Eating Authors: Nicky Drayden

No Comments » Written on August 21st, 2017 by
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Nicky Drayden

I’m catching my breath, having just returned home from two weeks of travel that included both the Worldcon in Finland and side trips to Iceland (both before and after) as well as a visit to Sweden that included some research. I think I have three or four competing sets of jetlag — and my sleep cycle is a mess at the best of times.

But it was a great trip, and if I didn’t get to see a few dozen folks I’d intended to I ended up meeting a lot of new faces and that always brings new and exciting possibilities. Travel, after all, is broadening. This is true in both the expanding your mind sense as well as the expanding your waistline interpretation (and my wife found us some incredible restaurants for the trip).

All of which is my official segue into this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, because Nicky Drayden‘s most memorable meal is rooted in travel, and of course eating.

Nicky’s first novel, The Prey of Gods, came out two months ago from the folks at Harper Voyager. It’s got robots, an ancient demigoddess, drugs that tap your inner animal, young love, and so much more. It’s a debut novel that will make you sit up and take notice and ask, “hey, when’s her next novel coming out?”

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Eating Authors: Spencer Ellsworth

No Comments » Written on August 14th, 2017 by
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Spencer Ellsworth

Yes, it’s another Monday, and I know what you’re thinking: time for the latest installment of EATING AUTHORS. And yes, that’s coming, but we get 52 (sometimes 53) of them each year. This past Saturday marked an annual event that needs to be acknowledged. I refer of course to the August 12th celebration known as World Elephant Day.

I observed the day with a signing session as part of the 75th annual World Science Fiction Convention (which just concluded in Helsinki, Finland), pushing Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard.

But that was last week and as already noted it’s a shiny new Monday, so I should get around to introducing Spencer Ellsworth to you. I don’t know him well, but I have known him a good long while, as he’s been a part of the Codex Writers community for more than a decade.

In all that time I’ve only seen him write short fiction, but that’s the past. He’s sold a trio of novels (aka the Starfire trilogy) to the fine folks at Tor Books and the first volume, A Red Peace, comes out next week on August 22nd. It’s a classic space opera written with gigantic insects, an ancient artifact, cyborgs, and a kick-ass heroine. Okay, so it lacks elephants, but you can’t have everything.

LMS: Welcome, Spencer. What do you consider your most memorable meal?

SE: My most memorable meal was three pints of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, not just because it was delicious, but because it came with (deep breath): Head injuries! Butt injuries! Poison ivy! Public urination! A rescue mission!

And hobbits!

Starfire: A Red Peace

In 2002, I worked at a wilderness survival camp for troubled teens. Most of the time, I worked in the teen groups, hiking around the gorgeous Arizona creeks, below massive red rock cliffs near the tiny town of Young. However, I would sometimes take a turn helping out at “backup,” meaning the truck that was parked a few miles from the group’s location at any time. Backup would anticipate emergencies and run supplies into the group.

I was halfway through a three-week shift, with backup, hanging out in the truck when we got news that one of the girls had suffered a serious head injury, falling onto a rock in the creek.

A head injury in a wilderness camp is a huge deal. The kid in question was showing some dangerous signs of head trauma, so we had to get down to the creek and immobilize her head, then carry her out. It was my job to carry the surfboard-sized stretcher from the truck, down any number of cliffs.

I’d been hiking the Arizona backcountry for ten years now, but never with something the size of a surfboard. At top speed. Down steep hills.

Starfire: Shadow Sun Seven

I became aware that I was moving too fast to stop right above a batch of prickly pear cactus. I tried to stop. The surfboard didn’t stop. Wham. Down I went, butt-first into the prickly-pear cactus—and then slid further down the hill, trying to get my footing in the wet, crumbly shale until I ended up in a batch of poison ivy.

I got the stretcher to the group, and staff, students and backup all helped strap the girl down… then all six of us maneuvered her up the cliffs back to the truck. At one point the poor strapped-down girl had to pee, and since there was no way to unstrap her without moving her head, we had to give the classic advice: “just go.”

The pee went everywhere, including all over those of use carrying the stretcher. By then, I cared less about getting pee on me than I did about whether or not the pee might be an effective deterrent to poison ivy.

She was okay! And (important for a kid eating roots and berries for six weeks) she got to visit a hospital and eat Jell-O.

