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Today's guest is Jen, fellow Brit, fabulous reviewer and Well Read blogger, and - I'm really pleased to say - a good friend (though I hasten to say she doesn't review me with more favourable standards than anyone else *g*).

She's described her personal interests as Reading, walking, socialising with friends, watching CSI, Costume Dramas and anything with David Tennant, Sean Bean or Richard Armitage in it - and that sounds like a fine life to me LOL.

Her "Mission Statement" for reviewing includes a rating system that doesn't rely on 'marks' but on a narrative from Terrible (may not finish!) to Excellent (will keep and read again!). What I personally love about Jen's reviews is that they are reading entertainment in themselves, offering us well-crafted, constructive information and opinion :). She gives information about the book, is critical but from both a good and bad POV, articulate with what did/not work for her as a reader, supportive of readers, authors and publishers, and always enthusiastic about books! Visit her site HERE! Then bookmark it for much future delight...:)


Here in Britain we seem to be in the middle of a mini ice-age.

OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration :) but it’s darned cold, anyway. Whenever the weather gets cold like this, I start to long for warmer climes and wish I lived somewhere where the temperature remained above 20C all year. Then I remember how much I hate the heat in summer when it goes above 25C and decide that what I actually need is a holiday to somewhere warm instead. Inevitably, such thinking makes me reminisce about some of the holidays I’ve taken in the past.

When I look back on some of my favourite holidays, my main memories always seem to involve food. I went to the USA about 11 years ago and although I travelled about a fair bit and saw sights like Niagara Falls (the US and Canadian bit), The White House, the Blue Ridge Mountains and many, many other great touristy spots, whenever I think back to that trip I’m not thinking about the sights, but rather the food. For example, eating the best steak ever (before or since) in a restaurant in Kansas City; or my first ever taste of American pancakes which came with maple syrup and a little tub of fluffy stuff which I thought was cream but turned out to be butter; or eating lobster in a seaside town in Maine, or seared tuna in a tiny place in Connecticut, or my bemusement at being given a plastic bib to eat ribs in Virginia and wondering whether this meant that people from the US were messy eaters.

Then there was the holiday to the Greek Island of Corfu when I was 20 where we ate wonderful Greek food in a taverna every night and I was introduced to foods such as Souvlaki, taramasalata, tzatziki, dolmades, fried haloumi cheese, feta parcels and sweet baklava.

Hmmm, I’m making myself hungry now and that’s not good for the diet! My point though is that whenever I go abroad – which sadly is not as often as I would wish – what I eat plays an important part of my holiday.

The m/m books that I read are often set in the US and Canada, and reading these books is a bit like taking a short holiday to those places – albeit through the eyes of a character. One thing that bothers me a bit about some m/m books is that although I’m often described the sights of the place where the character lives, I’m rarely, if ever, described the food. Let’s face it; food is often a bit of a side issue in an m/m book. I’ve read some stories where the men never eat; where they only eat take-out or pizza; where they cook wonderful meals for each other and then leave it to go cold whilst they have hot monkey sex. To be honest I’m saddened by this. I want to know what the heroes are eating, and how it tastes to them, just as much as I want to know what they are wearing, or what they are seeing. It doesn’t have to be huge long descriptions, going into paragraphs, just enough for me to know that my hero is having a nice meal as well as good company.

I recently read an m/m book which was set in Greece and along with the usual descriptions of setting and characters, the author described the food which was eaten. It wasn’t much, just a couple of sentences every time the characters sat down for a meal, but it had my mouth watering for a taste of the delicious food. It made me remember how much I love Greek food as well as draw my attention to how rare it is for a m/m book to have food described in that way. The author must be a foodie, just like me.

So authors, I implore you. Next time you have your characters sit down for a meal, take the time to let the reader know whether your men are enjoying the food. It will make at least one of your readers happy - me!

But what about the rest of the readers out there? Do you want more descriptions of food in your m/m books or is it just me?


Visit Jen's Blog HERE.



Today's Quote:
"The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape." Samuel Johnson

Today's Daft Google Searches for 'Clare London':
"It's Official, I've Become My Father" Heaven help us all :)


Follow this month with Clare (look at the goodies so far...):

Jan 08 : Jessewave shares her love of bright, shiny guys but wonders - tongue in cheek - where the less shiny ones are!
Jan 09 : Anne Cain shares her books and some of her fabulous art - and also encourages us to show and tell!
Jan 10 : My latest release Upwardly Mobile is out at Amber Quill today.
Jan 11 : Author Lee Rowan discusses why love should not be a garotte.
Jan 12 : Author Jaime Samms loves writing short stories - and asks if readers prefer short or long.
Jan 13 : Author Erastes explains how and why she keeps submitting - and aims for the stars!
Jan 14 : Author Daimeryan Rei describes the rewards of writing both fanfiction and original fiction.

