Please give a warm welcome to author, Aida Brassington, who is joining us with her book, Chasing Fools!
Nurse. Accountant. Lawyer. Those are normal jobs—the kind of jobs you might expect a main character to have. It’s rare to run across a protagonist (and a female protagonist, at that) who makes her living by smuggling illegal foods. But that’s exactly what Varda Dorfman, the main character in my novel CHASING FOOLS, does for a living. She’s a smuggler-for-hire in the body of a pretty blonde woman. And if you’ve ever watched the Andrew Zimmern show “Bizarre Foods” or some of the grosser episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” (and as wine aficionados, I suspect you have), you know exactly the kind of things she’s routinely carrying in her luggage.
The odd job, the crazy foods . . . this is the kind of thing that presents a challenge to a writer. Why? As a rule, readers like a certain degree of familiarity. I’m not saying that readers want boring—but for a lot of people, the world of underground dinner clubs and the idea of eating something like escamoles (yes, that’s ant eggs) takes a special kind of suspension of disbelief because it’s so far outside typical comfort zones. I’m a food lover, though, and that means all kinds of foods. Even the disgusting. That’s my world. And the goal of any writer is to make the world they know seem, well, plausible.
So how do you do that? You blend something kind of crazy-sounding (weird foods, weird job) with something everyone can relate to: namely, relationship problems (and romance), career problems, and insane families. I don’t think any one of us can say they don’t have these things in our lives, right? In the case of CHASING FOOLS, Varda wants to leave the smuggling business, but one of her clients, Anthony Carluccio—a South Philly plumber/underground dinner club organizer who thinks he’s a mobster—goes to extreme measures to convince her to stay: he puts a hit out on her. That’s the oddball part of the story. The familiar part comes next: Varda’s long-time boyfriend wants to marry her, but she’s got abandonment issues, and his family makes her crazy. And that only the proverbial tip of the iceberg, because CHASING FOOLS is told from both Varda’s point of view and that of Tommy Campi, her boyfriend’s brother, who just happens to be secretly gay and dating the son of Carluccio’s biggest competition in the underground dinner club world.
Are you laughing yet? Good—you should be. It’s a silly situation (that encompasses some serious relationship/romance themes), which leads me to my other secret weapon: comedy. When a writer can make me laugh, I’m hooked. Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore are masters at this. Some of their plots and characters are pretty bizarre, but the use of comedy makes them so much more familiar. I won’t dare to compare myself to them, of course, but early readers report they’re experiencing full-on belly laughs.
Now you know my strategy: unfamiliar/nutty characters & situation+familiar problems we all face+comedy=a good book (I hope). What are you favorite novels that employ the same formula? What is it about the book that makes it work? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of CHASING FOOLS.
Aida Brassington lives in northeast Pennsylvania. She loves to eat and cook, and was inspired to write CHASING FOOLS by her experiences smuggling illegal cheese into the country from France (small amounts, of course—she has never held a job as an illegal foods smuggler). Her best-selling debut novel, BETWEEN SEASONS, has consistently garnered 4 and 5 star reviews and been called “intriguing,” “compelling,” and “surprising.” You can find her online at her website, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Aida is giving away one of Chasing Fools to one reader. To enter, just leave a comment on this post answering her question and then fill out the rafflecopter below. Additional entries are available but not required. Good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway