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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

Eating Authors: Stephen S. Power

No Comments » Written on July 3rd, 2017 by
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Stephen S. Power

Things are a wee bit hectic just now. With the NASFiC (aka NorthAmeriCon’17) just around the corner, a Klingon conference at the end of the month, a European vacation wrapped around a Worldcon a few weeks after that, my editorial letter for the BARSquel about to drop, and a DayJob that’s becoming a bit more demanding as a grant that’s been partially funding me for the past two and a half years just ended, I’m feeling a little frazzled. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Independence Day.

At the same time, I’ve been trying to get ahead by lining up the guests for EATING AUTHORS further in advance than I normally do. That’s a nice plan, but… reality happens and sometimes people slip through the cracks, making a mockery of my attempts to feature authors in a timely manner to support their book releases. This week’s guest, Stephen S. Power, is a case in point.

Stephen’s latest book, The Dragon Round, came out in paperback on June 13th (the hardcover was published last July, but that flew completely below my radar). In a perfect world, I’d have been able to fit him into the rotation three weeks ago to boost the signal on the paperback release. Ooops. Clearly, this is no way to treat an editor.

Yes, that’s right, Stephen isn’t just a novelist, prior to writing his first book he’d already logged more than 20 years editing books in NYC. It’s always fascinating to me to see editors make that transition (another fine example is my friend and past guest here, Laura Anne Gilman). Stephen eased into fiction with dozens of short stories and, as if that weren’t enough, he’s also a poet whose poems have earned him Pushcart Prize nomination.

Anyway, if you haven’t read his book yet, perhaps the following meal will convince you to mend your ways.

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Eating Authors: Steven Barnes

No Comments » Written on June 26th, 2017 by
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Steven Barnes

Back in 2013, Larry Niven visited EATING AUTHORS to share his most memorable meal, and in my introduction I noted that he’d collaborated with many other authors — most notably Jerry Pournelle, but also Brenda Cooper, Edward M. Lerner, Gregory Benford, as well as this week’s guest, Steven Barnes.

It’s through his collaborations with Larry and Jerry — like the Heorot and Dream Park series — that I first encountered Steven. Of course he’s no slouch on his own as more than a dozen solo novels attests (as well as his own collaborations with his wife, Tananarive Due, and actor Blair Underwood). He’s also written episodic television as well as media tie-in, kicks ass in several martial arts (including kickboxing), and like myself is a certified hypnotherapist.

Seriously, why have I waited so long to invite him here? Wait, that’s rhetorical. Instead, let me distract you by saying his new novel, Twelve Days, comes out tomorrow.

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Eating Authors: Dave Creek

No Comments » Written on June 19th, 2017 by
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Dave Creek

Whenever I’m scheduled to attend a convention, I like to review the list of other program participants to see who’ll be there. Who I know and who I’ve never met before. And who I might check out as a possible invitee to EATING AUTHORS. I tell you this because it’s how I came to meet this week’s guest, Dave Creek.

You may already know him from his short fiction (he’s sold more than twenty stories appear in Analog alone), or from his novel-length fiction (including the epic The Great Human War series — of which Book 3, The Unmoving Stars, came out just over a month ago).

Dave’s bio includes details like being retired from a career as a television news producer, and living in Louisville with his a wife and son. But to me, he’ll always be the guy who showed up at the Nebula Conference and handed a few copies of his work to a relative stranger for a prison library project that I was running. That probably tells you all you need to know right there.

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Eating Authors: Bradley W. Schenck

No Comments » Written on June 12th, 2017 by
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Bradley W. Schenck

I first heard about about this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Bradley W. Schenck, when my editor was waxing delirious at having acquired the novel Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom. The title alone hooked me, as did the editor’s quick description of what it was all about. He taunted me though, that what tied it all together was the illustrations.

Months would pass, but eventually my (and now Bradley’s) editor reached out to me with an ARC of the book, asking if I had time and inclination to perhaps provide a blurb — full disclosure, I blurbed it. And that’s when I saw the drawings and was completely blown away.

Although tomorrow marks his debut as a novelist, his illustrations have been around for decades. Much of his earlier work was done under the name Morno, and I’m tickled to discover he did the cover art for some issues of the D&D apa Alarums & Excursions back in the 70’s that contained my own contributions.