Jan 01 : The New Year is ushered in with the release of the Immortal Fire anthology IN PRINT.
Jan 02 : author Chrissy Munder wonders whether following current affairs in our writing is delightful or just dates us.
Jan 03 : author Madeleine Urban describes how her characters hijacked her brain...a willing victim!
Jan 04 : author Theda Black describes how her writing has been influenced by everything from a bionic penis to the power of Pan.
Jan 05 : author Josh Lanyon shares some exceedingly good books with us and asks about *your* recent reads.
Jan 06 : author K. Z. Snow questions what all the fuss is about authors 'making shit up'.
Jan 07 : Josie aka 1more_sickpuppy compares her life and friends online and off.

Want to grab a day to pimp, pose or pontificate? Email me at clarelondon11 @ hotmail.com and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 15th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
Sounds good! And writers are advised to make sure to use all five senses in their descriptions, to add dimension and texture to their world. The taste of food is definitely one area that could contribute to that. And it's sensual and hopefully pleasurable.

It can be used to characterise too. A character who has bacon with extra bacon and a side of bacon is a different person to the one who orders a chicken salad with low fat dressing. :D

My book - editing starts soon! - includes one of the guys introducing the other guy to gumbo, so I'll have to make sure to milk what scene for all it's worth. ;-)
Jan. 15th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC)
That's a good point about food telling is something about a character. Someone who loves food will focus more on what he is eating than a character who sees food as a functional necessity.

I shall look forward to reading how your character responds to the gumbo :).
Jan. 15th, 2010 12:04 pm (UTC)
Yay, you used the picture of the icy UK! ^_______^
Jan. 15th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, this is exactly how we feel about Britain at the moment! I hope you enjoy the (warmer) rest of the post :).
(no subject) - jenre - Jan. 15th, 2010 04:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2010 01:02 pm (UTC)
...bacon with extra bacon and a side of bacon...

Hahahaha--I LOVE this!

Very cool post, Jen! I grew up not far from the Falls. The area used to be more populated before the tire factories and steel mills closed. Now it's pretty dilapidated.
Jan. 15th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
Niagara Falls reminded me a bit of Blackpool. It has all these amusement arcades and tacky tourist shops. If it wasn't for the fact that the falls themselves are utterly breathtaking, I may have been slightly disappointed :).
Jan. 15th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
We were so close and yet so far. :-)
Not sure I was here 11 years ago, not, I was closer to your home then. I read this spoofy article yesterday and thought of you (and all the other poor UK folk suffering with snow - can you feel my pity? Yeah, I thought not.)http://www.thespoof.com/news/spoof.cfm?headline=s1i67000

That's a good point about food. I think if you are writing about your own city/country you don't think that pancakes are very special (or tacos or baklava) but a nice description of what's eaten can really add and please please please have enough restraint to eat before you jump each other. It's 15 min. people, eat your food. I did read a story once though where they ate chocolate mousse with a fork, that still annoys me. Can't remember who wrote it or what it was called but that mousse + fork thing grates on me still.

Now I'm hungry. No breakfast plus bacon with a side of bacon (heaven) sounds delicious.
Jan. 15th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
Re: We were so close and yet so far. :-)
That article was a scream, Tam, LOL.

I think if you are writing about your own city/country you don't think that pancakes are very special (or tacos or baklava)

That's a good point. I suppose if I wrote a story with heroes who were eating Yorkshire Pudding or Toad in the Hole or Cornish Pasties, then maybe I wouldn't think to describe what they were eating because it's just ordinary food.
Re: We were so close and yet so far. :-) - clarelondon - Jan. 15th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm not a foodie, since I don't particularly notice the lack of food descriptions!

My friend Samantha in Canterbury's been asking for snow, so I've been willing the snow away from Minnesota and to the UK. Whoops. ;)
Jan. 15th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
D'oh - that comment (that's probably being held for approval) about sending snow from Minnesota to the UK was me... Didn't realize I wasn't signed in.
Jan. 15th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)

I don't want any more snow. I've been slipping and sliding about wherever I go cos the pavements are like a skating rink.
(no subject) - egret17 - Jan. 15th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenre - Jan. 15th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - egret17 - Jan. 15th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
That's a big bugbear with me. The men claim that they are starving hungry and either make food or order take-out and then when the food is ready they abandon it in order to have sex.

One appetite at a time, guys :).
Jan. 15th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
i think it's a balance, I'm hugely bored of food turns into sex posts, but I do enjoy a proper meal if (and i'm talking historical as usual) the details are right. I read a book a while back - and I'm not naming the author which was literally food sex food sex food sex food sex and so on - yawn yawn.
Jan. 15th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
food sex food sex food sex food sex
Sounds good to me, LOL!

Seriously though, there has to be some plot in with the food and sex or yes, even that will get old very quickly.

