Amber Royer, author of Out of Temper, a Bean to Bar Mystery, is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us how her experiences lecturing on cruise ships has contributed to her latest novel.
Welcome, Amber. I’ll turn the floor over to you –
Have you ever tried to get a live plant on board a cruise ship? It isn’t easy. Even though I was an enrichment speaker aboard the ship specifically there to talk about growing and cooking with herbs, I would invariably wind up pulled aside, having to explain this to three different people, who would then have to call someone before being allowed to bring my little flat of greenery on board. But once on board, the herbs were always conversation starters. Ship staff wanted to tell me what various herbs were called in their hometowns, and how specific plants were used locally for both food and medicine. Other folks just wanted to know what I was doing, and often showed up later at my presentations. It was about making connections.
As a writer, it’s no different. I write something attention grabbing, and I hope readers will connect with it, the way people on the cruise ship connected with a sprig of rosemary, or tiny sprouts of basil.
It’s been a long time since I was an enrichment lecturer on a cruise ship, but the experience was invaluable in making me the writer I am today. A lot of the themes, and the wanderlust my characters experience, come from me having visited ports of call. So it seems only fitting that I finally wrote a book set on a cruise ship.
In Out of Temper, my chocolate maker protagonist Felicity is invited to do chocolate making demos aboard a cruise ship. This combines several of my own personal experiences. I did a chocolate tasting class for the ships I was privileged to lecture aboard. And I’ve also taken a hands-on chocolate making class, and seen tabletop scale chocolate making equipment in action through the Dallas Chocolate Festival.
I tend to write what I call “kitchen sink” books, where I take a lot of things I like or am interested in and put them together in the same piece of writing and see how things come together. Another thing I know a lot about is the writing scene, and how conferences and conventions work. I’ve volunteered at conferences, and done some conference planning, as well as speaking on panels and such, so I know how the behind-the-scenes element functions. It seemed obvious to make the cruise in this book a theme cruise. In fact, it is a murder mystery cruise, which includes a number of writers as speakers. (I should note, these writers aren’t based on anyone in particular and are individuals created to fill specific roles in the plot, in order to push Felicity’s best friend, who mysteriously quit writing after much success, to confront her past and face change.)
Writing about such familiar settings and backdrops made Out of Temper in some ways easy to write. But I felt like I was able to push the characters more, possibly because I was in such comfortable territory myself. Felicity has to come to terms with the fact that she’s now in a love triangle, when her greatest fear is hurting people. Autumn has to deal with her past. Ash finds out he’s adopted. Drake realizes he hardly knows Autumn, though he has proposed to her. These were the things I was focusing on as I wrote.
So much about this book feels like things coming full circle, with Felicity’s pastry chef making basil brownies that Felicity brings aboard the ship. I hope the journey shows in the finished book, and that you enjoy Out of Temper.
Thank you for giving readers an insight into the inspiration behind your writing, Amber, and good luck with Out of Temper, a Bean to Bar mystery.
The novel is available online at the following retailers:
About Amber Royer: Amber writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course.