Pat Esden on her live journal has provided one of my favorite quotes about Bitterwood yet, and she hasn't even read the book! She attended my reading at Readercon and writes on her blog: James Maxey read the beginning of his novel “Bitterwood”. It was great and convinced me to move the novel higher up in my stack of summer reading—and gave me a craving for barbequed dragon tongue.
Really, that's pretty much what I consider the key to engaging writing... leaving the readers with cravings. It's been twenty years since I read Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Aiule (I'm sure I just misspelled her name). Yet, I can still recall vividly her descriptions of the food the cave men gathered, all the fresh green sprouts and pungent roots and giant fish. I remember going to a salad bar and loading up on bean sprouts and bamboo shoots and thinking, "a caveman would enjoy this salad." (Though I'm not sure they had ranch dressing.)
I said in my recent Solaris interview that my first goal as a writer was to entertain the reader. I also said I tried to make my writing thought-provoking. I left out my other important goal--make the reader hungry. A useful goal to remind myself of now, since I'm well underway with my next novel for Solaris. I've finished four chapters and am almost 17,000 words into the project. I'm leaving on vacation this week, and hope to get through at least two more chapters, perhaps even a third. I'm guessing there will be a feast in there somewhere.