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Eating Authors: John P. Murphy

No Comments » Written on June 8th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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A few hours after this posts, I’ll be once again stopping in at the hospital. Not to worry, it’s all part of my new routine of monthly maintenance check-up and blood work. And I suspect these will drop back to every other month or maybe just every quarter, once we establish a clear baseline that shows that my new immune system is doing well and my Kappa light chain levels (which is where the cancer cells hang out) are playing nice.

Meanwhile, I am busily writing all the things. I’m editing the draft of a second novel in a new series co-authored with Brian Thorne, polishing the first book in that series, working toward a completed draft of the first book in the new Gel series, beginning work on a second Amazing Conroy spinoff series with a second co-author, polishing a short fantasy novel about dwarves, and rewriting a novella set in my Barsk universe.

I’m going to use the mention of that last thing, the novella, to segue into this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest because even though he has a shiny new novel coming out tomorrow, when I think of John P. Murphy, I think of novellas, both because the first work of his that I ever read was a novella I purchased for the Alembical novella anthology series, but also because John took over annual the Novella Challenge that I’d started on Codex (a shameless ploy to grow more potential submissions to my small press at the time) and in doing so had a huge impact on dozens of authors producing even more novellas.

John has his doctorate in robotics, which may well be the coolest bona fides for an SF author ever. His novella The Liar (oh, look, there’s that word, novella, again) garnered him a Nebula nomination in 2017. His first novel, Red Noise, comes out tomorrow from the folks at Angry Robot. I’m excited to read it, but I have to wonder if he’ll be able to calm down his publisher (see the aforementioned PhD).

LMS: Welcome, John. Speak to me (in a robotic monotone) of your most memorable meal.

JPM: When I started college, majoring in electrical engineering, I was sat down in a room and told to pick classes. I had no idea I was going to be expected to do this at that particular time, and one of the classes I picked in semi-panic was Japanese I. Totally unpremeditated; I knew almost nothing about Japan. I wasn’t even an anime fan like (it turned out) most of my classmates. And so it was that I lucked into a small but tight-knit community: there was only one professor and a graduate assistant, and Prof. Minami was intent on getting her students to really appreciate Japan. So in addition to classes, she organized the school Japanese club.

The club had a couple fundraisers, but the big one was the origami sale. Well, we had to have origami to sell. Which meant: big origami-folding party at Minami-sensei’s house!

This was in the fall, so it was starting to get cold. I took the PRT out to her neighborhood and walked. After getting a little lost, I finally found the place, and was immediately put to work. Not making origami, but scrubbing vegetables. A bunch of club members and friends were coming that evening and the next day, see? The equation was simple: people were coming, people needed to be fed, here’s some potatoes.

Now, I was new to all this. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. This was West Virginia in the 1990s and I was only 18, so I’d heard of, say, sushi but was dubious, and didn’t really know much else about Japanese cuisine. Teriyaki, I’d had that. But my name is John Patrick Murphy, and if you put a potato in my hand, I can figure things out. In this case, a big pot of boiling water, into which went chunks of beef, carrots, potatoes, and onions – and then out of a cabinet came these little boxes that said “Golden Curry” on them. Curry’s Indian food, isn’t it? Oh no. The boxes had these dense blocks inside, foil-wrapped in plastic trays so that they looked almost like chocolate bars. They were broken up and stirred into the simmering water, and suddenly everything smelled So. Good.

Meanwhile, we were put to work on the next items: a giant batch of rice dumped out into a wooden tub with one person stirring, another drizzling in seasoned vinegar, and everyone else fanning. Then slicing pickles and vegetables. All of this commotion spilled out of the kitchen into the living room, and all the while was that amazing aroma from the curry. Anyone not cooking was put to work folding paper, but I’ve always been happiest in the kitchen. Finally, the sushi rice was done and set out on the porch to cool, the vegetables for the next day’s food packaged up in the fridge, and when we were about ready to mutiny, the second giant rice cooker started beeping. Out came bowls, and we each got a scoop of rice and a ladle of that thick bubbling curry over top. I think there was some pickled ginger to mix in, just a few threads of the bright red stuff.

