My guest today is Carolyn J. Rose, the author of 11 novels including A Place of Forgetting, a story about love, war, betrayal, and Thoreau, set in 1966. A cozy mystery, No Substitute for Murder, is due out soon.
Carolyn grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Now getting her quota of stress as a substitute teacher, she lives in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.
I’d like to add that Carolyn has a wonderful sense of humor, and she demonstrates it well in today’s post.
If What You Ate Affected What You Wrote by Carolyn J. Rose, Guest Blogger
My grandmother used to tell me that. Maybe yours did, too. Or maybe you heard it in a health and nutrition class.
When I was very young, I worried that I would literally turn into my favorite foods: spaghetti, cauliflower with cheese sauce, baked potatoes loaded with sour cream, garlic bread, cashew nuts, and black olives. I feared I’d wake up some morning with spaghetti for hair, a body like a loaf of bread, a potato on my neck, cauliflower for ears, olives for eyes, and a cashew instead of a nose.
I was relieved to learn what the saying really meant, but not relieved to realize that if I couldn’t cut back on my favorite foods, I’d be pudgy for the rest of my life. (For the record, in my 30s there was a three-year window when I was, according to accepted weights and standards, Not Pudgy. The rest of my life I’ve lived a few pounds over the line into Pudgyville.)
Recently, as I sat down to a salad with just a mist of dressing and a couple of tasteless crackers, I thought about that old saying and how interesting writing would be if we could use food as more than physical fuel and emotional sustenance.
What if what we ate influenced what we wrote?
And what if we could channel and direct that influence?
Let’s say I wanted to write a tense scene filled with biting dialogue. I might heat up a bowl of super-hot chili and sprinkle on cheese to bind it. Hot and sour soup might work as well.
If a scene called for light and witty dialogue, I might dine on sparkling cider, fluffy biscuits, and whipped butter.
For a scene dense with backstory and characterization, I’d go for something meaty, perhaps a pot roast with potatoes or a plate of turkey and stuffing, or even that bowl of oatmeal my grandmother always swore would stick to my ribs.
For fast-paced action, perhaps a bowl of prunes and bran flakes.
If the food-for-fiction theory worked for scenes, the sky would be the limit in applying it to complete works.
If I wanted to write a short story, I’d eat only drive-through-diner food. For a novel, I’d whip up a seven-course dinner.
I might eat specific foods for specific genres.
For science fiction, Moon Pies and Starburst, Milky Way and Mars Bars.
For romance, I might dine on candy hearts, honey, and champagne.
For humor, a bowl of nuts.
For mystery, I could order off the menu at my favorite Chinese restaurant, picking numbers at random without peeking at which dishes they matched up with.
Eating those dishes without asking about the contents, however, might be too much of a challenge for this Virgo.
If this blog got you thinking about how you’d fuel your fiction, and if you’d like to get your name in the drawing for a book, stop by and leave a comment. I’ll get back to you soon. I’m working on a scene set in Hawaii and I just made myself a Lava Flow and opened a can of macadamia nuts.
Carolyn, thanks so much for being my guest today. And an extra thank you for giving away a copy of A Place of Forgetting.
Everyone, be sure to leave a comment if you want to be entered in the drawing.