When I started writing ‘Molluscs and Me’, I began with the story of how it all came about. Then people said to me: ‘Why don’t you write a recipe book? Well recipe books only sell if the writer is a famous TV chef. I may have been on TV a few times but I quickly realised that doesn’t make me famous. I knew that recipes had to be there somehow and that gave me a problem to solve. It’s all about structure. When I read a book I’m always intrigued by the way the writer puts the story together. Toni Morrison’s book ‘Paradise’ (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/tonimorrison/p/toni_morrison.htm) made an impression on me years ago because of the way each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character. I rushed through each chapter to reach that ‘Oh I see!’ moment when I saw how this new piece linked together with all the others at the end.
Elizabeth Haynes latest thriller ‘Human Remains’ (http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com/) has mini chapters between the main storyline where she introduces each new victim. Elizabeth lent me Gowing’s ‘Travels in Blood and Honey’ (www.elizabethgowing.com/) when she knew I was struggling with how to incorporate recipes. The sub-title ‘becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo’ gives you a clue what it’s about. Each chapter has new items of Albanian vocabulary at the beginning and a local honey recipe at the end.
Phillippa Moore (http://www.skinnylattestrikesback.com/) gave me lots of help with structure and suggested that I read a number of books to give me ideas. Kay Sexton’s ‘The Allotment Diaries’ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Allotment-Diaries-Plotting-Feasting/dp/1849533555) was a very good example of how to weave practical information in-between the elements of a story. It follows the seasons of the year and explains what you should be doing on the allotment each month. At the same time it creates a sense of the community of people who dig and sow alongside her.
So I had lots of ideas to draw on … and you’ll have to read the book to find out what I did!