It was divine, and I had never had anything quite like it. I’d later learn that it was imported to Japan from India by way of the British Navy, and that there were all kinds of variations, including noodle soups or with breaded cutlets. At the time I just knew that I was starving, and it was new and delicious, and it was way too hot for any of us, but we soothed our burned mouths with ice cold beer (Did I say I was only 18? I mean 21, officer, honest) and twenty-some years on I still remember it as one of the best meals of my life.

It was some years until I had my own apartment and my own kitchen, then my own house. But in the time since, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a day go by without a box of that curry roux somewhere in my pantry, or else leftovers in my freezer from the last batch. Good stuff, and I remember that first meal with every new one.

Thanks, John. My own introduction to Japanese took a similar path in my Freshman year, but for me it sea bass (specifically, the cheek meat) at a beach in Santa Cruz. Damn, that was a long time (and a dozen languages) ago.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: Eric Warren

No Comments » Written on June 1st, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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So that was May. Phew! Longest ten week month of my life, and all in all, I had it a lot easier than most. I didn’t mind the sheltering-in-place or wearing a mask when I needed to venture out for groceries. Those seemed like a very reasonable trade in exchange for not exposing my shiny new (and ill-equipped) immune system to potentially life-ending viruses. No, what made it hard was seeing how much so many people I know have been hurting. As I mentioned some weeks back, a side effect of my cancer journey has been a massive increase in empathy, the timing of which kind of sucks. Far better to be empathetic when it’s all birthday parties and book releases and graduations.

Last month also included the difficult decision to cancel the in-person, 27th annual conference of the Klingon Language Institute which had been scheduled for late July. We’ll be putting together a virtual conference, and that will have the added benefit of including folks across various oceans who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attend, but I will still miss gathering together as we have for so many years. Also, there was a Waffle House just down the street from the conference hotel.

Which is by no means a proper segue to introduce Eric Warren, this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, but c’mon, citing Waffle House is like an out-of-jail free card!

But let’s get back to Eric. I connected with him through IASFA (Independent Alliance of Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors, the organizational brainchild of Craig Martelle), where I learned that he, like me, spent his youth inventing stories but set that all to the side when it came time to assume the mantle of adult responsibilities. After risking his soul in the wilds of traditional business life, Eric found his way back to writing and his original and true calling. See? Even our real life stories can have happy endings.

Eric is the author of the nine volume space opera series Infinity’s End, as well as the distopian YA series Quantum Gate.

Like many indie authors, Eric knows you have to go that extra distance to acquire readers and offers a free sample of his work (the proverbial ‘reader magnet’). So before you read about his most memorable meal, here’s a link to Caspian’s Gambit in the hopes of getting you hooked on that nine book series.

LMS: Welcome, Eric. What stands out as your most memorable meal?

EW: I grew up in the restaurant industry, the third generation in an established line of restauranteurs. My entire young life revolved around the family restaurant in some fashion or another, and so I grew up taking good food for granted. I began working in that same restaurant at the age of thirteen, my father constantly reminding me as long as I knew how to cook, I would never be out of a job. It was a place of comfort and security and it was a guaranteed future.

So I think it’s ironic then, that my most memorable meal had nothing to do with that place, or that life. In fact, it was the complete opposite.

In mid-2005 I had been out of college a few years and was patiently awaiting my now wife’s graduation. We had both grown up in the same small town in the mountains of Virginia, gone to the same college half an hour away from our homes, and had been exposed to the same groups of people for most of our lives. That year we’d decided we’d had enough. With no guarantees of success ahead of us, we packed our bags and drove across the country to California, to see if we could make it on our own. It took us five days and when we arrived there was a mix-up with our apartment. By the time we finally did get everything settled, we were exhausted. The kitchen couldn’t have been more than a hundred square feet in size, but after a grocery run, we made PB&J sandwiches and macaroni & cheese for dinner. Perhaps it was because we were so physically and mentally tired that the food tasted so good, or maybe it was because we could relish the fact we were truly on our own, cut off from everyone and everything we’d ever known, that I can still remember the taste of it today. The following day we began hunting for jobs.

