Books: Imaginary girl dressed for success in 'How to Quinoa'
Have you heard of Quinoa?
Not the grain. The toddler. Specifically, the precocious, fashion-forward toddler who’s the star of "How to Quinoa: Life Lessons from My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter," recently published by Running Press.
Quinoa’s creator, the very funny writer Tiffany Beveridge — a Utah native — talks with the Salt Lake Tribune about the inside Pinterest joke that went viral and landed her a book deal.
For those of us who are tragically in the dark, will you explain who Quinoa is?
Quinoa is my imaginary well-dressed toddler daughter, born in the recesses of my brain and existing almost entirely on Pinterest, until last month when she came to life in book form. Her look is always changing, but her personality is constant. I like to think of her as a lovable tyrant.
How to Quinoa
Author and Utah native Tiffany Beveridge will sign copies of her book “How to Quinoa: Life Lessons from My Imaginary Well-Dressed Daughter.”
Wednesday, July 30, 7 p.m. » The King’s English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City; 801-484-9100
Friday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m. » Barnes & Noble, 330 E. 1300 South, Orem; 801-229-1611
How did Quinoa come to be?
As the mother of two hopelessly lovable but averagely dressed sons, there was a part of me that had always thought it would be fun to have a daughter to dress. While on Pinterest, I would see incredible clothing for little girls, but felt I had no claim to it. That is, until I created a pin board and titled it "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter" and started pinning the clothes there. I began finding more and more elaborate clothing and photography, which seemed to be begging for some commentary, so I started adding funny captions about this imaginary child and her fabulous life. Around the same time, I noticed an explosion of quinoa recipes on Pinterest. I found it amusing that a grain had become so trendy. A grain! I figured it was only a matter of time until someone named their kid Quinoa. And then I realized that person would be me. Once she had a name, the story lines just started coming together.
How did your imaginary well-dressed daughter make the leap from Pinterest to full-length book?
Quinoa had existed on Pinterest for over a year without much notoriety at all, but in June 2013 a very popular blogger retweeted a tweet about my Pinterest board. That was the fuse that seemed to lead to the viral blow-up. Suddenly, articles and tweets were popping up all over the world about it. Within a couple of weeks, I was being contacted by literary agents and editors. By September 2013, I had a book deal with Running Press. By January 2014, I had submitted the manuscript. By June 2014, the book was on the shelves. It was a whirlwind, but an absolute dream come true.
Describe the experience of having something go viral.
I feel like we’ve gotten so used to hearing the term "viral" and understanding what that implies, but it is such a different thing to be standing in the eye of that storm. It’s very surreal. It sort of blew the lid off of what I had heretofore experienced as normal, as well as what suddenly seemed possible. Daily life became very unpredictable. And yet, in many ways, it stayed exactly the same. I was still copywriting for my clients, folding the laundry and making dinner at night, but also granting interviews to CNN. The Internet is the great equalizer in many ways. You don’t have to have a million dollars or a million followers to be recognized for something unique. The Internet, as a collective, does a surprisingly good job of finding novelty. I find that amazing and encouraging.
Talk a little about the process of creating "How to Quinoa."
I recognized that the opportunity to write this book was rare, that I was able to bypass some of the hardest, most frustrating parts of getting published like sending out query letters to agents and editors, so I promised myself that I would match this opportunity with the hardest work of my life. And it definitely was hard work. In three months’ time, I had to write 10 chapters of the book, source nearly 100 photos from some of the top children’s fashion photographers in the world, gain permissions from the models and guardians, and write captions for the photos. My career as a copywriter came in handy. I broke the project down into smaller parts, set deadlines and just worked like crazy.
The book reads like you were having a lot of fun while writing it. Were you?
I had a lot of fun writing it, but there were several moments when I had been at it for so long, staring at it so closely, that I’d have to take a step back and ask, "Is this funny or am I getting delirious?" My husband and sons were a good test audience. They are all much funnier than I am, so I knew if I could make them laugh, it was probably pretty good.
You skewer everything from hipsters to current fashions to 21st-century parenting. Have you always been interested in popular culture? How do you track trends?