My fantasy novel, EEL'S REVERENCE, has been re-issued by Echelon Press, and is now available from Amazon's Kindle store and in various other eformats at OmniLit.
To celebrate, I'm running a contest (details below) and I'm also on a blog book tour.
Since this is Fatal Foodies, I feel compelled to talk about how food figures into my novel.
One of my best reference books is Reay Tannahill's FOOD IN HISTORY--my go-to reference when I'm filling in the details of a world. What kind of country do the characters I'm working with live in? What kind of hunting/cooking technology do they have? For EEL'S REVERENCE, I placed the action primarily in a coastal area known as The Eel. Technology is basically late Middle Ages. Most people eat locally and frugally, but the wealthy can import foods and spices and culinary expertise from, as Terry Pratchett's characters often put it, "forn parts".
As has been said on this blog before, food sets the scene and time and is one way to characterize people or situations.
In EEL'S REVERENCE, the first meal Aunt Libby eats is served to her by Muriel, owner of a restaurant near the harbor. So what else would the food be but seafood and sea weed? Well, it could have been lots of things, but that pegged the restaurant and Muriel--food that's local, cheap and fresh. Aunt Libby even notes the cooking smells, and approves of the oil smelling clear. So Muriel, in addition to her other attributes, is a good, clean, honest cook who doesn't cut corners if it compromises quality.
When Aunt Libby goes into a farmhouse basement, she finds herself in a storeroom filled with preserved garden produce and home-made cheeses. The family is industrious, self-sufficient and plans ahead.
She dines with a rich merchant and says, "Servants in saffron and scarlet offered us dishes of rice, fruit, seafood and savory meat. Personally, I could have done with some vegetables, but Theofric wouldn't have had anything so common on his table." Another meal with the same merchant is even worse: "Everything was imported, which means nothing was fresh. If it wasn't smoked, it was dried or potted. If it wasn't creamed, it was sugared, sometimes both. What wasn't swimming in overspiced gravy was spread with overspiced nut paste. Even the fruit was stewed in brandy. The only vegetables in sight were those cut into cunning shapes or bordering the dishes, to make these costly messes look appetizing. I took as little as I could of the 'food', and made my meal by crabbing bits of garnish." When someone subsequently gives her an orange, it seals their friendship.
Chapter 1 of EEL'S REVERENCE is posted on my web site. "Line of Descent", a short story set in the same world, is free at Smashwords.
To enter the contest, just comment on my posts at any of my Blog Book Tour stops or on any of my posts at my web site AND mention EEL'S REVERENCE. Prizes are:
- Free copy of EEL'S REVERENCE or FORCE OF HABIT, my upcoming sf/farce. (2 separate prizes-1 of each)
- Free softback copy of SWORD AND SORCERESS XXIII, with my story "Undivided" in it.
- Free softback copy of DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, with my story "Team Player" in it.
- Your name in the story I'm going to write to promote FORCE OF HABIT.