There was a time when I thought my destiny was tethered to that family restaurant and no amount of effort would ever break that connection. Fortunately, I found destiny is what you make of it, and sometimes you have to go with the risky option in order to get what you want out of life.

Thanks, Eric. Never underestimate the power of comfort food. Both Mac & Cheese and PB&J are among the high priests of that temple, and they almost always provide us shelter from life’s storms.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

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Eating Authors: Dave Walsh

No Comments » Written on May 25th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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Earlier this week my novel Buffalito Contingency was included in the 20BooksPack space opera book bundle. As the website for this deal was coming together, one of the other authors, Dave Walsh, noted that our respective book covers were positioned next to each other. In celebration of this fact, I invited him to appear here on EATING AUTHORS.

Dave’s bio describes him as having once been the world’s foremost kickboxing journalist. I’m not sure I really understand what that means, so I’m just going to move along. His science fiction novels reflect the same kind of problems and issues we all deal with, he just makes it all happen on distant worlds with lots of funky technology. Dave lives out west in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which means I should be hitting him up for some green chile bagels.

His latest novel is Shattered Lineage, the third book in the Trystero series. And yes, you can get the first novel in this series in the aforementioned book bundle.

LMS: Welcome, Dave. Surely you have a most memorable meal you can share.

DW: Most memorable meal is a tough question. In part because I want to talk about some actual awesome or interesting meals I’ve eaten in my life as opposed to those that I remember the most. Where do I draw the line on most memorable? The first date with my now-wife? The one where I proposed to her? The last time I ate with my dad? The time I ate a bagel with Thomas Pynchon and I had no idea it was most likely Thomas Pynchon and still, to this day, don’t know if it really was Thomas Pynchon or just an unkempt homeless man that saw me reading Against the Day in a coffee shop waiting for my girlfriend, asked me what I thought about the book and then sat down across from me at the table where we talked about Thomas Pynchon. My response was along the lines of: “Thomas Pynchon is sort of a dick.” Only months later did a friend casually bring up that Pynchon was reportedly in town months before and was walking around the university district asking people weird questions… or so everyone thought? That’s pretty embarrassing, right? Potentially meeting one of your heroes, mistaking him for a homeless man and saying he’s a dick. Oof.

Those were all a big deal, or at least memorable. They also involved food that didn’t come from a microwave, so why am I being pulled toward a sad, rushed meal of microwave pancakes from the grocery store?

Because kids.

Way back in 2016, before there was a pandemic, and the world felt this strange, we had twin boys. Nobody really expects twins, they just sort of happen, even if I had that sneaking suspicion that if twins were to happen, they’d happen to us. They did. There’s a lot of information filtered down towards parents-to-be from people that mean well, or even have experience, that just bounces off of you because you aren’t there yet. I get it, kids change your life, yeah, it’s little lives in your hands and it’s difficult to do anything anymore. You hear that a lot when you’re expecting kids. When you’re expecting twins you get a lot of those looks. If you don’t know them, let me explain. The sort of long stare that’s part concern and part awe. People who don’t have twins cannot fathom what life with twins is like.

I think as a new father there are a lot of built-in expectations, both external and internal, and they’re extremely hard to reconcile. Holding my twins for the first time while my wife was on an operating table was a truly surreal experience. That instant bond or even understanding of “these are my kids” just wasn’t there. I suppose it’s a defense mechanism to sort, to shut down a bit and just power through strange life moments, compartmentalize them and process them later. With my kids’ collective fourth birthday just about two months away now, their preschool shut down, no babysitter or family in sight and me spending 16 hours a day with them perhaps now is the time? Even writing this I’m ducked into my darkened office, hoping my clacky keyboard doesn’t draw them in where they’ll toss my books around, pluck at my guitars and demand to see my Star Wars Lego sets.

The first few nights of parenthood are brutal, no matter how prepared you think you are, how much sleep you get beforehand. Twins are, what I’m going to assume because I’ve never had a singleton (yeah, we call single kids singletons, that’s a twin parent thing), a lot harder. We ate food those first few nights, for sure, but I don’t remember any of it. What I do remember was the dawning on me that life would be really hard moving forward in one of my trips from the hospital back to our house to feed the dogs and try to take a short nap before returning to the hospital.

