PORTLAND, Maine — Three decades ago, when Katherine Hall Page started her first novel, she had a rough idea of what she wanted to write—a mystery in which food played a central role. So she created a protagonist, Faith Fairchild, who could navigate the worlds of crime and cooking because she was an amateur sleuth and a caterer. Writing a mystery, Page told me, “is almost like a recipe in some ways. You have a little bit of this, a little bit of that.”
About the worst thing that can happen to a writer is to start rummaging around in the mental cupboard where she keeps ideas and find she’s got nothing left. That hasn’t happened to Page. Her latest work, “The Body in the Wake,” is the 25th book in her Faith Fairchild series, a mystery set on Sanpere Island, a fictional creation on the coast of Maine.
At the end of the book the reader will find recipes for several classic Maine summer dishes, including chilled garden pea soup, blueberry buckle and fruit shrub. These are not just an afterthought. “They’re the hardest part of the book to write,” Page says, “because they have to be original, they have to be tasty, and they have to relate to the book in some way.”
As Page thinks about how she creates the recipes, she starts to laugh at herself as she considers the enthusiasm she brings to the task. “In some ways,” she says, “I work on the recipes long before I actually start to write the book.”
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