Monday, March 14, 2011

"That Book Made Me Hungry!"

When a relative finished reading the draft for The Pig Farm, she exclaimed that it had made her hungry. My characters had eaten a lot of Caribbean style dishes, which I had added to give authenticity to the setting. Then I remembered reading the novels of the late, great Virginia Rich who perhaps started the culinary mystery novel sub-genre. She always included a recipe or two at the end of her novels. Sadly, she died after only publishing three novels. But culinary mysteries are now a staple of the cozy and not so cozy market. Diane Mott Davidson “sprinkles” recipes throughout her books as do many other culinary mystery writers. So, I added a recipe section at the end of my novel and titled that section, A Taste of Palmaltas. The sequel, The Pool Lizards, takes place in Florida and once again I added a recipe section at the end with original recipes by the main female character of both novels. As I finish the trilogy with The Groundhog Lounge, I will once again end it with a recipe section.

But there are many authors who do not write culinary mysteries but do insert food, and lots of it, into their novels. One of my favorites is Lawrence Sanders, author of the Deadly Sins, Commandments, and Archy McNally series plus many other books. And his novels definitely are not cozy. His Deadly Sins novels have so many mouth-watering recipes for sandwiches that I started writing them down and adding them to my own recipes. I love reading about his sandwiches as much as I do reading his novels. And his Archy McNally not only likes a good sandwich but haute cuisine as well.

So mystery writers like food. But what about romance writers? If there is a culinary romance sub-genre, it has eluded me. However, I have included a lot of food descriptions in my romances. (The novels in the trilogy mentioned above are quirky mysteries.) A Caribbean Summer takes place on the same island, Palmaltas, as The Pig Farm does. Although food is not as prominent in that novel as in the first one, the characters do sample Palmaltan cuisine. My next romance Amorous Ambush, which takes place in Texas, might very well fit into a culinary romance sub-genre. Both female and male protagonists try to outdo each other in the kitchen. In my third romance A Colorado Destiny, the female protagonist does not cook but the male protagonist does and he whips up a fairly sexy dinner for two.

When I mentioned to one of my brothers how much I loved reading about food, especially in Lawrence Sanders’ books, he replied, rather gruffly, “I skip that part. Has nothing to do with the story.” Maybe, maybe not. I also wrote a comical mystery where the lady of the house hired a young man who claimed to be a French chef. He wasn’t, of course, and the dishes he served were beyond ridiculous but they fooled the lady. When she died eating a salad, he became the prime suspect in her death.

Oh yes, I love reading and writing about food. My protagonists love to cook and to eat. And so do I.

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