Sunday, April 29, 2012

Such a Drag...

Researching for the young adult fantasy series I'm working on at the moment is such a drag. 
My present series (Emporium Sister's Escapades) is about five sisters who are given a magical emporium by a grateful dragon. (Although they are unaware of both the magical nature of their emporium and their donors identity or, indeed, existence.) Each sister has her own shop, one a spice shop (think candles & perfumes as well as cooking spices) one a cafe, one a tea-shop, one a silk shop and the youngest lucky sister a chocolate shop. Each shop has a secret door leading into a world of lost lore relating to her shops goods. 

Obviously, proper research for this book entails gallons of reading about lost lore (Arabian Nights, Herodotus, history of Spices, 16th century merchants...) but also... taste tests... 
In the spirit of sharing, in the course of my research I can tell you that my favourite chocolate in Melbourne is Coco Blacks (their raspberry ganache, pear and caramel and Passion are prime favourites, but in the interests of cross-shop research the cinnamon chocolate is also fairly divine.) The chocolates are so rich that a quarter of one leaves you feeling full and savouring the different layers of flavours. 

 I can also inform you that T2 sell my favourite teas. My sister-in-law recently gave me a wonderful selection of teas for my birthday and I have since become obsessed with a T2 tea called Liquorice Legs. It's not something I would have thought to try, but it's entirely addictive and I could drink several litres in a day. It's made of liquorice root, fennel and peppermint and has a wonderfully sweet aftertaste. Sans added sugar and sans caffeine (unless liquorice is a source of caffeine I was unaware of) it yet has the buzz of both. And, unlike most sweet drinks, if you eat something sweet after it, say some grapes, the grapes taste sweeter, not less sweet. And if you eat something sweet before it... your Liquorice Legs tastes sweeter... its a sweetness enhancer! I am afraid to Google the ingredients in case they're horrifically bad for me.. 

And then of course there is the essential intensive examining of cafes and different tea, chocolate and spice shops to work out how my Emporium looks... The kids have come on many exploratory trips with me to the Melbourne CBD and Fitzroy (where I've chosen to plonk the Emporium!) 

Also trying to visualise my Emporium I am forced to spend extensive time on Pinterest (nobly forgoing mopping the floor or scrubbing the toilet) trying to find the perfect Gothic-Victorian style for the Emporium, enchanted towers, French Windows and mythical creatures... 

Research for one of my previous books entailed getting stuck in a gale in the middle of the rather cold Atlantic on a (showerless) yacht for 5 days - so far this series has involved a lot of coffee, spiced tea and chocolate. How I suffer for art...
Research is such a drag! 


  1. That's next book is a novel. Even if I have absolutely zero creative writing skills, your research is so much better than mine, so I'm jumping ship from spirituality books to novels ASAP! I have to read old books (well, okay, google for quotes from old books) and force my friends into creating bizarre new rituals to enhance (or not) our spiritual lives, and read studies of how young adults are different from baby boomers. gah.

    Bright side: manuscript deadline is 3 weeks away, so it'll be done soon. :-)

  2. Righting fantasies is a hard life, but someone has to do it! I do like how this series research is so delightfully edible...yum!
    I think your research sounds very interesting -Im looking forward to seeing the 'bizarre new rituals!' And I love reading all the sociology stuff...
    Good luck with the deadline! Let me know when I can get a copy!

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