The evolution of his work has ranged from Celtic knots and warriors to the gleaming future of mad scientists and killer robots. I can’t encourage you enough to pick up his new book; you’ll be utterly charmed.

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Eating Authors: Sara M. Harvey

No Comments » Written on June 5th, 2017 by
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Sara Harvey

My wife is traveling this week, having left me and the dog far behind to frolic with an old friend in the wilds of Montréal, Canada. In past times, she would buy her readmittance to our home with gifts of that city’s famed “smoked meat,” but alas, as both of us have forsworn land-based proteins, that won’t be happening.

I’ve been using some of this time alone to double down on some projects. The new Amazing Conroy novella has been completed and shipped off to my editor. I hope to read from it in September when I attend the Baltimore Book Festival (I’ll be there on the 23rd).

I’m also trying to get a bit ahead on write ups and invitations to the EATING AUTHORS blog. I’m doing quite a bit of travel this summer, and past experience has shown that if I don’t get a jump on this now, I’ll end up with gaps and no time to fill them right about the time I’m heading to out of the country.

Which is about as good a segue as I’m going to manage for this week’s guest, Sara M. Harvey. I actually don’t know much more about Sara than you might find on her wikipedia page, details like her expertise as an award-winning costume designer and a peripatetic life that has taken up and down the west coast, to the east coast, and finally down south to Nashville (which probably goes a long way to explaining the setting for her novel Music City, a blend of Irish myth, southern charm, and the music industry).

But two things made me want to have her here. First, she’s an alumna of UC Santa Cruz, a magical place that still haunts my dreams. And second, the pitch she used for her novel The Convent of the Pure, which was “Half-angel, lesbian demon-hunters in a steampunk universe.” Seriously, don’t you want to rush right out and buy that book?

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Eating Authors: J. Mulrooney (Campbell Award nominee)

1 Comment » Written on May 29th, 2017 by
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J. Mulrooney

I’ve spent the past week recovering from the glorious time that I had at this year’s Nebula Conference. I saw a lot of friends, made some new ones, ate the best branzino of my life, had a couple meals with my editor, made sausage with the SFWA Board, successfully resisted the siren song of all the foods in the hospitality suite that were not part of my current dietary regimen, and even got to talk with an astronaut (my third).

Then, in the middle of my recovery I was contacted by this week’s EATING AUTHOR guest. J. Mulrooney had heard through the grapevine that I’d been trying to reach him and while I couldn’t locate him he managed to find me. And so here we are. Still no sign of Laurie Penny, but we’ve seen meals from rest of this year’s cohort of nominees Ada Palmer, Sarah Gailey, Malka Older, and Kelly Robson, and I hope you’ve been inspired to look at their work.

Alas, I’ve never met J. Mulroney and what little I know is just a disjointed collection of particulars: he was born in Canada, is an alunmus of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s been a business consultant in the world of the Fortune 1000, worked for many years as a professional musician, and he insists he once found five dollars on the street. Not a lot to go on, biographically speaking, but his writing strikes me as deliciously quirky, and we’re making tentative plans to meet up in San Jose at next year’s WorldCon. But who knows, a lot might happen between now and then.

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Eating Authors: Jeffe Kennedy

1 Comment » Written on May 22nd, 2017 by
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Jeffe Kennedy

If you’re reading this on time then you know who won which Nebula Awards over the weekend, something I don’t know yet because I wrote this up prior to the conference and awards banquet. All I know with any certainty is it’s wasn’t me (I had no dogs in this race, thus ending my four year streak of nominations — hey, maybe next year).

What I can tell you, by way of a nice EATING AUTHORS segue, is that this week’s guest Jeffe Kennedy has been elected to the SFWA Board as one of our new Directors-at-Large. She takes office on July 1st, and I’m looking forward to having her join the Board as she continues her history of service.

But let’s talk a bit about her accomplishments as an author. She has dozens of published novels, including her award-winning Fantasy romance series Twelve Kingdoms. Last year she started two new series.Sorcerous Moons has already spawned four volumes in just six months. And her Uncharted Realms series has released a more modest two books in seven months, with a third due out this summer. It’s an impressive — and intimidating — pace, but one that her fans surely appreciate.

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