Jan. 15th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Here in the midwest US, the couple feet of snow we had is melting and making a huge mess, especially in parking lots and on back roads. Yuk!

I don't think I've given much thought to food. In books, I mean. The consumption of a meal can be very sexy. My biggest peeve about this is when a big deal is made about the cooking and preparation, ingredients, etc., then the boys sit down, take one bite and find they have to have sex NOW!

I just finished reading Matthew Haldeman-Time's "Hot Weather" and there were some lovely foodie scenes. Not fancy food, as a diner was the setting. But well-written food at any rate!

Nice post, Jen
Jan. 15th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I love that book Wren and yeah, food is part of what brings them together. I like books about chef's too.
(no subject) - jenre - Jan. 15th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
Hi Val
British pancakes are what you would call crepes, I think. they are thin and made by frying a layer of batter in a buttery frying pan.

Often it's the little details in a book which sets it apart from others.
Jan. 15th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Well, that post is guaranteed to destroy my diet! I'm starving....

I find that writing smells and tastes are quite difficult for me to do well. At least I'm never satisfied with those descriptions. Metaphor and simile work best for them, I guess, as it seems so tricky to describe those experiences directly. But I agree with you that we need more good meal and food scenes in m/m books.

(I realized several years ago that every pivotal revelation/decision in a novella I wrote took place across a table with food. I can't help it, I really like to eat!)

Send some of that snow here to Texas; I don't see any sense to tolerating cold weather, which we've had lately, without some snow to play in.
Jan. 15th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
Hi Jenna
That's a good point - it IS difficult to describe taste and smell without accidentally wandering off into purple prose territory ;). Some authors do manage it though, even if it's just a few words.

You can have our snow. I'm certainly fed up with it - whatever happened to the famous British mild winter, huh?
Jan. 15th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
So is the T-rex an illustration of the blogger herself or...? ;D
Unspeakably cute.

I am so with you that food is a great part of travelling. And taking pictures of it helps you remember that time and place when you see them. I'm now stuck with a violent craving for American pancakes drenched in maple syrup!!! *arrrgh!*

I think in fiction, food can really add to a story: set the mood, be an indicator, a person's situation, character etc etc. BUT I often see it over used in fic. In slash, sometimes it seems like at least one guy in *every* couple just *loves* to cook and bake... it's kinda like the "everyone is gay" phenomenon which also happens in slash.

And a few authors will include every simple meal from breakfast sandwich to Sunday dinner with bread, salad and wine, which quickly becomes tedious. I believe that as with everything else, food should only be described in a story when there's a point to it. It has to be meaningful, convey something... whether enjoyment or disgust, riches or poverty, lust or asceticism.

Now, I really must see if I have ingredients for Saturday pancakes...
Jan. 15th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
I am just like the dino picture. Cute and fluffy on the outside but with a killer instinct, lol. Just ask anyone who's had a bad review from me :).

It actually really bugs me too when the 'bottom' out of a gay couple also cooks and bakes - like assigning a female gender role to a male character. The thing is, the food that these guys make is never really described, it just becomes something that they do.

You are right, I don't need to know what the character eats for every meal - that would be tedious - but often characters meet for dinner dates or one character cooks for another and then it would be nice for a character to respond to what they are eating as it's an important part of the scene they are involved in.
Jan. 15th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
Hey jenre

I agree with you - I am freezing mi possibilities off - too cold....

Being a vegetarian I always look out for what comes out in term of food in books - I thought BROKEN had some neat food scenes..

Chocolate is probably the one food that some authors take the time with. But I can see the allure of a juicy steak served up with all the trimmings and good companionship - what's not to like...

Hope you are keeping warm my dear...

Jan. 15th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)

The weather has turned warmer which means the ice is melting - hooray!

Rather perversely, I'm not too keen on food being smeared on body parts which is what tends to happen with chocolate in books :).
Jan. 15th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Tam, I sometimes eat chocolate mousse with a fork??
Dutch pancakes are like British ones, the size of the skillet and thinner. I like mine with apples.
Jen, eating in Greece for 2 weeks was good but I was happy to be home again too and eat normal dutch food again. I would have liked to eat pizza in Greece, but my vote was turned down :(

I love the snow we have at the moment.
Jan. 15th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Well since I've no idea what 'normal Dutch food' is, I can't possibly comment :).

Personally I could eat Greek food all the time except that my waistline would be even bigger than it is now :).
Jan. 15th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
Then how come when Sean and me talk about adding vegemite into his stories you all turn up your nose??

Having said that, Tam has now been converted to the joys of Tim Tams after reading Sean's Xmas short. LOL.
Jan. 15th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Cos vegemite is yucky.
(no subject) - krisngoodbooks - Jan. 15th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jenre - Jan. 16th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC) - Expand
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