Celebrating the (Almond) Joys of Autumn by Marilyn Brant
Like many of my fellow Austen Authors, I love this time of year. The scent of a pumpkin-spice latte…the crisp autumn wind…the gorgeous changing of the leaves here in my little corner of the Midwest…and, of course, the taste of fall, which, in my opinion, comes in the form of caramel apples and savory turkey stuffing. (And do I need to even mention Halloween candy miniatures?! Just the sight of an Almond Joy wrapper brings me…well, joy. )
I also love carving pumpkins, although I did not carve these two on the table. They’re actually the jack-o-lanterns that were on display at the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood last October (I was there for a women’s fiction writing retreat). For those unfamiliar with it, that’s the hotel where several aerial shots were taken for the famous film “The Shining,” based on Stephen King’s terrifying novel by the same name. (I like to think I’m brave but, really, I’m a huge scaredy cat when it comes to any kind of horror story!)
I may not write with a narrative style that resembles King’s at all, but I do enjoy putting fall themes to use in my books. For anyone who’s read According to Jane, you know that the story begins and ends in the autumn. In fact, on the very first page of the novel is this sentence: “I was in sophomore lit then — midweek, early November, daydreaming of life after high school — when Sam Blaine made his first move and Jane Austen made her first comment.” I wrote that line in the fall of 2004, when I initially began drafting what became my debut novel, and they were, in fact, the very first words I composed in the writing of the book. Probably why I always get a little sentimental when I read them… It was also the middle of fall when I first read Pride and Prejudice, and I’ll never forget the way I ignored everything and everyone when I was engrossed in that amazing novel. Looking back, I can’t believe there was really a time when I had no idea what would happen next between Elizabeth Bennet and that arrogant Mr. Darcy, LOL.
Another story I wrote that has a lot of autumn-esque themes in it is my contemporary romance/light mystery, Double Dipping, an ebook original that was honored this year as an International Digital Awards finalist in the “Best Contemporary Novel” category. The story takes place entirely in the fall, and I even got to create a special autumn festival for the book that I called the “Harvest Hoopla.” This week, Sally Smith O’Rourke is featuring that novel on her wonderful website, Austenticity (thanks, Sally!), and you can read the first three chapters there — here’s the direct link. This is the longest excerpt that’s ever been available online thus far, so it should give anyone who reads it a good taste of the story. I really hope you’ll enjoy it!!
As for other books, many of you know that I’ll have a new short contemporary romance coming out in the middle of next month called Holiday Man. I’m really excited about it, not the least of which is because I got to write scenes in celebration of holidays the whole year through! (Who else is a fan of the classic Fred Astaire/Bing Crosby film “Holiday Inn”??! That movie was the inspiration for this novel.) Here’s a peek at the premise and, also, at the book cover, which was designed by Abigail Reynolds’s talented daughter, Rebecca Young:
Shannon Quinn is the small-town girl who runs “Holiday Quinn” — a holiday-themed inn/resort based in scenic Door County, Wisconsin. One winter evening, wealthy Minneapolis businessman, Bram Hartwick, blows into town along with the fast-falling snow. The sparks Bram and Shannon create succeed in heating up the chilly Midwestern night, not to mention plenty of holiday weekends in the year that follows… But is their relationship only for special occasions, or might it be the elusive everyday love that neither one thought could be found?
Finally, just for you, Austen Authors friends and visitors, here is a link to one of my favorite fall recipes: Chestnut Ravioli. I loved the description of this sweet delight so much that I modified it and used it for an important autumn scene in my second novel, Friday Mornings at Nine. My mouth waters every time I so much as read through the ingredients!! Seriously, if something is described as “pastry pillows of chestnut puree, chocolate, amaretto, almonds, and candied fruit” that are deep-fried for “an unusual dessert,” wouldn’t you get excited, too?
Ohhhh! And for those of you who prefer your Halloween candy in the form of a delicious and rather potent beverage…have I got the drink for you!! Check out this very simple, 3-ingredient recipe for an Almond Joy Martini!
What are your favorite foods/drinks of the season?? I’d love to know, and best wishes to all of you for a fun and fabulous fall!