I have been encouraged lately by many people to write a book. I am not up to it yet, but I am ruminating on various potential themes. I have about three or four recurring dramas that I play out in my head for entertainment, and perhaps one of these has in it the germ of a novel. You can be the judge.

THE ECCENTRIC MYSTERY. Someone is murdered. A detective is hired to solve the crime, but this particular detective has some personality quirks that make solving crimes particularly challenging. The detective, one Arnold Scullwood by name, works by day in a bookstore, and moonlights as a nude model to bring in extra cash, which he squanders by buying lottery tickets. Arnold, a bodybuilder, also finds sleuthing hard to work into his training schedule and frequent odysseys to weight lifting competitions. But when a woman is found dead after the “clean and jerk,” Arnold gets strong-armed into solving the crime.

THE FOOD NOVEL. In this book, the plot is secondary to giving the author free rein to talk about making food, eating food, and sharing recipes. Back in the day, this was called a “cook book,” but today’s readers apparently demand more from that genre. So in this, the protagonist either falls in love with the wrong man, or is a widow who moves to a new town. Either way, the heroine learns to solve her problems and renew her faith in herself and mankind by opening either a: bakery, a quilt shop that serves little homely snacks, or a tea room that ultimately fails. In the process, the heroine—we will call her Polly Underwinger, finds love with either the coffee delivery man, or the local pharmacist.

THE ENGLISH COUNTRY HOME SAGA. This is one of my favorites. It follows the Crompton-Flingford family over a span of a couple of generations, beginning with little cockney Harold Crompton, who begins life as a lackey in a glue factory under horrid conditions, but works his way up to owning the whole thing. Along the way, he meets Daisy Flingford, who hails from a noble family and completely upsets the feudal order of things by marrying Harold beneath her station. Their marriage is, of course, fraught with trouble, but they persevere and produce a wayward son, Bartholemew Crompton-Flingford, who goes to public school, buggers his underlings, and then procedes to squander the entire glue fortune on “fancy women” and Thoroughbreds. Daughter Paisley Crompton-Flingford is a silly, spoilt schoolgirl who eats too many cream scones at tea, and hence finds it hard to interest any local bachelors, due to her girth. The whole plot thickens when Rodney Mink-Nulton, a slick character, enters the picture to seduce Paisley, blackmail Harold, charm Daisy, and challenge Bartholemew to a duel. This novel is full of chintz, tea, scones, and fires with fenders. It is also replete with bodice ripping, unseemly characters, foxhounds, pheasants hanging in the larder, and, naturally, chambermaids.

THE PRECOCIOUS CHILD NOVEL. Of course, no one can top “Anne of Green Gables,” or “Little Women,” but I might try my hand at writing the story of Annabricks Le Table, the daughter of a boring British nobleman and his lively and gutsy French lover. Annabricks is the darling of the neighborhood around the Rue de la Cul de Sac, where she lives. She introduces the colorful characters who are her friends: Raoul, the roguish butcher, who gives her free bones for her dog “Bouillon,” and Madame Raclette, owner of the local brothel, who teaches Annabricks the ways of the world. Annabrick’s parents, Clive and Manette, struggle to keep their darling but larger-than-life daughter safe, while allowing her to grow up experiencing the ways of the French, all the while learning how to brew a really good cup of tea.

I am continuing to cogitate, but really, the most fun for me is coming up with names for my characters! A few more, perhaps?

THE SOUTHERN BELLE: Fanny Cerise Fernduke






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