Thursday, May 28, 2015


Mmm. Bet that tastes good. And gee, he smells like Old Spice! Win win.

Today I thought I'd talk about our senses. I'm going through a bout of sinus troubles and haven't been able to smell or taste for two days--and it's killing me. I have a pretty keen sense of smell, and not having that makes the world seem duller.

We have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. All of them combine to paint a vivid picture of any one experience. So when reading a story, and all I come away with is the way everything looks, I feel like I'm reading through a fog. There are details missing that could make that story so much clearer to me.

I think it's great that the hero is strong and muscular and handsome. Or the heroine has a nice build and pretty blue eyes. But what does the guy smell like? A cologne? The ocean? A sawmill? If he smells salty like the sea, maybe it's because he's a fisherman or surfer. Does the heroine have a light, lilting voice? Is it weak and trembly, or deep and assertive? Husky and sexy? The pitch and tone will tell a lot about her character, and that minor detail ends up fleshing out so much more.

Senses make everything richer. In the story I'm working on now for Sourcebooks, one of the characters is a mechanic and the other is a nurse. He loves coming to work to the smells of oil and grease, the noise of classic rock filling the garage. She deals with antiseptic smells, the rolling of a gurney's wheels, the beeps and trills of hospital equipment, and that welcome smell of coffee.

Right now I miss the smell of coffee the most. I LOVE that smell, that taste, because it wakes me up and starts my day. I'm happiest when writing a book with my coffee in a mug on the warmer next to me while I type.

One particular smell always brings back my childhood--Love's Baby Soft. It was the first body spray "perfume" I was given as a child, and the rare times I've smelled it as an adult, I've been immediately transported back into the past. It's odd and immediate and familiar, and it always makes me smile.

What about you? What senses bring memories to life for you?

website | blog | facebook
Now from Sourcebooks: The McCauley Brothers

NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author



  1. That sounds completely miserable, Marie. Smell is a big memory trigger for me too. Sometimes the weather--a sunny spring day--for example, makes me think of when I was in college.

  2. Just got over sinus issues too! So glad to be able to smell the flowers. Oh, I remember Love's Baby Soft. Chanel No 5 brings back such memories of my grandmother, it was her signature scent.

  3. I sympathize, although at least my sinus issues are just causing headaches and not interfering with my sense of smell. I love the smell of coffee but not the taste, the smell of chocolate or pineapple can always lift my spirits, and I am one of those folks who loves the smell of puppy breath, lol.

  4. I once stalked--followed--a man down the block because he smelled like my grandfather (weird, I know).