Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday Talk Time: Coffee Breakthrough

Harlequin Superromance Author, Terry McLaughlin, talks about the importance of coffee in fiction.

One of a writer's perks is getting to decide where to draw the line between reality and fiction. Sure, it's important to know the difference between the two. But it's sometimes fun to let a little real life slip into the stories: a naughty dog, an odd habit, an embarrassing incident, a favorite vacation spot.

Recently I've been using a fictional version of my hometown as the setting for my "Built to Last" Superromance series. The research is easy, and this part of northern California–surrounded by redwoods, hugging the Pacific coast–is particularly picturesque.

Another bit of real life found its way into my current release. When the heroine showed up on the first page holding a triple butterscotch latte, I recognized a kindred spirit. And as she continued to find plenty of excuses to indulge her coffee sweet tooth, I knew she was my kind of gal. Literally.

My midday coffee break has evolved into one of my writer's rituals. It's a chance to step away from the computer for awhile, to look at something other than the monitor and to talk to someone other than myself. I climb into my car, drive into town and head straight for my favorite coffee shop. And as I travel home, sipping an iced mocha, the story ideas start popping.

A local setting...a heroine who loves coffee...mocha-enabled story ideas... It seemed fitting to dedicate this book to the friendly baristas who add smiles to my coffee breaks and ask how the writing's going. And when my Harlequin editor sent some complimentary copies of the book to the people at my local coffee shop, things came full circle: a little fiction slipped into their reality.

I've always enjoyed the taste of coffee, particularly when it's mixed with chocolate. Blending a couple of spoonfuls of instant coffee crystals into chocolate frosting...yummm. The best pairing of coffee and chocolate I've found is Ina Garten's recipe for chocolate sauce: over very low heat, melt one 12-ounce package of chocolate chips while stirring in one-half cup heavy cream, two tablespoons honey and two tablespoons prepared coffee. Fabulous.

Do you enjoy coffee breaks? How do you take your coffee? Straight, or with a dash of flavor? On your own, or with a group of friends?

The coffee-drinking heroine of A SMALL-TOWN HOMECOMING is an architect, a career Terry once considered pursuing–one more example of how she adds real-life touches to her stories. It's the second book in her "Built to Last" series for Superromance. Look for A SMALL-TOWN REUNION in December. And check out the new look at Terry's redesigned Web site.


  1. non-fat latte's. With friends, preferably!

  2. Hi, Mari :-)! I need to train myself to appreciate non-fat, artificially sweetened versions of my favorite coffee drinks. Maybe sharing with friends would do the trick :-).

  3. Terry - yummy recipe! Will have to try it one day.

    I take my coffee black, unless it's really strong, and then it's just a little milk.

    One of my fave coffeeshops hereabouts is the Wild Bistro:

    Your ritual sounds great :) and Gold Rush is one place I'll visit if we ever venture down to Northern CA.

  4. Hi, Tess :-)! Sometimes I think my life would be so much simpler if I liked black coffee.

    Wow, your local coffee bistro looks fantastic! Those breads & other treats--yummm :-).

    Yes, do try that chocolate sauce recipe. It's fabulous :-)!