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writing samples
Andrea DaRif
Career Highlights
• Multi-published author, with 21 novels...
Tennis, Anyone? (The Origins of the Game)
(from The Word Wenches blog)
Wimbledon comes to a close this weekend, when the l...
Court tennis is often called the sport of kings, for royal names abound in the annals of the
game. Louis X of France died ...
The Perfect Martini
(from The Word Wenches blog)
During a recent research trip to London to immerse myself in some of the ...
The government passed a Gin Act in 1739, which failed to control the trade and ended up being
repealed in 1742. To circumv...
The Sporting
o call Cherokee Plantation a private club is perfectly correct. And
yet, the place seems to demand ...
or those who wish to avail themselves of the superb
shooting opportunities, there are thousands of acres—
both woodla...
A Profile of Berry Brother and Rudd
(from the Word Wenches blog)
Researching the little details that add color and texture...
The shop began selling wine to King George III, and its trade soon began to outpace coffee
sales. It was in 1803 that the ...
aris takes the art of living well seriously. A city renowned for its luxurious tastes, it has for centuries
been syno...
Andrea DaRif Writing Samples
Andrea DaRif Writing Samples
Andrea DaRif Writing Samples
Andrea DaRif Writing Samples
Andrea DaRif Writing Samples
Andrea DaRif Writing Samples
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Andrea DaRif Writing Samples


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Andrea DaRif Writing Samples

  1. 1. 646.258.0359 writing samples Andrea DaRif Career Highlights • Multi-published author, with 21 novels and numerous magazine articles. • Three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award, the publishing world's equivalent of the Oscars for the best romance novels of the year. • Numerous writing awards, including 2 Daphne Du Mauier Awards for Historical Mystery, the Golden Leaf Award and the Holt Medallion of Excellence.
  2. 2. Tennis, Anyone? (The Origins of the Game) (from The Word Wenches blog) Wimbledon comes to a close this weekend, when the last tennis balls skid over the grass courts. It’s one of the “Grand Slam” events, a quartet of tournaments that are the crown jewels of the sport’s elite competitions. (Remember, I warned you all that I am the resident “jock” of the Wenches.) As it’s one of the grand traditions of a game that often appears in literature, it got me to thinking . . . In historical novels, the words “Tennis, anyone?” conjure up vintage images of elegant figures clad in pristine whites moving gracefully across a swath of verdant lawn. (I’m particularly fond of E.M Forster’s A Room With A View and its descriptions of pastoral Edwardian garden party elegance.) But take note—Edwardian is the key time frame here. Or late Victorian to be per- fectly precise. Any time period earlier and an author is . . . hitting the ball into the net. I cringe when I read Regency or Elizabethan authors having their characters play a set of tennis outdoors on the lawns. Yes, tennis has been around for centuries—but the game we know today as tennis was not invented until 1874, when Major Walter Clopton Wingfield filed for a patent on a new sport he called sphairistike, which is Greek for . . . uh, well, lawn tennis. (Not that Achilles was known for his drop shot.) Thankfully the Patent Office refused to patent the name (can you imagine trying to say “Sphairistike, anyone?” . . . especially after two gin and tonics.) But it did give him rights to the design of his court—which was first shaped like an hourglass, rather than the now familiar rectangle. Wingfield quickly published his rules as The Major’s Game of Lawn Tennis. The game was a hit with the younger sporting set, who were looking for something more vigorous than croquet to play at their country houses. It soon spread to the Continent and America, via Bermuda, and tennis tournaments became a popular pastime for the leisure class. But back to the “real” story. The game of tennis (these days it is called real tennis, or court tennis, to distinguish it from the modern sport of lawn tennis) originated in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that the game was created by monks hitting a ball off the angled walls and roofs of their monastery or cloisters with their hands. (In France the game has always been known as jeu de paume—game of the hand.) Racquets appeared in the early 16th century and by the reign of the Tudors, tennis was so popular in England and France that numerous indoor courts were built for the game. (In 1600, the Venetian ambassador to Paris recorded that there were 1800 courts in the city. That sounds awfully high to me, but perhaps it was true, because it’s also recorded that high stakes gambling on tennis was so prevalent in 1369 that Charles V had to issue an edict restricting play.) Interestingly enough, one of the first mentions of a female athlete in history was a tennis player. In 1427, it’s recorded that Margot of Hanault played at a gambling house known as the Little Temple and attracted crowds when she took on all challengers.
