With the release of the movie Julie & Julia only weeks away, author Julie Powell is busy promoting her best-selling book of the same name. She spoke to a crowd of about 50 fans who gathered at the Borders Books & Music in Birmingham, Michigan on Tuesday, July 21, and signed books afterwards. Julie & Julia is a memoir about the year Julie Powell cooked all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Funny and open, she took questions from the audience about her book, the movie, and her personal life.
The day before the book signing, an article in Publisher’s Weekly  kicked up some controversy because Judith Jones, Julia Child’s longtime editor, was quoted as saying Julia Child did not approve of Powell’s project. Jones claims Child said, “I don’t think she’s a serious cook.” When asked about Julia Child’s reaction to her blog, Powell said:
“Of course my first reaction was to be sort of devastated… It was incomprehensible to me I could have dedicated this year of my life and that it would be, what I had done would be read as glib or unserious. Yeah, I absolutely had that first [reaction]… I want to explain myself, if she only understood this is such a tribute… I’m so grateful to her for this year.”
She went on to say that, after thinking about it for a while, she realized that Julia Child touched so many lives, and the result is that everyone has their own inner Julia Child. She prefaced this by admitting that it is somewhat corny, but continued on to say:
“…and the thing is that everybody’s Julia is different. And so sometimes the Julias conflict and then you get in fights with people because people are very protective, people want their Julia… I’ve just decided that my Julia is ok with it.”
If you want to read more, Slashfood  has an interview with Judith Jones where she expands upon her original comments. On the flip side, Elissa Altman wrote a piece for the Huffington Post  where she argues that Jones needs to realize that Powell’s book is about Julie, not Julia, and in no way tarnishes Child’s work.
Powell also discussed her motivation for starting the project, which she says, at the time, came out of a desire to learn to cook and not being able to afford culinary school. In retrospect, she says that it probably had more to do with being 29 and hating her job as a secretary. As she puts it, her job was “sucking the life out of me day by day” and coming home from work and cooking Julia Child’s recipes was better than coming home “sitting in front of the television, getting drunk, and falling asleep.” It was her husband who suggested she blog about her experiences, and about six months into the blog she received a call about writing a book. She also recounted a funny story about how, after she quit her job, one of her male bosses famously declared that Powell would never make anything of herself. Now her former co-workers are thrilled by her success and throw that in his face as much as possible.
Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay for the Julie & Julia movie and met with Powell to discuss the book, something that she found exciting and intimidating. She’s a fan of Ephron’s work but found her to be very intense in person. Powell described one of her favorite scenes in the movie, a big fight with her husband, only she never told Ephron about the fight. She said Ephron must have figured it out on her own, though it felt like she had somehow gotten into Powell’s brain. She mentioned several scenes from the movie and, overall, she seemed very pleased with it. The movie Julie & Julia comes out on August 7th and Powell’s latest book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, will be released in the fall.
Buy Julie & Julia by Julie Powell on Amazon by clicking here .