There are a lot of parallels between writing romances and cooking. Firstly you need the right ingredients: character, conflict, and resolution. You need to prepare them – that’s your outline – and then put them together in the right order. You need to cook it for long enough (i.e. don’t rush it, and take the time to polishing your draft. And finally you get the sheer pleasure of enjoying the finished product: in my view, a good book is definitely food for the mind and the soul.
So the obvious thing for a romance writer who’s also a foodie is to, um, use food in the books. In my current release, ‘Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh’, I have a good excuse as the heroine is a top-class chef and ends up working with the hero. But I admit that I tend to sneak food into all my books – which is why there’s an appropriate recipe for each book on my website.
My family also know exactly where I’m setting a book, because it affects what I make for dinner while I’m writing it; an Italian setting means we’re eating Italian for the next two months. For ‘Breakfast at Giovanni’s’, my RNA award-winning café book, I made my best friend drink lattes with me in every café in Norwich (it was research). For my Norwegian book, we had to try gjetost cheese and make proper Norwegian vafler. And for the current release… let’s just say pomegranates feature heavily, and there’s a very nice Circassian chicken recipe.
I’m currently thinking about writing a book set in a gelateria, so we’re already practising for that. Easiest recipe ever: whizz 400g washed and hulled strawberries in a blender with 1 tbs lemon juice and 75-100g sugar (depending on how sweet you like it), add a 500g pot of 0% fat Greek yoghurt and whizz briefly, then pour into an ice cream maker and let it do all the hard work for the next 30 minutes