I have a confession to make. I have a secret...
All my creative talent...the plot lines...the character development...it's all the result of an addiction combined with a truly twisted and overactive imagination.
I am a coffee fiend.
The typical day starts with unleashing the hound, dodging the cats, and firing up the laptop as I wander through the house like Theseus in the Minotaur's labyrinth on my way to the kitchen and the sweet brew that holds the secret to life itself. Ask my husband. I'm a complete zombie until the coffee is ready, and the brain simply doesn't fully function until the third cup. Even the smell is enough to start the process.
I've always loved the smell of coffee. My parents, especially my dad, were coffee drinkers. The house always smelled of coffee. Dad was also a natural storyteller. Most of his tales were of the tall variety, but that's what made it fun. Every now and then he would sneak me a small sip of coffee mixed with copious amounts of milk and sugar. I didn't like it much, but it didn't matter. It was time spent with him and it's a memory I cherish.
My love of the roasted bean didn't actually develop until I started writing, ironically. I was in college working on my bachelor's degree when I started writing and due to class schedules the only time I really had to write was late at night. Coffee -- more specifically the caffeine in the coffee -- became a necessity for staying awake. Any coffee would do as long as it was fully loaded.
Then my wonderful husband introduced me to Kona coffee. O...M...G... I fell in love but true Kona is hard to find in southern Alabama. When I am able to find true Kona, I savor it and make my supply last as long as possible. It becomes a guilty pleasure, indulged in only during celebratory times.
Coffee helped me through my undergraduate courses, but it truly became my special friend when I was working toward my master's degree. Graduate school is brutal. The classes are more intense. Professors expect more from you and in a shorter amount of time. (Hmm...that sounds familiar.) Plus, I sold BLOOD LAW to Bantam Dell just prior to entering my final semester of grad school. I needed coffee's boost to keep me going because not only was I taking classes in Modernist fiction (major snoozefest, by the way) and Shakespeare, I was working on my creative thesis -- a novel loosely based on John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost...and I was actively revising BLOOD LAW. Well, not so much "revising" as "completely restructuring and rewriting." When I finally tally all the catnaps and few hours of sleep caught here and there, I think I slept a grand total of three days that entire semester.
So, yeah, that's why I'm a coffee nut. I love my Kona and I adore Starbucks's white chocolate mochas. Yes, it overpriced but I don't care. It combines my two major food groups: coffee and chocolate. However, these are not for everyday consumption. No, on a daily basis, any fully loaded java will do to jump start the brain cells. I usually switch to straight water around noon but will return to coffee (or break open a Mountain Dew) when I need a mental boost. Even if I don't need the caffeine, I'll usually have a pot of unleaded (decaf) coffee on hand just because I like the smell.
I think that's why I eventually became a coffee fiend. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee is like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs or Theseus's string in the Minotaur's maze. When I'm lost in the strange labyrinthine worlds of my mind, having a cup of joe on hand helps me find my way back home.
Coming soon -- Part 2: The Twist