Eating Authors: K. Gorman

No Comments » Written on June 29th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
K. Gorman

Lately I’ve been waking up at dawn, yawning, and asking myself why the hell I’m waking up so early. It’s not like I’m punching a clock or have early morning meetings or anyone else depending on me for much of anything. But then I remember that I want to get my steps in, that walking daily is critical to rebuilding the strength and stamina that I lost along with my old immune system, and (the critical factor) the outside temperature is only going to increase the more I dawdle.

I usually walk in a nearby park on a nice path that wends its way around numerous soccer fields and through a small wooded area. The soccer fields are empty, their use prohibited due to Covid-19, but there are usually a handful of other people walking, jogging, or riding bicycles on the path. I’d been doing my walks after lunch, but as summer arrived and they turned into two miles in 90° temperatures, I switched over to early mornings for the much cooler temps. Don’t misunderstand, I’m still drenched with sweat by the time I get home, but the walk itself is much more pleasant and I think that carries through in some way to the words I’m dictating into my phone over the course of two miles.

This week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, K. Gorman, hails from Victoria, British Columbia, which looks like it would be a glorious place to walk around. I’ve had the pleasure to walk quite a bit in Vancouver, B.C. when I was a GoH at a convention there a few years ago, and as that’s only about sixty miles away from Victoria, I’m going to count that as a segue for this week.

Kelly is an indie author writing everything from sword and sorcery to urban fantasy to space opera. She colors that entire range with her interest in the histories and culture of China, Taiwan, and Japan. It makes for a tasty mix.

Her latest book, Black Dawn, is the first volume of a five book series, The Eurynome Code Book, recently relaunched by Aethon Books just last week. Check it out today, because you’ll be able to get books two through five in the series as they come out in three week intervals over the next few months.

LMS: Welcome, Kelly. Let’s get right to it. What’s your most memorable meal?

KG: I’ve had the fortune to have multiple meals that can compete for that title. In recent memory, however, that title may have to go to the barbecue I had with my coworkers near the beginning of my teaching contract.

Black Dawn

I’d moved to Taiwan in mid-2015. With only a barely-conversational skill in Mandarin, my partner and I had, at that point, only wandered out and memorized the routes to a few key places—the laundromat that was a 45min walk away (we had yet to find the one that was only a 15min walk), the local ex-pat restaurant with decent breakfast dishes and burgers, the other local ex-pat restaurant without decent breakfast dishes and burgers and whose owner came off to me as being a sleazeball, one of the local night markets, and the grocery store. All other points were navigated by using Google maps, which can get temperamental.

About two months into my teaching contract, once the mess of hiring and class scheduling was mostly settled, my workplace sprang for a Korean barbecue meal for the employees.

It was a complete blast.

Picture this: You show up at 10am on a Sunday and the place is so busy they have a line-up out the door and you have to make reservations.

First Blood

Each table (meant for groups) had two small barbecues with funnel-like smoke hoods above them. You’re given a paper menu where you tick off everything you want to eat, hand it back to the waiter or waitress. They bring it out raw for you to cook it, with sauces and spices, and give you a clean menu for your next round of ordering.

About ten feet from the table is an all-you-can-drink fridge stocked with glass bottles of Coca Cola and a few other drinks. Across the room are three freezers of all-you-can-eat ice cream. Second dessert ended with us holding sticks with cute marshmallows on the ends over the barbecue.

You pay per person and for the time you stay (basically: order lots of food quick, don’t slack on the eating, and be shameless about your ice cream).

I can’t remember all of what we ordered. All I know if that there was a lot of it, it was all absolutely delicious, the company was a blast, and we all waddled out of there having packed enough food in our stomachs for the rest of the week.

Thanks, Kelly. This sounds like an incredible experience, though I’d probably have to return multiple times to learn the right technique and balance of sauces and spices to ensure my barbecue was edible. At least I couldn’t screw up the ice cream.

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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Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.


Eating Authors: Naomi Kritzer

1 Comment » Written on June 22nd, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Naomi Kritzer

Here in the northern hemisphere the longest day of the year has come and gone and it is now officially summer. In my home, the A/C has already been running for more than a week and I fear the next couple of months are going to be especially hot. Add in the chaos of a worldwide pandemic, political protests throughout the US, and people just generally being nasty to one another, and I fear the evening new is going to bring more distressing tales of the world being on fire in ever new ways.

One method for coping, at least some of the time, is to lose yourself in fonder memories. For me, that’s lately meant reflecting on my trip to China last year, which coincidentally enough was the last time I saw this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Naomi Kritzer. We were both in Beijing as guests of APSFcon, and afterwards also climbed the Great Wall together, toured the grounds of the Summer Palace, and shared a dinner of Peking Duck.

Naomi has won the Hugo and Locus awards, the Edgar award, and the Minnesota Book award. She’s twice been a finalist for the Nebula, and as of this writing is short listed on several other prizes to resolved soon. Further evidence that it’s going to be an interesting summer.

She lives in Minnesota where in addition to writing fiction and racking up award nominations she also writes about politics and elections in the twin cities, providing detailed looks at candidates that might otherwise receive little coverage or scrutiny. A lot of eyes have been on Minneapolis of late, and her perspective on the recent events makes for insightful reading on her blog.

LMS: Welcome, Naomi. We had some incredible food last year in China, but I’m guessing you’ve got something else in mind as your most memorable meal. What was it?