The dogs were fine, and I was exhausted. Tired of the hospital Subway (fun fact: dads are not patients and thus do not get hospital meals, I did not understand that beforehand and my wife even works at that hospital) and just, well, tired in general, I took some old, frost-encrusted frozen pancakes out of the freezer. I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to actually make anything of substance, so I slapped down a bag on the counter and decided that was it, that was my meal. They come wrapped in sets of three, two packs conjoined by a perforated joint. Putting three of them on a plate to toss into the microwave, they looked paltry, and it dawned on me that I really hadn’t eaten much in the few days since we arrived at the hospital. So, I opened a second pack, making for six or two servings of these mostly nutrition-less, tasteless pucks that softened into a rubbery mush when nuked. Dabbed with some butter and drizzled with syrup from the fridge, they were mostly fine, if unspectacular.

I ate like a wild dog afraid it would be his last meal, standing at my kitchen counter with just one dim light on and my dogs circling around my feet like fuzzy buzzards waiting for either scraps or attention. I’d stand there a lot more over the following years, inhaling meals in between feedings, diaper changes, scraped knees and needing to break up fights. I’ve even written from that same position, more than I can even remember. Still, that one lousy meal was really the moment of transition, that moment when a chapter of my life (BC: Before Children) ended and another started.

I can laugh at this now, I think.

Thanks, Dave. I’m not sure which is the more disturbing image: partially defrosted, rubbery pancakes or dogs as fuzzy carrion birds. It’s a certainty though that the latter would devour the former.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Gerald Brandt

No Comments » Written on May 18th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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Life continues, in many ways the same as always but also curiously modified. Routine needs don’t care overly much about the rigors of a global pandemic, and so we’ve just had the a/c system replaced, replete with technicians and ourselves being masked through the entire process and practicing social distancing within the house so they’d feel safe as well.

I’m officially on maintenance now, taking assorted drugs, and doing labs. The most recent numbers continue to look good, so yay! Meanwhile, I continue to push myself, trying to rebuild my strength and stamina, and often as not overdoing it so that I’m a wreck and hurting the day after. But I’m making progress, and most days manage to get at least a mile’s walk in.

And speaking of walking, that’s my cue for a segue into this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, one of many writers who recently took part in an online home edition of Stroll With the Stars (organized by Stu Segal). Gerald Brandt has a massive, 200-year old oak tree in his back yard and a dog, Ajax, who’s part German Shepherd and part Great Dane, so really what else do you need? He’s also the author of the San Angeles cyberpunk trilogy and starting in January of next year will be releasing a new series, Quantum Empirica.

LMS: Welcome, Gerald. Let’s talk about memorable meals.

GB: I’ve had a lot of memorable meals in my lifetime, but the one that sticks out the most is the meal I had at a World Fantasy Convention many years ago.

I’d been going to WFC for a number of years by that point. I’d pitched novels in hotel lobbies, at parties, and even in a hotel room bathroom… but that’s a story for another time. At every convention, I’d sit down or stroll around the dealer’s room with Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books. We’d chat about whatever, sometimes grab a coffee, and obviously talk about what I was writing. I expected this WFC to be much the same.

Sheila and I wandered up to the almost empty restaurant, grabbed a coffee, and chatted as we always did. Then she told me she wanted to buy my book. It was a wondrous time that led to the meal. An hour or so after that coffee, Sheila and I sat down to do her editorial revisions on the book. You know, it’s tough to find a quiet corner at a convention to do that. A couple of hours later, we were done, and Sheila invited me to the DAW dinner. I’d heard of them, of course, but never imagined. I’ve been to many a DAW dinner since, but this is still the best.

We all piled into taxis to take us to the restaurant, where we were told we’d have a tasting menu–a small selection of the regular menu that the chef could serve up in the right amount of time. To everyone’s surprise, they changed their mind and let us select a 5 course meal from anything on their regular menu. I wish I could remember the restaurant, but I was still too giddy to remember those kinds of details.