  3. 3. Court tennis is often called the sport of kings, for royal names abound in the annals of the game. Louis X of France died from a chill he caught after playing jeu de paume.. Henry VIII, an ardent player, was said to have been executing a slice on the tennis court at Hampton Court as Anne Boleyn was losing her head. And on the Continent, Catherine de Medici was known to wear her hair styled in the shape of a tennis racquet. Tennis also figured into the lore of the French Revolution. David’s famous painting of “The Tennis Court Oath” pictures the deputies of the Third Estate on the court at Versailles, swear- ing to fight for a constitution for France. (For the record, the monarchy went down to defeat in straight sets.) Napoleon and Wellington were also said to be aficionados of the game. Classic literature abounds with references to court tennis. Perhaps the most famous is Act 1, Scene II in Shakespeare’s Henry V, where the King reacts to the French Dauphin’s insulting gift of tennis balls: “When we have matched our rackets to these balls/We shall in France, by God's grace, play a set/Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.” A court tennis court is asymmetrical (so are the racquets) and the oddities reflect the game’s Medieval courtyard heritage. While all courts are approximately 110’ long by 38’ wide, no two are exactly alike. Each has its own unique little architectural details to bedevil the players, which is considered part of the charm of the game. However, the elements are the same. The ancient cloister roof is represented by the penthouse, a sloping ledge that runs along three sides of the court. On the fourth wall is a buttress called the tambour. There are openings in the walls called the dedans and the grille. A net crosses the center of the court, but it high at the ends and droops in the center because in past centuries, the monks had no way to tighten it. The floor is a hard, cement-like surface marked with painted lines that look more like football markings than the familiar lawn tennis layout. As for scoring . . . oh, don’t ask. It’s incredibly complicated. Yes, the games and sets are scored the same as in modern tennis, but winning points is far more complex. As one top-ranked court tennis player admitted, ”If you haven’t played the game, it’s impossible to comprehend.” Suf- fice it to say, depending on where a ball lands, there are complex rules about playing hazards and chases, which are sort of games within games. (Cut to the chase is a term that comes from court tennis.) Sometimes the best way to win a point is not to play the ball at all! Even experi- enced players need a scorer to keep track of all the arcane permutations. For modern tennis fans, this time of year marks the zenith of the game’s calendar. As I men- tioned, the French Open—played on the glorious red clay courts at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris—is a much anticipated rite of Spring. And at the end of June, strawberries and cream at the grass courts of Wimbledon outside of London are a cherished English sporting tradition. So as you watch the modern athletes pummel the ball across the net, raise a toast to both the old and the new—and know that the roots of the game are far deeper than those emerald blades of grass.
  4. 4. The Perfect Martini (from The Word Wenches blog) During a recent research trip to London to immerse myself in some of the more esoteric aspects of the Regency era, I happened to hear that Dukes Hotel, a small boutique establishment tucked in a quiet cul de sac off St. James's Street, served the best martini in the world. Now, being a serious student of British history and traditon, I felt beholden to delve a bit deeper. Wine is my usual libation, so I confess that I am not a connoisseur of cocktails. However, I was very willing to get into the spirits of things . . . For anyone who loves history, walking into the Dukes Bar is in itself an intoxicating seduction of the senses. The two sitting rooms are intimate in scale, with plush carpeting, creamy wood trim and muted lighting that creates the feeling that you’re steeping into the private parlor of a friend—a very posh friend. One with oodles of taste and oodles of Old Money. Painting and prints of historic dukes adorn the pale taupe walls, their regal visages presiding over the well- heeled crowd. Wellington. Devonshire. York . . . And then there’s Alessandro. The Duke