When Stars Are Scattered

I wasn’t okay. Pee doesn’t cure poison ivy (The More You Know!). By the time I got off the trail, I was an itchy mess.

After a baking soda bath, I headed straight to Blockbuster Video to pick up the newly released Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, and stopped at the grocery store to get two, no, let’s-make-it-three pints of Ben & Jerry’s, including the short-lived flavor Honey I’m Home. (It was good. Like honey and cream on oatmeal.)

I sat down with what was, I’m sure, the only movie in existence that would draw my attention away from the itching. I watched every moment, all the special features, and by 6 in the morning, I had finished the trek to the Argonath, and all three pints of ice cream. I even felt a little bit of solidarity with those hobbits on their dangerous journey, given what I’d gone through, and how much I had eaten.

Thanks, Spencer. I can now cross off “post an Eating Authors meal that references hobbits, urine, and troubled teens” from my bucket list.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Nik Korpon

No Comments » Written on August 7th, 2017 by
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Nik Korpon

Last year was a crazy travel year, and not necessarily in a good way. Which is why I vowed to cut back — way back — on travel in 2017. And yet, these past few weeks have seen me zipping off to first San Juan and then Chicago.

And right now, as this posts, I’m in Reykjavik, soon to be in Helsinki, and then off to Stockholm before heading back to Reykjavik. Also, next month is promising a run up to Montreal. And at least three more out of town (and one more out of country) trips before December.

Not exactly a stellar example of cutting back.

And yet, despite being in Europe, EATING AUTHORS continues and this week’s guest, Nik Korpon, has a nice meal to recount from his own travels in Europe. He lives in Baltimore nowadays so maybe our paths will cross when I’m there next month for the city’s Book Festival).

Nic’s latest novel, The Rebellion’s Last Traitor, came out two months ago. The descripion had me hooked at the phrase “memory thieves.” Seriously, what else do you need?

LMS: Welcome, Nik. Speak to me of your best meal, please.

NK: The best meal I’ve ever had is actually a two-fer. The first was with my then-girlfriend (now wife). I was on break in grad school and flew from London to meet her in Spain for two weeks. We hadn’t seen each other in months. It was a simple meal, just bread, cheese, olives, and apples; we sat on the bank of the river that cuts through Seville, Spain, listening to the chatter of passersby, smelling the ever-present scent of oranges from the naranjos that line the streets.

The Rebellion's Last Traitor

But it was emblematic of our relationship, simple and contented. It didn’t hurt that Spain was the place I’ve ever stepped off the plane and just felt at home, like on a bone-deep level. I can remember the feeling vividly but could never explain it.

The second was four or five months later, another simple meal. I was living in a surf lodge in a small fishing village outside Lisbon, Portugal, editing my thesis (which became my first book). She came to stay with me for a month before starting grad school herself. Every few nights we’d get a pizza from the local pizzeria and a bottle of wine from the mercado, then sit on the rocks and watch the sun go down over the surf. That night I’d talked her into getting shrimp on the pizza, because why not? That’s what a lot of the locals ate. As the sun was going down, I asked her to marry me. She laughed and thought I was joking. Long story short, she said yes, and ten years later I’m still thinking about that day.

Thanks, Nik. Yeah, shrimp pizza and marriage proposals. I’ve seen it a million times. Imagine where you might be if you’d gone with anchovies!

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Michael Johnston

No Comments » Written on July 31st, 2017 by
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Michael Johnston

If things are going according to plan, then I’ve just returned from the 24th annual conference of the Klingon Language Institute, having survived numerous linguist and alien challenges, charted out some of the milestones of the next year for the world’s Klingon speakers, done a couple interviews for television and print, and made some real progress on my edits for the BARSquel.

This week I’ll attempt to log plenty of hours at the DayJob, but also to complete my work on the novel so I can send it to my editor so I can leave for Europe with a clean conscience. The housesitter has been briefed, but I still need to have several long talks with the dog to make sure he understands that I’m going away but that I’ll be coming back too.

The trip is probably the grandest excursion I’ve ever planned, chock full of amazing experiences and unique research opportunities (because these books don’t write themselves). One might almost go so far as to describe the trip as “epic,” which is a nice segue to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, architect turned novelist Michael Johnston.