I do remember the food. For starters, I selected a Heritage Beet Salad that was drizzled in a light dressing. The beets were thinly sliced and the multitude of colors on the plate made for a beautiful sight. And the taste! Wow. Feeling adventurous, I followed that up with deep fried tripe. I’d never eaten any type of offal before (or since for that matter), but this was truly a deep fried delight. The outer coating was crisp and well-spiced, and the tripe melted in your mouth. That was followed by three more dishes, each one seemingly better than the last.

Throughout the entire meal, I (surreptitiously) took pictures of every plate and texted them home to my wife and kids. In return, I got pictures of their meal, which turned out to be hotdogs and tater tots… with Dijon ketchup (or so I was told). Of course, my actions were discovered by Sheila, and I read out my wife’s responses to much laughter. At any rate, I left that meal so stuffed I could barely waddle back to the line of cabs.

What made the meal even more special was the feeling of family and camaraderie around the table. Even as a first timer, I could see that there was a relationship between the DAW editors and their authors that went beyond business. These were people that enjoyed each other’s company and were truly interested in the well-being of their authors. It was an evening to remember.

Thanks, Gerald. I’ll avoid the obvious offal puns, but seriously —?and I say this as someone who is married to a chef — when it comes to tripe vs, tater tots, I think your family came out ahead.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro

Planning for November

No Comments » Written on May 13th, 2020 by
Categories: Freebies
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Between battling cancer, recovering from chemo, and oh yeah the whole COVID-19 craze, I haven’t traveled far from home this year and don’t expect that to change any time soon. No appearances, lectures, readings, or coneventions. Obviously, I’m not alone in this.

Lots of people have come up with creative solutions and stopgaps. I’ve participated in Stu Segals’ virtual Strolling with the Stars, both as the designated guest and as a viewer of many others. I spend at least three mornings each week sitting in on live interviews of luminaries within the indie publishing community. To no one’s surprise, various conventions have decided to go virtual (a big example being the Nebula Conference later this month), and even my monthly writers’ workshop group has shifted to meeting on Zoom.

At this point, I suspect the only event I’ll be physically attending this year is the annual 20BooksTo50K conference scheduled for November — assuming that in six more months the world will have stopped burning quite so much. It’s three very full days of brilliant presentations focused on the indie business side of writing — as opposed to other professional writing conferences I’ve attended where the emphasis is on craft — from marketing to managing cash flow, cover design to blurbs, pros and cons of KU vs. going wide, newsletter onboarding and general care & feeding of one’s subscribers, back lists and sell through, and on and on.

Before those three days of presentations, there’ll be a day of industry professionals making themselves available for conversations and questions. Representatives from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Microsoft, Podium, Tantor, DreamWorks, Findaway Voices, Publisher’s Weekly, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, Reedsy, BookFunnel, StoryOrigin, Cover Artists, and so many more. It’s going to be a crazy wonderful opportunity to make some serious connections (and have the following three days to expand on them).

But wait, there’s more. On the fifth day, there will be an Indie Book Fair. I’ve already reserved a table (well, half a table). I’ll be there with a good assortment of my titles, and while I’ll be only too happy to sell them, I’ll naturally sign anything that people bring in. These kinds of events can often be very “hit or miss” bur I’m expecting a huge response because of all the lost opportunities for fans not being able to travel to conventions this year.

Which is why I wanted to do something special. Something different.

Which is why I arranged for some custom flash drives. What you’re seeing in the images on this page are basically credit card sized (52mm x 83mm) flip drives, the bit that plugs into the USB slot snaps up and unfolds from a hinge and you’re good to go.

I’ve had these made up by the fine folks at usbmemorydirect.com. They feature an image of the Amazing Conroy on one side and the logo of my publishing imprint, Paper Golem, on the other.

My plan is to load up the drives with copies of my books and give them away during the Indie Book Fair on the last day of the 20 Books Vegas conference. Mind you, I have a limited number of these flash drives, and when they’re gone that’s it — unless it’s a huge success, in which case I’ll make more for other conferences in 2021. And… now that I think about it, I’ll probably hold a couple in reserve as a giveaway for the folks on my mailing list.

