In my YA thriller From Where I Watch You (Soho Teen), two food items are mentioned frequently: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing, and split pea soup.
My protagonist Kara uses her passion for baking to escape two people: her crazy but grief-stricken mom--who thinks her split pea soup will save the world--and the stalker leaving her creepy notes.
Kara is an aspiring baker who decorates (and would eat, though I don’t think I really mentioned it in the story) fancy cookies. Her world is sugar, butter, flour, Royal Icing, and trying to figure out who is stalking her.
My own love of baking, learned in childhood from my three grandmas and my mom, has been comfort and stress relief, as well as influencing so much of my life and my writing. In college, baking was always a stress reliever in the middle of homework, or maybe it was the cookie dough eating! My own favorite thing to bake is pie, although for the last 15+ years I’ve had to convert to gluten-free baking which is not as easy.
My favorite memories of being a kid are tied to food, mostly baking, and being together with family. So naturally, I haven’t written a thing in my life that doesn’t have baking in it. I have a couple of drawer novels that are heavily set in bakeries and cafes.
I think this might be a writerly thing or a book lover thing or both, but my dream store would be a bookstore/espresso shop/bakery. I always thought it would be a pretty awesome store to own, or even a food truck version. The closest I ever got to commercial baking is in the deli where I worked when I was in college, where nightly we set out frozen croissants to bake in the morning. Yeah that is not really baking. But I do wish someone would figure out how to make a gluten free croissant!
I am a kindergarten teacher by day. It is so important to me to offer experiences they might not get at home, like baking, that I have a little oven in my classroom. A coworker’s daughter is currently in a pastry chef school and I find myself sort of jealous of that. But then all it takes is a December full of cookie baking and how much it hurts your back to make me change my mind!
Baking is love and joy. Cookies, bread, cupcakes, pies, etc. Baking and baked goods are forever tied to wonderful holiday memories of family and being together. I think that is true for so many, and across cultures. If I’d written my book as an adult novel, I likely would’ve had more scenes where people were eating and I would’ve gone into detailed descriptions. For a young adult novel, it probably would’ve bogged down the pacing.
If you want to bake up some fancy cookies, there is a great sugar cookie recipe in the back of From Where I Watch You. I have mastered how to make them gluten free now and no one can tell the difference!
Thanks for reading! :)
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your food for thought, Shannon!