In celebration of the release of The Forget-Me-Not Bakery, author Caroline Flynn is here to talk about the reality of writing fiction!
Reading fiction is fun. It’s time enjoyed and spent in a world created by someone else, a world shared by the author so that the reader can be a part of that world, too.
But fiction isn’t always purely and simply fiction. Sometimes, the lines between fiction and reality can become blurred. Sometimes, there is a healthy dose of real life tossed in.
That’s what happened when I began to write The Forget-Me-Not Bakery.
I knew two things when I started the story. The first was that I wanted to create a fictional town that incorporated all the charm and quaintness and simplistic beauty that small towns and downtown streets can have. Growing up in a small lakeside town myself, I didn’t have to struggle to find inspiration, and hence, Port Landon was born. With its cozy Main Street shops and Victorian-style homes and locally owned businesses, it’s exactly the kind of little town I set out to prove could still exist in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world.
The second thing I knew was that I wanted an exuberant canine character to follow my main characters through their sweet and sometimes tumultuous love story. It took about two seconds for me to decide that there was no one more fit for the job than my own brindle boxer, Jazz. In my eyes, there is no dog that knows how to steal the spotlight and put on an entertaining show quite like her. There are no exaggerations in The Forget-Me-Not Bakery; Jazz really does snore like a freight train, sleep with her tongue out, have the spine condition called DISH, and she really, really is a diva.
Many of the cakes sold at Paige’s bakery, The Cakery, are real recipes as well! I figured if I was going to write about all these decadent homemade baked goods, there may as well be desserts I could bake as well! (Don’t worry, I’ll include a recipe below!)
As I continued to write The Forget-Me-Not Bakery, however, other real life things began to creep onto the pages as well. For example, I always write with the help of a detailed outline, but nowhere in that outline was there ever mention of a polished beige stone with the words Think Pawsitive engraved on it. But that stone became vitally important in the story, having been given to Cohen by his late wife, something he carried around to remind him that there was good in each day if we looked for it. It wasn’t meant to be a part of the story, and it’s also not fictional at all. The smooth, dappled stone sits on my desk, Think Pawsitive on one side and a pawprint with a heart in the middle on the other. It was a gift from my mother, and now it means more to me than ever before, as it’s a symbol of the hard work and creativity that went into the writing and publishing of my first Port Landon novel.
Readers have also been surprised to find out that the Hansel And Gretel House is a real place. Or, at least, it was at some point. During a random Pinterest search, I came across an image of an old cottage. I don’t know who owns it, or where it’s located, or if the structure is even still standing, but I took one look at the abandoned cottage, saw the forgotten beauty held within it, and knew I had to write about it. The Hansel And Gretel House became an integral part of Cohen and Paige’s story, too, and if I’m honest, it wasn’t in the story’s original outline, either.
In the end, I guess there are two things you’ve learned from reading this blog post. The first is that real life has a way of weaving itself into the fictional stories we love so much, giving us reasons to love them even more. The second is that I very obviously am unable to follow an outline, regardless of how detailed it is or how well laid out I think the plot is. Sometimes, the story just takes over and I’ve got to see where it leads me.
Funny, real life is a lot like that sometimes, too.
If you’d like to give one of Paige’s recipes a try, this is the “neon orange cheesecake piled high with whipped cream and fruit toppings” that Paige suggests to Bryce when he asks for a dessert that is “fun on a plate.” Many little tweaks can be made to your liking, including adding orange zest if you prefer a stronger orange flavor, or even making it with a chocolate cookie crust. This is a light cheesecake that’s perfect for summertime!
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup white sugar
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoon orange extract
2 drops yellow food coloring
1 drop red food coloring
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (or make your own!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; add eggs and beat well. Beat sour cream and vanilla extract into cream cheese mixture until batter is smooth.
Transfer one cup of the cream cheese mixture to a small bowl and stir in orange extract, yellow food coloring, and red food coloring until the batter is smooth and orange.
Pour uncolored batter into prepared graham cracker crust. Drop spoonfuls of orange batter over the top of the uncolored batter and run a knife through the orange batter to create a marbled effect.
Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are firm and the center is slightly loose, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator, 8 hours to overnight.
(I’m not the original creator of this recipe. I got it online, but it has since been transferred onto a recipe card in my own kitchen and I can’t be sure where it originally came from.)
The Forget-Me-Not Bakery by Caroline Flynn is out now in e-book.