From Kate's Writer's Crate…
The best storytellers ground readers in their fictional worlds—no matter how familiar or foreign—with specific details. Once given believable foundations, most readers will follow the plots and admire or distrust characters as the authors hope.
How much more fun when some of the specific details reference actual books, movies, music, TV shows, locations, and meals. If authors I love mention real details, I'm willing to check out their referrals.
Here are some examples:
In The Last Enemy, author Pauline Baird Jones places a stack of books on the nightstand of Dani Gwynne, a woman in the Witness Protection Program. When her room becomes a crime scene, two US Marshals catalog her reading material:
"Interesting mix. JD Robb, Tom Clancy, Tonya Huff, Alistair Maclean…Orson Scot Card…Louis L'Amour…the Bible…and Lord of the Rings…" (page 24)
Jennifer Crusie uses movies, music, and food, especially Krispy Kreme donuts, as running themes in her novel Bet Me. The two leads, Min and Cal, end up at a revival movie theater showing Big Trouble in Little China. They also go out to dinner. Min so enjoys the Chicken Marsala, she is determined to make it herself. The many results are funny and disastrous as she tries to make it diet-friendly, too. Both of them love Elvis, but it's Costello for Cal and Presley for Min. Costello's "She" plays a part in the plot as does Cal's version of "Love Me Tender" which starts off as a snarky joke and ends as a declaration of sorts—this is a Chick Lit romance after all.
Kresley Cole uses The Amazing Race as a template in Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night, the third novel in her Immortals After Dark series. In this version, the tasks undertaken by vampires, werewolves, Valkyries, witches, and many other creatures are always dangerous, but the prize is worth the risk. The winner can go back in time and rescue two people they loved who died.
In the series, one character loves Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs. Cole also references musical groups like Crazy Frog as ring tones.
The Golden Treasury by F. T. Palgrove is a collection of classic poems by Milton, Keats, etc., carried by numerous characters in some of the 56 charming romance novels written by Essie Summers. (See book review posted on 2/11/2013.) Robert Burns is often quoted from The Golden Treasury. I was pleased to find a pocket-sized version of it in my grandfather's library.
All of Summers' books are set in New Zealand, a place she describes so lovingly from the sheep stations, mountains, and lakes to the cities near the sea, all filled with such friendly people and delicious meals, that her readers dream of visiting there—including me. I gave four of her novels to a friend who traveled to New Zealand six months later. Several others on the tour were also drawn there by Summers' books—and everything she wrote about her home country was proven true.
Do you follow up on referrals made by your favorite authors?