And that’s my travel plans for the rest of 2020. I hope to see some of you in Las Vegas, and if you are coming out (I should mention the conference is at Sam’s Town) then I hope you’ll come by for a flash drive full of my fiction.

Eating Authors: Bard Constantine

1 Comment » Written on May 11th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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A few hours after this posts, I’ll be on my way to the hospital for my first “maintenance” visit. There’ll be some bloodwork and an quick injection and probably a few questions and explanations as we lay out what will become a new regimen of regular tests and follow-ups to ensure that the new chemo is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, and to be able to recognize the first sign of any returning cancer.

Which is to say my life is an endless adventure. I have to say that because it’s my segue into this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. Bard Constantine writes adventure stories. He refers to himself as a “neo-pulp” author, as demonstrated by his Havenworld universe, where stories jump traditional genre lines from dystopia to teen angst, cyberpunk to weird west. The common elements are of course action and adventure.

His most recent book is The Gunner Chronicles: Fire and Brimstone, and at first glance you might assume it’s a typical western with a ruthless gunslinger right out of central casting. But you’d be wrong. This gunman inhabits a post-apocalyptic west, which naturally means the book is also going to serve up mutants and cyborgs and… well, you get the picture. Adventure!

LMS: Welcome, Bard. Tell me about your most memorable meal.

BC: On my tenth anniversary, I took my wife to Vegas. It was something we’d wanted to do for years — not for gambling and party life, but to spoil ourselves rotten and take in the spectacle more than anything else. So we took the flight in the heat of June, arriving in the morning and resting until the evening because it was just that hot. We stayed at the Wynn, which was just what we were looking for to get that luxurious Vegas type of feel we were going for. I can say a lot about the fantastic buffet there, but that’s not the story. In fact, the meal in question wasn’t at the Wynn at all.

It was at the Stratosphere.

Now renovated and renamed the Strat, the casino hotel wasn’t much to brag about when you walk in. It was an older joint, with all the tackiness you expect — lots of hawkers inside trying to con you into condo tours, bus tours, and the like. The main draw is the tower, where visitors can sit in the observation decks, eat a meal at the revolving Top of the World restaurant, and take in the entire city and everything around it for miles. And if you’re brave enough, you can even get on one of the insane rides built to terrorize you.

We were there for the view and some breakfast, so we dined in the Top of the World. Because I was in Vegas, I went for a lobster omelet and just for kicks, a gin martini to wash it down. Sure it was still morning, but I was in Vegas, baby. Looking back, it seems corny as hell, but it was all about being in the moment. I was in a restaurant with a revolving view of what looked like the entire state, celebrating ten years with the woman I loved, and I was in Las Vegas. Every time I think about it, I smile. And oh yeah: the omelet was to die for. That’s pretty much all you want from a dining experience, anyway.

Thanks, Bard. Eggs, lobster, and gin. The breakfast of champions. At least in Las Vegas. I’m sure your server didn’t even blink.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Nibedita Sen (Astounding Award nominee)

No Comments » Written on May 4th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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May has brought better weather and increased stamina. These have combined to allow me to take longer walks (up to a mile now) which in turn has created opportunities for self-hypnosis as well as quality time with my dog. The healing continues. Life is good.

May also brings the first of what I hope will be several of this year’s Astounding Award finalists to this blog. Of the six nominees, Sam Hawke and Jenn Lyons have previously shared meals. I’m still hoping to hear from R.F. Kuang, Tasha Suri, and Emily Tesh. Meanwhile, this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest is Nibedita Sen.

Nibedita is no stranger to food, ranking its importance with anime in her life. She writes short fiction, as well as co-edits Glittership, a queer, SF/F fiction podcast. All in all, she’s having a pretty good year, racking up not just the Astounding nomination, but Nebula and Hugo noms as well.

LMS: Welcome, Nibedita. What’s your most memorable meal?

NS: As a lover of food, and immigrant from a culture where food is key to identity and affection — and also as a writer who works food into pretty much everything she writes — it’s very hard to choose a favorite meal from all the good ones I’ve had! Here’s a pretty special one, though.

