Today I’m thrilled to welcome romance writing royalty to Cooking The Books. Valerie Parv is a much loved author and I have to tell you, I spent quite a few years desperately trying to become one of her famous minions. She’s a generous teacher and mentor, an engaging speaker but first and foremost she’s a fabulous writer.
“When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness
and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
~ M.F.K. Fisher, from The Art of Eating
When Julia Child praises your book, you know you’re on to something, and Ms Child had only good things to say about M K Fisher’s approach to food, shown in the above quote. I think Mary Frances Fisher is right about the relationship between food and love, possibly hitting on the reason why so many romance novels have a focus on some aspect of eating.
In my novels, the hero never asks the heroine what’s for dinner. Instead, he arrives with a picnic basket of wonderful goodies and carries her off to a romantic setting. Or hires a restaurant exclusively for the two of them.
In my Harlequin Superromance, With a Little Help, the heroine is a master chef and the hero is a doctor with no time for cooking. I loved researching the recipes, especially when she caters for his milestone birthday. The book isn’t about the food but it resonates with the passion growing between them.
My latest book, Birthright, is a romantic suspense with a generous helping of what Erica Hayes calls aliens and evil astronauts. When I was asked to contribute to this blog, I didn’t think Birthright had much to do with food, but it turns out to play a surprising role.
The heroine, ex-police officer and now deputy governor, Shana Akers, is a feminist who cooks to relieve stress. When we first see her cross swords with sexy-as-sin genius, Adam Desai, she offers him coffee and home-made friands, despite it being 3am.
In another scene when Adam reluctantly starts to trust the aliens, Elaine and Garrett, he takes them to a secret restaurant, the gesture a symbol of the change taking place between them. Here’s part of the scene:
“We’re unlikely to have an audience here,” Garrett said as they were admitted in response to Adam’s knock. Inside, he found only four tables, all presently unoccupied, spaced well apart in the cool, shadowy room. There were no menus. Adam was obviously well known to the owner, who greeted him with a hug and Gallic kiss on both cheeks, then bustled away to a kitchen visible through a doorway at the back. Adam ushered them to seats at a set table. A wine carafe and four glasses sat in the middle, and he poured them each a glass then raised his in salute. “To a lucky escape this morning.”
Garrett lifted his glass and Elaine did the same. “To luck.”
The wine was mellow and delicious. The food when it arrived was even better. A whole tropical fish in fragrant herbed butter was the centerpiece, surrounded by dishes of local vegetables and fresh baguettes. The owner left them to serve themselves, and the thick walls of the cottage absorbed their conversation.
“Forgive me for saying so, but this is quite a turnaround from wanting to have us thrown off the base this morning,” Elaine said, helping herself to a portion of fish.
Adam did the same before breaking off a chunk of bread and spreading it with butter. “I feel responsible for almost getting you killed.”
Garrett passed him the vegetables. “You seem sure you were the target.”
“Three times in three days increases the odds, wouldn’t you say?”
Garrett gestured to the food in front of them. “You were too concerned about being overheard for this lunch to be merely a peace offering.”
Though this restaurant is on my island kingdom of Carramer where Birthright is set, I’ve eaten at its twin in Plymouth, UK. The food was English rather than French, but the place was also tiny with no signage or menu. See, even going out to dinner, a writer is researching 🙂
Lack of food also makes a point about the struggle my characters face. Here’s a sample:
“We forgot one thing,” Elaine said when it seemed Adam had forgotten her existence altogether.
He gave her a distracted look. “The RCS and OMS propulsion systems monitors? I’m getting to them.”
“I have no idea what they are. I was referring to food.”
“Oh, that. Rosie said there’s something in the blue bag she left.”
Stepping carefully over the tangle of cables and stripped wires, Elaine located the bag and delved in. “More wraps and soft drinks loaded with chemical coloring,” she groaned. “Don’t you people eat real food?”
With his legs protruding from beneath a console, he said, “Sometimes we forget to eat at all.” He walked himself out from under and groaned as he uncoiled to a standing position. “I’ll be lucky if I can move tomorrow, far less orchestrate a shuttle launch single-handedly.”
So whether the food is gourmet or pot luck, I’m also writing about “love and the hunger for it”, and best of all, the satisfaction of it.
Thanks, Valerie, for being my guest today. Valerie’s details are below along with the Amazon link to her book.
On Twitter @valerieparv
Blogging at valerieparv.wordpress.com
Valerie Parv is one of Australia’s most successful writers with more than 29 million books sold in 26 languages. She is the only Australian author honored with a Pioneer of Romance award from RT Book Reviews, New York. With a lifelong interest in space exploration, she counts meeting Neil Armstrong as a personal high point. So it’s no wonder she’s taking romance to the stars and beyond In Birthright, her most ambitious novel yet. She loves connecting with readers via her website valerieparv.com, blog valerieparv.wordpress.com, @ValerieParv on Twitter and on Facebook.
Former police officer turned deputy governor, Shana Akers, is used to handling high-stakes situations. But after learning that a space shuttle mission about to be launched from her island home may have a shocking secret agenda, she must turn for answers to the man who has challenged her mind and emotions for years.
Scientific genius and space center director, Adam Desai, is a truly self-made man. Found adrift at sea as a baby, he knows nothing about his origins until two VIPs attending the launch force him to confront the truth about his past, changing everything Adam has ever believed about himself.
Faced with a danger that threatens the entire world, can Adam and Shana find the strength to trust not only each other, but the mysterious VIPs whose unusual abilities defy logical thinking? Especially when it becomes clear that they’ll need all of their combined resources to reclaim humanity’s BIRTHRIGHT.
Published by Corvallis Press USA 2012.
Birthright a near-future romantic suspense available now on Amazon http://amzn.to/WDRPdW Reviewed: http://rbh-fantasy.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/birthright-by-valerie-parv.html?spref=tw