Friday, October 27, 2017

Drinking chocolate – Setting and Symbols

      Warm milk and a little cream on the stove.
     Add a dark chocolate candy bar. I used one that was 95% dark chocolate
     Add 100% dark chocolate powder
     Add a pinch of chili powder
     Whisk until frothy, pour into a cup, and top with whipped cream.

     This will be so thick you will be able to drink it with a spoon.  :)

When I first started writing, Falling in Love with Emma, I’m sure it was a “dark and stormy night,” because I thought about the French-style of drinking chocolate…a lot. Spoiler alert. It’s a typical fall day in Seattle, and I’ve just brewed a warm cup of drinking chocolate. Yum!  Anyway, back to the blog. In my story, I transported Emma and Björn back in time to 18th century Paris, on the eve of the French Revolution, where chocolate houses were almost as abundant as coffee cafés are in Seattle. For those who have read my books, they know that somewhere in the story, someone will mention their love of chocolate.  My novel, Falling in Love with Emma took it to a whole new level.  Although I knew the time and place, I wanted my readers to feel the atmosphere, or setting, as much as I did. The setting needed to be as important as the characters. After all, the setting would affect how the characters would react. Setting can enhance a character’s mood, or bring them down. Setting can help a character achieve their goal, or stand in the way.
This idea of setting as a character is never more apparent than in a disaster movie, involving fire, wind, or rain. There is a movie, Backdraft, with fire fighter, Kurt Russell, where he and his brother refer to fire as though it were a living, breathing, entity, unpredictable and capable of seeking revenge. This makes fighting fires feel  even more dangerous. On the lighter side, the movie Chocolate, with Johnny Depp, not only makes the symbol of chocolate a main character, but this confection, changes in appearance and brings people together.   
When you describe a setting or add symbols to your novel, you must always ask this question. How does it move the story forward? If you describe the wind or rain, it can’t be just because it sounds cool, there has to be a reason why it’s raining. How does your character respond to rain? Will her response help or hinder her as she tries to move forward? The same can be said for symbols. In Falling in Love with Emma, I have a scene where Emma and Björn are eating chocolate fondue. Yes, it can be a sensual dessert, with opportunities to feed each other strawberries dipped in chocolate, but that was not the reason I chose this dessert. Both Emma and Björn were on life’s treadmill. They were both in the friend-zone, without knowing how to escape. Björn, an Alaskan fisherman, was the type of person who grabbed food when he was hungry. He didn’t taste it, or to expand this idea, he didn’t taste life. Emma was an amazing baker, capable of creating swoon-worthy desserts, and yet, she never took the time to appreciate her talent. Fondue was the perfect choice for this couple. Fondue takes time.    

Please check out book three in the Matchmaker Café series, Falling in Love with Emma and let me know what you think. I have posted the recipes found in my novel on my website.

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