Friday, May 29, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lorna Dounaeva, Author of May Queen Killers

My new novel, May Queen Killers, reads almost like a cosy mystery, but there is a psychological element and a pinch of humour at the heart of the story.

Mystery writer Jock Skone arrives in Fleckford, a small village on the English/Welsh border, where he instantly falls for tea-shop owner Sapphire Butterworth. Not long after they meet, Sapphire is presiding over the village’s May Day celebrations when she suddenly jumps down from her float and flees through the crowd.  Jock runs after her, but is unable to keep up.  Eventually, he trudges back to her tea-shop and a few minutes later, someone throws a brick through the window.

The mystery of the missing May Queen deepens as it is revealed that Sapphire was not the first May Queen to go missing. Jock and his new friend Dylan set out to solve the mystery over endless cups of Yorkshire tea and slices of Battenberg cake.  If you’re not familiar with Battenberg, it’s a light sponge cake made up of chequered pink and yellow squares, cemented with apricot jam and covered with marzipan. 

Sapphire’s tea-shop is 1950s themed, with tea cosies, fancy china and frilly table cloths.  By contrast, just over the road, is the Dragon pub, where Jock is staying. Its landlord, Neil would rather sit and eat a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, than serve his customers. And the only foods on his menu are microwaved shepherd’s pies and chips. I know where I’d rather eat…

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lorna!

You can find Lorna here:


Friday, May 22, 2015

FOODFIC: I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore

When we first meet our hero – Number Four – he’s Daniel James of South Florida. But not for long. You see, Four is literally the fourth of 9 Lorien Garde who are hiding on Earth from Mogadorian hunters until their planet is safe to return to. The methodical elimination demands that once #3 is killed, Four is up next. So within pages of meeting him, our hero Daniel must assume the new identity of John Smith and relocate to Paradise, Ohio, population 5243. The size of the town is important, not because it makes it easier for now-John to blend (it’s actually harder, since new people stick out like Dopey’s ears in small towns) but because it’s nearly impossible for the larger-than-believably-human Mogadorians to blend.

At least Four is not alone; he travels with his “father” Keeper Henri, who stays Henri in every town for simplicity’s sake.* And Henri didn’t choose Paradise because it’s homey; he prefers they not get too attached to anywhere or anyone since they may/probably might/most definitely will have to leave town on very short notice. So of course this is the one place over after 11 years of moves  that Four does make a deep personal connection. And, ironically, he connects with Sarah in the “homiest” place in the school – the home ec kitchen. They bond over cupcakes and shared stories and a mutual frenemy. It’s all more 15-year-old Four has ever known, maybe even hoped for, which is why we get that sinking feeling that the day she becomes too hard for him to leave is exactly when he’ll have to go.

But what if this time he stays? What if he stops running and tries to fight back? Perhaps that could be the recipe for a win…

*You have to think it’d be even easier for Four to call Henri “Dad,” but he never has, even though his birth father was killed along with the rest of his family in the wars on Lorien years ago.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Christoph Fischer, Author of In Search of a Revolution

“Food in a war drama? That won’t be too exciting, will it?” I hear you say. Well, in a way it isn’t at first. Zacharias Nielsen, the hero of In Search of a Revolution gets no real taste of Finnish cuisine when he arrives from Denmark to join the Finnish Civil War in 1918.

He is young and full of enthusiasm and doesn’t mind the Army rations of fish, potatoes and bread, clearly not cooked with much love. For the sake of ideology, he can put culinary pleasures to the back of his mind and happily goes days without much food at all. His idealism easily survives that first crucial test.

After the war he lives with Raisa, a Finnish nurse, who finally introduces him to more traditional Finnish, Karelian and even Russian dishes. Finland had been a Grand Duchy and part of Tsarist Russia which influenced and enriched her menu. In Raisa's hands, Zacharias gets to eat a wide selection of dishes, most memorable are spicy meat stews and grilled black pudding with whortleberries. The cuisine however remains basic, since they are struggling with money.

When there’s no prohibition, they like their drink: beer, wine and vodka.

Raisa uses both, drink and food, to entice Zacharias and try to make him fall in love with her and her wonderful country. He is tempted, but it’s not enough.

All the way through the novel Zacharias misses the Danish pork stews.

“I miss the [Danish] bread the most,” Zacharias laments to one of his Danish friends in exile. “Your mother made the most amazing rugbrød topped with leverpostej,” he added. [That’s rye bread with liver pate]. “We had a cook but she always bought bread, and it was never quite as good as your mother’s.” Home sweet home begins with food and you can take the boy out of Denmark, but not Denmark out of the boy.

When he moves to Karelia the food there doesn’t impress him either (and nor do the politics and circumstances). It makes you wonder why Zacharias stayed in a foreign country with so many political changes and personal problems, and no leverpostej to speak of.

Somehow, however much you adapt, your mother’s cooking is always best.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Christoph!

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small hamlet, not far from Bath.  He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012; Sebastian in May 2013 and The Black Eagle Inn in October 2013. Time To Let Go, his first contemporary work, was published in May 2014, and Conditions in October 2014. His medical thriller The Healer was released in January 2015.

He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Karl Fields, Author of Steths: Cognition

Steths: Cognition is set in a near-future version of America where a select few truly are judge and jury, hearing cases and deciding on guilt or innocence, as well as punishment.

Devin Chambers is among a rare group of humans with a trait called hypersensitive tympanic syndrome: the ability to hear heartbeats and, more specifically, the emotions within them. All he wants to do is play football, but his abilities as a Steth attract the attention of the Faulkner Academy, a prestigious boarding school. That’s because, in addition to being a school for regular students, Faulkner operates a secret training facility, preparing young Steths for the day they will sit in judgment of others.

Faulkner students are treated like royalty. The dorms have more in common with a five-star hotel, and the cafeteria features linens tablecloths and servers. It’s heady stuff for a guy who comes from a neighborhood where “the primary color is concrete,” and choosing the Faulkner lifestyle should be a no-brainer. But Devin is conflicted, especially when he hears innocence in a death row inmate’s heartbeat, a sentiment no one around him shares.

Each decision Devin makes presents him with another dilemma instead of a resolution until finally, whether the condemned man lives or dies resides with him. At one point, Devin’s stepfather, Marcus, enters the kitchen to find Devin helping himself to a frozen waffle and peanut butter. Marcus points out that this has been “thinking food” for as long as he’s known Devin.

Without giving up specifics (discussion of the Steth training program with anyone not in the program is forbidden), Devin confides in Marcus, and the two have a heart-to-heart over store-bought waffles. It's a far cry from the gourmet fare served up at Faulkner and a key moment in the story, as the stakes have grown incredibly and Devin's actions will have serious implications.

Many of us have a “go-to” food when something has us stressed or sad or anxious. By having this scene play out at the breakfast nook, I thought helped make Devin relatable at a key moment. Also, I was trying to show that despite everything that he’s experienced at the academy, he hasn’t lost who he really is.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Karl!

You can find Karl here: