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Jessie Kwak explores worlds you can taste

Article by Jessie Kwak

Recently, my husband sat me down for an intervention.

“Look,” he said, a marked-up copy of my most recent manuscript sitting in his lap. “We need to talk about how your characters are always eating.”

“People eat,” I pointed out. “Multiple times a day, even.”

“Sure. But this is a tense scene β€” and they’re eating soup dumplings, which are inherently ridiculous to eat.”

“They just finished an intense motorcycle chase,” I said. “They’re hungry.”

“Jessie,” he said seriously. “The soup dumplings have got to go.”

I blame a childhood spent reading Brian Jacques’ Redwall books for my desire to shoehorn delicious meals into every book.

(Either that, or my Grandma Kwak, who made an art form out of feeding anyone who walked into her farmhouse kitchen. Feeding people is in my Dutch farmer genes.)

I love exploring fictional worlds, and food is one of those things that makes a world unique.

Maybe that’s a real-world place β€” in my very first novel, republished as From Earth and Bone, the Ramos sisters sit down in the very first scene for bowls of pho from one of my favorite pho restaurants in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.

Maybe it’s completely made up β€” in the Bulari Saga, the eclectic food available in the city speaks to the varied and diverse roots of humanity that populated the system, and the local heavily-spiced korris is a source of pride.

I love exploring fictional worlds, and food is one of those things that makes a world unique.

Jessie Kwak

From Redwall’s abby feasts to Klingon blood wine, I’ve always been a fan of fictional foods as a part of worldbuilding.

That’s why I love this article from Atlas Obscura, where readers talk about their favorite fictional foods and imagine what it might taste like.

My favorite is quote is this description of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 

“A cataclysm of citrus with an effervescent apocalypse.”

Personally, if I could try any fictional food, I would love to taste elven lembas bread from the Lord of the Rings. When I was younger, I would wrap biscuits in a handkerchief to take as a snack on my adventures, pretending it was lembas bread.

How about you? 

What fictional food would you love to taste?

When I was younger, I would wrap biscuits in a handkerchief to take as a snack on my adventures, pretending it was lembas bread.

Jessie Kwak

Oh, and if you’re wondering how my husband’s intervention worked out, I did eventually remove the soup dumplings from that scene. πŸ™

But that didn’t stop me from writing in some of my other favorite meals into the series.

Happy eating β€” er, I mean reading!


Thank you to Jessie Kwak for sharing a spoonful with us this morning!

I originally met Jessie years ago at the Willamette Writers Conference. She is wicked smart and super-talented. I love her book: Chaos to Creativity. It will give you lots of ideas on how to put your passion into a project and bring it to life.

Here’s a little more about Jessie Kwak:

Jessie Kwak has always lived in imaginary lands, from Arrakis and Ankh-Morpork to Earthsea, Tatooine, and now Portland, Oregon. As a writer, she sends readers on their own journeys to immersive worlds filled with fascinating characters, gunfights, explosions, and dinner parties. When she’s not raving about her latest favorite sci-fi series to her friends, she can be found sewing, mountain biking, or out exploring new worlds both at home and abroad.

You can find her online at JessieKwak.com, on Twitter @jkwak and on Instagram kwakjessie.


So, how do you write those delicious worlds? Here’s a few articles to get you thinking and writing!

Worldbuilding

The Fantastical Food of Fantasy Fiction at Tor.com gives a good overview.
Foodbuilding as Worldbuilding on Mythic Scribes provides practical templates.
Worldbuilding: Food for the People has great considerations about time periods.
Selina Jeckert connects food with character status, conditions and relationships.