What are the titles and topics of your three books?
My last release is entitled The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook; Recipes that Sizzle – Sauces that Cook! and was launched at the National Fiery Foods Show in Reno, Nevada. My previous two titles are Light the Fire – Fiery Food with a Light New Attitude! and the national bestseller entitled The Fire ‘n’ Ice Cookbook – Mexican Food with a Bold New Attitude. Each of the subtitles was created to clearly describe what each book is about.
What is your sales strategy and what makes your books unique?
The books’ markets reach across North America and worldwide through Amazon.com. The physical versions of all three books are virtually out of print and, therefore, very rare, but they are now available as Kindle books! The recipes in each book are distinctive, and the compiled works are unique. Add to that the high-impact graphics, world-class photography – all three have always been received as superior cookbooks and peoples’ favourites. As I mentioned, we’ve just finished converting the books to ebooks, so you’ll be able to order them online in ebook format from Amazon.
Did each new book become easier to write and publish?
I learned a great deal through the writing, marketing and distribution of The Fire ‘n’ Ice Cookbook (which attained national bestseller status after only eleven months following release) and I was able to take that knowledge and create even greater success with Light the Fire and The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook. I’ve been through the process three times now, so in many ways, it does become easier. I have had the incredible pleasure of working with the BEST production and promotion team for all three books.
What were your special qualifications for writing these books?
Enjoyment of cooking and eating spicy foods plus creating new recipes. I love entertaining and have a great appetite for food adventure. I firmly believe that these qualifications are extremely important as most cooks are “real” people just like me who have a passion for fine food. Also, I travel as much as possible and I’ve grown to love fiery foods. My real love affair for fiery foods began in Mexico, where I became enamoured with the people, the culture, and of course, the incredible cuisine. I used to own time-share in a villa in Puerto Vallarta, now live part of my year in Cabo San Lucas, and have always attempted to spend as much time travelling as possible. I’ve been very fortunate to travel a great deal and experience the many riches that countries and cultures throughout the world have to offer. One of my life goals is to speak fluent Spanish, and I’m constantly studying to attain that goal.
Why are the books still important?
I feel my books continue to make a contribution because they reflect the ever-popular trend toward fiery foods and flavours of the world with a conscious focus on keeping the recipes light and healthy. In most of my recipes, I’ve tried to keep the fat content low without sacrificing flavour. Although I usually prepare foods that are salt-free and low in fat, Ron and I occasionally indulge in a decadent dessert or a dish that isn’t low in fat or calories. Our society has developed tremendous guilt over these occasional indulgences, but I believe that most things are fine in moderation. Food should be enjoyed and a balanced lifestyle, including exercise, is the key. Also, food is the common element that brings people together and I firmly believe that we can help break down the distances and differences between countries and cultures of the world through cuisine. In addition, the recipes use little or no salt as I’d rather enhance flavour with the ingredients themselves. Combined with the health benefits of capsaicin and chiles, the recipes in The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook, Light the Fire and The Fire ‘n’ Ice Cookbook will always be fabulously healthy, nutritious and delicious!
How do they benefit their readers?
My books benefit their readers by exposing them to some really fun, fabulous and fiery foods of the world. I’ve included a table of contents and a detailed index in each of the books for people’s convenience. In Light the Fire, for example, I’ve included a section of menu suggestions to help people plan the food and beverages to compliment any number of special occasions. Each book features a collection of recipes that is perfect for people who are involved with dinner clubs, enjoy progressive dinners, or who have a taste for something healthy, new and different. People have always loved to buy them as welcome gifts. In addition, medical researchers have proven that the substance capsaicin, which is found in hot chiles, lowers blood pressure, speeds up the metabolism, reduces cholesterol levels significantly and is a factor in warding off strokes and heart attacks. The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook, Light the Fire and The Fire ‘n’ Ice Cookbook will continue to benefit people who enjoy healthful, flavorful and nutritious food.
How do they use a different approach to their subject?
My three books have beautiful photographs, innovative page design and general layout. I’ve “peppered” The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook with “saucy tips” on different ways to use hot sauces and Light the Fire with information about chiles and many of other ingredients used. My books are filled with sizzling, steamy and utterly irresistible recipes that fires up enthusiasm for hot and healthy cuisine.
What is your intended audience?
