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Leslie Karst had dinner with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was known for advocating gender equality and civil rights. She wrote the experience in her new book "Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG."

What was your inspiration behind your most recent book?

Well, the most obvious inspiration was the fact that I — a small-town lawyer who’d taken up cooking merely as a hobby — was lucky enough to prepare and host a grand dinner party for the iconic RBG and her charming and talented husband, Marty. I mean, how could you not want to share that marvelous experience with the world?

But in addition, it was how the experience affected me afterwards. I would have never guessed that simply hosting a dinner — albeit for one of the most famous people in the country — would have actually changed my life. But it did. And how and why that happened seemed well worth writing about.

What does "Reading with Pride" mean to you?

Traditional publishing houses, even now, are still often loath to take a chance on LBGT-centered books or those with queer protagonists. Sure, everyone loves a gay side-kick (the feeling goes), but it seems as if many publishers are still afraid that straight readers won’t be drawn to books that focus on queer characters or themes.

The answer? More LBGT authors and queer-centered books being published, praised, given awards, and — most importantly — making money (which, of course, is the only way publishers will continue to take them on). So to me, “reading with pride” means actively supporting books by and about queer folks by buying and reading those books, and then talking them up and reviewing them!

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?

If I’d been able to read books about people like me while growing up, my early 20s — when I was in the process of coming out — would have been far easier. In particular, it seems to me that books such as “Justice is Served” — in which the main character is queer, yet the story isn’t specifically about “queerness” — are important, because they normalize the LBGT community as something that is a part of everyday life.

Tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it.

I like to describe “Justice is Served” as a true-life “Julia and Julia”-meets-“Notorious RBG” mash-up, in which I recount how finagling my way into hosting an intimate dinner party for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sends me on a journey of culinary and personal discovery — and, ultimately, completely changes my life.

But I hadn’t planned on writing a memoir about “my dinner with Ruth.” It was only on the trip back home the morning after the dinner, as my (now) wife Robin and I were reliving all the marvelous, amusing, and occasionally bizarre occurrences leading up to and including the big night, that we both came to the same conclusion: I had to write it all down. Right then, before I forgot the details. So as Robin drove, the two of us brainstormed regarding everything we could remember about all the planning and preparation for dinner — including all the conversations from the night before — and as soon as I was home, I commenced writing the memoir.

What can fans expect from your book?

“Justice is Served” is a light-hearted, earnest account of the journey this unexpected challenge launched me on — starting with a trip to Paris for culinary inspiration, and ending with the dinner itself. Along the way, I impart details of Ginsburg’s transformation from a young Jewish girl from Flatbush, Brooklyn, to one of the most celebrated Supreme Court justices in our nation’s history, and share recipes for the mouthwatering dishes I came up with as I prepared for the big night.

But the memoir isn’t simply a tale of prepping for and cooking dinner for the famous RBG; it’s also about how this event, and all the planning and preparation that went into it, created a new sort of connection between me, my partner, and my parents, and also inspired me to make life changes that would reverberate far beyond one dinner party.

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

I also pen the Sally Solari culinary mysteries — a series I refer to as “snarky cozies” — set in Santa Cruz, California. In the next book in the series, “A Sense for Murder” (which releases this August), Sally — a fourth-generation Italian with a taste for single-barrel bourbon and sarcasm — investigates a murder at a farm-to-table dinner. Could it have anything to do, she wonders, with the autographed copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” that was stolen at the same time?

You can read more about me and my books (and purchase them) at