Thursday, February 17, 2022

FOODFIC: Please Welcome C.M. Kerley, Author of the Barclan Series

In my view, unless you’re writing a cookbook, food should never be about what someone is eating, it’s about control.

And, since we’re storytelling here, it’s about what someone was doing just before they burned a town to the ground, set a stone fountain on fire, or fell into a deep sleep and aged a thousand years.

In my fantasy series, I found the balance of creating a world of magic and adventure that was believable by bringing in elements of the everyday that the reader can relate to and often these events took place in a familiar place like a kitchen or tavern, or around a familiar task like cooking.

The Hummingbird’s Tear opens with a bang, the reader is introduced to one of the main characters and immediately has to accept he can read people’s thoughts; and I do this by putting him in a tavern which is so easy to imagine, so it only a minute amount of effort for the reader to extend their belief to a mind reader. This book is all about the characters and the events that propel them across a three story arc, and as I ask the reader to indulge their appetite for excellent fantasy, so I let the characters gorge. There’s sumptuous foods cooked in kitchens, people have full stomachs, no one is hungry.

Everyone is starving at the start of the Giant’s Echo, and famine is killing people as fast as the mercenary armies that are attacking the kingdom from within. In this book, it’s not about food, there is no food, it’s about what’s left and how desperate everyone is.

My favourite scene from this book has one of the main characters, Travis, coming down off a drug bender in the presence of the Queen. This scene isn’t about food as much as it is about the way she uses it to torture him, to let him know she isn’t blind to what he is doing:

The queen picked up her spoon and started lightly tapping the side of the bowl. The clink, clink, clink quickly vexed Travis. He imagined reaching out, grabbing the ornate royal silver bowl and throwing it against the wall behind her. Anything to make her stop, make her jump, make her react. Each strike of the spoon seemed louder than the last, the echoes trapping him in the room. Every time she clinked the spoon on the bowl Travis blinked. He wished he could snatch that spoon, bend it in half and hammer it into the table with his fists.

By the time the reader has picked up the Hunchback’s Sigh, we’ve got past food and we’re onto drink. In a story that’s taken readers to the start of creation and back, across a whole world and offered up characters to love and utterly revile, I offered them booze. 

This book is about how we deal with what we’ve done, what we’re going to do, and what we are going to force other people to do; weighty issues no matter how you dress them. So, I dropped food, it becomes nothing more than what people have to do to keep being able to put a foot in front of the other, and I used the good old fashioned device of a strong drink to give some of my characters a break. Believe me, they needed it.

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

You can find C.M. Kerley here:

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