Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Janet Fox, Author of the Faithful Series




Food Fit For...Everyone

The ice cream cone. Such a universal, charming, easy sweet. It was born (according to some lore) at the Exposition in St. Louis, 1904, when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and turned to a neighboring vendor for a rolled waffle, and...voila! The creation of an American original.

My first novel, Faithful, is set in the summer of 1904, so naturally I had to incorporate the cone in a scene of romantic discovery:

      Yet I wanted to reach across the table – right then, reach my arm over both our ice creams – and lift that lock of hair off his forehead and see him smile for me. Only for me. I would have followed his sea eyes into the bear’s teeth.
He glanced up. “Good?” His index finger pointed at my ice cream, now dripping down my fingers while I mooned.

Now, really. Who has not experienced romance over ice cream?

Historical fiction demands historical foods. In Faithful I also incorporated a dinner of planked whitefish (which I found on an ordinary menu from the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel of the early 1900s). This was not a special menu item, but one served to any of the tourists who dined at the Hotel in those times. I hoped to make a statement: that my heroine Maggie Bennet, brought to a lower rank by circumstance, could eat like everyman, and that was just fine.

In my second novel, Forgiven, set in 1906, I used food to make the opposite distinction. Kula Baker has been raised in a lower class situation and pines for something more. But what she finds is unsustaining (and awkward, given her unaccustomed corset):

     The orchestra played waltzes, and waiters slid through with trays of delicacies – a seafood (shrimp, according to Miss Everts’s whisper), a pastry filled with small black nubbins (caviar, Miss Everts called it), and, of all the awful things, snails. Due to my constrained condition and the peculiarity of these dishes, I declined to eat.

Which leads her to an overabundance of punch, which leads her to an awkward moment and a life-altering discovery. Who hasn’t been at a party and seen items served that, honestly, were gag-worthy? And who has not run romantic risks when confronted with an alcoholic beverage on an empty stomach?

Food defines status; food defines circumstance. But we all have to eat. I feel it is part of my job as author to incorporate foods that define the times about which I write, but that in addition my readers can use to relate to their own experience.


     Janet Fox is the author of books for children and
     young adults.
Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010), set
     in Yellowstone National Park in 1904, was a YALSA
     Best Fiction for YA nominee and an Amelia Bloomer
     List pick, 2011.
Forgiven (2011, Speak), set in 1906
     San Francisco during the great earthquake, is a
     Junior Library Guild selection, 2011. Janet has
     numerous MG and YA projects underway including
     another YA novel, set in 1925, due out 2013. She is
     a former high school English teacher and received 
     her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults
     in 2010 (Vermont College of Fine Arts). Janet lives
     in Bozeman, Montana.


 You can find Janet at: www.janetsfox.com 

Thank you for stopping by to share some food for thought, Janet!

3 comments:

  1. Romance on ice cream and delicacies!!! Sounds like very hopeful and uplifting books there Janet...

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  2. Hopeful and uplifting - I hope so! :) Thanks for the comment - hugs.

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