AUTHORBUZZ: Click here to discover new books,
"meet" the authors and enter to win.
Swiss Vendetta is author Tracee de Hahn's debut mystery, and we're fortunate to have her as today's guest author. Swiss Vendetta is set in a raging ice storm near Lausanne, and is drawn from her years living in Switzerland with her Swiss-Canadian husband.
Tracee said she would love to hear from readers. So please do welcome this new author to the book club. Tracee's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Creativity. In the kitchen and in writing
Pasta puttanesca, chicken saltimbocca, chicken Mughlai, and chicken vol-au-vent. Recently I've prepared a few favorite recipes and discovered new ones. At the same time, I've been mulling themes and plots for my next novel and noticing the similarities between these endeavors.
Cooking is a process, each dish is selected for a reason--pasta puttansesca is quick and perfect for a dinner when short on time. Chicken saltimbocca isn't difficult and, as the name implies, causes flavors to jump in the mouth. Chicken Mughlai needs time to allow the flavors to meld and sauce to caramelize. Vol-au-vent is a fussy dish, but it makes a good show on the table. Same thing with writing. Some ideas are a puttanesca or saltimbocca. They are full of force (and flavor) but don't require a lengthy commitment. You can have the same experience writing: a story arc complete in a few pages. A short story. In cooking and in writing, detail is important. Leave out capers in puttanesca or sage in saltimbocca and the dish falls flat. With the right spices the simple dishes are full of zest and the taste buds (and your guests) are as happy as if they'd had a five-course meal.
Other dishes require more time. There are more flavors to develop, they need to combine and fully evolve. I tasted my Chicken Mughlai about an hour into the process and it was good, but not great. Too much saffron. Then I realized it was because I had forgotten to add cardamom and nutmeg for balance. It was like having a hero with no flaws. Or a 500 page novel missing a substantive subplot.
When I finished the old fashioned domed vol-au-vent and set it on the center of the table I felt like I was aiming for a Nobel prize. The appearance of the dish was lovely--a light golden crust embellished with all sorts of pastry shapes. Opened, it was even better. The sauce was complex and perfect, the chicken moist and tender. I was basking in the reflected glory of a long tradition of French cuisine. If this was a novel, it would be chasing Victor Hugo or Tolstoy, those greats who showcased the themes of their day, binding hundreds of compelling characters together in an ambitious storyline. Perhaps not for everyday reading while sitting on the commuter train but, then neither was my vol-au-vent. Too rich for every day, but every once in a while a decadent pleasure.
--Tracee de Hahn
Tracee answers her mail, so please do say hello.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
* This month's Penguin Classics book is TOMORROW IS NOW, by Eleanor Roosevelt. Click the link below to start reading, and be sure to enter the drawing for your chance to win a Penguin tote bag: http://www.supportlibrary.com/bc/v.cfm?L=drclassqqxqB1AFE3FA4999&c=CLASSICS
AUTHORBUZZ: THE ROAD TO ENCHANTMENT (Fiction) by Kaya McLaren
Bad things happen in threes: Willow's mother dies, she gets dumped, and she discovers she's pregnant. Reluctantly, she returns to her childhood home, a failed New Mexico winery bordering an Apache reservation where the community seems to think she belongs far more than she ever imagined.
Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader click on THE ROAD TO ENCHANTMENT to find out more about the book and the author, Kaya McLaren. Send her an email, she'd love to hear from you.