of the Drinks trolley, he is resplendent in his elegant white dinner jacket and dapper black tie. His voice is low and liquid, and somehow I feel impossibly chic as I take a seat in one of the soft leather chairs, imagining myself swathed in silk, satin and pearls. When he hears that I know precious little about his specialty of the house, he smiles and offers to educate me. But first, a bit of history on gin, which according to Alessandro is the preferred spirit for a true martini. (He gives a long suffering sigh at the mention of vodka—though Ian Fleming was a regular at Duke’s, Alessandro claims he enjoyed “shaking things up” and so made James Bond a bit of a rebel with his vodka martini.) Gin, which derives from the Dutch word genever, is a grain-based spirit infused with juniper, and is said to have originated in Holland sometime during the early 17th century. (Though some claim it was prevalent in Renaissance Italy.) During the Thirty Years’ War, English soldiers picked up the habit of indulging in a little “Dutch Courage” before battle, and when they returned home, they brought with them a taste for gin. William of Orange, who came to the English throne in 1689 after the “Glorious Revolution,” encouraged its consumption, as he wished to discourage the import of brandy and other spirits from Catholic countries such as France. The drink became popular—a little too popular. By the 1730s, drunkenness among the poor was a huge problem, as depicted by Hogarth is his print “Gin Lane.” Of the 15,000 drinking establishments in London, over half were said to be gin shops. (Gin, which requires no aging, is a relatively cheap liquor to produce.) Some pubs had a plaque shaped like a cat on its outside walls. Known as ‘Old Tom,’ this contraption served as a precursor of the modern vending machine—a person would insert a penny into the cat’s mouth and place his mouth around a tube between the paws. In return, the barkeeper would pour a shot of gin through the tube. ‘Old Tom’ gin is a style that still exists today, and like many 19th century gins, is sweeter than other modern blends.
  5. 5. The government passed a Gin Act in 1739, which failed to control the trade and ended up being repealed in 1742. To circumvent taxes, many makers called their spirits “medicinal” draughts and marketed them with such names as Cuckold’s Comfort and My Lady’s Eye Water. In the 1750s, the government did manage to regulate the production and distribution somewhat, but gin remained a drink of the lower classes. However, with the advent of new distilling techniques in the mid 1800s, gin became a lighter, more refined spirit—known as ‘London Dry’—and became popular with the ladies in Victorian times. As the British Empire spread around the globe, gin went with it. It became a favorite drink in places like India, where it was mixed with quinine “tonic’ water—an anti-malarial botanical— to mask its bitter taste. In America, gin’s low cost and ease of production made it a staple of the Prohibition era. Along with whiskey and rye, it’s cleaned up its image considerably since then and today, of course, it’s a basic ingredient in countless cocktails. ‘London Dry’ is the most common style of gin. There is also ‘Plymouth’ gin, which is a full- bodied blend flavored with citrus peel, orris and angelica root, cardamom and coriander, as well as juniper. (Only one distillery, Coates & Company, is allowed to call itself ‘Plymouth’ gin.) Now back to Alessandro. He decided to make me a ‘classic” martini, for which he chose Plymouth gin. Rolling over his vintage wood and brass drink cart, he uncapped a bottle fresh from the freezer—that’s part of his secret for making the perfect martini. A spritz from an atomizer is all the vermouth he adds to the glass—which is also frozen. (Churchill, who took his drinks seriously, is said to have remarked that merely waving a vermouth cork over the gin was enough.) He proceeded to cut a long strip of lemon peel—a bit over two inches—which he carefully pinched, skin side to skin side, over the drink to release the oils over the surface. Then he rubbed the peel along the rim, and gently placed it in the gin. As the glass warms, he told me, the essence of the lemon oil would slowly infuse the drink. “It’s really quite simple,” he remarked. Simple but sublime. I may never become a regular martini drinker, but I smile knowing that I’ve tasted the best in the world. Thank you, Alessandro.