I moved to the USA for grad school in 2015. This meant going from Calcutta to the Midwest, so the culture shock was, as you can imagine, quite extreme — particularly when it came to food. Or flavoring. Or the lack thereof. I’d also never lived away from home before, and never really had to cook for myself, since my mother and grandmother were both excellent cooks who handled keeping the household fed. Stuck in a tiny college town in Southern Illinois, I learned real fast to appreciate how a dish could be a culinary jewelry box of memory and identity. The first time I made shorshe chingri — prawns in mustard-seed paste — I cried at the smell, and then breathed it in too deep, which made the mustard sting my eyes and sinuses, which only made me cry more.

When I next got to visit home in the summer of 2016, I’d been away for a year, during which I’d sorely missed both my family and the food I grew up with. My mother, anticipating this, had prepared a spread of several traditional Bengali delicacies that she knew were my favourites. Two in particular. Kosha mangsho, which is goat meat cooked to fall-off-the-bone tenderness in rich, dark, oily gravy. And ilish macch bhaja, thin fillets of hilsa fish fried crisply in mustard oil and green chilis, along with their eggs and internal organs, the latter of which are cooked down to a blackened consistency bursting with umami bitterness. Both dishes were served over hot, plain white rice with salt on the side. I like to write about food, but I don’t think I can do justice to that meal, save to say that it tasted of love — and of home, and of memory, and my city, and my people.

Thanks, Nibedita. I am reminded that scientists working on teleportation are going about it all wrong. The ability of food to transport us home should be the first line of research. Even if it’s only a one-way trip, it will always be delicious.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

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Eating Authors: Beverly L. Anderson

No Comments » Written on April 27th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
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Back when I was in grad school I studied winemaking. This struck my friends as odd because I don’t drink alcohol. But the wine was just a byproduct. The real purpose was for me to try and acquire patience. And it worked. I learned to appreciate that some things take time. That’s true of wine, it was true of research, and I find it’s true of writing. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to remember this important lesson when it comes to my own health.

This past week I’ve been pushing myself too hard. And while I have made incredible strides in my recovery from my bone marrow transplant, the one main area where I am still far from normal is my physical stamina. Naturally, I have been over-doing things, walking more than I should, even putting time in on the elliptical. And while it may ultimately prove to make me stronger sooner, it’s also been leaving me a creaky old man who looks like he’s been hit by a bus. Ooops.

None of which has anything to do with today’s EATING AUTHORS post, but I thought you’d want to know. Now then, let’s talk about this week’s guest, Beverly L. Anderson.

Beverly is probably best known for her Chains of Fate series, erotica with strong BDSM themes. She’s since branched out into the fantastic. Last January she branched out with Dark and the Sword, Book One of a proposed dark fantasy series, Legacy of the Phoenix. Which, when you consider her most memorable meal, makes a lot of sense.

LMS: Welcome, Beverly. What stands out as your most memorable meal?

BLA: I have to say the most memorable meal I’ve ever had was with my Dungeons and Dragons group. We went online and planned the entire thing based on old recipes that we found from medieval times or as close to them as we could get.

We then had “dinner” in our game world while we acted out our characters attending this meal. It was a beautiful blend of food, friends, and fun, and I have to say I can’t think of something that sticks out in my memory more. When I think back on it, it always brings a smile to my face. There is nothing that can tarnish such a memory, and though time may erode the details, it will always be precious to me.

My D&D group fed my love of fantasy, world building, character building, and plot driven characters. I often wrote so much detail on my characters that our Dungeon Master would give me extra experience and I ended up ahead of the group. It was never dull, and everything we did will forever be a basis for my love of the worlds of fantasy. My fantasy writing echoes those days during late night game sessions, and even during that amazing and creative dinner. It is something that can never be recreated, and something that I will always remember.

Thanks, Beverly. It’s been decades since I played D&D — I was old school, the original three paper volumes. I wish we’d thought to have in-character meals. But then again, most of us were too young to drive and didn’t know how to cook, so it’s probably just as well.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

NB: links to authors and books here are included as part of an Amazon Affiliate account. If you follow any of them and ultimately make a purchase Amazon rewards me with a few pennies of every dollar.

Want to never miss an installment of EATING AUTHORS?
Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.

#SFWApro