I think there’s something sublime about using the grandeur of architecture as a metaphor to inform speculative fiction, and that’s exactly what Michael does in Soleri, his first solo novel (though I’d be remiss not to note that he’s also co-authored several books with Melissa de la Cruz).

Michael says he found inspiration in the history of ancient Egypt and the tragedy of Shakespeare’s Leer, producing an eternal civilization and a family of gods, all described with the clean lines that you’d expect from an architect. What’s not to love? I’d tell you more, but you’ve probably already clicked a link and headed off to buy the book (which came out just last month).

I hope you remember to come back and read his memorable meal below.

LMS: Welcome, Michael. What lingers in your mind as your most memorable meal?

MJ: Without question my most memorable meal was at the Four Season restaurant in the Seagram’s building in New York City. For those who are not familiar with the building and the restaurant, Mies van der Roe, one of the principle figures of minimal modernist architecture, designed the Seagram building. The tower, often dubbed “the brown-booze building” for its bronze façade, was so expensive that it prompted the city of New York to change the way it taxed buildings. The restaurant itself was no exception to this excess. Philip Johnson, who had himself once worked for Mies and was famous for pilfering Mies’s design for the first “glass house” and building it for himself, designed the restaurant.

The Four Seasons was built in two parts, both of which elegantly straddled the office tower’s lobby. The grille occupied the south side and sported a large bar and small seating areas. A fantastic chandelier hung above the bar, hugging its perimeter. The chandelier was less light fixture and more light sculpture, a series of bronze tubes suspended in the air and designed by Richard Lippold. It floated, shimmering amid the buzz of the room. A hallway separated the grille from the other half of the restaurant. I say hallway, but it was more of a gallery, a grand passage between two modernist shrines. A two-story tapestry by Picasso hung on the wall of that hallway and it was breathtaking to behold.

Soleri

In its prime, the Four Seasons was as much a temple to art as it was to architecture. Mark Rothko was famously hired to produce the first murals for the space. He immediately replied that he would create “something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room.” He didn’t get the job, but many other famous artists did install their work in the restaurant. The pool room took its name, obviously, from the large body of water at its center. The pool was majestic. So much so that the tables were arranged so that dinners sat side-by-side facing the water.

Now, I’ve provided a little background on the restaurant; so let me explain that I came to all of this as a twenty-two year graduate student of architecture at Columbia. My then girlfriend and now wife had received a rather large Christmas bonus and we were determined to spend the entire thing on this one meal. So I arrived at the Four Seasons as a somewhat financially challenged student, a kid from a nowhere town in the Midwest who had come to one of the most storied and fabulous rooms in New York City. The restaurant itself sits high above street level. So we entered at the street level where my coat was taken, where I admired the walls and floor, all of which were clad in travertine, in traditional modernist fashion, and where a tapestry from Miro hung on the wall, the chairs designed by Mies, the carpet too. From there we were ushered up a switchback set up stairs. Visitors literally ascend into the Grille Room where they first catch sight of that scintillating chandelier. It truly dazzled the eye (I’m not exaggerating, the chandelier is amazing). We had a drink that cost more than most folk expect to pay for a respectable dinner. We waited for our names to be called. Then we were ushered across that gorgeous hallway, past the towering Picasso and into the pool room.

We sat and were immediately set upon by an army of servants. Not only did we have our own waiter but that waiter had a set of subwaiters (probably not a word, is there a word for this?). I don’t recall the food, which might disqualify me for this column. I only recall the experience, the elegance of the place, the pageantry, the size of the bill.

It’s easily my most memorable meal. Sadly the restaurant closed a few years back and much of the art was sold off by ruthless real estate folk. Recently an effort was made to restore the grille, which has now reopened and I understand that the pool room will also reopen. Both are landmarked, so they can’t be destroyed or significantly altered. I’m glad they are both returning to service. After almost twenty years I’d love to go back and perhaps this time I’ll remember if I liked the food.

