Behind the Pen – Kristi Maier

Kristi MaierIn this week’s Behind the Pen series I interviewed Kristi Maier. Kristi is a local writer who writes a food column in YES! Weekly and her Triad Foodies blog.

What do you love about writing?

This may seem odd, but I’ve never considered myself a “lover” of writing. I love to read beautifully written pieces of literature or journalism. I’m usually jealous of just about every writer, whether its fiction or non-fiction and sometimes even food writers. But occasionally there are things I feel the need to express or share regarding food or restaurants or a chef or maker and I like that my blog or my food column is an outlet for that.   I have to admit that I’m learning to appreciate that more.

How did you get into the writing world?

I studied broadcast journalism in college and came to be very proficient at getting my point across (that’s not the case in person..ha!) and I had a knack for a headline or lead. I worked in television and radio news for a number of years before I stepped away from the on-air stuff for an advertising career. I became a mom and worked for myself in media buying for a while. I started my blog, triadfoodies.com four years ago as a means to share and highlight our local restaurant scene with area residents. It actually started on social media and a friend suggested I start blogging. I thought, “No WAY am I becoming a blogger.” But after thinking about it, I felt there might be a place for what I had to say. The blog has parlayed into freelance writing and now my current gig as the regular food/drink contributor for YES! Weekly.

What top 2 challenges do you find in writing?

Having concentrated my studies and experience in broadcast news writing for radio and television, I am a very succinct writer. I don’t think of myself as a great linguist. My writing might have some humor in it, but expanding my vocabulary is something that I try to work on because I’m critical of my not being a wordsmith. And…really sometimes a challenge is just thinking of something new to write about. We have a terrific culinary community in the Triad but even I get writer’s block when it comes to a food story, especially when you have to churn out something every week. Before, when it was just the blog, it was very much about what moved me at the moment. Now, content is important for the weekly submissions.

Where do you find inspiration for your article/blog ideas?

I get inspiration when I meet an interesting restaurant owner or chef or people who are making things happen on the food scene. I love it when I eat at a new restaurant and the food is amazing and I feel like you need to know about it. That’s the best. Sometimes, I’ll meet a farmer who’s establishing relationships in the culinary community. Noble causes like The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope 12 Suppers, Middle of the Root, or The Children’s Home Farm, Community Table are inspiring to me. Sometimes an idea will occur to me in the middle of the night or while I’m doing laundry and watching something on TV. I have to write all my ideas down, lest I forget.

What is… 1. The most challenging piece you’ve written & why and 2. Your favorite piece you’ve written & why?

  • My most challenging but still one of my favorites that I’ve ever written is the story that ran in April 2016 in YES! about the fundraiser for Mike Rothman of Skippy’s Hotdogs. That was a great story. In a way, the story did come easy, but at the same time, just trying to get onto paper what Mike Rothman means to the city of Winston-Salem and his friends and what the entire restaurant scene in the city was willing to do for him, was the hardest part. I interviewed a lot of people, his mother for one, and she brought me to tears because she was moved by what was going on in Winston-Salem. It was a touching, inspiring story.
  • One of my favorite pieces I’ve written is the Triadfoodies Holiday Gift Guide which made the cover of YES! Weekly. Super excited to make the cover! That is a favorite because it’s seriously a labor of love. We try foodie finds all year in order to unveil our favorites at the end of the year. I give these favorite things as a holiday gift basket to my family members. The guide for YES! Weekly is turned into a giveaway for a lucky reader. So the readers get involved to win this basket, but the makers and producers of the local goodies that go into our gift guide are winners too! These artisans are so appreciative of being mentioned and they get in on the fun with social media and giving away the products. I look forward to it every year.

Do you have any tips to writers on conducting interviews and/or drafting interview questions?

First of all, at least get some ideas in mind of questions you want to ask. If you know what you want to know, you won’t get stuck, especially if you’ve got yourself an interviewee who isn’t very talkative. I’d also say, just try to keep it as conversational and organic as possible. For me, we’re just hanging out, and I’ve got my phone voice recorder going. It’s good to take notes though. Technology isn’t everything and I try to make a few notes along the way for piece of mind.

If you could give an upcoming writer, one piece of advice what would it be?

I’d say never burn a bridge or throw someone under a bus to further yourself.

Where can people go to see more of your work?

My blog at triadfoodies.com and each week in YES! Weekly on newsstands and online at yesweekly.com. I also now have a podcast, called At The Table with Triadfoodies that was just launched and you can find it at Triad Podcast Network. I do a fair amount of expressing myself on my Facebook page and on Instagram.

Final thoughts from Kristi on writing…

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I’d be writing every week for a newspaper and hosting my own show (yeah, I’ll call my podcast a show!), I would have probably not believed you. I really felt that was all behind me. But now I’m using my degree, which I’m sure pleases my parents J … I’m writing about and reporting deliciousness and enjoying bringing the food scene to the public. I’ve become quite passionate about it.

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