Sunday, February 6, 2011

Writing Tips/Food for Thought from MG Author Rose Kent

Sweet Inspirations by Rose Kent
Both of my middle-grade novels, Kimchi & Calamari (HarperCollins) and Rocky Road (Knopf Books), have titles &  themes related to food. There is quite a bit of food references & symbolism in my stories too. Kimchi & Calamari refers to not only foods from my character Joseph's Korean birth and Italian adopted family cultures, but how he jokes about himself as an ethnic combo platter. My second book, Rocky Road, about Tess, whose family opens up an ice cream shop in the dead of winter, also captures Tess's spirit coping with her mom's mental health challenges.
I tend to see myself as a foodie -- not necessarily a gourmet cook, but someone who appreciates good food & how food nurtures our spirits. And as a writer I think food is a great tool for "showing" rather than "telling" about my characters' lives.

So of course, I come back to food when the writing gets tough.  When I struggle in figuring out what comes next in my story, I tell myself it's snack time. By that I mean I walk
away from my work-in-progress, put the tea kettle on, and make myself a tasty snack. Then I return to the computer, open a fresh document, and begin an interview with my character as I munch. You know, Q&A, italics for my questions, bold-faced text for my characters' response. I let the questions come naturally, not scripted. This technique relaxes me and doesn't feel as hard work as the writing. 

This starts out simple, even silly, with my character commenting on the weather or his favorite cookies as I eat mine. But like every good conversation, the interview moves about and ultimately returns to the story. More often than not, this foodie break I have given myself results in a breakthrough in my story with my character revealing something gets me unstuck. Of course this can be over done with too much snacking and too little writing, so I try to use this technique only occasionally.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Kent is a former naval officer who now happily writes for children. She has  four children & two stepchildren. She is from Long Island, like MOI, and although she no longer lives here, you can never take the Long Island out of the girl! You can learn more about Rose at (there is a link to her blog there, as well) and you can view her trailer for Rocky Road here:



  1. These both sound like interesting stories! I enjoy including food in my stories too (though I haven't tried snack breaks for getting past a tricky bit in my writing).

  2. Oooh! Fun but fattening. Second time we've gotten advice to interview a character. Time to go interview one of mine.

  3. @Andrea -- I know! I can't wait to 'eat them up' either <3
    @Debbie -- I just LOVED this post and found it a great comfort food for thought LOL
    Thanks for visiting, girls!