Author Leslie Karst joins us this week to discuss her memoir, Justice Is Served

Author Name: Leslie Karst

Book Title: Justice Is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG

Book Genre: Memoir

Release Date/Out Now: April 4, 2023 (out now)

Publisher: She Writes Press

Welcome, Leslie! Please tell us a bit about your book.

In this true-life Julie and Julia-meets-Notorious RBG mash-up, 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 discovery—and, ultimately, completely changes my life.

What was the spark? What drew you to write a memoir about this experience? What made you want to tell this particular story?

I hadn’t planned to write a memoir about the events contained in Justice is Served. But on the trip back home to Santa Cruz from Los Angeles the morning after the dinner, as my then-partner (now-wife; thank you RBG!) Robin and I were reliving all the marvelous, amusing, and occasionally downright bizarre occurrences leading up to and including the big night, we both came to the same conclusion: I had to write it all down. Right then, before I forgot the details. So I grabbed a pen and the sheaf of office paper we kept in our truck and as Robin navigated Highway 5, the two of us brainstormed regarding everything we could remember of the previous nine months—including all the conversations from the night before.

As soon as I was home, I commenced writing the memoir. The draft was finished within a few months, but then there it sat for years on my computer while I was sidetracked, first by my work as a research and appellate attorney, then by writing and promoting my culinary mystery series. Finally, after much egging-on by Robin, her mother, and various others who knew of the manuscript’s existence, I concluded that they were right. The extraordinary story needed to be out there, for others to read.

What was your research process like for Justice is Served?

The majority of the research required for the book was regarding the “Interlude” sections I included in each chapter: snapshots of RBG’s life and life’s work, each of which relate back to what was going on at the moment in my own life. To accomplish this, I did extensive reading regarding the life and work of the iconic justice, including biographies and other books, law review articles, magazine pieces, letters between RBG and my father, and various other materials. Very time consuming, but incredibly inspiring and uplifting research, it was!

From your perspective, what’s the hardest thing about writing? And what do you love most about it?

As the author of a series of culinary mystery novels, plotting has always been been the most difficult part of writing. But for this—my first memoir—the basic plot already existed, as it was the story of what had actually happened to me. So, hey, this should be easy! was my thought. After all, memoirs are similar to novels in that they tell a story, have a narrative arc, and tend to contain the same elements as their fiction cousins: dialogue, discrete scenes, dramatic highs and lows, and a payoff at the end.

But it turned out that writing Justice is Served felt quite different from writing my Sally Solari series—and more difficult in ways I hadn’t imagined. For this story was about me; I had to be honest about myself in a way not required of fiction. No easy feat. It’s scary to put your own personal thoughts, feelings, and emotions out there for all the world to read and to analyze. But, of course, this very personal nature of memoirs is what sets them apart from other genres—and what makes them so very compelling.

As for what I love most about writing: that would be dialogue. I simply adore putting words into people’s mouths and giving voice to my various characters’ personalities and quirks.

What’s capturing your imagination these days outside of reading and writing?

Well, those two activities take up large part of my waking hours. But when I’m not reading or writing, you’ll likely find me cooking (and eating!); gardening; walking my dog, Ziggy; cycling; and observing cocktail hour promptly at five o’clock.

Any new writing projects in the works?

I’ve recently finishing up the copyedits for the sixth book in my Sally Solari series, called A Sense for Murder, in which the dining room manager of a restaurant-and-culinary bookstore is found murdered on the night of a benefit dinner, and the primary clue is the simultaneous theft of a boxed set of signed first editions of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book releases this coming August, from Severn House.

Where can readers find you?


Thank you, Leslie! Justice Is Served is OUT NOW. Leslie Karst learned that her offer to cook dinner for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her renowned tax law professor husband, Marty, had been accepted, she was thrilled—and terrified. A small-town lawyer who hated her job and had taken up cooking as a way to add a bit of spice to the daily grind of pumping out billable hours, Karst had never before thrown such a high-stakes dinner party. Could she really pull this off?

Justice is Served is Karst’s light-hearted, earnest account of the journey this unexpected challenge launched her on—starting with a trip to Paris for culinary inspiration, and ending with the dinner itself. Along the way, she imparts 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 shares recipes for the mouthwatering dishes she came up with as she prepared for the big night. But this 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 Karst, her partner, and her parents, and also inspired Karst to make life changes that would reverberate far beyond one dinner party. A heartfelt story of simultaneously searching for delicious recipes and purpose in life, Justice is Served is an inspiring reminder that it’s never too late to discover—and follow—your deepest passion.