Readers with an appetite for charming contemporary fiction infused with food, family, love, and a side of magic are in for a delicious treat: Please welcome Rachel Linden of RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE!
The Tastiest Story Yet
Often research for a book can feel like a chore involving lots of meaty non-fiction books and endlessly Googling obscure facts. But occasionally if you’re very lucky, the process will be much more hands-on. This was the case for my newest novel, Recipe for a Charmed Life. It was the tastiest and most delightful research of my writing life so far and inspired me for all future books!
Set half in Paris and half in the picturesque town of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in the Pacific Northwest, Recipe for a Charmed Life is the story of Georgia, an up-and-coming American chef in Paris who, in one disastrous night, loses her sous chef position, her French boyfriend and her sense of taste! When she receives an unexpected invitation from her estranged mother, she flees to a beautiful remote island in the Pacific Northwest to reconnect with her mom and try to regain her spark in the kitchen. While there, Georgia discovers an astonishing family secret and finds herself falling for the handsome, grumpy oyster farmer in bright orange rubber overalls next door!
This story afforded me the opportunity to do some on-the-ground research. For starters, I hadn’t been to Paris in years, so it seemed only prudent for me to go back to the city to make sure I was portraying it accurately. At least that’s what told myself! No way was I going to pass up a chance to go to Paris again!
Once in Paris, my process was simple. I threw myself into practical research which consisted of essentially wandering around the city eating lots of macarons. This was as delightful as it sounds. I retraced Georgia’s steps from the Latin Quarter to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the peaceful green Jardin du Luxembourg and the Ile de la Cite in the Seine. During my brief few days in Paris, I valiantly tried my best to visit as many Laduree shops as I could find, sampling their divine macarons in flavors like salted caramel, citron, and my very favorite, orange blossom. It was the perfect, most delectable way to make sure all the details in my story evoked the splendor of The City of Light.
Beautiful, remote San Juan Island provided another excellent opportunity for research. My husband’s family owns a home there and we spend part of every summer on the island. It holds a special place in our hearts. For this portion of the story, I visited several oyster farms, including San Juan Island’s own Westcott Bay Shellfish Farm which plays a big role in the story. I spent several happy afternoons interviewing oyster farmers and sampling delicious briny oysters fresh from the ocean. Yum!
All this delicious, hands-on research has inspired me. I’ve made a vow to try to set all my future books in beautiful locations that I want to visit again! I now keep a list of potential locations handy and add to it when inspiration strikes. Italy. Iceland. Austria….the list goes on.
Currently I am hard at work on my next story and already dreaming of the tasty research it is soon going to involve…