April 3, 2008 / 8:01 PM / 12 years ago

Just A Minute With: Sophie Dahl, model-turned-author

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Sophie Dahl made her name as a plus-size model but has lost the curves and doesn’t like talking about what she calls her “puppy fat” — although not being hung up on food is a topic for her upcoming recipe book.

Sophie Dahl arrives for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala: Anglomania at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York May 1, 2006. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

As a child Dahl, now 30, was the inspiration for the character Sophie in “The BFG” written by her grandfather, Welsh children’s author Roald Dahl, who inspired her with his story-telling. She always wanted to be a writer.

In 2003 Dahl published a novella, “The Man with the Dancing Eyes,” and last year published her first full-length work of fiction, a semi-autobiographical novel called “Playing with the Grown-ups.” Now she’s all set to release a recipe book.

Dahl, who lives in London with her partner jazz musician Jamie Cullum, spoke to Reuters about writing — and food:

Q: Did having writers in your family lead you to write?

A: “Growing up surrounded by people who wrote for a living made it seen like a viable reality. Had I grown up with parents or grandparents in classic 9-5 jobs it would have felt further away. It was always something I wanted to do.”

Q: Do you mind people comparing you work to your grandfather’s — or even your mother Tessa Dahl who is a writer?

A: “It is such an easy route to take, comparing me with my grandfather but I couldn’t take that sort of comparison or criticism on board. It is really irrelevant as you are talking about totally different mediums. He was a genius, beloved pretty universally, a great children’s writer and adult fiction writer. I am just at the beginning of my career.”

Q: Did you get on with him? (Roald Dahl died in 1990)

A: “I adored him. I grew up spending a lot of time with him, with all my grandparents. He was a great story-teller. He was sparky and wonderful and curious and never patronized children which comes across in his writing.”

Q: Is your modeling career over?

A: “Well, it’s not really a career known for its longevity. It is something that I was very glad to have done and certainly not something I have any ill feeling toward but I am now moving towards the things I really want to do.”

Q: Were you aware of the impact you would have, as a plus-size model?

A: “No, I was 18. You don’t really do much conscious thinking when you are 18. I got paid money to wear clothes. At first I found the whole (controversy) utterly baffling and quite confusing. At 18 you do not set out with any great agenda unless you are a particularly miraculous human being. Now in retrospect I see why the whole thing happened.”

Q: How much weight did you lose?

A: “I was a teenager, 18-year-old. It was puppy fat that came and went and it is funny to me that there has always been such a fuss made about it. I get the interest but it surprises me that it is still an issue. I am now 30. I’ve been the same shape and size for the past 8 years.”

Q: Have you been asked to get into the size zero debate?

A: “It is not something I have written about. It is such a multi-faceted issue. It is not something I am particularly interested in talking about. I have just written a food book coming out in September (in Britain) that addresses a lot of these things and I would rather address it in my own terms.”

Q: How do you describe your food book?

A: “It is a recipe book, anecdotal recipe book, all about how to eat with abundance and not be hung up about food. It’s healthy breakfasts, lunches and suppers and fattening puddings. It is easy, simple home-cooking that is healthy. It’s called “Ms Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights” and it is just fun.”

Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Patricia Reaney

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