Writer Name: Ashley Linkletter
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Years of Experience: 10+
Available for writing projects: Yes
Niche/Beat/Genre: food, cheese, wine, nutrition, article writing, ghostwriting, food styling and photography
Portfolio website: https://ashleylinkletter.com,
Favorite food: Watermelon with lime juice and a pinch of salt
Writing tip for fellow writers: To become a more efficient writer, write freely and then edit (and after that, edit again).
Ashley Linkletter is a professional writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her client roster includes WW Canada, Aisle, Food Bloggers of Canada, and Healthy Way. Ashley’s work has been published in Culture Cheese, SAD, Edible Vancouver and Wine Country, EAT, Scout, and Small Batch Vancouver.
How did you get started in writing?
I started my blog Music With Dinner almost 10 years ago. At the time, I had moved across the country to a new city where I didn’t know very many people and blogging was a good way to pass the time. I started writing professionally six years ago. My first published article was in EAT magazine, a local publication that covers the food scene on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
What area of writing do you specialize in now?
Having written well over 200 articles for WW Canada, I can safely say I’ve covered a wide range of topics when it comes to food writing. My first love is writing about cheese and wine, which are topics I’ve covered extensively, and I also truly enjoy writing about nutrition, the psychology behind our eating habits and food choices, and the emotional component of eating.
Over the past year, I’ve been ghostwriting for clients in the homesteading and foraging blogosphere. It’s a constant learning experience and requires a lot of preliminary research, but it’s been a rewarding niche to become acquainted with.
My blog Music With Dinner is all about my love of cooking and the music I listen to while I’m preparing dinner.
What’s your advice for struggling new writers?
Don’t work for free, and if possible, don’t work by the hour or word. I like to think of my writing as a finished product I’m selling to my client, which can then be used however they would like and as often as they would like. It isn’t just the time you’ve spent, it’s finding the value of the piece as a whole.
If you don’t have one already, start a blog about a topic you love writing about. Not only does this encourage regular writing, it also gives you a working portfolio if you don’t have any published pieces.
Read, read, and read some more. Reading will help you develop your own style and it will keep you excited about writing.
What was your biggest professional struggle over the years?
Undervaluing my skills and being afraid to charge the rates I wanted to charge. This has definitely gotten easier over the years as my portfolio and client list grew. As a freelancer, it can be difficult to separate my personal self from my business, but as it gets easier and easier I have less difficulty asking for what I need and am worth.
How many of your writing projects involve food?
With the exception of one client, all my writing is food writing. I am a food writer for WW Canada and have written for Culture Cheese Magazine, SAD Magazine, Edible Vancouver & Wine Country, and EAT Magazine. I have also written regular food columns for Food Bloggers of Canada, Healthy Way, Scout Magazine, and Small Batch Vancouver.
How is your relationship with food affected by you being a writer, or vice versa?
I started my blog around the time I began working at a cheese shop here in Vancouver, where I would continue to work for the next four and a half years. Writing about food and being around people who talked about food all day was a liberating experience for me.
I became intensely curious about food and wanted to know how it was made, where it came from, and why it tasted the way it did. I discovered I have a fairly sensitive palate, and so I became enamored with cheese and wine pairings. My career as a food writer has brought me closer to the things I enjoy eating, I feel a much stronger bond with the food on my plate or the food I’m preparing than I would have otherwise.
Do you have any favorite food/cooking/writing books that you would recommend?
The three books I keep returning to are Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat, and Niki Segnit’s The Flavor Thesaurus.
Any favorite kitchen products you adore?
My cheese plane! It’s a tool used to serve thin slices of semi-hard cheeses like Gruyere, Manchego, or Emmenthal, but it also makes an amazing fruit and vegetable peeler — especially when you need to safely peel large amounts of produce all at once.
I love prepping ingredients for a meal, it’s easily my favorite part of the process, and so I believe the value of owning multiple paring knives, a chef’s knife, and a serrated knife (all super sharp, of course) can never be overstated.
What about favorite food writers, chefs, or food-related TV shows/movies?
My all-time favorite piece of food writing wasn’t written by a food writer, it’s taken from the book My Family and Other Animals by Lawrence Durrell: “Watermelons, their flesh as crisp and cool as pink snow, were formidable botanical cannonballs, each one big enough and heavy enough to obliterate a city. The green and black figs burst with the pressure of their sap, and in the pink splits the gold-green rose beetles sat dazed by the rich, never-ending largesse. Trees had been groaning with the weight of cherries, so that the orchards looked as though some great dragon had been slain among the trees, bespattering the leaves with scarlet and wine-red drops of blood.”
I remember reading that as a child and just thinking, “Wow, that’s the most beautiful, vivid description of food I’ve ever read.” I'm still inspired by this passage when I sit down to write about food for myself or for a client.
It’s always a joy cracking open a new issue of Cherry Bombe magazine (or listening to their sister podcast Radio Cherry Bombe).
I just rewatched The Red Shoes the other night and couldn’t stop pausing the film whenever food was a part of the scene. The food styling during the breakfast scenes was absolutely sumptuous.
What do you snack on when you’re on deadline?
Watermelon and pineapple with lime juice and Tajin, extra-aged gouda cut into matchsticks, tzatziki with corn chips, and scrambled eggs with salsa.
Anything else you’d like to add about being a writer who loves food, or being a writer in general?
Keep writing, even if it’s just for yourself. I have a notebook where I keep track of pairings (both the successes and flavors), notes on flavors, grocery lists and menus, food sketches, and random article ideas I have in the middle of the night. It’s messy and all-over-the-place but I can’t tell you how many times it’s been used as motivation, inspiration, and reference material for my writing.