We are What We Eat.

I have just sent my occult detective short story off to the editor and his first comment was on the part food plays in it. Lovely John Linwood Grant made the same comment about my other short stories in an interview I did with him recently, only he mentioned the other F word…fertility, more of that at a later date.

http://greydogtales.com/blog/solemn-curfew-folklore-horror-cheese/

It got me thinking, because food does play an important part in my stories. I think what a character cooks and eats is important to understanding them and can give you as much insight as what they wear, where they live and what they believe. Chances are if they don’t eat pork, they are from one of the Faiths of the Book which forbid it, or if they don’t eat beef, they maybe Hindu. If they don’t eat meat at all, they maybe vegetarian or vegan, either by conviction or faith again.

Some of us are heathens with the moral values of a vulture and eat almost anything…I’m not judging, I’m just saying, cos I suspect I may have to put my hand up and be counted in this group.

Maybe this is the moment to mention my favourite food apart from bread and butter, because I don’t get to eat it very often and if you just happen to have a tin which needs a home, I would like you to consider me first.

Yes, I love caviar. I don’t need your blinis or your soured cream or your chopped egg, just give me a spoon.

I digress… back to food in stories and the insight they give to character. For example, if an individual breakfasts on raw chicken gizzards with a side order of hot caramel sauce, the chances are they are either the villain or not playing with a full deck.

I couldn’t find a picture of raw chicken gizzards, so here is one of tentacles. I would most certainly eat this, but not with a side order of hot caramel sauce.

On the other hand, Mrs Lillicrop, my occult detective breakfasts on porridge and kippers and has a fondness for afternoon tea. Already you are getting the picture of middle class respectability and you would be right, apart from a tendency to attack poltergeists with nothing more than a pince-nez and a stern word of reproach.

I sometimes visit a site where young authors ask for advice, often it has to do with what name would be best for their characters and what hair colour to pick etc etc. I think it would be a far better if they first worked out what their creation likes for lunch…see previous about breakfasting…a tuna sandwich with no mayo says more than sea green eyes and dirty blond hair imo. I’ve not suggested any of this to them, because they would probably regard it as grossly frivolous.

As you probably know, or have guessed, I like to cook and I like to cook things I have never cooked before, especially if I can use ingredients I haven’t tried. I also like to read about cooking down the ages, because the evolution of food and cooking technics reflects the evolution of mankind. It is part of our history, all of us, no matter where we come from, how we eat and how we cook it is the result of thousands and thousands of years of experiment and enjoyment. Tastes differ all over the planet, but very few of us eat what we don’t like, although plenty of us eat too much of what we do like, and yes, I’m guilty of this…warm crispy bread and lashing of fresh butter…mmm.

What people don’t like to eat can tell you more, Mrs Lillicrop is off to Scotland in my next (work in progress) story, but she will not be eating haggis. Why? Because I hate it, can’t stand it, its up there with cabbage and beets, my other two top hates. I will now sit back and await the comments of haggis lovers, including no doubt my husband who adores it and has to cook it himself if he wants to eat it. He is lucky I don’t make him do it in a fire pit in the garden. He likes cabbage as well, I sometime wonder why I married him.

However, what those around Mrs Lillicrop do eat on her Scottish adventure and what they don’t eat will provide much to explain them and their thoughts, tastes and motivations.

 

BTW, he doesn’t like lobster either, I have to eat his share for him, it’s so hard, but someone has to do it.

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Occult or Not To Occult

Recently a friend suggested to me that I should write a short occult detective story.

I, not unnaturally, recoiled in horror. I know I can and do write some weird stuff (See “A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales”), but by and large I write fantasy/scific adventure books laced with rebellious youth, a modicum of soldiers and/or eco-warriors.

The trouble was, having put the idea in my head (I will get you Dave), it wouldn’t go away. I read a lot, I mean a huge amount, some of it is social history, but I do like a good mystery. preferably the cosy sort or the 1930s country house party sort, and my brain went off on one of its side trips and came up with a possible plot for a 1930s Occult Detective Country House Mystery...I really, really will have to cut back on the coffee.

I decide I might as well write a few pages, just to see where it might go and suddenly I am having more writing fun than I have had in ages. If you ever want to make yourself feel tickety boo and full of the joys of spring, fill a respectable English manor house with unsuitable fiancées, mediums, wobbly tables, difficult domestic staff and the occasional reptile. I promise you, it will cheer you up faster than a jug full of Pimms on a hot day.

