Friday, July 29, 2011

Guest Melissa Bourbon

Being a writer has taught me a lot about myself--namely that food is important to me. Sure, I could stand to lose 10 pounds (thanks to the warm chocolate chip cookies I tend to make a bit too often), but it’s more than that. It’s really about the kitchen being the heart of the home. It is in our house, it is in my Lola Cruz mystery series, and while it plays a bit of a lesser role in my new cozy Magical Dressmaking mystery series, it’s definitely there.

Harlow Cassidy, my heroine/amateur sleuth in Pleating for Mercy (which comes out Tuesday!), is surrounded by magical charms. Her mother, Tessa, has a green thumb with a checks and balances system. Flowers and plants grow, but so do the weeds. But Coleta, Harlow’s great-grandmother, happens to have a way with goats who are around to eat the surplus weeds. Nana also makes goat cheese (not a personal favorite of mine, but very fun to write about!). Through the goats, food will always be present in these books.

There’s a bit of Southern cooking here and there, however, beyond the goat cheese. Fried chicken, sweet tea (another thing I don’t love, but which is quite Southern), fried okra, chicken fried steak, and cornbread. Yum, yum, yum!

It’s not like I plan to include food in my books; it just happens. With my Lola Cruz stories, the food is part of the Hispanic culture. It gives background, flavor, and helps create a complete sense of the setting. When I was dating, and then married my husband, I saw just how important food was in the culture. Everything was made and shared with such love. When I created Lola’s world, the cooking was a natural extension of that world.

Same with the Southern fare in the Magical Dressmaking mysteries. We all respond to food, and regional food taps into our senses and emotions about a place.

It took writing books for me to realize just how I view food--as a cultural element which helps paint a complete picture of a character’s world. I’ll never love sweat tea or goat cheese, but I can definitely appreciate them. And I’m really having fun eating crab cakes, shrimp and grits, making fried okra, and generally experiencing the food I’m infusing my fictitious town of Bliss with.

What do you think food brings to the cozy table? Do you have a series you love in which food plays a subtle, yet important role?


You can pre-order Pleating for Mercy here:

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And please visit me at my various online spots:
The Naked Hero

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