  6. 6. 82 Life The Sporting T o call Cherokee Plantation a private club is perfectly correct. And yet, the place seems to demand a more distinctive appellation, for the concise description does not begin to convey its uniqueness. Even in the rarefied world of exclusive enclaves, it stands on its own. In a word, there are private clubs . . . and there is Cherokee. A 7,000 acre Antebellum rice plantation located in the South Carolina Lowcountry, an hour from Charleston and Savannah, Georgia, it was created by a Crown Act in 1710 and given to the Blake family, who owned it until the 1930s. After passing through the hands of a number of individual owners—including Robert L. Huffines, Jr., President of Burlington Industries, and Robert Beverly Evans, President of American Motors—Cherokee Plantation was purchased in 1998 by a partnership whose intention was to create a private country sporting retreat of unparalleled luxury and charm for themselves and a few select peers. Limited to 25 invited members, the club offers a wealth of exceptional amenities, with the sort of high standards of service and meticulous attention to detail that harken back to a bygone era. Think of Gosford Park, if you will, and its refined country elegance, pastoral tranquility, pampering staff and sporting pleasures. However, Cherokee will surpass even the most vivid of imaginations. To begin with, there is an 18-hole championship golf course by the noted Scottish architect Donald Steel. Designed to complement the rustic beauty of the Plantation’s grounds, it winds through ancient live oaks—the majestic tree that holds court by the 7th green is over 1,000 years old—rice fields and pastureland, creating a challenging links-style experience. It’s rare for there to be more than a few foursomes a day teeing off, so members are free to play at their own pace, accompanied by knowledgeable caddies and, if they choose, the resident pro Mark Tomedolsky, who always brings a big game. members only The pleasures of perfection at Cherokee Plantation by Andrea DaRif Top: The handmade Cherokee tee markers. Right: The signature 1,000 year old live oak. AndreaDaRif©2005
  7. 7. 84 F or those who wish to avail themselves of the superb shooting opportunities, there are thousands of acres— both woodland and fields—for hunting dove, quail, duck, turkey, woodcock, snipe and deer. Huntmaster Michael Blakeley and his staff handle all the logistics, from the traditional mule wagons to the beaters to the trained pointers and retrievers. There is also a superb sporting clays course designed by James Purdey and Sons on the property. The Plantation also has a rich equestrian heritage, as several of its past owners raised Thoroughbred jumpers and racehorses. Today, riders of all abilities may explore the 30 miles of scenic trails. There is a certified instructor in both English and Western disciplines. And in keeping with its appreciation of tradition, Cherokee also keeps an array of classic coaches for those who wish to learn driving skills. As befitting its location in the pristine ACE Basin Wildlife refuge, Cherokee takes its water sports seriously. An Adirondack-style boathouse on the Combahee River is stocked with canoes and kayaks, and a vintage Thames River motor launch from the 1920s is available for members who wish to experience the unspoiled beauty of the marshlands. The fishing is great, and guides are available to teach the fine art of fly or spin casting, with an emphasis on tag and release. A fter a day of outdoor sporting activities, the Plantation House and cottages welcome members and their guests to relax in an atmosphere of understated luxury. Surrounded by burnished paneling, rich brocades, antique silver and historic prints, members may enjoy a quiet read in the library or common rooms before sitting down in the gun room or formal dining room to a gourmet meal such as Cornbread Stuffed Duck with Dried Fruit and Nuts prepared by private chef Anushka Schurr. Single malt scotches and vintage port are served after dinner, and Carrianne Shanks, the charming concierge who hails from the Highlands, is always delighted to discourse on the nuances between Speyside and Highland malts. In an age given to hyperbole, Cherokee Plantation does not exaggerate when it claims to offer a way of life—a rare opportunity of time, space and privacy in which to unwind from the stresses of everyday existence. Only a few individuals will have the opportunity to join in the experience. But those who do will quickly discover that Cherokee gives a new meaning to the old saying that membership has its privileges. • Topnotch golf, a classic manor house and a vintage Thames motor launch are all part of the amenities offered at Cherokee Plantation.
