Before trying her hand at fiction, Tammy Kaehler established a career writing marketing materials, feature articles, executive speeches, and technical documentation. A fateful stint in corporate hospitality introduced her to the racing world, which inspired the first Kate Reilly racing mystery. Tammy works as a technical writer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Read more about Tammy and her books at her website.
Tammy is giving away a copy of Dead Man’s Switch to one lucky reader. To enter the drawing, just post a comment to the blog. -- AP
Family Members, Fictional Characters, and Zucchini Cookies
When does the eccentric or weird become charming? I should frame this in the proper context: I’m talking about well-meaning family members.
I realized, the morning of my birthday a few weeks ago, as I waited for my annual phone call conveying a dreadful rendition of the happy birthday song from my father and step-mother (I love you guys, but my father, for sure, can’t carry a tune in a bucket), that at some point in the last decade I’d started looking forward to that call. More, that my birthday wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t come.
Similarly, I am more amused than frustrated these days by my grandmother and the weird desserts she used to bake—which might be partially due to the fact that I no longer have to eat them. You see, my grandmother, who passed away in 2005, had some strange ideas about food. The interesting fact to note is that wasn’t always the case; at some point in my life that I can’t pinpoint, Grandma’s food got weird. I remember arriving to Grandma’s as a kid and finding fresh chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar. Then suddenly there were zucchini cookies or persimmon bars that had just been taken out of the freezer. Really? What child wants cookies with no chocolate chips but flecks of green vegetables in them?
And yet, when my mother, her siblings, and all the grandchildren got together to clean out my grandmother’s house after her death, what did I tuck in my box among the other keepsakes? That’s right, her recipe box and an antique recipe stand that now sits on my desk. At least once a week I catch sight of it, read the title of the recipe displayed, and smile in fondness tinged with disbelief. Lemon Zucchini Cookies.
But I guess this is what they mean when they say “write what you know,” because when it came time to create the grandmother of Kate Reilly, my racecar-driving protagonist in Dead Man’s Switch, I thought about someone like my grandmother, with a strong commitment to doing what she feels is correct and appropriate, even if that’s not what everyone else thinks should be done. Plus a penchant for weird desserts.
Though Kate’s grandmother was only mentioned in the first Kate Reilly Racing Mystery, she’ll make more of an appearance in future books as Kate’s family story is explored. But her character is fully formed in my mind: a woman with firm ideas and a story in her background of doing what needed to be done. Much like mine was.
I’m guessing some lemon zucchini cookies will also show up. For sure I’ll pick those over the persimmon bars.
So my question is, what eccentric foods or behaviors do you find in your family? And how would they make great characters in a novel? A commenter to this blog this week will win a copy of Dead Man’s Switch!
Since I know readers of this blog enjoy new recipes, I’ve copied my grandmother’s down for you:
Lemon Zucchini Cookies
1t ground lemon peel
1t baking powder
1c shredded zucchini
1c chopped walnuts
Cream the first four ingredients until light. Sift flour, baking powder, and sale together and mix in. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Frost, if desired, with 1c powdered sugar mixed with 1 ½T lemon juice.
Thanks, for joining us today, Tammy. Our readers are used to seeing zucchini in all sorts of recipes, so I don’t think they’ll find your grandmother’s lemon zucchini cookies odd in the least. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet quite a few of them bake up a batch. Right, readers? Post a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Dead Man’s Switch. -- AP