JP: What I was fascinated by was the period in her life before she became Julia Child—Julia on the road to becoming Julia Child—and the struggle she went through and the indecision and the doubt. The little vignettes I would write about—of her meeting her husband and her moving to Paris—[were] these steps that she didn't know were taking her to this moment where she goes to Cordon Bleu cooking school and her life begins in a strange way even though she was 37.
So, for me, I was trying to tell that story of her coming to that moment, and my story in the book is starting with that moment: Here is the moment where I made the decision that is going to change my life. I think [Nora Ephron] put it together slightly differently but made those parallels so very, very clear that these are two women out to transform themselves and the hard work that that entails.
EW: Speaking of the Cordon Bleu school, I know you were recently there. Can you tell me about that?
JP: Yes! I was at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, which is where Julia Child graduated, and I got myself a little honorary diploma. I am of course honored, [but] it is a little absurd. I mean, I am sitting there at this awards ceremony and the Cordon Bleu students are passing out all these wonderful things they've made, and I could not do that in a million years, but it was a great honor and I did cry a little.