The Ice Cream Theory: An Interview with Steff Deschenes

Despite a failed attempt at majoring in ice cream in college, Steff Deschenes is a self-taught ice-cream guru. After publishing the now twelve-time award-winning The Ice Cream Theory, she began exploring food on a more universal level. As a result, she now photo blogs daily herself at dinner and the challenges of being a vegetarian in a predominantly seafood-oriented state. Steff also writes two articles a week entitled “Maybe It’s Me” (personal essays and reflection on life and the living of it) and “Fact Is Better” (real life conversations she couldn’t make up if she tried); all of which can be found at www.steffdeschenes.com. You can also visit her at www.theicecreamtheory.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Steff. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Ice Cream Theory?

When I was a sophomore in high school I had my heart broken (it was one of those superficial, silly teenage girl heartbreaks, but still!) for the first time and nothing seemed to heal the wound like friends and ice cream did. About the same time, I wrote a research paper on the strike zone in major league baseball and, as a result, one of the newspapers in Maine hired me on to be a sports clerk (which is basically an on-desk reporter). I began writing professionally at that point. I worked for the newspaper for seven years; towards the end of that time, when I had a break between writing games, I would write bits and pieces of The Ice Cream Theory. A couple years after leaving the sports department, I had the opportunity to move to England and finish writing my book, and jumped at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When it was complete and I was living back stateside I gave myself a year to be published traditionally, and finally just ended up publishing the book myself because I believed so much in it.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

Because that was what the concept was originally called when my friends and I were using it to explain, compare, and rationalize different people’s relationships to us. “Did you hear Steff’s theory about ice cream?” Quickly became, “Tell them about your ice cream theory!” It’s simple, it’s to the point, and it’s just what it needs to be!


Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I thought it was a really exceptional idea, given that I had never seen or heard anyone else use food in such detailed metaphor before. After The Ice Cream Theory won its first award, I remember thinking it must have been a fluke or that the judges were just throwing me a bone. But ten awards later I knew without a doubt that there really was something very unique about The Ice Cream Theory and it was being recognized frequently. I began hearing positive things from teenage girls, twenty-something boys, and women in their fifties. When you can create something that appeals to such a vast group, then you’ve got something really quite special.


Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, BookSurge have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

Originally BookSurge gave me two options, neither of which I was pleased with. So, with lined paper I had ripped from an old college notebook and a broken pencil I drew the basic concept of what I wanted the cover to look like. I ended up hiring a graphic designer – Nate Horn – to then take my cryptic, skeletal drawing and make it come to life. He did a phenomenal job at plucking exactly what I wanted out my head and putting it onto paper. To see the exact image I had pictured in my head come to life was one of the coolest things I’d ever been a part of. I couldn’t be happier with the cover – I wanted something colorful and simple that would catch the reader’s eye, and I think I accomplished that.


Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

I’ve actually worked in marketing for a few years now, so I initially took on the entire marketing project on my own, applying what I knew from the fields I’d worked in to the publishing world. It’s only been within the past two months that I’ve relinquished some control and have created a “team” – which is a group of my friends that have very valuable skill sets who I think can help (and who genuinely want to help, despite being paid in only hugs!) me take on what’s become the monstrous task of marketing and promoting! I just can’t be a one-man operation anymore if I want to catapult The Ice Cream Theory into bigger and better things.


Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

I think the book it most gets compared to is Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. The difference between the two books is that Eat, Love, Pray is difficult, in my opinion, to really relate to. The book is about a woman who post-divorce travels the world to find herself. I don’t know many women these days that have absolutely no loose-ends of some kind after a major separation where they can simply jet set carefree like Gilbert did. I also don’t know many people who have vast amounts of disposable income to blow like that either. Soul searching and self discovery are very personal things that most people, I think, find in the quiet, humbleness of everyday life. You certainly don’t need to run-away to find yourself (and most people can’t anyway).

The Ice Cream Theory does an exceptional job at taking these same emotions, desires, and life lessons Gilbert had in her book, but puts them in a more attainable, real-world context.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Apparently, I’m discussing how I went on twenty-five first dates in a three-month period, which I claim is the equivalent to opening twenty-five gallons of different flavored ice cream, lining them all up one after another, and then running my tongue across them in one swift movement. What would follow that, of course, but a major ice cream headache!


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

No! I made a promise to myself when this whole thing started that there would never be a part two to The Ice Cream Theory. Nothing is ever as good as the original, in my opinion. Besides, I think I did an excellent job of excluding any social, pop, or brand references so that the book could have an extended shelf life unaffected by the changing outside world.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Steff. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

For more information on The Ice Cream Theory, you can check out TheIceCreamTheory.com. The book even has its own Facebook Fan Page – be sure to join!

The Ice Cream Theory is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, along with a few independent book stores throughout coastal and northern Maine.

Thank you so, so much for this opportunity!


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