Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Greetings, from the side of the Atlantic that doesn't celebrate it! I hope you've all been able to lounge around, enjoying the leftovers that are often nicer than the celebratory feast itself. Food on the big occasions often seems to take on an anxious air, which tends to inhibit enjoyment.

I do envy you having a family holiday that is just about food. I love to cook, but when the cooking is combined with writing cards, buying presents, decorating the house and going to and giving parties, it all too often seems like the sort of nightmare you get when you're totally stressed out, only in real life.

In general, recipe books are favourite reading for me and some of my favourite passages in books are all about food, like Ratty's picnic in The Wind in the Willows, or Debbie's jumbles in What Katie Did at School, or even Inspector Montalbano's lunches in Camilleri's wonderful crime novels.

So sometimes it seems a little odd to me that the detective in my series, DI Marjory Fleming, is a hopeless cook. Her family beg pitifully to have ready-meals, if the alternative is to be Marjory's mince and tatties - for those of you unfamiliar with this Scottish staple, it's like bolognaise with potatoes but without the flavouring.

I don't know how closely other people relate to their central character. I remember one author talking about her (male) hero, and saying that she was always pleased when a reader said how nice he was because, she said, 'He's me.'

Marjory most definitely isn't me. My interests - books, music and yes, food - certainly aren't hers: I like the countryside, sure, but see one sheep and you've seen them all and after a few days I get to longing for concrete and gasoline fumes and shops and theatres, while she loves being a farmer's wife. And I certainly don't share her enthusiasm for hens – squawky, smelly, silly creatures.

I do believe, though, that the characters we create come from within ourselves. Even the darkest of our villains has something of us somewhere in their make-up, however warped and twisted that something may have become. The characters we live with for years – can we really keep them separate from our own personalities, or do they become more like us as time goes on? And does it work both ways? It would certainly be good if Marjory's enjoyment of physical exercise rubbed off on me – though I draw the line at hens!

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

I relate to every single word you wrote, Aline. And I too am fascinated by food in stories.