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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Writing with Flavor - IWSG July 2019

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. The awesome co-hosts for July are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor! To find a list of other contributors, click here

This month’s optional question: What personal traits have you written into your characters?

I like to cook  and settings with food play a large part in my stories. In my novel THIS SIDE OF HERE, the characters spend a lot of time in a market, one of the main meeting places in their small town. They purchase ingredients there and make meals like seared salmon, grilled bluefish, gazpacho, vegetable rice and a salad made with zucchini ribbons. They buy artisanal cheeses for a picnic, and attend an Irish heritage festival where they eat pasties, a turnover filled with potatoes and vegetables.

In my most recent novel, THE BENEFICIARY for which I’ll soon begin the query process, the action centers around a New England seaside farm-to-table diner. Think lobster salad sandwiches dressed with garlic and tarragon aioli on brioche, or a striped bass pulled right out of the water, cooked with blackened spice. Add in pancakes and French toast of course, with syrup served at the table warm, and a gentleman who prefers his scrambled eggs with mustard. The characters dig clams and turn them into chowder. At the end of the story, they stack driftwood, heat stones, fill wet canvas bags with clams, lobsters, corn and potatoes.They steam the whole thing in a massive lobster bake. Getting hungry anyone?

All this, and the closest thing in my past to working professionally with food was a job I held at an  cheese/gourmet food shop for a year-and-a-half, and the two summers I waitressed at a country inn when I was a teenager. But, as someone who reads cookbooks, online recipes and restaurant menus for fun, I know food, which makes it easy to incorporate it into my stories. I’m intrigued with how ingredients go together and am pretty game to try most things as long as they aren’t totally repulsive. I’m the one who trained myself to like oysters, (slime balls that they are) just because I wanted to like them. Recently, I ate octopus because it was on my bucket list to do so. Even the jellyfish I ate while on a business trip to Japan years ago had, well, shall we say a piquant crunch?

While a bit more mainstream, so far in my newest project there’s a farmer’s market, where one of the MC’s sells the cakes, breads and muffins she creates to use up her  brother's excess garden veggies—the usual zucchini bread sure, but a dense and decadent chocolate cake made with beets, too. So yes, it appears my real life does creep in to my writing because my sister made one of those years ago. It was five-star delicious. 

Wishing all my readers from the US a happy and safe July 4th. There's a lobster-fest in my immediate future. What are your plans?


Pat Garcia said...

You've just made me hungry. Think lobster and I want to go eat at a seaside restaurant near me that serves excellent Doradas. Not sure what the fish is called in English.
Good luck in your query process. I sincerely hope you find an agent soon.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Em-Musing said...

I can feel your passion for cooking and food even here in your blog post. I love when authors have the ability to do that. It's 5:30ish a.m. here now and the pancakes and French toast sound divine. Good luck querying.

Joanne said...

yes, I'm hungry now. That's cool that you incorporate your food interests. Adds a dimension to your writing for description, plus gives folks stuff to do (wander the market) as they talk,etc.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Oh, yum!

The idea of a chocolate cake made with radishes sounds so wrong and yet so intriguing.... :)

The Cynical Sailor said...

I'm so hungry after reading your post! Well, except for the oysters. I've tried them a few times but just don't get why people love them. Good luck with the query process when it kicks off. Cheers - Ellen

Natalie Aguirre said...

You are making me totally hungry and wanting to jump into your stories. That's great you can combine your passion for cooking with your writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like you made your stories extra tasty!

cleemckenzie said...

It's morning here and you've got me hungering for lobster!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Your stories sound delicious! :)
Once upon a time I had a writing teacher who told our class not to include food in our fiction, unless it had great meaning for our characters or we were going to poison someone with it. It sounds like your books land in the first area easily, but I've also read so many books that break this "rule" by that teacher and I've loved them. I need to read your books!

Food in books makes sense to me, because we eat every day and our characters have to eat sometime. I'm a terrible cook, but I just wrote a scene last night involving two characters having fresh bread together. There's something meaningful in those moments we share around a table.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Oh, now you made me hungry. Food places are great settings and very realistic.

Jean Davis said...

Your books sound delicious...err, I mean the food descriptions do.

I'm trying to get better at describing food in my own books. It's not something used to focus on very much, but does work well for getting the reader involved.

Connie said...

Yes, this post did make me hungry. I'm sure your food know-how adds great details to your books. Happy 4th to you!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

You made me so hungry! lol. It all sounded so good!
Best wishes for when you start querying.

Yvonne Osborne said...

All of our experiences creep into our writing, especially food! Radishes in chocolate cake? Now that I'd have to try. Good luck with everything you have going.

Stephen Tremp said...

A lobster fest you say? Sounds like a plan. Skillet fried veggies in garlic butter on the side too!