  8. 8. A Profile of Berry Brother and Rudd (from the Word Wenches blog) Researching the little details that add color and texture to a story is one of my favorite parts of writing a book. I’m one of those peculiar people who can hours in a museum examining the gold-threaded stitching on a military uniform or the get down on hands and knees to study the shape of a tea cabinet leg. Most of the things I learn never actually end up in the story. But reading about various subjects—or better yet, seeing objects and places in real life—help me, er, drink in the ambiance of the era. Sometimes literally. Yes, research can be intoxicating! Too Wicked To Wed, my new book, which came out last week, has a number of scenes set in a gaming hell. Now, last week I talked about cards. (The history of them, not how to gamble away your family fortune in a single night. I do draw the line just how far I’ll go to experience authenticity.) So it seemed only natural to take a look at the other staple of a gaming hell— wines and spirits! "Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter . . .” —Lord Byron We all know our Regency bucks of the ton liked to tipple. Brandy, port, claret were among the favorites, And when talking about Regency drinking, one name comes to mind—Berry Broth- ers, the quintessential purveyor of spirits to anyone who was anyone. So during a recent trip to London, I decided to take a stroll down St, James’s Street and pay a call at Number Three. You have only to look at the outside of the shop to know you are seeing something special. It’s been in the very same spot since its founding in 1698. Notice the low sloping shape of the building? That’s because it was originally a part of Henry VIII’s tennis court. Another thing that may catch your eye is the sign of the coffee mill hanging above the front door. It, too, has an interesting history, for you see, the business was originally opened by the Widow Bourne (hmm, any relation, Joanna?) as a grocer’s shop named the Coffee Mill. The business was passed down through the family and by 1768 was a major supplier of coffee to the fashionable coffee houses and clubs—White’s and Boodles among them. Being on that date, they already began a unique tradition that lasted until the early twentieth century. The Bb- 7charming fellow who showed me around the present-day Berry Brothers explained that scales large enough to weigh a person were not household items in the aristocratic townhouses of London. And so, many of the gentlemen of the time began stopping by to weigh themselves on the huge coffee scale in the main room. (It is still there today.) The weights were duly recorded in a ledger, and it apparently became a fashionable tradition. Many gentlemen came regularly for their entire lives. (Public weighings, with the exact number inscribed in a book that anyone could peruse? Honestly—only a man could have come up with THAT idea.) The thick ledgers are still on shelf, and Byron and Beau Brummell are among the illustrious names that can be within their dusty morocco-bound covers.
  9. 9. The shop began selling wine to King George III, and its trade soon began to outpace coffee sales. It was in 1803 that the first Berry—sixteen-year-old George—set foot on the hallowed floors. A distant relative of the Widow, he worked diligently to learn the business and the rest, as they say is history. Many wonderful pieces of art and memorabilia decorated the walls of Berry Brothers (Mr. Rudd was added right after WWI.) One of my favorites is a “certificate of loss” from White Star Lines, apologizing for the sinking of 69 cases of the company’s wine when the titanic went down. And of course, there are some marvelous old vintages on display as well. (As a side- note, the shop still sells coffee, though few people are aware of it.) After this delightful stroll through history, I left the premises extremely happy (and entirely sober—I promise!)
  10. 10. 26 P aris takes the art of living well seriously. A city renowned for its luxurious tastes, it has for centuries been synonymous with sybaritic style and gastronomic pleasures. Today, however, you do not have to jet to the Left Bank to savor one of its sweetest secrets. Debauve & Gallais, the celebrated French chocolatier whose establishment first opened on rue des Saints-Peres in 1800, has recently opened a chic little shop on Madison Avenue in New York City, offering the creme de la creme in handmade chocolates. Sulpice Debauve, the company’s founder, first dispensed his pistoles to King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. A chemist by profession, he extolled the healthful properties of cacao. Since then, his creations have pleased the palates of chocolate connoisseurs around the world, winning a cult following for his sinfully rich confections. The list of aficionados includes Vincent Van Gogh, who bartered paintings for chocolate, and Marcel Proust, who favored the ganache truffles. One of the keys to the sublime success of Debauve & Gallais is its ingredients. The highest quality criolla beans—the royalty of cacao—are selected from the best growing regions in the world and roasted according to the company’s own specifications to retain the elegantly bittersweet flavor. The resulting couverture—the basic blend of ground beans and cocoa butter—is then molded by hand into a delectable assortment of truffles, pistoles and bonbons. A minimal amount of sugar is used, in order to allow the rich nuances of the cacao to come through, and no preservatives or dyes are allowed. The added ingredients, which include Antilles rum, Turin chestnuts and Turkish raisins, complement the high standards of the chocolate, and the velvety ganache fillings feature such flavors as coffee, jasmine and Earl Grey tea. Golfers will find the dimpled white chocolate orbs filled with caramelized almonds and hazelnuts an irresistible reward after a round. It is only fitting that many of the chocolates are highlighted with a touch of gold leaf, for the creations of Debauve & Gallais are a rich treat indeed; $88 per pound for bonbons; $95 for truffles. by Andrea DaRif Club Life/tastings made from scratchThe winning taste of Debauve & Gallais chocolates