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?