Sunday, February 05, 2017

Roxanne Snopek: The Chocolate Cure

Do you have a favorite smell? I’ve got lots: bread baking in the oven, fresh rosemary on my fingertips, bee balm, anything lemon, sawdust, alfalfa hay, babies, eucalyptus, roasted coffee beans… I could go on.

How about smells you can’t stand? That’s a list I won’t write, except to say that there are many. Many, many. And most of them are chemical or manufactured smells. I’ve a long-standing discussion going with daughter #3 about hairspray, ie: how many gallons does it take to create beauty, the merits of scent-free products and at what point and how far from the house will I set up her beauty station, should our discussion not progress in my favor. :)

In my latest book, THE CHOCOLATE CURE, my hero is recovering from a concussion, which affects his memory early on in the story. He meets the heroine but doesn’t really remember her – except when triggered by certain scents.

I know a little bit about brain injuries from my husband, who was hit by a car while riding his bike as a teen, and suffered a skull fracture. He was lucky to survive – the driver did not stop - and within a few months, made a full recovery. But a few years later, he began smelling things that weren’t there. Gradually his sense of smell disappeared completely. It’s undoubtedly the easiest of our senses to live without, and he’s not hampered greatly by it, but he does miss it when I’m baking cinnamon buns!

We know that there’s a strong link between smell and memory, so wanted to explore that in this story.

Mick’s first words to Maddie are “You smell good, like chocolate.” And from then on, he associates – and eventually remembers, her by smell.

Here’s a few excerpts:

Maddie bent forward, very slowly, keeping her gaze on his, holding his hand. He inhaled a trace of something light and flowery, lotion perhaps. Or her shampoo. It smelled... purple. Like lilac. Remember this. Keep this.

Light shone behind her head, renewing the halo he'd seen earlier. A lock of golden hair slipped free of the pins, fell over her shoulder and brushed against his cheek. Her neck was fragrant as a garden warmed by the sun. Lilac, spring breeze, sunshine.

The fragrance of shampoo, fresh, like sunshine, or lilacs in springtime struck Mick in the solar plexus and he inhaled reflexively, quenching some deep thirst he didn't know he had and couldn't identify. Her breath was touched with mint, but still, it warmed the wintery air around her... her breath... and her skin and the sparks in her eyes...

A whiff of lilacs drifted over him. Mick glanced around. The houses were all laced in snow and frost, the trees bare. There was nothing remotely in bloom. Where did that trace of lilacs come from?
And my favorite line of the whole book:

"I was broken," Mick said, "and you cured me, with lilacs and sunshine and chocolate."

I so enjoyed writing these wonderful fragrances, not to mention the delicious chocolate. Have you got a story about smells or memory? Visit me at or I’d love to hear it.

The Chocolate Cure is available at:

1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

cannot stand the smell of grape punch--too many times having to drink it as a child when sick