Novel Bakes - recipes for the perfect book
Recipes for the perfect book
21 Aug 2015
The Great British Bake Off is once again gripping the nation, and while thoughts very easily turn to delicious cakes our minds are, of course, never far away from dreaming about the next great book. But what if you could bake the perfect novel?
Ingredients for the perfect science fiction novel:
Take one starship (in good condition with one not-so-careful owner), and for a dash of hilarity give it an Infinite Probability Drive and call it The Heart of Gold.
Alongside a diverse crew, with big hearts and a spirit for adventure, travel A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet until a warm, fuzzy feeling is simmering gently.
Now mix in a dystopian plot with strong flavours of conspiracy, a pinch of shock and surprise for a really good twist, and then whip furiously until cracks begin to show.
Finish off with a stunning cover design from Dave McKean, not unlike Phoenix by S. F. Said, and leave to cool on a bookshop shelf. Copies will quite literally sell like little hot cakes.
The perfect YA novel is one that is so terribly engaging, witty and addictive that you find yourself devouring it in one sitting, and feeling slightly bereft once it's all over.
To achieve this, you first have to start with the groundwork. A believable, endearing romance between two young, quirky characters makes the ideal base for a YA book. My preference is Etienne and Anna from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It has it all – transatlantic attraction, spark-filled banter, and they even fall in love in the city of romance, Paris. Sigh.
Next you need an exciting filling. Writing that draws you in and immediately immerses you in the narrative. Sarah Dessen, YA author-goddess, always delivers a charming story that deals with real world issues, never talking down to her audience. Reading a Dessen book always leaves a great aftertaste.
YA wouldn't be YA without a soundtrack to add decoration to the reading experience. Recent book and film sensation The Fault in Our Stars by John Green inspired loads of musicians to write fantastic music that encapsulated young, slightly doomed love. Boom Clap by Charli XCX is my particular favourite.
And finally: the cover. It needs to look attractive, inviting, and unique – capturing the vibrancy that is teen-hood. A tall feat, sure, but Yan Qin Weng, who designed the absolutely stunning cover for Alice and the Fly by James Rice, would be able to achieve it.
What do you need for a perfect classic romantic drama?
Firstly, you need a compelling heroine, someone with the quick wit of Lizzie Bennet, the modesty and strength of Jane Eyre, and someone who delights in literature, like Catherine Morland.
Chuck in a common enemy, whether an arrogant love interest, a twisted aunt, or a snobbish Lady or Lord of the manor.
For the plot, it’s best to go with a misunderstanding. Perhaps you were eavesdropping and misheard something important? Or maybe you believe someone to be courting you, but they have no intention of marrying you at all?
Beautiful landscapes are also a plus – you need to feel the cobblestones of Bath, or the moors beneath your feet.
And it’s always riveting if someone almost dies.
Mix that all together, and you have a classic tale on your hands!
A dash and a pinch of all of the fantastic ingredients from your favourite books mixed together to create the perfect story. Here’s what happened when we asked some Hodder book lovers for their Novel Bakes.
Here's my recipe for the perfect literary masterpiece.
The characters from J. M. Coetzee's Age of Iron. Mrs Curren's 'awakening' to the terrors around her in apartheid South Africa, and her confrontation with mortality alongside her vagrant confidant Verceuil remains one of the most interesting relationships in modern literature.
The mistrust of the very idea of writing from Franz Kafka's In the Penal Colony. A place where the crimes of those imprisoned are written on their skin. Could there be a more powerful analogy for the act of writing?
The idea of memory from Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. A book with the capacity to change how our memories function.
The prose from Samuel Beckett's The Unnameable. No one can match Beckett's ability with prose.
His continually withdrawing vocabulary produced some of the best writing of the 20th Century. The Unnameable is one such book and has one of the most famous endings in literature: 'You must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on,'
The philosophy from Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener. Because it's always good to be reminded of the power of the phrase 'I would prefer not to'.
Cook in a hot oven until beautiful on the outside (but strangely hollow within).
Image © Kate Hiscock, via Flickr