It was great fun, talking on a panel with Helene Young and Elizabeth Martin.
Mandy Magro was also there, signing her exciting new Penguin release, Rosalee Station, and it was great to meet another NQ romance writer.
The theme of this year's Book Fair was Books and Cooks, so on our panel, we made lots of cooking/writing comparisons. The best meals, so chefs tell us, are those made from great quality fresh ingredients. We decided that creating books is similar, and we talked about the distinctive ingredients of our books, as well as the important ingredients of any good story.
We also talked about TV shows like Masterchef and made comparisons between cooking and writing again, in that some people can produce a stunning meal for a dinner party, but would rather crawl away and lie in the foetal position than try to feed 200 people on a regular basis.
I know lots of writers who can write beautifully, but can't take the grind of writing all day, every day.
Of course, that term of "churning them out" arose in the middle of this discussion. I don't know how many times I'm asked, 'Are you still churning those books out?' I have to say I'd love it to be that easy. For me each new book is a new challenge, and sometimes it feels like climbing Mt Everest.
Anyhow.. we also talked about favourite cook books -- mine is Tessa Kiros's Falling Cloudberries. I love it not only for the delicious recipes and beautiful photographs, but because Tessa is also a wonderful writer.
This book is about the influence of her various family members (Greek Cypriot, Finnish, Italian...)
Just as a tiny example, I love what she writes about her grandfather.
'Pappou was quiet; he had integrity and no flashness about him. He always wore a perfectly ironed shirt, gilet in winter, polished shoes, had his hair slicked back with the special cream he ordered from Italy. He never demanded acknowledgement, but dashed around quietly with the energy of milk just at that rolling boil.'
On the panel, we also shared favourite recipes. This is mine, passed on from daughter Vicki. (friends and family will vouch for its yumminess)
Greek Lemon Cake
125 g butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup SR flour
1 lemon (juice and grated rind)
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
Preheat oven 160 º-180º C. Greaseproof a round 20 cm cake time. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon. Stir in coconut and flour. Bake in oven 45 mins to 1 hour.
Make the syrup after the cake is cooked. Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and rind on stovetop and bring to boil. Let cake stand for 15 mins and then gently spoon syrup over cake while syrup is still hot. Spoon syrup little by little to prevent cake from collapsing. Don’t be afraid to keep going even when you think the cake can’t absorb any more syrup. It can – and that’s what makes it so yummy. Delicious with cream or icecream or both.
After the panel discussion, our little group of FNQ writers gathered at the Whistle Stop Cafe for lunch. Great food, fab coffee.
The girls who worked there, also were involved in the Book Fair and dressed up to add to the fun -- and one was a bride-to-be. V appropriate. :)
All in all, a great day!!