Stephanie is bibliophile — full stop. Leave her alone for ten minutes and she will be reading or writing.
Stephanie is married and claims she and her husband are naturally insane in a fun an harmless way. Together they do filking and other musical hobbies. Their teen boys often drive them toward the not-fun insanity (Nature or Nurture? – you decide).
With former careers as a legal assistant and a licensed massage therapist, Stephanie now gets to make writing a full time endeavor thanks to her awesome husband.
Sweet Secrets Big Idea
by Stephanie L. Weippert
At a cloth covered table in a ballroom filled with authors eager to sign their books, I smile as a burly man with his kid in tow make a bee line for me. He drops a copy of my book in front of me on the table with a bang. “Hey,” he asks. “What’s the big idea?”
I look up from the copy of my book Sweet Secrets he’d dropped, my pen in my hand to sign it and my eyes twinkled with delight.
“Food is magic,” I say, then sign with flourish and hand it back to him with a grin.
His eyes light up, and he grins back at me. He turns to his kid and says, “I think we’re both gonna like this one at bedtime.”
And in Sweet Secrets, food is the magic. It can do marvelous things. It starts in chapter one, where a delivery meant for the new neighbor next door arrives on seven year-old Michael’s doorstep by accident. The box is from a specialty candy company called Sweet Secrets Candy Company and is full of transportal chocolate bars that whisk Michael into another world when he eats one.
As a child, the first portal story I remember reading was Alice in Wonderland where she finds the “Drink me” and “Eat me” food that changes her size to fit through the keyhole or fill up a house. I play D&D where drinking potions polymorph or heal characters. Stories where the wise one gives the hero a potion to drink to make them smarter, wiser or just harder to kill are pretty common, so I wondered, what if every day cooking could do that? What if I could go make an angel food cake in my kitchen to clear up my sinuses?
Don’t know about you, but I think that last one would be awesome, since pollen tries to kill me each spring. The idea that humans could put ingredients together that did more than fill your stomach when eaten intrigued me.
I began the logic train from cave men cooking over a fire. One day they figure out that putting this particular plant on the leg of mastodon as they roasted it made them stronger the next day. That led me through a history that diverged from ours into a different modern type society. Where I ended up had a few things the same, but not a lot. First off, if food can do great things, then the skill of the person making that food would be important. You would want a talented cook to make your ‘strength beef’, and since Chefs are supposed to be the best cooks, then they would be admired and revered. People who don’t have as much talent, or none at all, would be lower on the social scale.
Another thing that I found is that if food could do things people needed done, it would change how inventions came about too. Instead of fossil fuel, they could use powdered sugar. Instead of pills to cure someone, their Chefs would invent cakes, cookies and drinks. They wouldn’t think of stringing wires from house to house when a scoop of powdered sugar runs the toaster for days. Factories wouldn’t have chimneys belching carcinogens in their smoke but carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Since people ingested things instead of using them, I decided cleanliness would be paramount. Pollution could ruin whatever you tried to create, so the habit of cleaning up after yourself would become an obsession. The water would be pure, the sky pristine. These people wouldn’t have to learn the lesson our world did in the 1970s about poisoning our own home.
My editor wanted a YA story in this world, and we discussed possibilities. In YA the “portal to another world” story that whisks children into an exciting adventure is at least as old as C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle, so I took that as a frame-work for Sweet Secrets. We need portal stories, and not just for our kids either. Adventure stories in general give all of us an escape from our own dreary lives, and usually highlighting a life lesson or two along the way. When the children in ‘portal’ stories return home, they know more about how the world they belong to works.
And they must return, because if they don’t the story becomes too dark because while children want to run away and have adventures, they want to know they can always come back home. Adults may say they don’t want to come back, but we adults know we have to. Responsibilities pull us to return, so a hero on an adventure that never returns feels wrong. Adulting sucks, and writers have to acknowledge it, even in this tiny way.
When the day-job gets stressful, politics concerning, and social media is filled with trolls, we want stories to distract us and make us feel better. Portal adventure stories offer us a ‘vacation’ from reality. When we reach The End, we return in a better mood with something to think about in day-to-day life.
A good story will resonate with the reader. That’s the highest goal of the writer. I feel that is the purpose of stories. Why we tell them to each other, why we share them when they’re not our own. Good stories resonate. We all reach for it, and I hope I succeeded in Sweet Secrets.
◊ ◊ ◊
*** Sweet Secrets is available to purchase TODAY!!!! ****
◊ ◊ ◊
Buy the Book:
About the Book:
At seven, Michael gets into trouble no more than any other boy his age but he does have a sweet tooth. When the mailman misdelivers a package from a candy company, the youngster has to sneak just one. As he eats the chocolate, his home, stepfather, and everything he’d known melts around him and disappears. He finds himself in a dreamlike world where he is taken as an orphan, tested, and before he knows it is enrolled as a student in the premier cooking school on the planet. His fellow students can make cookies that fly and chocolate turtles that actually walk. Michael is told he has more cooking magic than any of them.
Brad is charged with watching his stepson Michael for first time. When the boy disappears before his eyes, Brad panics. Within hours he is on an adventure tracking his son alongside an enigmatic chef. Always one step behind his son, Brad soon finds that Michael is being used as a pawn between the two most powerful chefs on the crazy planet. Worse he has to get Michael home before his Mother finds out he’s gone or there is going to be hell to pay.