Thanks, Michael. Despite the passage of more than 30 years, my meal-spending sensibility is still rooted in the poverty of my graduate school years. I dine out nowadays and spend way more than I’m comfortable with, but your meal sounds at least an order of magnitude beyond anything I could relax enough to enjoy. I wouldn’t remember what I ate either.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

author photo by Cathryn Farnsworth

#SFWApro

Eating Authors: Gray Rinehart

No Comments » Written on July 24th, 2017 by
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Gray Rinehart

The NASFiC is barely two weeks in the past, and yet in a couple days I start off on a month of travel and research and writing that threatens to chew me up and spit me out. It should be glorious, and it begins this week with a trip to the greater Chicago area to hang with Klingon speakers, much as I’ve done every summer for the past 24 years. Somewhere in the midst of all that I’ll also celebrate my 58th birthday.

All of this talk of decades is as good a segue as I’m going to get for introducing Gray Rinehart, this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. I’ve known Gray so long that I don’t remember where or when we actually met, which makes me think it must have been a virtual meet (cute), as he joined the Codex, the online writing community, back in 2004. Our paths don’t cross too often in the physical world as he’s down in North Carolina and I’m here in Pennsylvania. I rarely go south and if he comes north it must be under cover of darkness because I don’t see him.

Gray has a complex and lush background, including a career in the US Air Force that concluded with him retiring as a Lt. Colonel, an ongoing sideline as a musician, a political speech writer, and a contributing editor (a.k.a the slushmaster) for Baen. A few years back he even put his hat in the ring for political office with a campaign of “if I don’t make a promise, I can’t break a promise.”

As long as I’ve known him, Gray has only written short fiction. Then a few weeks ago I learned he’d sold a novel to Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. Naturally I wasted no time and immediately asked him for his most memorable meal and he quickly responded with the piece you’ll find below. Walking on the Sea of Clouds lands in online bookstores everywhere on Wednesday. Pick up a copy and be prepared to find yourself transported to the moon.

LMS: Welcome, Gray. I’m sure that with your Air Force career you’ve been around a bit more than most. What stands out as your most memorable meal.

GR: I know that other “Eating Authors” have written about “memorable” meals as opposed to “best” meals, and in some respects that might be easier. A number of my most memorable meals have little to do with the quality of the food: for example, the outrageous expense of the steak dinner I had at the Polo Club restaurant in the Marriott in Moscow; the international camaraderie of the multi-course, multi-toast “state dinners” at the Top of the World Club at Thule Air Base, Greenland; the mix of high-class elegance and rocket-themed engineering tomfoolery at the Air Force “Dining In” aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach; and so on.

But the “best” meal, the meal that I hold up as the standard against which I judge all other meals, was our 20th anniversary celebration supper in Baltimore. The memory has dimmed a bit, since that was a dozen years ago, and unfortunately I couldn’t find the restaurant in a Google search so I fear it no longer exists — but, trust me, it was marvelous.

Walking on the Sea of Clouds

It was Memorial Day weekend in 2005 — a couple of days before our anniversary, in fact — and I had taken Jill on an excursion to see Cirque du Soleil. Neither Jill nor I recall now how we ended up at Ray’s for supper (not to be confused with “Roy’s” in Baltimore today): maybe the hotel recommended it, maybe we were referred by friends, maybe we happened across it while we were exploring the harbor area. And I can’t say exactly why I decided to order the lamb chops; I don’t think they were listed as a special, but it was a special night so I think I just wanted to order something I wouldn’t choose on a normal night out.

Being so long ago, all I was equipped with was a camera-less flip-phone, so I have no photographic evidence of the chops arranged artfully on the plate, succulent little bulbs of meat at the ends of slender bones. (Not that I’ve ever gotten into the habit of documenting my meals.) But even if I had pictures, they would not convey how tender and flavorful those lamb chops were. Each one was juicy and robust, and fell off the bone as if they had been slow-roasted for hours.

Of course, it’s possible that my memory of that meal is supercharged because it was, after all, with my beautiful bride as we celebrated two decades of married life. Maybe the romantic atmosphere was less because of the restaurant itself and more because of my dining partner. Maybe those lamb chops were no different than any others, and I’ve just elevated them in my imagination because the occasion warranted it (though Jill says the scallops she had that night were also amazing, and the best she’s ever had). But even if my memory and imagination have enhanced the experience, that’s fine with me.

(One final note: Readers may notice that we were in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend but I did not mention Balticon. I was still on active duty in the Air Force in those days, so we were not in the habit of attending conventions. However, during our explorations of the Baltimore area we did stop by the hotel and see some con-goers and some displays in the public spaces. And hopefully we can make it back up there one day!)

