Monday, April 2, 2012


I'd like to welcome Cherie Larkins to Sharing our Voices. I met Cherie a couple of years ago on Agent Query Connect. She is a wonderful mother, writer, and friend.

For more information on this amazing woman, please check out her blog, Cherie Writes... and twitter, @writercherie

Take it away, Cherie:)

Thanks, Angie, for letting me hijack babble post on your blog. It’s truly an honor to be here.

When Angie asked me to share about cultural or environmental influences affecting my writing, I immediately thought of FOOD. Must have something to do with being pregnant—I’m always hungry nowadays. J

But this topic actually has more merit than just an expectant mama’s cravings for Doritos and ice cream at 2 in the morning. Food, whether it has a subtle or more prominent presence in our writing, does exist in our stories.

Take my Middle Grade Fantasy WIP, for example. Food is a huge part of my worldbuilding. My protagonist is a twelve-year-old orphan seeking for his sister, who has been taken away by the Slave Traders. He comes from a farming village, so his memories of home include the sweet aroma of fresh-baked bread and pumpkin soup, and the herbs growing freely in his mother’s garden. But when his adventure leads him to a fishing village, the pungent odor of fish entrails permeating the very air he breathes in makes him sick. And he refuses to scavenge for leftover food, even while he’s slowly dying from starvation.  So when a peddler appears with a basket of pan de sal (salted bread), my protagonist immediately concocts a scheme to steal a roll.

Now this is where the fun begins…for me, anyway. I grew up in the Philippines, a country comprised of many islands. The nearest beach was about 5 minutes away from our house. Weekends would mean a day of swimming until our skin’s so burnt from the sun, we’d be ten shades darker by the time we go home than when we first set out in the morning. Then there was the food. Fish was a staple, of course. Fried, poached, grilled, baked, or sushi-style minus the seaweed and rice wrap. My mother would cut up raw fish into bite-sized cubes and marinate them in a vinegar-ginger-herb mixture. Yum!


Once, I even saw my grandmother pick up sea urchins and bash them open with a rock. Inside was this gooey orange fleshy thing, and she would eat them raw. Grandma claimed it was really good, but I declined her offer politely. :-S

A lot of the food from my culture ended up in my WIP. It was a blast to create a world so familiar to me. It was even cooler to realize how reminiscent it was of my childhood. I even had my orphan boy visit a “wet” market, similar to the one we used to frequent in those days. No sterile packaging and white aisles here. Just a lot of stalls bursting with crawling crabs, glassy-eyed fish, and a variety of sea weeds, bundled up like bouquets of flowers. Fishmongers and vendors join in a singsong voice to lure customers their way so they can haggle and bid for the most reasonable price.

Wherever we come from, or whatever experiences we may have had in our life, there’s always something we can take from our personal adventures and use it to inspire our writing. Or the worlds we’re creating. As a writer, it’s the best—and easiest—way to make our stories come alive.

Happy writing!



  1. Thanks for letting me invade your blog, Angie (it's only for a day, I promise. Heheh!)


  2. Great post, Cherie! Yum, sushi. I think I'll make a snack before diving back into revisions.

    Congrats again on the baby!!

  3. Hi Cherie,

    Fun post. Makes my mind drift back to when I was growing up in Montreal and we would receive a care package from Newfoundland (in the form of a large wooden barrel) containing giant live lobsters.

    I can still remember the screams coming from the kitchen when Mom dropped three or four of those five pound green monsters into a cauldron of boiling water.

    My mom would later lift the lid to check on them and always a red claw would poke out at her and she'd club it with a wooden spoon (strong Irish women and boy could she drink) to force it back down.

    For years afterwards I had nightmares about lobster men with sunburns coming to our house to get their revenge. Thank goodness Mom always carried that wooden spoon.

    Thanks for sharing.


  4. That a creepy crawly connection to your past. I bet it makes your story come alive. LOL!

  5. Cherie, thank you again for visiting. I really appreciate learning a little bit about your culture and food.

    I love food, and I'll try just about anything once as long as I don't see it alive first, lol.

  6. Great post, Cherie! Yum, sushi. Now I'm hungry.

  7. Cherie, you almost had me sold on the raw fish - almost. =)


Now it's your turn. What do you think?

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