Thursday, March 10, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Vickie Johnstone, Author of The Sea Inside

When Shelley asked me to contribute a post about the food my characters eat in The Sea Inside, my first thought was it’s a good job she didn’t ask about I Dream of Zombies – not from the perspective of the zombies anyway.

The Sea Inside is set in three different places – our own reality, that of Entyre lost beneath the waves and another fantasy world – between which the heroine, sixteen-year-old Jayne discovers a bridge, thanks to a strange gift from an older character, Sophia. Waking in a forest, confused as to whether it is real or a product of her imaginings, Jayne wanders into danger, from which she is rescued by a stranger from the sea, called Skyen.

“I was not dreaming. There was no way my imagination could conjure all of this up and for it to seem so real… There was neither sun nor moon nor stars, only a faint mist. The stars of my home were replaced by glittering lights that flickered in the blue of everything.”

Of course, being a Brit, I made one of the most important conversations in the book – between Jayne and Sophia – happen over a good old cuppa. As in real life, things may be solvable over a warming mug of tea.

In our world, Jayne lives with her grandfather, and I imagine he did most of the cooking. It would be traditional English fare, such as: bangers (sausages) and mash; egg, bacon and chips; meat pies; baked beans on toast; eggy soldiers; and beef roast dinner with roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, splattered with gravy on Sundays. I’m sure there would be a treacle pudding in there somewhere - and gallons of tea.

In Entyre, the scene where Jayne meets Skyen’s family for the first time takes place over dinner, prepared by Manna. I was thinking of Manna from Heaven. Manna was ground in a heavenly mill for the use of the righteous, but some of it was allocated to the wicked and left for them to grind themselves (Wikipedia).

In a sky-coloured room where lights sparkle in the walls and all the furnishings are indigo, the food is served on a table resembling glass but is made of sheer ice. Manna entered the room through a doorway filled with blue mist, which shimmered to nothing at her approach and then materialised again. The guests ate and drank from bowls and cups made from sparkling blue glass, using wooden utensils. On offer were fruits and pastries, the purest lemon juice mixed with an ingredient Jayne didn’t recognise, and there was total silence as everyone tucked in. One of Jayne’s favourite dishes was a combination of carrots, almonds and apples – or at least these were the ingredients from her own world that she matched it to. The dish was inspired by a salad I love, which I discovered on holiday in Poland.

Thinking of the food scenes, I thought that maybe I didn’t write enough of them! Perhaps because when I’m writing, eating seems trivial when really it’s as necessary as oxygen. It’s going to make me think about food a whole lot more.

Thanks to Shelley for inviting me on her blog. Bon appetit!

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

Vickie Johnstone lives in London and works as a 
magazine sub-editor. She has written 16 books. 
One of her favourite foods is Milky Bar chocolate.

You can find Vickie here:

And find all of her books here:

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