - log in required)

Current Home
Queens, NY

Place of Birth
Austin, TX

BA, Magna Cum Laude, in Theater & Dance/Fiction Writing,AmherstCollege, class of 1995

Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
I wanted a small liberal arts school, and I was super impressed withAmherst's campus, students, and faculty. Also, Jonathan Arnold  '93 was an amazing host when I visited.

Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst
Gosh, so many.  My fiction seminar with Caz Phillips, my poetry seminar with April Bernard... Playwrighting with Connie Congdon.

Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor
Again, too many.  Connie Congdon, David Sofield, Judith Frank, Suzanne Dougan, among many others....

Awards and Prizes
Two James Beard Journalism Awards
1st Annual Lulu Blooker Award
2006 Quill Book Award for Debut Author
Honorary diploma from the Cordon Bleu

Favorite Book
How can anyone ever answer this question?  The most life-changing, of course, is Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Favorite Author
Dickens, Alice Munro, David Foster Wallace '85

Tips for aspiring writers?
What blogging taught me was discipline and the importance of finding the subject that remains endlessly fascinating – for me, that means food, neuroses, and, well, me.  The blog, and specifically, my readers, also were vital to my discovery of my voice as a writer, an intimacy that I probably wouldn’t have allowed myself if I’d realized then just how powerful the blog medium was going to turn out to be.  Now that I have one book under my belt, I have found that writing begins to get, not easier, but a smidge less mysterious.  I don’t feel totally lost just all the time now.  That said, being lost and panicked is part of the process – don’t let your fever paralyze you.

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author
Well, Julie & Julia really is the story of how I became a writer.  It’s a tough row to hoe, no question, but for me it was finding the intersection of passion and medium, and maintaining a structure so rigid and fast-paced that I didn’t have time to hate myself.  Not hating myself – at least not all the time – turned out to be key.

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More About the Author

After receiving her undergraduate degree in theater arts and English from AmherstCollege, Julie Powell moved to New York City, where she spent a long, long time working as a temp before getting very, very lucky.  She now writes in her pajamas from her home office in Long IslandCity, Queens. Her writing has appeared in Bon Appétit, the New York Times, House Beautiful, Food and Wine, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Archaeology magazine, and others.  One of her New York Times pieces was chosen for inclusion in Best Food Writing 2004. She won a James Beard Award in 2004 for Best Magazine Feature Writing without Recipes, and in 2005 won another James Beard Award for Best Magazine Feature Writing with Recipes. In 2006 Julie and Julia won the Quill Award for Debut Author, was nominated for a Books for a Better Life award and won the first annual Overall Lulu Blooker Prize for Books.  Her second book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, is being released by Little, Brown & Co. in December 2009.