Hey, how are you? Good to see you back. Sit, sit, pull up a chair. Here *offers steaming mug* coffee’s ready.
So, I have a question for you. Have you ever pondered on the quirksome parallels between a delicious dish and a really good book?
No? Oh, just me then…?
Well, I am married to a Chef, a damn fine one too *swells with pride* It’s quite usual for us to while away long evenings in deep conversation, talking food, constructing dishes, especially if he’s writing a new menu, and likewise, books. It’s become quite apparent over the years, that writing is much like cooking. Our personalities are very similar, our creative brains work in much the same way.
My hubby has often said, “some great dishes start with an onion,” (of course, if its a dessert, maybe sugar, but let’s not get into the depths of pastry as that’s his forte, not mine. Though I make a mean bread pudding – Oh, I feel a foodie blog on the horizon.) *inspiration strikes* I digress. It happens. But let’s get back to those onions. When it comes to creating something to delight and digest, writing a book can be much the same as creating a dish.
Can choosing the right onion make or break a story? Perhaps. Let’s take that onion. A writer will peel it, layer after layer getting to the root of the plot until it’s ready, giving the story a well-seasoned, perfectly cooked base to add further ingredients – believable characters, realistic dialogue, atmospheric location. To be topped with the perfect garnish – a plot twist. Then serve it up on a well-chosen plate, the book cover. Voilà, bon appétit
I’ve spoken to many fellow writers over the years, and their ‘onion’ can vary greatly. Inspiration can come from anywhere, an overheard conversation, a location, a memory, a dream. All that’s needed to ignite that tiny spark, providing that starting point for the journey, taking it down a long winding path. Whether a cosy mystery with a variety of curious characters weaving the mystery plot among them or a 1940’s fast-paced, action-packed noir crime thriller, all their creators start with a base. This varying creative process is what makes writing so personal, so unique. Each writer works with their own personal method and style, in turn, allowing their individual voice to be heard, filling bookshelves with a diverse range of books.
So, this had me thinking, what’s my onion?
For me, it’s emotion, no matter what genre I’m writing. I am by nature an emotional soul, wearing my heart on my sleeve. What you see if what you get, as they say, *blushes*
My debut novel, Remember to Love Me, has a far gentler romantic taste than my later works, nevertheless, beneath the instant romantic essence, the emotions are darker, deep-rooted – need, desperation and grief. Again, with The Manningtree Account, and later with the extended edition, Daughters of the Oak, it’s the deep-seated character’s emotions that drive the story – fear, loathing, revenge. Without these emotions giving the characters dimension, drive and purpose, as plot-lead stories they could have easily wound-up bland and more ‘historical docudrama’ than fiction.
Is it the same for a reader?
I think so. Though most of us will read a spectrum of genres, it’s probable that most of us have our favourite go-to genre, maybe even a couple depending on our mood. That feast to nourishes our appetite, knowing it will satisfy, yet leaving us hungry for more. Our ‘comfort food’ books. Perhaps a favourite author with an ability to tantalise our taste buds, a writer who really ‘knows their onions’, presenting us with a perfectly ‘cooked’ book.
So, while you finish your coffee *takes a long sip*, I leave you to ponder, what’s your onion?