Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 4: Georgina’s Arabian Halloween

SandrabooksWhile the inspiration for my writing seems to be rooted in food, what with all the cookie, peanut butter and coffee references, as well as all the bits where character seem to be eating, my Guest today, author Georgina Penney found her muse in an exotic location and tells a Halloween tale of Arabian Nights.

Georgina Penneysml

Georgian Penney

Halloween used to be just a scary movie or something that I’d see featured in American sitcoms as a kid. In fact, other than a couple of really memorable Simpsons episodes, it never flew across my radar until seven years ago when I moved to Saudi Arabia.

The compound we moved to was pretty much a simulacrum of 1950s American suburbia right Ras Tanura Beachdown to the bake sales and coffee mornings. There were churches on camp, a golf course and, because the compound was built on the Arabian Gulf, some fantastic snorkeling and diving to be had… all right next to the world’s biggest oil refinery. (“Just don’t breathe the air and everything’s perfect honey!”)

The first inkling I got that Halloween was something that I would be experiencing for the first time was the decorations on my American and Canadian neighbors’ homes. In fact, even my Saudi neighbors got into the swing of things. There were suddenly scary ghosts hanging from palm trees and plastic spiders stuck to the golf carts we women drove around camp. People started talking about how the weather always shifted from scorchingly hot (50 plus degrees SaudiCelsius) to winter after Halloween and all of a sudden I started to have something to really look forward to.

Then I started to get women asking me if I could co-taxi with them into the nearest city, Khobar to get sweets and costumes for their kids. (If you’re smart, you never take a taxi on your own as a woman in Saudi.) Before I knew it, the sun was going down one weekend and my house was besieged by munchkins and their parents in costumes. It wasn’t just the American kids but the English, Lebanese, Australian, Saudi and everyone in between and I had a hoot of a time. (Thank God I’d stocked up on sweets on one of those trips into town!)

The surrealness of that evening, the sheer inclusiveness and the fun the kids and their parents were having really drew me in and became the inspiration for my first attempt at a novel. I haven’t stopped writing since and nowadays when Halloween comes around, I always make sure I’m well stocked up on sugary treats just in case there’s a ring on the doorbell.


Georgina Penney first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that’s alright, she was busy doing other things until then. You can find Georgina’s latest, Irrepressible You here.

Peanut Butter, Fiction, and ReaI Life?

Is this your classic chicken or egg moment? Did a plot device occur because of my obsessive love of peanut butter or did an obsessive love of peanut butter occur because of a plot device?

The one thing for certain is that I’m down to one 1lb 12 oz jar of Jif Creamy. This house has eaten, and it shocks me to realise this, 3 and 1/2 lbs of peanut butter since June.

You’d think I’d be the size of a shed by now. Or at least jar-shaped. Jif jar-shaped, that is, minus the red cap and label. Fortunately, I have a good trainer (I heart you,Tracey) and Shrinky’s responsible for some of the eating, which you know chaps my hide because it was supposed to be my present, and since the peanut butter was bestowed upon me, by him nonetheless, I shouldn’t have to share it.

But I digress.

Writing is a curious thing. Like other writers, I make music soundtracks to fit the novel I’m writing. The soundtrack goes with the mood of scenes, characters, and the overall tone of the novel itself. I’ve got a cracking Powerpop soundtrack to And She Was (the current WIP for you newbiteys), but this is the first time one major food group (and peanut butter is a MAJOR FOOD GROUP) has gone with the mood, characters, and overall tone of the novel. It’s like product placement in movies. Peanut butter appears everywhere in And She Was. Peanut butter is the thread that weaves through relationships. Peanut butter makes a mess. Peanut butter is eaten for dinner. Peanut butter is a vital clue to a mystery. Peanut butter appears in a love scene. And while all that peanut butter madness goes on in fiction, I slather some on a cracker, my banana is smeared with a coating, the dog’s Kong gets stuffed full of it.

Is one thing feeding off the other? When I finish writing And She Was, will I also finish with peanut butter? Or will I simply run out? My supplier is sold out and I just opened that last jar from the pantry…