Kate McDermott Is About More Than Pie
On writing about ourselves, not just food.
You might know Kate McDermott as the Pie Lady. She wrote three books about pie: Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Fillings, Crusts, and Life; Home Cooking with Kate McDermott; and Pie Camp: The Skills You Need to Make Any Pie You Want. She has taught thousands of people how to make a homemade pie. Known as The Piechiatrist, Pie Whisperer, and Pie Rock Star, Kate lives at Pie Cottage, her home on the north coast of Washington State.
While it’s pie pie pie in Kate’s professional life, there’s much more to her than pastry. Recently she closed her food blog and started a Substack newsletter, where her subjects include Hearth, Shelter, Grow; and Walk and Roll.
I am one of her readers. Her approach fascinates me because in my public work, I stick to my topic of food writing. I struggle with how much of who I am outside of that to share with readers. Also whether to confess things, and whether doing so would lose readers or attract Internet trolls. Maybe you’ve been there too?
Kate has been there. Here’s how she’s forging her own path to write about what interests her, even if it’s personal:
Q. How does it feel to reveal personal information about yourself, Kate?
A. It is scary. I got scared on Facebook. I put up statements about what was important to me, such as the right to clean water, to make choices about my own body, and my spiritual beliefs. I got some of the nastiest comments from people. Then I made the post private, because I have pretty thin skin.
Q. Where do you get the courage to be so vulnerable in your newsletter?
A. I take a chance by writing something personal. Sometimes I take a big breath and then think about it overnight. But not always.
I’m always surprised that over the years, the more personal and transparent I became on my blog, the more positive comments I receive. Most say, “Thank you for sharing,” “This happened to me,” “I love your voice,” and “Please do more of this.”
People do want to know you. Pie-making and teaching and being known for that came at a later time in my life, and there’s a lot more to me than that.
Q. How does your newsletter differ from your previous blog?
A. I feel freer to write what I want. I don’t know why. There’s just more community building on Substack. Before, on Wordpress, I felt that it was just me. Substack offers more support and ways for readers to chime in.