My friend and fellow Kensington author, Mae Clair, guested on Esme Salon recently. She wrote a fun post about the ingredients needed to write a good book and her recipe for a dynamite tortellini salad. (Well, sort of a recipe…maybe…I copied and pasted it in case you want to give it a try:) You can find the entire post here: https://esmesalon.com/guest-post-cooks-books-and-suspense/ And just in case you can’t wait to get in the kitchen, here’s the recipe:
Mae Clair’s No-Fail Tortellini Salad
- Mix a healthy dose of delusions with 1 cup of vigorous pep-talk.
- Remind yourself you’ve created complex characters and plots. How difficult can an oven/stove thingie be?
- Ignore spouse who reminds you about the “infamous cake fiasco” that resulted in one overly large, hockey puck-like biscotti. Apparently, there is a legitimate reason a box cake mix calls for water. Who knew?
- Settle for making a simple appetizer and breathe a sigh of relief.
- Ignore husband when he comments the last appetizer you made should have been killed before it multiplied.
- Blow the dust off cookbooks and search for an appetizer recipe.
- Turn deaf ear to the husband who suggests you have yet to outgrow the adult supervision stage.
- Decide you’d rather spend your time writing than crushing tortilla chips and slicing up fat black olives. Celebrate with a glass of wine.
- Head for your nearest gourmet deli and clean them out of tortellini salad.
- For the highly skilled (I wouldn’t suggest something this complex on the first try): place tortellini salad in a festive bowl and pass off as your own. Blank expressions and stammering rarely work when someone asks for the recipe. The best you can hope for is a diversion. Fainting usually does the trick
Now Mae’s recipe was obviously tongue-in-cheek, but for my new mystery series, my editor asked me to include two recipes for the first book. I have more recipes than any file folder can hold, but I always worry about how much I have to tinker with them to make them mine. I love puttering in the kitchen, but my two sisters have never met a stove/thingie they like. Even if I do the cooking, they don’t like it when I get too “chefy.” So, I was curious how other authors who write “food” mysteries handled the cooking and recipes. To find out, I’ve been reading a lot of them.
I just finished The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis. Clever, huh? Davis combines cooking, characters, the mystery, and more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street. It was the first book in her Diva series, and I plan to buy more. I was relieved to see that she included only two recipes at the back of the book, but she DID include lots of Martha Stewart type entertaining and decorating tips. I got hooked on food mysteries when I first discovered Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Bear’s catering novels. When Goldy catered an event, Davidson included most or all of the recipes. Shirley Jump–who used to live in my city and was a gracious hostess for writing get-togethers–wrote a series of Sweet and Savory romances, starting with The Bride Wore Chocolate, where she shared a witty recipe at the end of every chapter. (She said she gained weight testing them all).
Anyway, this is my question. When a writer includes recipes in a novel, have any of you tried them out? How many recipes do you expect at the end of a book? Can a writer include too many? Do you prefer simple recipes to complicated ones?
For now, I’ve moved on to reading No Cats Allowed, a Cat in the Stacks mystery by Miranda James. Cats and librarians. How can you beat that?
Whatever you’re reading now, I hope you enjoy it. And happy writing!