Research has been great, I have salivated over the most stunning clothes, the fashion at the time was for curvy, but slender women, which means I can only look, because while I can do curvy, slender is a boat which sailed a long time ago and is never going to return to harbour.

I’ve looked at cars as well. Why did the running board go out of style? I’ve given the afore said unsatisfactory fiancée a red 1934 MG Midget, the bounder doesn’t deserve it, but I had to make the sacrifice.

The daughter of the house is Cissie and I think she probably looks very like this young lady, he doesn’t serve her either, but I have plans.

Best of all, a delightful Occult Detective presented herself for my approval and I do very much approve of her. I definitely did not want a Miss Marple or a Miss Silver or a Mrs Bradley and, much as I love him, I didn’t want a Lord Peter Wimsey type, so Mrs Lillicrop was an answer to a prayer. She is tall and elegant, dresses well and is armed with a pince-nez.

I intended the story to run for no more than 7000 words, but I am hitting 10k already and while the end is in sight, I think it may need a little more.

Will I sell it? Who knows, I think it may not be yucky enough for the Occult market, but I don’t really mind, because I have a feeling I will want to write more Mrs Lillicrop stories and one day there may very well be an anthology called “Mrs Lillicrop Investigates”.

Watch this space and check out my Solemn Curfew stories if you need to know where my idea of yucky begins and ends.

 

 

Author Torture 2

Today’s author for torture is Richard Rhys Jones, author of such warm cosy reads as “Division of the Damned” and “The Sisterhood of the Serpent”.

Go here to get the full down load.

http://divisionofthedamned.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-me.html

Richard (Reggie to his mates) is one of my oldest writing buddies, so I have no conscience about throwing into my interrogation chamber.

You are marooned on a desert island and find a magic lamp. You get the traditional three wishes, but keep in mind I’m not letting you off the island, so don’t start pleading or trying to escape. You can only have one practical item, other people will not be allowed and will be taken away and dumped on an island far, far away and the wish forfeited. Smut is permitted if it makes me laugh.

Firstly, hiya Bev 😀

Right, to business. First item would have to be a computer of some sort, with solar charged batteries. It’s all very well being cast away with nothing to do, and after the first year of sunning myself in the shade, (I’m ginger, we don’t do sun), barbequing the rations I cleverly salvaged, drinking the barrels of beer I bartered for pretty seashells from some passing pirates, and generally recouping my strength, I reckon I’ll be good to start writing again.

Secondly some sort of satellite television set up, with Sky Sports etcetera.

I mean roughing it is one thing, but missing the footy, rugby or boxing..? Or even game of Thrones, Vikings and Stranger Things!!!

Hello? Seriously?

Oh come on, I’m stranded on a desert island, not cast down to the fiery depths of hell to repent my sins for all of eternity!!

Thirdly I’d need some form of tin opener. A General Purpose Machine Gun would do, with about 20,000 rounds and the necessary servicing equipment and oils.

Your library is on fire and you’re only going to be able to save three books, name them. And as your own are save on the memory stick in your dressing gown pocket, the books in question will have to be someone else’s work J

Credit will not be given for naming my books, but there may be cake.

Only three?

That’s inhuman!! Have you no soul, woman?

Okay… sorry, this could take some time, I have to go look.

First book would have to be Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft. There’s something about how he writes that really clicks with me. Long winded, over the top prose, that dallies around with its message until you’re nigh on screaming at the page, “Get bloody well on with it!” is not my style, but I like it, strangely.

The Collected works of Bernard Cornwell, (HA! See what I did there? That’s how I tricked those witless pirates out of fifty barrels of Hobgoblin Real Ale for a handful of shells. I’m as cunning as a ninja fox with a degree in Blackadder quotes, and just as red). Bernard Cornwell is my fave author, I haven’t read one bad book with his name on it, and I’ve also tried to emulate him in my plot delivery, (i.e. Have the hero practically being hung, drawn and quartered before he’s saved… I hope I haven’t spoiled any of my books for anyone there?)

Finally, The Secrets of Castle Drakon, which sadly never made it to print, but holds a wealth of cool stories from writer friends I’m glad to say I’m still in contact with.

