This month, because it’s our choice of topic, we picked food. We both love to cook, bake, bbq, and eat and so do our characters so it’s a perfect fit. Food has so many uses in a story (in the naughty way, sure, but that’s not what we’re talking about). Food has so many meanings both socially and personally, depending on the person. Everyone’s got their favourite comfort food and favourite dishes. And we, as a culture, put a whole different emphasis on going out for coffee as opposed to going out for dinner—and cooking for something has an entirely different meaning than going out or ordering in.
In Drive Into Love, we jumpstarted everything with having Ben invite Jess to stay for dinner after Jess comes out to take a look at one of Ben’s cars.
“Out back turned out to be an idyllic little patio overlooking an old swimming pool. The trees and garden blocked out the neighborhood so well that it felt like they were the last souls for miles. Except Eugene, of course. The cat wound in and out of Jess’s ankles as he pulled his boots back on and took the steps down from the kitchen.
Ben was over at the grill and there was a small patio table set for dinner. Jess could smell meat cooking and his stomach growled at him. Turned out dinner was steak and corn and potato salad, and it did seem Ben could cook.”
No need for a first date when you can jump right into the mix and have a guy prepare a meal, right? It’s a good way to feel out the chemistry between characters and we wanted to show how compatible, comfortable, these two could be in a domestic setting right from the start.
On the flip side of things, in New York, Nick and Holly are having a rough ride—after being apart for years—and yet even as they’re barely getting along it turns out that Nick remembers what Holly likes best when it comes to a post-hangover meal.
‘“There’s a new place just down from the Gazette Building that delivers. I’ve heard good things about their Dan Dan Mian.”
“You remember.” Now that he wasn’t completely drunk, stoned or furious, Holly couldn’t help the way that warmed him up.’
They do say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but maybe it’s more through remembering what that stomach likes best. There’s something comforting about someone remembering your favourite foods—it means they’re paying attention to the fuel you need to get through the day (and sometimes the night).
We’re working on a new story and here Marquis, an architect with a high-pressure job and an unfortunate tendency to leave his boyfriend Navin hanging while he works late, takes the time to cook for him. It’s an act of affection and it’s also one that brings Marquis back to centre, reminds him that there’s a contentment to be found in serving Navin’s needs that he can’t get anywhere else.
“He couldn’t remember when he’d felt so relaxed and centered. Nothing mattered but the task at hand. He had everything he could want right now, no need to think beyond the moment and the walls of Navin’s apartment. He was exactly where he belonged, doing what he needed to do—almost the way he felt at work, but more rewarding.
The smell of garlic filled the small kitchen and he checked the recipe before he poured soy sauce into the pan.”
So we love food. Not just for eating but for all the ways we can use it in writing to show affection, to push a relationship along, to connect characters to one another.
Is food part of your love life or your love language? Do you have a favourite scene (or book) in which food plays a central role?
Until next time,
—Anah & Dianne