I don’t know if I need to eat a bigger breakfast before I start writing for the day or if I simply like talking about food, but I’ve noticed my characters are sitting down to meals or discussing what they’re planning to eat for dinner more and more in each book. The use of food in the books has also changed from when I started the Blossom Valley Mysteries.
In the first two books, I mostly used food for humor. Dana loves cheeseburgers and ice cream sundaes but works at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa, a bed-and-breakfast that promotes healthy eating and spurns processed foods. I had a lot of fun writing about Dana’s reactions to some of the ultra healthy or plainly bizarre foods that Zennia, the spa’s cook, concocted for the farm guests.
That started to slowly change in the third book as Dana decided to be more open-minded about what she ate. She started trying Zennia’s dishes instead of immediately turning her nose up at them. She even decided vegetables weren’t foods that you always needed to drown in cheese sauce or butter (although that’s not a bad way to eat them, just to be clear).
And now, in the book that I’m currently working on, Dana has completely stepped over to the other side. While she’s not ready to gobble up stir-fried tofu or guzzle wheat grass shots, she is filling in for Zennia, who is taking a leave of absence from the farm. Not only does Dana have to provide breakfast and lunch for the guests, but whatever she cooks must be both healthy and edible. Naturally she’s in a state of panic, but she’s also realizing that good-for-you meals can be delicious and satisfying.
While I’m trying to limit Dana’s time in the kitchen so that her new responsibilities don’t completely take over the main plot of the book, I find that as soon as I sit down to write a scene, I start thinking about what Dana will be cooking next. Of course, that means I have to take a “quick” break to surf the internet for healthy recipes and ideas. That, in turn, makes me hungry enough that I often step away from the computer to make myself a snack. And if I’m eating, I’m clearly not writing. All this research is bad for my word count and even worse for my waistline.
Too bad Dana’s sole responsibility at the farm isn’t mucking out the pig sty. Then, she – and I - would never think about food again!