Afternoon, readers! I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a new hobby to explore. For author Candace Calvert, her passion for writing medical romance tends to lead her many exciting places . . . typically the kitchen! Join me in welcoming the adventurous cook (and writer!) Candace Calvert to the blog today!
Are those coffee rings on your magazines? Cookie crumbs in your paperback? And wait . . . Is that really a Cool Ranch Doritos thumbprint on your Kindle screen?
Ah yes, an obvious case of Food and Books.
No worries, I’m not calling the Bibliophile Forensic Team. I’m simply proving a point: reading gives us the munchies.
So does writing—ask any author with a jar of M&M’s on her desk. And for me, this food-book connection goes further: writing urges me to cook. To push away from the keyboard, don my favorite apron, brandish a whisk, and happily sprinkle herbs and freshly grated Parmesan instead of metaphors and similes.
Though I’m called the author of the “medical hope opera,” readers who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know I’m also a passionate foodie who tackles new recipes and shares tips (and bloopers!) while snapping pictures of the process. I post a lot of photos. I’ll never forget the time I ran into a bestselling author at the ACFW conference. I was starstruck. Then stunned as she admitted with a laugh, “We’ve never met, Candace, but I know what you had for dinner three out of five days last week—you always make me hungry!”
With book deadlines looming and fast food an ever-present option, why choose to spend so much time in my kitchen? Why do words like simmer, sauté, and caramelize stir my senses like poetry? Maybe it’s because of my time in the trenches of ER. Those three decades in scrubs, jogging down the corridors—stethoscope bouncing around my neck—to the wail of sirens. All the twelve-hour Thanksgiving shifts when cold pizza and stale coffee substituted for roast turkey, and I had to wolf it down “stat” between crises. Maybe the someday dream of writing extended to culinary creativity too. And now God’s blessed me with the opportunity for both.
My readers know that the food-book connection goes the other way too. My books have scenes in which food plays a role. Sometimes these provide comic relief from intense, adrenaline-infused medical drama. Many times the meal scenes add imagery native to the story’s setting, or occasionally lead to romance. Like in the following scene snippet from my newly released novel, Rescue Team, a story of forgiveness and grace. In this lighter moment, search-and-rescue hero Wes Tanner introduces nurse Kate Callison to the quirky Austin, Texas, food scene. They eat their meal standing up because our heroine is pathetically saddle sore.
Wes watched with amusement as Kate devoured her meal. Or tried to. “How you doin’ with your first taste of SoCo trailer food?”
“Ah . . .” Her expression was a comic mix of bliss and frustration. Coleslaw dribbled from a tortilla stuffed with chicken and fried avocado and shoved sideways into a paper snow-cone cup. She brushed at a sprinkle of crumbs on her clingy navy-blue cardigan. “This is fabulous. The chicken’s coated in sesame seeds, almonds, cornflakes, and . . . chili powder, I think.” She raised her voice to compete with a boisterous group of college students at a nearby table and lively bluegrass fiddling from somewhere across the street. “Messy, but incredible.”
“And merciful.” Wes pointed at the rails along the large mobile food cart, providing holes to hold the cones for diners who preferred to stand. “I kept my promise.”
The Mighty Cone, one of many trendy food carts on South Congress, also offered red-painted picnic tables and strings of globe bulbs to add light and romance—to a gravel parking lot with construction-zone ambience. Upscale food, no frills. He’d gotten a kick out of seeing Kate’s reaction to the fleet of carts and trailers boasting names like Wurst Tex, Coat and Thai, and Austin Frigid Frog. And the girlish delight on her face when she spotted Hey Cupcake!, a shiny aluminum Airstream with a huge pink cupcake hoisted atop. Kate had nearly squealed; apparently pink frosting was a counterbalance for her natural tendency toward prickly. Wes was determined to find more ways to make that happen.
Recently, I started a blog: “Authors’ Galley: Manuscripts & Wooden Spoons.” A cyberkitchen where (to my great delight) I host other writers and publishing professionals, asking that simmering question: “What’s cooking?” There is food talk, recipes, lively interaction with readers, and giveaways, too. It’s an opportunity to share ourselves the way we do when we write a story, cook a meal for family, friends, or a neighbor—or when we offer compassionate care in the trenches of ER. It’s a simple blog about food and books, but mostly it’s about connection and hospitality, always a wonderful blessing.
And a good enough excuse to celebrate crumbs in your paperback. You see, I’m on your side.
I love how you use food to really bring out the settings of your stories, Candace. This scene not only makes me hungry but convinces me I must travel there and try the dish myself! Can’t wait to stop by your blog and share in some great recipes!
Interested in Candace’s writing? Don’t miss out on her great food themed book giveaway!
For Candace Calvert, writing and cooking go hand in hand. What about you, readers? What hobbies do you enjoy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!