I recently posted on the challenges of using smell in one’s writing. Christine Plouvier, author of the Irish Firebrands, left a comment citing a number of posts on her blog with examples of her doing so in her own work. Intrigued as I was, I did check out those posts and was impressed by them. So much so, that I decided to share them with you here, albeit edited by me for brevity. Consider this post a companion one to my Emotional Beats posts, then.

The Irish Firebrands by Christine Plouvier | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book

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  • On the hearth, there burnt a small fire that smelt of apple wood.
  • He ground out words as stale as the indoor air.
  • The very smell of his unfinished pint was so bitter it made him faint with nausea before he could put it to his lips.
  • He lost himself in the scent of her hair, the warmth of her body, the sound of her breathing.
  • Her crockery bowls warmed on the iron cooker, filled with steamy, creamy potatoes flecked with bright green onions and surrounding deep golden wells of melted butter.
  • She brought an aura of fresh cigarette smoke into the room. The glances exchanged by the other students indicated they noticed it, too.
  • She caught a whiff of smoke. It rapidly grew stronger and had an almost incense-like quality.
  • She recoiled from alleyways that reeked of urine and echoed with retching.
  • The aroma of frying bacon lured her to the archway.
  • She had expected the farmyard to be muddy and malodorous, but the earth turned out to be hard-packed, pebbly clay, and the odor of ordure was muted.
  • She was enveloped in an aura of pipe tobacco that clung to a thin, soft shirt veiling warm, hard muscles – and for one mad moment, it was the fragrance of heaven.
  • The shop exuded a musty, dusty smell.
  • The cloudburst swept down the street and the scent of rain wafted in, freshening the ancient atmosphere that seeped from the building.
  • “When I was courting her, I smoked cigarettes. She hated it, and she asked me to knock the fags before we wed. I didn’t think I could, but I thought I might cut back on my smoking if I used a pipe. So, I found a blend that she thought smelled like incense – and she set the date. I started using a brier, but on the day we married, and every anniversary, she gave me a meerschaum.”
  • Compared to commercial briquettes, the hand-cut turf was heavy and damp and it smoked a bit, but it did take the chill off the house.
  • He cried himself to sleep on her scented satin bosom.
  • He was so close, she caught a whiff of his shaving soap and thought of his old-fashioned mug and brush on his bathroom shelf.
  • Most of these early apples had a tender consistency and marked sweetness, but when combined with fruit that was firm and tart, they yielded a full-bodied, chunky applesauce with a balanced bouquet that she was proud to call her own.
  • By the time that task had been completed, the air had filled with the autumnal aroma of stewing apples.
  • The sliding glass door was open between the two rooms, and the air was redolent with the aroma of food and resonant with the chatter of women who were arranging platters and bowls upon the worktops.
  • He inhaled deeply above the first spoonful. “It smells like Mom’s pies!”
  • He awoke to the scent of fresh-baked cinnamon-sultana scones.
  • She snuggled into the blankets with a fragrantly steaming mug close at hand.
  • The spicy scent was so strong, that the pie couldn’t have been very long out of the oven – indeed, warmth still radiated from it.
  • She locked herself into the flat, and then leaned against the door with her eyes shut, savoring the faint, familiar scent that would always mean – Him!
  • She grasped a woolly fold and held it to her cheek. Its warm, soft prickliness evoked a fantasy of snuggling against his fuzzy chest and abdomen but the aura she sought was too faint.
  • His scent on the pillow seduced her into staying the night in his flat.
  • An egg of unknown vintage but that still smelled fresh, and milk from an unfinished liter that had passed its pull date, went into making buttered pancakes for her supper.
  • She had fantasies of lingering lovemaking upon scented sheets bathed in magic moonlight.
  • The reek of urine and rotting rubbish on a damp December night surrounded her.
  • He was aware of her warm body in his arms, her soft, scented cheek against his own and her husky laughter in his ear.
  • Thick tobacco smoke had sullied the air by the time she re-entered the house.
  • To protect his eyes, he pressed his face against her soft flesh, where he breathed deeply of the scent of her skin – and for one mad moment, it was the fragrance of heaven.
  • That first intimate moment was intoxicating: the clean, wet smell of his skin, the softness of his damp chest hair against her cheek, the feeling of him in her arms, his living, breathing, heart pounding under her lips – and she could no longer fight her desire for him.
  • Picking up a pillow from the tumbled bed, he held it to his cheek. The cool linen still held the fragrance that to him would always mean – Her!
  • The air was filled with the scents and sounds of the early spring night: damp earth, frogs’ peeping serenade, a tinkling bell in some faraway sheepfold, the whiff of peat smoke; all so achingly beautiful.
  • His last day there was gusty, good for drying bedclothes, and his final task was to remake the four-poster bed with wind-freshened sheets and duvet cover.
  • A filthy calf had once stepped inside, and the everlasting stench of manure now gave her a migraine.

As I said, I have heavily edited Christine’s quotes, but be sure to visit her originals posts, “The Nose Knows”, “More Olfactory Observations”, and “Don’t Give Me the Stink Eye, But…” and to check out The Irish Firebrands on Amazon.

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