Monster Appetites

I followed a link on Twitter to a fascinating story about the breakfasts enjoyed by fictional characters and what those meal choices reveal. James Bond, in “From Russia with Love” enjoys two cups of black coffee, no sugar, with a three and a third minute boiled speckled brown egg from a French Marans hen, served with whole wheat toast, a selection of preservers and a pat of deep yellow Jersey butter (see link below). The specificity of the menu is what draws the reader in. It’s not a 3-minute egg, but a 3 & 1/3 minute egg. It’s not a boiled egg, but a boiled speckled egg from a French Marans hen.

The details tell the story.

Details about clothing, home décor, grooming rituals and other habits and choices can be useful tools for writers. These details can illuminate a character, bringing the reader an intuitive level of understanding.

A woman leaving her sleeping lover in his bed to find the dental floss in his bathroom before returning to his side; the disarray in a man’s closet, packed tight with old sneakers and sports equipment; a spotless but entirely unused kitchen; shopping bags filled with never-worn new clothes; and a year’s supply of canned food in a cabinet next to large boxes of batteries — are all short-cuts to character profiles.

We read those descriptions and we KNOW something pivotal about those characters.

MONSTERS, in this sense, are like everyone else. Everyone knows the “in-human” serial killer, cannibal with a yen for a nice Chianti, but there are more subtle tells that can help explain the motivations for the actions of both a human monsters and a supernatural creatures.

Let’s take a look in the closet of a contemporary vampire. Is it filled with black leather? Vintage eveningwear? Armani, Versace, Christian Lacroix, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen or Dolce & Gabbana? Each of these designers signal another set of ideas for the reader. What about the contents of a werewolf’s refrigerator? BBQ sauce and beer — the ingredients for a classic werewolf family party?

Monstrous personal details reveal the inner life of characters in all sorts of fiction. Breakfast menus are a great way to peek into the inner life of the personality living in a story.

Link to Breakfast article in UK Guardian


  1. I’m sure no self respecting vampire would be seen without the vintage evening suit and obligatory opera cloak but I can’t help wonder how many catch the eye of the girl victim with a diamond in the tooth a la Mick Hucknell or the discreet single hoop earring. After all, I suppose one must make a gesture towards the times in which we live.

    • Candy

      Yes, I think a self-respecting Vampire would have that tailored tux but the vamps of True Blood, et. al. seems hell bent on contemporary fashion statements. Lots of leather or leather & lace…. they wind up dressing like my neighbors in the East Village neighborhood of NYC. LOL… No wonder I set my Vampire comedy in that part of the city. Vampires would pass for human very easily in that hood. In fact, I’m not too sure about this guy I saw on 2nd Avenue on Monday night…. LOL….

      • Metan

        The way vampire’s traditional fashion choices would fit in todays world was the first thing that I thought of when you talked about wardrobes 😀
        They would barely rate a mention!
        Hmmm. I wonder if they have changed their preferred attire to avoid fitting in? What would vampires wear to make a new statement?!

        • Candy

          I’ve joked for years that between living in New York (known for people wearing much more black than the rest of the U.S.); dancing Argentine Tango as a hobby (much more black, fishnets, lace, etc. than most) and living in the Village (again, black clothes, eccentric wardrobes, make-up, hair not raising an eyebrow) — that I have a vampire’s closet.

          I do!

  2. -grin- It wasn’t until I’d finished writing my book that I realised how much of a part food played in the story. I am a bit of a foodie myself, but eating seems like such an integral part of a real character. How can you take a fictional character seriously when they never eat? Do they absorb nourishment from the air? Small things mean a lot. 🙂

    • Candy

      And your characters aren’t human! If you accept that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, than it’s a good route for the inhabitants of other worlds, too.

      The newest monster has so many meals and drinks and …. Most of the pivotal conversations take place over food and/or with a glass in hand. And each of the foods, wines, etc. are detailed to reveal (to show not tell) about the characters. LOL…

      Still I love James Bond’s egg timer. Bet it doubles as a weapon.