(As I am one of those cool writers, there will be cake, possibly Coffee and Walnut, but not Battenberg because I don’t like marzipan.)

 

 You are going to be hanged in the morning, what would your last meal be if money was no object? Please don’t ask for something which will take three years to grow or six days to cook, because at 6am the trap door will open under you.

Steak and chips, fifty litres of Hobgoblin or Bombardier. At a pinch, Pedigree.

 

Pets. While I agree that a cat or a dog or a guinea pig is probably best in the modern home, what, if anything, would you house if you had the chance. Points will be given for anything extinct, but not for anything mythical, because that would be cheating.

Okay, if the food and vet bills were covered, and he/she was house trained, a sabre toothed tiger. Seriously, how cool would it be to ride into work on one of those?

“By the power of Greyskull!” I’d shout at the boss, smashing his table in two with my sword to demand a long overdue pay rise. I’m smiling right now.

 

Driving. We all do it, we all bitch about the traffic and by and large most of us drive what we can afford, not what we would like. What would you like to drive, points will be deducted for excessive petrol head indulgence, I expect more imagination from an author, but will be added for greener alternatives.

This obviously excludes a desire for a red Ferrari, because if you don’t want one of those, you need help.

A 1972 Volkswagen Beetle convertible. I know it’s daft, but I really like them. I only used the date 1972 to show around which era of VW beetle I desired. They’re quirky, understated, reliable and born out of a time of strife, I make it sound like a Tolkien character don’t I? Well, that’s my choice, and a car I hope to purchase when the kids are not sucking our finances dry 😉

I’d sooner drive a Lada than a Ferrari.

 

Now from some “either or” questions, mainly because I like picking the eithers and the ors, but also because I like to see which of the lesser of two weevils you pick. (Small Jack Aubrey joke there, indulge me, I have these moments.)

Gouda or Gorgonzola?

Gouda. I despise smelly cheese.

Star Wars or Star Trek? (Careful here, much could depend on your pick)

Star Wars, but it’s close.

Lychee or kumquat?

Lychee.

Winnie the Pooh or Paddington?

Poohbear, the dude is so wise, or backward? I could never tell if I’m honest.

Whelk or Oyster?

Whelk. Whelks in a garlic sauce is incredibly tasty, actually… regardless of the fact it looks like a plate of dog vomit and baby aliens.

Vampires or Zombies?

Vampires, another close one though.

Laver bread or Hovis?

Hovis. Laver bread is yuck, and that’s coming from a proud Welshman.

Light sabre or phaser?

Phaser. I reckon I’d fail dismally wielding a light sabre.

 

Moving on…yes, I know the laver bread one was evil…What is your favourite book title? Pick one of your own and one by someone else. Mine are

“The Tattooed Tribes” and “Amazing Maisie and the Cold Porridge Brigade.”

And no, I didn’t just make the last one up.

A very obscure author by the name of David Evans once wrote a book called, “Does God speak through cats?”. That one tickled me. There are millions of joke book titles out there, but that one is a real book dealing with the authors awakening to the spirituality of his pet… madness.

The favourite title in my sparse library of publications is, “The Chronicles of Supernatural Warfare”. What we were thinking when Paul Rudd and myself christened that baby only Cthulhu knows?

Because you have been very good and not screamed all that much, you tell me what you are currently working on and when we can expect to see it in print.

At the moment, absolute squat.

I took a promotion two years ago and that seems to have squeezed any ounce of authorly inspiration out of me. I have bursts now and then, on Division of the Damned part 2 and another that’s way off the weirdness scale in plotlines, but nothing is constant. I don’t itch to prowl the keyboards and let my story-telling soul dribble out of my fingertips like I used to, sadly.

Whatever, things are looking up, and I reckon another couple of months will see me going back to it… I hope :/

Thank you for being a victim of my interrogation parlour. I hope you had a bit of fun.

With you Bev, always you kinky mare. x

Thanks for having me.

And thank you for playing, but I will get you for the “kinky mare” remarked. xx

 

“For I am Welsh, good my countryman”

“A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales” is BACK.

After the self-inflected hiccup the above is back on Amazon.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales.

dark-tales

Purchase or read with Kindle Unlimited here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

New Book Release

“A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales is now available on Amazon.

Big thank you to all of you who pre-ordered copies.

A Solemn Curfew and Other Dark Tales Cover

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk