Friday, October 30, 2015

FOODFIC: Queen Sugar - Natalie Baszile

Prosper Denton makes his boss eat dirt. And on his first day in her employ, at that.

Oh, it’s not as bad as it sounds. See for yourself:

Charley raised the dirt to her mouth. She sniffed: wood smoke, grass, damp like a sidewalk after it rained. She tasted: grit, fine as ground glass, chocolate, and what? Maybe ash? She closed her eyes as soil dissolved over her tongue, and slowly, slowly, almost like a good wine, the soil began to tell its story. She tasted the muck, and the peat, and the years of composted leaves, the branches and vines that had been recently plowed under, and the faint sweetness the cane left behind. She swallowed: a moldy aftertaste she knew would stay on her tongue for the rest of the afternoon.

Okay, so maybe the moldy aftertaste is that bad. But the lesson is invaluable.

You see, Charley Bordelon has just inherited an 800-acre sugar cane plantation in middle-of-nowhere Louisiana. The man she’s been paying to run it until she can relocate with her daughter from L.A. has not only not been doing his job; he then up and quits on her the day she gets to town.

So Charley finds herself a young, black, single mother from another state struggling to find a foothold in a town of old white men who’ve been there generations and would be more than happy to buy her out when she fails at this endeavor.

If Charley has any hope of succeeding (and putting all those jerks in their places), she’s going to have to dig in with both hands. Luckily, she’s not afraid of a little dirt ;)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Tamar Hela, Author of The Wrong Fairy Tale

What Do Aliens Eat?

If you were a dinner guest of magic-wielding aliens, what would they serve you? And, being that these aliens live in an enchanted forest, what type of food is available to begin with? Those were some of the questions I asked myself while writing my second book, The Wrong Fairy Tale. After a few brainstorming sessions, I came up with what I thought was the perfect answer—but we’ll get to that in just a bit.

Food can play a very important part in the setting of a novel. I think about Little Women, when the girls finally have quite the feast for Christmastime, but instead choose to give their bounty to a family in need. Or, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes to mind, where Edmund gorges himself on Turkish Delight when the queen uses it as a bribe. And who could forget Anne of Green Gables, who is so eager to try Raspberry Cordial and everything ends in disaster?

In my novel, The Wrong Fairy Tale, important information is given during mealtime. Our heroine, Alex, not only has to digest key details recently revealed, but foreign food as well. She and her friends have been miraculously transported to a magical forest filled with aliens (the Alfara) who look like elves. And in order to be a good guest and not offend her hosts, she must try the dish set before her: Prakova. Prakova, which I made up, of course, is an Alfaran delicacy. On the outside, it looks like a white, feathery crab, and on the inside, the meat is pink and tender. When Alex braves eating something alien, she is delighted to find that it actually tastes great—potential crisis avoided, thank goodness.

In our own lives, food plays an integral part of every day living. We often gather around the dinner table for holidays, celebrate a marriage at a reception with food and drink, or spend quality time with loved ones around a hot meal. Food brings us together. So, it’s only appropriate that food becomes part of a fictional story. I think that when used properly, the food a writer places in her story can actually make things more interesting. After all, as a reader, if I can smell and taste what the character is smelling and tasting, I can better relate to that character. I can put myself in their shoes and feel like I’m there. It’s a writer’s job to transport the reader, so why not use food as part of the process?

How about you? Do you like reading about food in a story? Does it help to give you a better visual, or is it simply unnecessary? 

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Tamar!

You can find Tamar here:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Dianne Harman, Author of the Cedar Bay Cozy Mysteries

A Foodie’s Evolution From Reading About Food To Writing About It!
By Dianne Harman

Food, cooking, entertaining? Oh yeah! How does the song go? Something like, “These are a few of my favorite things!”

I started writing cozy mysteries a year ago as a way to integrate my love of food and dogs. I had previously written three books in the suspense genre, but I really couldn’t integrate the dogs and food much in them, although readers have told me that when they read Coyote in Provence, they gained ten pounds just from the food descriptions!

When I would mention that I was interested in writing cozy mysteries, people told me to stay in the suspense genre, and that it would really dilute my brand if I changed genres. My husband and I were at the Enchantment Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona a year ago. I’d had a wonderful breakfast in bed and made a few notes on my iPad. At that moment I decided to write what I really wanted to – books about food and dogs. I started Kelly’s Koffee Shop the morning after we returned and a year later I’ve published a book a month, all cozy mysteries and all having lots of food, recipes, and dogs. The three cozy mystery series, Cedar Bay, Liz Lucas, and the latest, High Desert, have really caught on. Evidently my readers have enjoyed the because each of the books has been a best seller in cozy mystery culinary books and animal books, plus Amazon has named me as on of their most popular authors for seven months.

Why food? I can’t remember a time I wasn’t interested in it. Cooking and trying out new recipes has always been one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been fortunate to have attended cooking classes and schools at a number of places here in the United States as well as in France, Portugal, Thailand, and Italy. In fact, one of the books, Murder at the Cooking School, is a loose rendition of the week we spent at a cooking school in Tuscany. The recipes in that book all come from that experience, but fortunately we didn’t encounter a murder!

My husband was a California Senator, and we entertained so much (read that as me cooking) that one of his advisors suggested we do fundraising dinners. I cooked five courses, and he charged $1,500 a person. They became so popular we had to do them back-to-back nights because we couldn’t accommodate all the people who wanted to attend. Trust me, that’s every politician’s dream!

One of my fondest memories of those times was when one of the guests who is a well-known California lobbyist asked my husband if he would give him the name of the caterer who had cooked the meal because he’d like to hire the person for his next event!

The recipes in my books are all from my personal collection and have been prepared by me for years. Many are from family members, because I’m not the only one in the family who likes to cook. Mother-in-law recipes, sister-in-law recipes, and my mother’s recipes are all in the books.

I’ve read that cooking for people is a form of showing love. I think that’s a charming thought and hope all of you are giving plenty of love!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and bon appetit!

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Dianne!

You can find Dianne and her books here:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Guido Henkel, Author of HUNTED

Food plays such an elemental part of our lives that I am often surprised how little of it is shown in fiction, and even in movies or TV shows. I mean, after all, didn’t we just have breakfast, and then lunch, and now we’re eating again? There are days when it feels that our entire being revolves around nothing but food. And the worst part is that after a few hours it is depleted, and the cycle starts all over again. For cooks it must be a devastating feeling to have labored over a good meal for hours, only to have it gobbled down in a few minutes without any further pay-off, knowing that it was a rather vain attempt to stop the hunger, because before long, we’ll be have to have at it again. In the real world, food is king, not money!

A while back my editor returned one of my manuscripts to me with the general comment “I love that Jason Dark and Siu Lin always have these conversations over food.” It was only then that I realized, yes, my characters do sit down to eat and talk about things. As a writer, for me, it’s always a nice set piece that gives me a backdrop that I can make as rich and detailed as I want to, or relegate it to the background if I desire.

While I have sit-downs in my stories where the characters eat sumptuous dinners—it seems to make Jason Dark’s deductive juices flow—I also use food as coloration. Like a throw-away line. He may just walk past a stall in a market place and grab an apple and share it with his companion Siu Lin, or he purchases fish and chips from a street vendor while being on the run to solve his current supernatural mystery. Naturally, rice dishes are also ever-present, as my character Siu Lin prefers her diet more Asian.

Drink is equally important, I believe. Not necessarily booze, but the general consumption of liquids. My Jason Dark mysteries play in Victorian England, so the generally accepted notion is that everyone drinks tea, but in a twist of fate—or was it just my imagination?—I decided to make Jason Dark a coffee drinker—a preference handed down to him by his father, like many other things. At the same time, as one would expect, Siu Lin is a tea drinker, though not of the British Earl Grey variation necessarily, she prefers the Lapsang and Jasmine teas of her homeland of China.

While I find that I never pick food scenes consciously, they seem to be part of my writing fabric. This is, perhaps, most noticeable in the series’ first book, Demon’s Night. When readers meet Jason Dark for the very first time, his introduction takes place at a breakfast table where he eats with his live-in sister in-law, as she points out a particular newspaper article to him, which ultimately leads to him investigating the case in question. As I said, I did not write this scene with the conscious desire of wanting to write a “food scene.” To me it simply felt natural. A beautiful morning, sunlight falls in through the window, fresh rolls on the table and a cup of steaming coffee, the aroma filling the air. It is homey, and the perfect counterpoint to what just happened on the previous page—yes, as you may have guessed, the previous chapter involved a few people getting killed by some strange creature.

Feel free to check out any book in my Jason Dark series, or give the latest release, Hunted, a try, and see how many food moments you can spot in the book.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Guido!

You can find Guido here:

Friday, October 2, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Kelly Hashway, Author of The Monster Within

In The Monster Within, Samantha Thompson isn’t your typical seventeen-year-old. She died of cancer and was brought back to life by her loving boyfriend, Ethan. Now they’ve run away together to keep people from finding out what they’ve done. Assuming new identities and living on their own means fending completely for themselves. They live off crackers and bottled water for a while because they don’t have much money. That is until they both get jobs at a local diner. There, Ethan learns to cook while Sam waits tables. But even though they are able to eat good food, they both still have their quirky tastes. Sam dunks French fries in her vanilla milkshakes, and Ethan dunks his soft pretzels in his chocolate milk.
They aren’t the only characters who have odd tastes. Nora comes to the diner every day but never orders anything other than coffee. She drinks cup after cup after cup. And since she and Sam get off to a rocky start, the bitter coffee fits Nora’s personality perfectly.
The other side to this story is that Sam didn’t exactly come back to life as the girl she was before. There was a side effect. She has a monster inside her and she has to feed it in order to survive. And all the monster wants is to drain the life from other human beings, so Sam literally feeds on the life force of others—or she’ll die.
I never realized how much of a role food played in this book, but it’s pretty much everywhere. Throw in some witches and their aversion to salt, and food can pack a real punch in this story.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Kelly!

You can find Kelly here: