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Michele Dunaway | Home Cooking

April 21, 2008

To celebrate the release of The Marriage Recipe, out this month from Harlequin American Romance, I’m celebrating a month of home cooking and made-from-scratch recipes. My heroine is a chef and the hero a lawyer (and also a single-engine pilot). Toss in falling in love with the boy-next-door and the girl who longs to return to the bright lights of the big city, you have a recipe for some craziness, kisses, and love.

Writing The Marriage Recipe was a lot of fun. One of the most important areas of character development is what the characters eat and drink. Seriously. If I’m writing a character who’s from New Orleans, I bet he or she has had crawfish. If not, what does that say about him or her? My characters located in St. Louis eat toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake; while in Morrisville, where my characters live, they would drink “pop,” not soda. Knowing regional food tastes and verbiage helps build a character in subtle ways. This is why I always set my books in places I’ve lived or visited. That way they come across as real. Setting is also another character—could you imagine Pretty Woman taking place in Chicago instead of LA?

What your character eats and drinks says a lot about them. Remember how Vivian (Julia Roberts) had no idea what fork to use at the restaurant? There’s a big difference in a heroine who does whiskey shots and one who sips wine. Same for men: the scotch tumbler says sophistication while the can of beer gives a more rugged, cowboy or every day guy you’d find at home impression. Characters who drink a lot are often frowned upon, while those who drink in moderation can be seen as social. And what about the heroine who has never had a sip of coffee and hates mocha?

Your characters can be suckers for burgers, or instead be vegetarians. Imagine the cattle rancher falling in love with the vegetarian. There’s a built in conflict right there. So don’t forget to pay attention to the food angle. It’s not just fun, but delicious. Or perhaps disgusting if you’d rather (I prefer the yum.) And remember, where else can a person eat whatever she wants and not gain a pound? Only in fiction…

For some of my favorite recipes, go to For a review of The Marriage Recipe, check out Tonya’s Tidbits at. My next release is Out of Line, from Harlequin NASCAR, in June. My website is

Michele Dunaway

One Comment

  • list of spices July 26, 2010 at 9:24 am

    While we’re dabbling in the area of Michele Dunaway | Home Cooking | Fresh Fiction, We use the term “Spices” for both herbs and spices, as the American Spice Trade Association currently defines spices as basically “any dried plant product used primarily for seasoning purposes.” Otherwise, the difference can be sketchy, but the term “herb” generally applies to green leafy plant products.