Today, we have Marianne Arkins visiting with us. She's the author of One Love for Liv, published by Samhain Publishing. At the moment, One Love for Liv is only available as an e-book, and you can buy it here. I've written about Liv in this post already, and it's a wonderful read.
I asked Marianne some questions about the book, which she graciously answered, and since it's also a What's Cooking Wednesday, I decided to tie that in as well. There's a wonderful scene where Liv, a pampered member of Boston society, is left to cook dinner as part of a cleaning/cooking gig that she's pretending to need (long story, and very funny, and you'll just have to get One Love for Liv and read it yourself to understand what led to these circumstances). The recipe is for salmon poached in a dishwasher (yes, you read that right), and the recipe can be found here. Marianne challenged me to make this for What's Cooking Wednesday, and I was planning to take her up on her challenge, but the flu reared its ugly head, so I made up my own recipe, "Salmon a la Liv," which is posted below. Enjoy the following literary and culinary delights!
1. Frank is a neighbor where Liv has her cleaning/cooking gig, and Frank spends the book trying to break bizarre Guinness world records, which is only one of his many quirks. He's absolutely hysterical. Where on earth did you come up with Frank? Was he someone you knew on any level?
Heavens no! LOL… while I was writing One Love For Liv for NaNoWriMo, I got about a third of the way through and was bored. So I took a trip through the NaNo "dares" forum and found a dare that mentioned having a character trying to break a Guinness Book World Record. I took the dare and twisted it around a little because, of course, my character couldn't be trying to break something as basic as… say… longest time jumping rope.
2. If this hits mega-sales will you open up a posh spa in the Boston area, like the one Liv owns, or will you keep writing? And why?
If I opened up a posh spa, it wouldn't be in Boston. Maybe Calistoga in the Napa Valley of California (possibly one of the most beautiful places in the nation), but not Boston. Why would I want to live in or drive to a big, ugly city every day? *G*
I don't think I could stop writing if I tried. But my DH would sure be glad to retire and spend his days fishing. In fact, he asks me if he can retire with every release I have! LOL…
3. Have you ever lived with a ferret? How did you come up with/research Rett (Rett is the pet of Mike, who mistakenly hires Liv for a cooking/cleaning job)?
I wanted to use an unusual pet in the story, and since I already hat a rat in another WIP, I opted for a different rodent. I had a good friend when I lived in California who had two ferrets named Rosencrantz & Guildenstern (despite ownership of them being illegal there and then) and was endlessly amused by them. They're little thieves who only have two speeds, nuclear and sleep, and are always into everything. Cats' curiosity has nothing on a ferret's.
Well... okay, but ferrets smell! Let me put in a plug for guinea pigs in your next one! Or maybe not, since I have guinea pigs in my mystery.
4. Did you know from the outset what the ending would be, or did your characters "tell" you over time? And no, this doesn't have to be a spoiler.
I always know the ending before I write the book. I'd actually written the ending of this story first, based on a writing prompt I'd stumbled across in a writing group at WVU (Writers Village University). For all intents, it really stayed pretty much the same from the moment I wrote it. I love to write my ending first. Yes, I'm weird.
5. I know you're a huge fan of chocolate. Chocolate and romance novels go together naturally - what chocolate would you pick for One Love for Liv?
I actually have a bar of it right now: Lindt 85% dark chocolate…so bitter your lips pucker when you eat it. It's just short of straight cocoa. And, oh yeah, really yummy. Seriously, for chocolate, the darker the better. In my opinion, white "chocolate" should be outlawed. Or, at the very least, renamed.
6. If you could have any parts of Liv's life, which one would you pick?
Hmmm… can I have Mike (the romantic protag)? LOL… Seriously, I'd really love the ability to have an entire health spa at my beck and call. Massages and pedicures and facials, oh my! I could learn to live that way.
Her condo is pretty nice, too.
Well, folks, there you have it. Marianne has also published a variety of heart warming short stories, and you can find out more about her writing at www.mariannearkins.com or her blog, Reading, Writing and Stuff That Makes Me Crazy. In the meantime, as I've said before, I'd highly recommend Liv - it's a lovely confection of humor, great characters and a nicely-charged love story.
And now for "Salmon a la Liv":
This recipe is based on a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Mr. Bittman is a food writer for the New York Times and How to Cook Everything, is the closest I have to a cooking bible. He's written several books that are riffs on this theme, and I've often bought How to Cook Everything: The Basics for former students, young relatives, etc., who are starting out in their first taste of adulthood.
I figured this was the perfect recipe for Liv, because it's so easy, even she can't manage to mess it up! The salmon is Bittman's; the sauce is mine.
"Salmon a la Liv"
for the salmon:
1 1/4 lb. piece of salmon fillet
2 heaping TBS salt
for the sauce:
1 large handful of chopped, fresh dill
juice from 1 lime
pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup lowfat yogurt
a pinch of sea salt
whole wheat couscous, made with water, 1 TBS olive oil and a pinch of sea salt (according to package directions)
frozen (or fresh) spinach as a bed for the salmon
1. Place salmon fillet in a saucepan that is large enough for the salmon to lie flat. Cover the salmon with cold water. Add 2 heaping TBS sea salt.
Bring to a boil. Take off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 10 minutes - 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Remove cover and enjoy. You can chill this first, if you wish to.
2. Wash and chop dill. Put in mixing bowl along with other ingredients. Whisk together. Serve over salmon. Note: You can make this SO many ways - with sour cream instead of yogurt. With lemon juice instead of lime. Cumin instead of cayenne. A bit of soy sauce instead of the spices. This is a sauce that is meant to be played with, so play!
3. While the salmon is still sitting, make couscous according to directions (usually a five-minute process) and cook the spinach, again, according to directions.
4. Plate everything together nicely, and you're done! This dinner can be made, start to finish, in as little as 15 minutes, if you have a thin piece of salmon.
So... Marianne, d'ya think Liv can handle this one?
And now please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.