Today we're kicking back with Cecily Gates, a 27-year-old New Yorker and one part of the five-woman team that powers a new literary blog called The Page Girls. Each week, Cecily and co. feature a smorgasbord of content — essays, book reviews, cocktail recipes — centering around a specific theme. This week's is The Friend Zone. Cecily is also the author of contemporary romance novel An Imaginary House by the Sea.
Scroll down to find out how you can win a copy of Cecily's debut ebook and read on to get to know her!
What is your all-time favorite book?
I have so many! I grew up reading a lot of fiction that shaped my perception of femininity, and those books remain close to my heart: Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, for example, stars a young girl named Lyra whose spirit and courage belie her size.
The adult equivalent is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, which was gifted to me by a close friend. The story is a literary retelling of the biblical story of Jacob — from his only daughter's perspective. The feminine strength and bonds of sisterhood portrayed in this novel never fail to make me feel proud, inspired, and admittedly a little bleary-eyed.
What meal do you love to cook?
Do cocktails count as a meal?
Kidding aside, I love making gnocchi. It's a zen process. And then when it's done, the possibilities are endless with regards to how to dress it up.
What is your favorite food scene from a book?
Once more, I've gotta reference The Red Tent. Bread soaked in honey never sounded so good.
Food holds a powerful role in the novel, and is referenced constantly. It's how these Biblical women find their strength and their power. It's how they show their devotion (and sometimes displeasure) to the men they love. Through the use of food, herbs, and oils, they carry out sacred rituals and heal their own bodies. And it is through the process of cooking that they compete with each other, and ultimately how they bond.
I also have a fascination with the food from a historical standpoint: barley bread and olives, lamb flavored with coriander and marinated in sour goat milk with "a pomegranate sauce for dipping," and figs stewed with mulberries. It's so different from the food that makes up my modern diet, but even just reading about it, it feels nourishing.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Four times a day. Forever.
What is the last book you abandoned?
Appropriately, this one is also food-themed.
The last book I abandoned was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. The story follows a girl who can actually taste emotions through the food that people prepare for her, from her mother's depression to the subsequent disintegration of her family. Nothing against Aimee Bender — I loved The Girl in the Flammable Skirt — but from time to time you just put down a book one day and somehow never pick it up again.
Author you'd most like to meet for dinner, and your order?
Easy. Chocolat's Joanne Harris. We'd skip dinner and go straight to gorging ourselves on Godiva truffles.
Where do you go to find new recipes?
I have a Feedly account packed with stellar food and cocktail blogs; a few favorites are HonestlyYUM, The Kitchn, Food52, Gastronomista, and Stir and Strain.
Pinterest also remains an excellent source for finding recipes, as well as for finding myself down DIY rabbit holes (which is particularly baffling because I don't really DIY).
Where do you go to find new reads?
Goodreads is a must, of course. I also follow a bunch of smart, spirited reviewers on Twitter, and through both their feeds and one-on-one conversations, my TBR list is growing longer by the day.
Tell us about your blog — the inspiration for it, why you write, and your favorite aspects.
The idea for The Page Girls came naturally from conversations that I had a few months ago with my friends India, Jasmine, Emily, and April. We all share a love of writing, women's fiction, and the routine of kicking back with friends over a few cocktails; The Page Girls became our way to translate that into a digital experience.
Every week, we publish a themed issue containing personal essays, book reviews, short stories, and cocktail recipes. It's been a blast so far to collaborate with these women and to get to share our work with a community of dedicated readers and writers. I've also found myself making a few new friends in the process, which has been a surprise in the best possible way.
What are your favorite blogs, and why?
Besides my favorite foodie/cocktail blogs, I follow Book Riot, Chick Lit Club, and Fresh Fiction to get my book fix.
I also enjoy reading lifestyle blogs to give myself a tiny mental escape from the bustle of city life; for example, I love reading about Katie's Missouri outings on Skunkboy and seeing the magazine-worthy photos of Casey's family on Casey Leigh.
Cecily is giving away a free copy of her debut ebook, An Imaginary House by the Sea to one lucky PAPER/PLATES reader. What a lady!
Here's a taste, to whet your appetite:
“Love is a messy thing. That hopelessly devoted, deep-in-your-bones kind of love we used to dream about when we were kids—it turns out that it’s hard. It aches. It takes time. Like a house that weathers the ages, it must be built, brick by brick.”
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win the book. Entries are open to anyone. The more ways you enter, the better your chances of winning! Winner will be selected at random and contacted by email.