Until recently, I hadn’t realized how often my own short stories incorporated or frequently even depended on some sort of drinking. One of my latest stories, “The Odds Are Against Us,” begins with the narrator ordering a gimlet himself—and the making of that gimlet is loaded with importance, which continues to resonate as the motif plays out. In “The Care and Feeding of Houseplants,” the cuckolded husband treats the man sleeping with his wife to a homemade mango mojito—though “treats” may be a loaded word there. In “When Duty Calls,” a young woman caring for an aging veteran mixes his evening cocktail weak but with a splash of Virginia Gentleman on top “to make it smell like a stronger drink.” Even in my first story for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, “Murder on the Orient Express” back in 1996, the relationship between the central couple and the husband’s inner tensions pivoted in part on wine choices: who chose, what was chosen, and who approved the initial tasting.
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