Thanks, Gray. I’m a big fan of anniversary dinners, not least because my own wedding happened in late August. I’m often celebrating it during the Worldcon, that frequently means fine dining in a restaurant of a city I’ve never visited before, which only adds to the delight.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

My Worldcon 75 Probably Final Schedule

No Comments » Written on July 17th, 2017 by
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Worldcon 75

In August I’ll be flying off to Finland (by way of Iceland) for the 75th annual World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 75).

In mid-June the organizers were kind enough to send me a tentative schedule, but asked me to wait before posting it as they wanted to firm up some items. We’ve had some back and forth on things (owing in part to my plans to leave Helsinki on Sunday morning and miss the last partial day of the convention), but they have been great to work with.

Today I got the green light to share the schedule. Things could still change, but I’m liking what I see.

Thursday, August 10th
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. | 103 Messukeskus | Reading
Reading slots are apparently hard to come by at this convention. I am one of two authors in this hour (the other being the awesome Scott Lynch!). Depending on what people want, I”ll either read the opening chapter from next summer’s BARSquel, or the opening to the next month’s Amazing Conroy novella.

Friday, August 11th
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Courtyard Messukeskus | Strolls with Stars
I’m a big fan of the Worldcon strolls. It’s a great opportunity to chat with authors and fans while also taking in some local sights. Plus, I get some of my steps in!
with Eva Elasigue, Walter Jon Williams, and lots of other folks!

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 215 Messukeskus | SF & Education
Science Fiction and Fantasy are interrelated with education in many ways. From the earliest years SF was thought of as a way of sugar coating science – and many young readers have in fact been inspired to go on to study the sciences by their early enthusiasm for SF. But it also goes the other way – many reluctant readers are motivated to learn by the pleasures of genre books. Then there are all the imagined schools – Hogwarts is only one. As well, SF and Fantasy serve as ideal forums for imagining how education could be different – even wildly different – think brain implants or babel fish! This panel will delve into the links between SF and Education – as is only appropriate in a country whose schooling leads the world in the education league tables!
with Charlie (M), Nick Falkner, Diana ben-Aaron, Aidan Doyle

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | 208 Messukeskus | Alien Language in Science Fiction
As easy as a Babel Fish is, usually alien languages are handled differently in science fiction. The panelists discuss various alien languages and how they are understood. I’ll be moderating.
with David J. Peterson, Stephen W. Potts, Cora Buhlert, Heather Rose Jones

Saturday, August 12th
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Signing Area Messukeskus | Autographing
I’ve been given a slot for signing all the things. So, even if you don’t have a copy of Barsk on hand, or a back issue of Spin with one of my Finnish translations, do stop by anyway and I’ll sign one of my new Historical Science Fiction Trading Cards (I’m #158).

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | 205 Messukeskus | Coping strategies for publishing in small markets
Sometimes the publishing markets aren’t that big – perhaps because language reasons. There are different ways writers from smaller countries can and do use to reach a wider audience, however. Getting famous in your own country first, writing in a foreign language, selling straight into translation and other strategies are discussed. And again, I’m moderator.
with Tom Crosshill, Teodor Reljic, Raita Jauhiainen

While it’s possible that some portion of the above will change prior to the start of the Worldcon, it’s unlikely I’ll be in a position to post an update. So, either go with the above or consult the program schedule in Grenadine.

Eating Authors: Rajan Khanna

No Comments » Written on July 17th, 2017 by
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Rajan Khanna

As you’re reading this on a Monday morning, I’m catching my breath. This is my week to do that, a brief span of presumed normalcy as I recover from the glories that were the NASFiC in Puerto Rico even as I prepare for the 24th annual conference of Klingon speakers that begins next week outside Chicago. Or as I like to think of it, transitioning from Spanish to Klingon.

Amidst the unpacking and repacking, the sorting through piled up correspondence, thinking about the sounds of language provides a good segue for this week’s guest. Rajan Khanna, in addition to writing fiction both long and short, has built himself a reputation for his narration of other authors’ work in venues likes Beaneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed, and PodCastle, to name just a few.

