children's writer

Food and Writing: Icing on Top of a Great Book

Nov 30, 2015

The holidays are here, which means lots of hot chocolate and other sweet treats to help ease those winter blues. If you should know one thing about me it's that I have quite a thing for hot chocolate. My Hungry Girl Drink board on Pinterest is a perfect example of that, but I digress. This post is not about hot chocolate. Well, mostly not about hot chocolate.

In the past weeks, I've had the pleasure of reading two great books. I read Nightbird by Alice Hoffman and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. Both of them ended up on my favorites shelf for the same reason. They made me hungry for more, absolutely ravenous.

I loved the way the authors used food to add a touch of sweetness to their narratives. If you didn't know, Nightbird and The Girl Who Chased the Moon are magical realism, meaning that there's just a touch of magic running along the edges, making them quite delightful reads.

From hummingbird cake to pink apple pie, my stomach was growling upon finishing these books. One character even had a cake sense, the ability to sense when cake was being made. Forget being able to fly or read minds, imagine being able to see wisps of sugar and flour swirling through the air like falling snow. How delightful!

During NaNoWriMo, I found myself writing about food more than I'd intended. No doubt reading those wonderful tales had influenced me. I found my main character had a sweet tooth as well, often craving cinnamon hot chocolate, sometimes with extra whipped cream. Now that I'll be heading into revisions in a month or so, I've thinking about how I could play up this sweet element.

While there probably won't be any characters with a cake sense, hats off to Sarah Addison Allen for that one, it's quite obvious that everyone loves a well described meal. I can't be the only one who looked forward to dinner at Hogwarts. So I've been looking through my food boards on Pinterest, searching for hearty meals, the more icing the better, trying to find some way to really delve deeper into my characters. While one character might remember fondly their first love whenever biting into a piece of dark chocolate, another might be reminded of how bitter love can be.

While making readers cry might be at the top of a writer's want list, there's also a big benefit in making their stomach's grumble and their mouths water. When in doubt, add more icing.

So tell me, is food an element you use in your writing? I would love to know.
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