Spice gives a dish flavor. Rosemary can elevate a platter of chicken from a humdrum dinner to a gourmet meal, while cayenne pepper can make your tongue sizzle.
Spice is also a key ingredient in books. I have read many perfectly good books in my life, too many to count, but the ones I like the best are the ones with a little extra something that grabs my attention.
Hercule Poirot is a brilliant detective who has solved a slew of interesting cases, but it’s his fussy little habits, like the meticulous care he takes with his mustache, that make him stick in my memory. Similarly, I can’t think of Kojak without imagining the lollipop in his mouth or the way he said, “Who loves ya baby?” Stephanie Plum insists on keeping her gun in her cookie jar (Really, it’s not a bad place. No random burglar would think to look in there), while Desiree Shapiro spends a large portion of her day thinking about food and deciding what dessert she most wants. I can’t help but smile when Mary Alice, from the Southern Sisters series, flounces into a room. Her antics and zest for life add more than a dash of spice to any of the books in which she appears.
It’s these little quirks that help connect the stories and make me feel like I’m sitting down with a good friend when I crack open the next book in the series. What are some of your favorite character quirks and habits that add a touch of spice to a story?