Member Interview: Emily Buehler, author of Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread

Emily Buehler

Emily Buehler

Name: Emily Buehler

Book Title: Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread

Your book’s Amazon purchase link:

http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Science-Chemistry-Craft-Making/dp/0977806804

What is your book about? 

Bread Science is a bread-making book, but instead of focusing on recipes, it explores the steps of the process in detail (mixing the dough, shaping the dough, baking, etc.) and with many illustrations. The book also describes the science occurring in the dough throughout the process.

What inspired you to write your book?

My degree is in chemistry, but I became a baker after grad school because I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go. When I realized how much chemistry and biology and even physics was occurring in bread, I immediately wanted the details, but I couldn’t find them. Then I co-taught a bread-making class, and the students were enthusiastic about the instruction manual we made and encouraged me to turn it into a book. Originally the book was mostly how-to, but when I failed to secure a publisher and decided to self-publish, I decided to add the science aspect and spent about a year researching it in the university libraries.

Can you describe your writing process? 

My process has changed many times. When I worked in the bakery (4 AM to noon), I came home to sleep and wrote at 3 PM and all weekend. Now that I have more normal hours at my day job, I get up before dawn to write. The end of the day is for mindless tasks like laundry and mowing, and I try to go to bed early. I’ve tried to get better at writing when there is a spare five minutes, but I have not mastered this yet. 

How did you come to do what you’re doing today?

After abandoning a career in a chemistry lab, I worked at the bakery for many years, which fit because I was writing my bread book. Writing my first book and also dabbling in newspaper-article writing made me realize that writing is my passion. However, recently I tried freelance editing, and I have realized that I enjoy that just as much. (At a science networking event, I discovered that editing science papers is a “thing.”) It seems I got to where I am by stumbling along and trying to do what seemed like the next logical step, without seeing where it was ultimately headed. There were also a lot of lists involved, with priorities and “qualities of a dream job” and stuff like that.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

I get up around 4 or 5 AM, feed the cats, and go straight to the computer. It’s best to start ASAP, before I get distracted. I work on editing assignments when I have one, and then try to switch gears quickly to writing when I complete as assignment. At ten I go to my day job, managing the blog, website, and social media of the local co-op. After work is when I try to do chores, although if I have a tight deadline I get back on the computer. Going to bed early is key.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

I love writing because I am creating something that no one else would do the same way. I love editing because I am making documents consistent and easier to read; with science documents, I am participating in the science community in a way that suits me, that I didn’t know was possible when I was in school.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?

Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones was a turning point; it inspired me to start a practice of writing for five minutes each day, which seemed to “grease the wheels” for when I started the first draft of my second book, a travel memoir. 

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?

Most of the paintings in my house are by me; I minored in fine arts and amassed a collection of oil paintings. I don’t spend time on it at the moment, but I still have all my supplies, just waiting.

What’s next for you?

I have finished writing my second book and am starting the self-publishing process, beginning with permissions. The book is a memoir of a cross-country bicycle trip I did with a friend in 2003. Once it is published, I might try fiction again. I participated in Nanowrimo in 2014 and churned out a short novel, so I might go back to that or start something new.



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