Thursday, December 24, 2015

Eat, Drink, and Write Novels

It has been brought to my attention that there is a great deal of eating and drinking in my novels. Characters are forever sitting down to feasts or sharing wine or even brewing coffee. I hadn't really thought about it but it is true — there is definitely more of that sort of thing than in the average novel.

Food is important. Food is basic. Folks do converse and plan over meals or glasses of beer or cups of tea. I do, anyway! It just seems natural to make it an integral part of the narrative.

Food also identifies. Different classes, different cultures, eat differently. Peasants drink ale when nobles drink wine (not always, of course). On one side of the mountains, they consume barley; one the other, millet or maize. They make a unique cheese in one place. A sweet wine comes from another.

Food identifies characters as well, the glutton, the ascetic. The man who prefers rare meat and he who loves sweets. One might be a gourmet or a wine snob. Another does not care what is placed before him. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are a fair number of characters involved in the preparation or serving of food, inn keepers, brewers, cooks, even a prominent family of wine merchants.

We are what we eat, perhaps, and the same with a character in a story.

Basic, I said. Part of the everyday fabric, part of making things real. People eat and drink and scheme and make love. In my novels they do, anyway.

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