More people are eating at home, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are constantly looking for fresh and new ideas. I find that our primary audience tends to be people ranging in age from 20 to 65, primarily urban dwellers, with a tendency toward experimentation with different ethnic cuisines or spicing up the food in their lives. However, in my public appearances, I’ve often been very pleasantly surprised by the many different ages and types of people who respond to my books and fiery foods with great enthusiasm. Keeping in mind the ever-growing popularity of fiery foods and flavours of the world, particularly with light and healthy recipes, I foresee that The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook, Light the Fire and The Fire ‘n’ Ice Cookbook will continue to fill a niche in the gift and general book market for many years to come.
Three cookbooks on fiery foods originating from an author in Canada seems rather odd. Please comment.
Most of the “hottest” cuisines of the world originate in countries with consistently warm climates. From the sizzling salsas of Mexico to the jarring jerk of the Caribbean, to the tongue-tingling food from India, these cuisines all share a common passion for “heat”. I’ve often thought that the fiery foods of the world would more logically originate in cold countries so that people could warm up from the inside out! Surprisingly, many northern and cooler climate countries have among the blandest diets in the world. Our countries, however, and Canada in particular, have a tremendous infusion of people and cultures from around the globe. The supermarkets in larger centres now have a wonderful selection of hot sauces and other products to enable people to enjoy global culinary adventures or to maintain the dietary traditions of the countries that people originate from. Combined with people having travelled more (particularly those of escaping the cold winters) and exposing their minds and their taste buds to new countries, cultures and cuisines, we continue to see a growing interest in healthy and fiery foods of the world.
Where did the inspiration for The Hot Sauce Bottle Cookbook come from?
The idea for this book came from Fred Swift, manufacturer of Prairie Fire Hot Sauce, who suggested that Dianne Dallas, President of Lost Continent Hot Sauce Traders, and I meet to discuss the possibility of a project together. Dianne had a vision of making hot sauces less intimidating for the general public and researched a plan to introduce them to the masses. We came up with the idea of creating a hot sauce cookbook that would surprise and delight people with a variety of recipes that can be prepared using hot sauces.
What is unique about your promotional strategy?
I am constantly exploring any new distribution and promotional avenues. We had our own web site at www.cookingwithfire.com since April of 1996 and still, after all these years, have several thousand visitors to the site every month.
Many years ago I struck a deal with Narada Records (a Virgin Record subsidiary) to have the perfect music to complement the food presented in my cookbooks: Oscar Lopez’s full-length Latin guitar CD entitled HEAT. HEAT was presented, upon request through our web site, in a special adhesive pack that was affixed to the inside back cover of Light the Fire. This combination was perfect for anyone wanting to ignite some fire, HEAT and passion in their lives!
In addition to our presence on the internet through several sites and venues, I’ve been extremely proactive in exposing my books to the media. My books have had great exposure with over 400 reviews in magazines and newspapers throughout the world (Modern Maturity, The International Cookbook Revue, Japan Times, etc.). I’ve done over 100 radio interviews all over North America and appeared on over 50 television shows (Fit TV in Los Angeles, Gabereau in Vancouver and Crook & Chase in South Carolina, for example). I attribute our successful promotional exposure to my publicist and dear friend, Debbie Black, who did a brilliant job of constant promotion for the company, my books and my product line.
I take every opportunity to interact with other people in the publishing industry. I am constantly learning about this business through books and education (I attended a Special Market Sales seminar that was held in Chicago, Illinois, Media Training in Los Angeles and the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in Phoenix, for example).
I made three annual pilgrimages to the National Fiery Food Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I attended the Northwest Fiery Food Show many years ago in Pasco, Washington and in Tampa, Florida where I appeared as a guest chef at the Florida Fiery Foods Show, where I made many friends and invaluable “fiery food” contacts. I’ve appeared at over 100 promotion venues that include book signings (the El Tovar Hotel on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, for example), personal appearances (guest chef appearances at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede and the Florida Fiery Foods Show in Tampa) and my books have been displayed at trade shows around the world.
In summary, I am very proactive in the success of my company through an extremely aggressive and never-ending promotional campaign – even after all these years!
Is there another book in the works?
I’m taking a bit of a hiatus right now, but who knows what may happen in the future! Never say never, but I’m going to focus on my food and travel blog for a while and see from there.