As a very serious, committed and often bespectacled writer, I am here to tell you that in-depth research is an incredibly important part of the writing process, and one I rarely if ever shirk. So when I came up with the idea for The Sweetest Thing, with its Valentine’s Day setting launching a rich, layered and bittersweet emotional journey, I knew that the demands of research would push me into the very deepest areas of human experience, way beyond my comfort zone.
There would no escaping it, no pretending to myself that I could wing this on the strength of my imagination. No, I had to bite the bullet (the round, dark, sweet, creamy, melt-in-the-mouth bullet…)
For this book, I was going to have to eat chocolate.
And yet I did not falter. I took my courage and commitment in my hands and went to the chocolate bistro. The smell hit me even before I walked in the door. Thick. Hanging in the air. Unmistakable. Seated at café-style tables with coffee and hot chocolate and choc-fudge brownie sundaes were patrons far more lost to the seductive lure of the cacao bean than I had thought possible in my darkest nightmares.
I shuddered at the prospect of what I could so easily become.
Resisting the urge to sit and order from the menu (chocolate fondue, waffles with chocolate syrup, more sundaes) I browsed the pick-your-own display and selected ten… twelve… fifteen different varieties. I hardly even dare to tell you what they were called. There were words in there that you may never wish to see spelled without asterisks. Words like tr*ffle, and pr*line, and c*r*melized.
When I came home and told my husband he was going to have to taste these chocolates, too, he turned pale.
But we survived, and I sincerely believe that the book is all the stronger because of our dedication to the cause.
Readers, I must strongly urge you not to even attempt to read The Sweetest Thing unless you have a supply of high quality chocolate in the house which you are fully prepared to eat as you read. It’s a hard ask, I know, but you can do it.