Monday, November 29, 2010

Meet Ellen Keener

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

Thanks so much, Becca, for allowing me to crash your blog for Meet the Author Monday! I really appreciate it.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what to write about this time. But then I figured, why not talk about food? I mean, we just enjoyed Thanksgiving weekend. And if nothing else, there is lots of food on Turkey Day.

What does food have to do with writing? Actually, quite a bit. I find that food takes a role in my stories as well as my life personally. I love to cook. I love it even more when there is someone to cook for. When I lived alone, it was almost depressing to make an elaborate meal and sit down with myself. Now I have a roommate who eats anything (except jello and whipped cream, because it wiggles. A little odd, but I never have to share!) and doesn’t like to cook. The best of both worlds. I cook whatever I want, and she’ll eat it.

I cook to relieve stress and wind down, but I also have a ritual when I’m sitting down for a long writing session. I pull out my favorite red teapot, with cozy, the china cups with scenes of Scotland on them, a cream and sugar set, and my silver plate tea strainer. I then choose from three different kinds of loose leaf tea. I set the whole thing on a tray and I take it with me to my “art room.” (Junk room, office, guest room, whatever it needs to be at the moment) Sometimes, if I’ve made cakes or scones, I add those too.

My roommate always giggles and says I’m like a little old lady. But I love it. I feel like it’s a treat, and sometimes, sitting and making another cup while thinking about a difficult spot in a scene solves all my problems. I even choose what type of tea I’m drinking based on what kind of story or scene I’m working on. Strong teas for stronger, darker characters, light tea or ice tea for something funny or younger.

My characters always have a food preference, even if it is only in their character sheet. In Blood Moon there’s a scene with spaghetti where Aria does a little seducing. In one of my young adult novels, the character loves chocolate. It makes them more real to me. A character who never thinks about food isn’t real. Like in movies when the hero or heroine never stops to go to the bathroom. Who does that in real life?

Food traditions shape our lives, and they help to shape our characters as well. I’m a tea drinker, and most of the time so are my characters. Some of them even hate wiggling food (courtesy of the roommate). It gives them an added dimension. Their culture would shape their food habits, their religion, their family’s traditions. A character with Italian heritage might spend Christmas Eve devouring every type of seafood known to man, while another might be frustrated at a conference because all that’s left on the buffet is ham and she’s Jewish.

So as you’re enjoying your stuffing and turkey and cranberry salad, keep in mind what your characters are eating this holiday season. And remember – there are no calories during the holidays!

Learn more about Ellen at her blog Supernatural or on Facebook.

Excerpt: Fugitive shifter, Aria Legreve, is always on the run. With her own life at risk, she helps a badly beaten shifter to his Pack, knowing the danger her meddling entails. Hoping to use her status as an Outcast and be set free, her world changes when she meets head on with no other than her Mate—who is dead.

Alpha Lukas MacLeod has been searching for his wife for the past year, until Aria walks straight into his lair. Fate intervenes and gives them a second chance. Caught up in an intricate web of lies and prophecies in the making for generations, Aria and Lukas must discover a way to balance the darkness in their world, but will their love be strong enough to save their pack and each other?


  1. I love reading about food in my fiction books. :)
    Food is partly social so I think it makes sense that it would add depth to a character or scene.

  2. Wow! Tea seems to be a theme today for Decadent authors. That's okay, tea is good. If I have a choice, though, I tend to bear towards mochas. They're mostly just chocolate milk with a splash of coffee, but mocha sounds more writerly. Right?
    Excerpt sounds wonderful!

  3. Jennifer Shirk - :) Thanks for stopping by!

    jennifer - you're right...mocha does sound a little more "artsy" and writerly. And anything with chocolate can't be bad, right? Thanks for commenting!

  4. Howdy, Ellen. I'm southern and everything revolves around food down here. While reading how teas help with your writing, I was nodding my head. I feel the same way about my coffee. Maybe it's the caffeine high that spawns new ideas, but like you, when I'm stuck, I sip my coffee, stare out the window and think. More often than not inspiration comes. Personally, I'm not a big meal cooker, I like to cook, but I don't have time to cook. But my father-in-laws throws out a spread to die for. Madison in my book, Pandora's Box, is like my father-in-law, she throws out a spread to die for.

    Great blog and very timely.


  5. I enjoy a hot cup of tea or a mug of strong coffee when I sit down to write. I munch on a chocolate granola bar, too. The combination is perfect for getting me in a creative mood.

  6. No calories during the holidays--sweet. I concur, food rounds out my characters. In my soon to be published thriller I included a brief recipe for making tasty rice. Devouring Vinaterta is fond Christmas memory for this Icelandic-Canadian.

  7. Another blogger recently posted about making Chai tea...I see a lovely trend starting! This is the time of year I love to pull out my tea cup and start drinking hot tea again. My favorite tea is mint with cream. And Earl Grey has just recently become a new love of mine! GREAT blog for a cold day!

  8. I love tea. Chai, Earl Grey, plain old Lipton, anything except lemon.It is a comfort.

    I agree with you, Ellen. Food is so much a part of our lives that it must be a part of our characters' lives as well. Just ask Darcy and Marc from Sweet Temptation about cheesecake.

  9. I do like it when characters have to excuse themselves to find the ladies' room...I mean, let's keep it real!

    I tend to write my characters as needing chocolate in their life. And caffeine whenever possible.

    In my debut, the heroine mourns the loss of pizza since ... Oh, I don't want to give that away! ;-)

  10. Fancy coffee and teas, well, down here in Texas we like our coffee strong and black. Nothing better on a cold night when you can hear the wind blowing, and you are thinking how lucky you are to be inside. Coffee is a waker upper, we tend to like iced tea here. Especially in the summer when it's hot. I like my tea with lemon. We do indulge in hot chocolate though every once in a while. I love the site, very nice touch to the season. Thanks, it was an enjoyable blog.


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