I’d been pursuing Rajan for the better part of two years, trying to lock him in for a visit at EATING AUTHORS, but the timing was never right. That happens a lot with authors’ schedules which are a whirlwind of deadlines and obligations. But I’ve learned to be patient, send the occasional follow-up email, and wait for the right time or circumstance. In this case, a trip up to New York last month triggered the necessary cascade and here we are.

Rajan’s latest book, the third volume in his Ben Gold series, is entitled Raining Fire. It comes out tomorrow from Pyr. And, if you want to catch him performing his own fiction, you’ll find him reading at KGB (alongside Greg Frost) on August 16th.

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Eating Authors: Sam J. Miller

No Comments » Written on July 10th, 2017 by
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Sam J. Miller

If things are going according to plan (stop laughing!), this will automatically post on Monday morning, I’ve survived the NASFiC in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and right this very minute I am trekking through the tropical rainforest known as “El Yunque.” Seriously, my life is pretty freaking blessed.

Part of that blessing includes providing a weekly dose of EATING AUTHORS for you, bringing you both familiar and new authors, and doing my part in the great karmic wheel of the speculative fiction community to pay it forward and celebrate the work of others. Case in point this week is none of other than Sam J. Mill. You probably already know Sam from his breathtaking short fiction, and justly so. His work has earned him a Shirley Jackson award, a Sturgeon nomination, three Nebula nominations, and a World Fantasy nomination.

All things come to those who wait (or so the saying goes), and so it often is with authors going from short form to long. Sam’s debut novel, The Art of Starving, comes out tomorrow from Harper Teen. Clearly you should click the link and buy a copy right now. Don’t do it for me or even for Sam, do it for “El Yunque.”

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

SJM: I was eighteen. I was coming out of a long struggle with disordered eating. For the first time in my life I had a gay friend — a brilliant, older painter I’d been paired with in a mentoring program for at-risk youth. He was a vegetarian, and I was hanging out with a trio of super-hot vegan punk rock vegan boys. All three of whom I was hopelessly in love with. And desperate to impress.

March 2nd, 1997. I’m working the night shift at a bookstore for minimum wage — $4.25 an hour at the time — and my hot vegans come to hang out there and talk shit and be generally intimidating. And it’s my coworker Alison’s birthday, so we decide to all go out to dinner afterwards.

Understand: I am angry. I am a miserable knotted-up mess of unrequited lust. My father’s butcher shop just closed, thanks to a Wal-Mart/supermarket combo’s arrival in town. Eating meat meant buying it from the same store that put us out of business. And thanks to my bookstore job – and my commie vegan hardcore straight edge crushes — I’d been reading Noam Chomsky, Karl Marx, had sharpened my critique of global capitalism, the exploitation of workers, the death of small businesses and the rise of corporate superstores, factory farming, the suffering of animals. I’d tried, several times, to go vegetarian, and failed repeatedly. I had already come out to my father as gay, but for the son and grandson of butchers to stop eating meat felt like too great a betrayal.

The Art of Starving

The waiter comes. I stare at the menu for a second and then decide, “I’m not going to eat meat anymore,” and order broccoli with garlic sauce. That was twenty years ago, and I’ve never looked back once.

Back then, I didn’t realize one very important fact – and I wouldn’t realize it until I started writing my novel, which is about a bullied small-town gay boy with an eating disorder (all of which I was) who believes that starving himself awakens latent supernatural abilities (which mine did not). Now, I can see that becoming a vegetarian was not separate from my eating disorder. Both were born of rage and sadness at what a fucked-up world we have… but that night, at the Spring Garden in Hudson, New York, was the moment when I took hold of my rage at the world – at injustice, at homophobia, at corporate hegemony & toxic masculinity & suffering – and ceased to turn it in on myself. Instead, I turned it outwards. I sat next to other people who were just as angry as me, and I joined them.

The line ended up on the cutting room floor, but at the end of The Art of Starving, the protagonist realizes “There are no Chosen Ones. Saving the world, righting every wrong, is no one’s responsibility. It’s everyone’s.”

For the past fifteen years, my day job has been as a community organizer. I’ve organized hundreds of protests, seen dozens of legislative and policy victories. I’m still working out that broccoli-with-garlic-sauce epiphany, the idea that people can achieve anything when they come together. That turning our anger outwards will transform the world as well as ourselves.

Thanks, Sam. And hey, don’t give up on those latent supernatural abilities. It could happen any day now.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro