Why shouldn’t Authors have their Cake and EAT it?
Are we writing about cafes too much when it comes to fiction?
Should publishers be seeking something fresh and zingy in place of the much-loved, oft used backdrop of a romantic comedy?
Whilst nobody can deny that cafes are splashed across a gazillion front covers of books on the virtual shelves of Amazon and the real shelves of Waterstones/WHSmith and twee independents at the moment…
… personally, I can’t get enough of cafes and cake in my stories – whether I am reading or writing them. In a world choc-full of the grim and the gloomy, they bring a welcome balance to life – both in words and reality.
But the other day I read a review on a newly published CAFE title (one of a long line of cherry-studded stories swirling around the percolating brew of the coffee machine), and it begged to differ… For the Amazon reviewer in question had had quite enough of the ‘predictable’ lemon drizzle cake slices, the plump blueberry muffins, and the hygge-esque lattes – not even the icing sugar dustings of wit and love playing out in the hinterland, could sway her.
I suppose, in a way, she has a point; there does seem to be a standard, faintly yawn-worthy, buttercream-piped pattern when it comes to plot.
So is there a balance when we’re writing about the tender crumb of the scone (cream first!) amidst the village lothario’s shenanigans… and the underdog antics of the unsung hero… who finally melts the girl’s heart?
I think so, yes.
While there will always be room for a good cafe title on my Kindle or bookshelf, I too am growing just a little bit choosy.
The key to a good cafe title is the perfect blend of clever, quirky writing, innovative props (backdrops), and credible (in a slightly more unconventional way) characters. That’s what stops the next cafe read becoming two-a-penny… well, that’s me putting my tuppence worth forward, anyway.
And while we’re on the two-a-penny subject, we need to start seeing a whole lot more DIVERSITY with covers, too. Let each cafe title sing: marketeers and designers! For crying out loud: so many covers forsake that distinct author vibe in favour of a publisher’s branding. It’s the biggest turnoff, and as readers, we’re starting to see past it:
We need to make the books (including those with the word CAFE in the title) be about the author!
I write about food (and drink) A LOT. I’ve yet to dabble in a romcom playing out solely around the hustle and bustle of a cafe. But I’m thinking it’s par for the course eventually… Why? Because I LOVE cafes, I love cake, I love coffee and I love the togetherness those 3 things bring.
I also think a good book with a foodie focus, such as those whose stories weave in and around a cafe, are literal soul food. They help us unwind, relax and get our hygge on. What could be better for our mental health?
Ultimately, seeing more cafes in fiction can ONLY have the magical Mexican wave effect of like attracting like; of more and more independent coffee houses and cakeries popping up on our High Street. Pollyanna perhaps, but where attention goes, energy flows.
So let’s hold onto the best bits of our cafe-centred fiction… and strive to make these stories ever more unique, securing their places on every bookshelf.
Got a favourite fictional read with ‘that word‘ in it? Let me know in the comments below and share the cafe love!