Recently I reviewed Deadly Delicious by K.L. Kincy, which I enjoyed very much. Think vodoo in New Orleans in 1955 with one teenage girl who makes a few problems for herself. Or you can read my review here. 🙂 Anyway, author Karen Kincy is gracing us today with a guest post about writing historical fiction, pertaining to Deadly Delicious.
Writing Historical Fantasy
Historical fantasy is an amazing genre to read, like a sandwich layered with old worlds and imaginary ones, but also a really tough genre to write. How did I cook up my own recipe for historical fantasy? Some tricks I learned from Deadly Delicious:
Scour used bookstores for research
Deadly Delicious takes place in an alternate 1955 Missouri, since the real one never had magic or cake-eating zombies. When I did research, I discovered a goldmine in used bookstores: vintage cookbooks. Full of fantastic historical recipes. Deadly Delicious has recipes like:
PERFECT PICKLE LOAF
Useful for curing lovesickness of every kind, the Perfect Pickle Loaf is also a tidy way to fashion pork leftovers into a daintier confection. Green olives are a must, as they will add immensely to the handsomeness and flavor of this dish.
“Pickle loaf” is a nicer way of saying, “head cheese,” which is a nicer way of saying, “boiling a pig’s head and then mixing all the meaty bits with gelatin.” It’s not hard to look at a gross recipe in an old cookbook and think of how a witch might make it magic, like curing lovesickness.
Warning: collecting vintage cookbooks can make you ravenously hungry, especially if you find one on 1950’s desserts! (I did. I bought it.)
Check words on the Google Ngram Viewer
A few times, I wasn’t sure how Josephine would say something back in 1955. She couldn’t really say “awesome!” or “whatever,” the same way we do, since those words didn’t have the same meaning they do today. Instead, I wanted to include some 1950’s slang.
The Google Ngram Viewer is an online tool (https://books.google.com/ngrams) that graphs the popularity of phrases (one or more words long) from 1800 until 2000, searching through a giant collection of books that Google has scanned into a corpus of data.
Josephine could totally say “super-duper doughnuts.” The word super-duper was the most popular in 1944, but still pretty popular in 1955. While editing Delicious, I needed to check if out of this world was used back in the 50’s; that’s a tricky phrase, because originally out of this world was a nicer way to say somebody had kicked the bucket.
I double-checked at the Online Etymology Dictionary (www.etymonline.com), and the sense of out of this world as “surpassing, marvelous” was first recorded in 1928. And “out of this world!” with the exclamation mark was really popular during 1955, according to the Google Ngrams. That means Josephine’s mama cooks food that’s “out of this world.”
It’s probably pretty obvious why I love writing historical fantasy: the research, old books, and older words. I definitely got carried away sometimes while writing Deadly Delicious, but at least now I have a lot of great ideas for a sequel!
About the Author
Karen Kincy (Redmond, Washington) can be found lurking in her writing cave, though sunshine will lure her outside. When not writing, she stays busy gardening, tinkering with aquariums, or running just one more mile. Karen has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from The Evergreen State College.
About the Book
Title: Deadly Delicious
Author: K.L. Kincy
Release Date: April 2014
Length: 270 pages
Twelve-year-old Josephine DeLune can’t take the heat this sweltering summer of 1955, and she was out of the kitchen long ago.
An awful cook, she ruins recipes left and right, and she certainly can’t compete with her family’s reputation for extraordinary food. Her daddy’s parents ran one of the best restaurants in all of Paris, but Josephine lives in Paris, Missouri. On her mama’s side, she’s up against a long tradition of sinfully delicious soul food. Rumor has it, her Creole ancestors cooked up some voodoo to make tasty even tastier. Josephine knows the secret ingredient: she comes from a long line of conjure witches with spellbinding culinary skills.
Disenchanted, Josephine works as a carhop at Carl and Earl’s Drive-In. Just plain old hamburgers, hot dogs, and curly fries, nothing magical about them. She’s got bigger fish to fry, though, when a grease fire erupts into a devilish creature who hisses her name with desire. Turns out he’s the Ravenous One, the granddaddy of all voodoo spirits, and he’s hungry for her soul. Josephine thinks he’s got the wrong girl-she’s no witch-but a gorgeous, dangerous night-skinned lady named Shaula sets her straight. Josephine is one of the most powerful witches alive, so overflowing with conjure that her out-of-control cooking simply catches fire.
Josephine would love to laugh this off, but Shaula warns her that she must learn to master her magic before the Ravenous One devours her soul. Spurred into action, Josephine breaks out her grandma’s old conjure cookbook and starts cooking. Nothing grand, just the usual recipes for undying friendship and revenge. But soon Josephine can’t escape the consequences of her conjure. When the people of Paris start turning into zombies with a strange fondness for cake, Josephine looks pretty responsible for their undead reawakening…