By Marilyn Meredith
Many cozy mysteries are centered around food such as when the sleuth owns a bakery, is a fudge maker, owns a café, is a chef, etc. Some of these books even have recipes in the back.
I’ve read other mysteries where the protagonist never seems to eat at all.
In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, my characters eat like normal folks. Both Tempe and her pastor husband cook—though Hutch is a better cook than she is.
In my latest mystery, Tempe and Hutch have gone to Morro Bay to celebrate their son’s wedding. This tale has lots of food in it.
Because it is a beach setting, Tempe and Hutch eat in a lot of restaurants, many real ones that I’ve eaten in while visiting the area. I describe what they eat and made myself hungry while doing it. Discussing the mystery that they are involved in over food seems natural to me.
They also get a taste of Ethiopian food because they share a couple of meals with the bride’s Ethiopian parents.
Personally, I like to know what my characters and the characters in other books choose to eat.
Food is an important part of our lives, and most celebrations center around food. In Not as it Seems several celebrations require food including the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself.
So tell me, how do you feel about food in your mysteries?
Not as It Seems Blurb:
Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.
Character Naming Contest:
Once again, I’ll name a character after the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.
Tomorrow I’ll be stopping by Maggie King’s http://maggieking.com/blog/ where I explain my fascination for law enforcement
Marilyn Meredith now lives in the foothills of the Southern Sierra, about 1000 feet lower than Tempe’s Bear Creek, but much resembles the fictional town and surroundings. She has nearly 40 books published, mostly mysteries. Besides writing, she loves to give presentations to writers’ groups. She’s on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and three chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter.
Food is very important to me, personally. In my two (third one coming soon) Nick and Meredith mysteries, I use food–and the lack of it–as an illustrator of the setting and plot. In Intent to Hold and With Malice Aforethought both characters are in the middle of the wilderness pursued and pursuing. Food becomes primarily fuel to them–to show their hardships. In Intent, I had great fun picking out food available in a Mexican country store that would be acceptable to Meredith. In Malice, energy bars and their texture, flavor, etc. are explored–hopefully with humor.
Thanks for your post, Marilyn! Always glad to hear from you!!
I like to see the characters in a story eating… that’s what makes them real to me! Real people eat or they fall over after a while! I’m not particularly enamored of recipes in a mystery (I wouldn’t expect to find a mystery in cookbook, unless I’m trying to find out what an unknown ingredient is!) but I think the food that the characters eat adds to the setting and give us more information about the characters themselves. Great post, Marilyn!
I’m so happy to be here, thank you, Thonie!
Thank you for stopping by, Amy. Sometimes I made myself hungry writing this book. Oh, and thank you for the great review!
Our characters are real to us and we want them to be real to our readers. Since food is part of life, I use it in my Malone mysteries.
And, like you, Marilyn, while my characters are cooking and/or eating, they often discuss the mystery they’re currently involved in.
Thank you, Patricia, for stopping by. I’m always amazed with mysteries where the characters never eat–especially the ones where the hero or heroine are like super heroes. Where does their energy come from.
Good words of wisdom, In my latest WWII (WIP) we have added a bit of food in the storyline and a couple of recipes.. Oxtail stew and War-Time Cake (without eggs, milk or butter). I often wonder about stories where the character don’t act like real people. Thanks for sharing.
Actually, I love to read about food that the characters are eating. H’mmm, a cake without milk, eggs or butter. I wonder how it tasted? Thanks for commenting, Elaine.
Food and eating are an important part of our lives. If we want realistic characters, having them eat and enjoy (or despise) food is essential to the process. Hopefully it will entice readers to hunger for more of our stories.
Hi, John, how nice to see you! Eating is pretty important.