NK: I’m married to someone who likes single-malt scotch. My take on scotch is that it tastes almost exactly like gasoline smells, and the very expensive kind only tastes like more expensive gasoline, and if it’s as amazing as my scotch-drinking friends say it is, they should definitely not waste any of it on me. But Ed likes it, and several of our friends like it, and back in 1996 or 1997 (I was a year or two out of college at the time), my friend Dave found out that Sherlock’s Home, a brew pub/restaurant in a Minneapolis suburb, had the largest collection of single-malt scotches in the state. He organized a group outing for dinner there, with the goal of sampling as many scotches as they could. There was a hotel right next door, so four of these friends actually booked hotel rooms so they wouldn’t have to drive home. I didn’t want any scotch, but dinner sounded fun, and I told Ed I’d be his designated driver.

When Ed and I ate out, at that point, we tended to choose diners or the very inexpensive Chinese-Vietnamese restaurants near the U of M campus. We also usually economized by ordering water rather than soda (or beer/wine) unless it was a special occasion. We’d both been taught by our parents to order from the middle of the menu when someone was treating us, and we gravitated toward those items even when we were paying our own way.

Catfishing on CatNet

The outing to Sherlock’s Home included me and Ed; Dave and Rebecca; Kent and C.; and I think probably another pair of friends, but I can’t remember who. I remember Dave having an enormous bushy beard at the time, and I’m pretty sure he arrived at the restaurant in overalls. Kent was Dave’s best friend, a huge fan of scotch, and a “maximizer.” Maximizers are people who are constantly on the lookout for what they consider best. Years later, I teased Kent about being an everything snob: some people were wine snobs or beer snobs or cheese snobs, but Kent could authoritatively tell you who had the best version of literally anything. When he demurred, I baited him by asking who had the best state fair. Another friend said, “Pfft, he’ll just say Minnesota, but that’s not snobbery, that’s just regional chauvinism,” and Kent turned around and said, “Actually, Texas has the best state fair,” thus proving my point. Anyway, if you’re doing something like attempting to sample a hundred different scotches in one night, an opinionated everything-snob who’s also excellent company is a great person to bring along. (Thinking back, he probably originally hatched the idea, but he had no organizational skills so that part was on Dave.)

We had a table reservation; when they seated us, Dave cheerfully warned the waiter that we were going to be there for many, many hours. The waiter got a very worried look until Dave went on to explain that this was because as a group we were going to try to sample every scotch they had, and if they wanted us to relocate to the bar when we were done with our meal, they should just let us know. (At some point later in the evening Dave reiterated the offer to move and the waiter said “oh, no, the bar’s super crowded, you should definitely stay here and I’ll bring you whatever you like.” When the check came, Dave and Kent drunkenly calculated a 25% tip, rounded up, and added a couple of additional twenties just to be on the safe side, so I don’t think the waiter was disappointed.)

Fires of the Faithful

The scotch-drinkers got their first round even before we’d ordered food: they each selected a scotch off the list, and then passed their glasses around so that everyone could have a small sip of every scotch. There was a lot of discussion of flavors. Ed took notes on the ones he particularly liked.

Meanwhile, I looked at the menu, and since the scotch drinkers were all going to be indulging themselves with expensive liquor I figured that I could definitely justify ordering the most expensive item on the menu, which was a special: ostrich medallions in cherry sauce. It cost $25. At that point in my life I’d never bought a $25 entrée. I don’t think I’d ever had a $25 entrée that someone else was paying for. I’d never had ostrich. I had no idea what an ostrich would taste like. And I wasn’t sure it would go well with cherry sauce. But why not. I went for it. (I just checked a constant-dollar calculator: it would be a $42 entrée today.)

More scotch got passed around while we waited for the food. I sipped my beer and teased the scotch drinkers about some of the adjectives they were using, which didn’t actually make the scotch sound like anything a sensible person would want to ingest.

The food arrived, and I took a bite of the ostrich in cherry sauce.

The ostrich itself tasted a bit like steak, only far more delicate and tender than steak ever is. The cherry sauce was sweet and rich and the flavors together created something brand new to me. I had never tasted anything like this; I had no idea that food could taste like this.

Freedom's Gate

I elbowed Ed. “You need to try this,” I said. He put down his own fork and tried a bite of my ostrich. His eyes went wide. “That is exquisite,” he said, clearly regretting his own choice in entrée. I didn’t offer to share any more but ate the rest slowly, feeling a new wash of wonder with each bite.

This, I realized, this was why people went to fancy restaurants.

I’d eaten plenty of perfectly serviceable meals at restaurants by then. I’d eaten plenty of very good meals, even. But I’d never had a meal before that point that made me re-evaluate what I wanted in a restaurant meal. It changed the way I thought about food.

The scotch drinkers did not, in fact, get through every scotch but they plowed through an entirely respectable number.

Ed and I went back to Sherlock’s that summer, for our anniversary, and when I made the reservation I asked if there was any chance they’d make ostrich with cherry sauce again and they did. (It was not in the standard “specials” rotation.) Sherlock’s closed in 2002, but it’s one of those restaurants that people in the area still talk about. Mostly people miss their beer (British style, brewed in-house) and the overall convivial atmosphere.

We are still friends with Dave and Rebecca; C. has moved away. Kent, tragically, died in 2014 of early-onset dementia; he was only 49 when he died. After his death, his friends posted tributes to him — several mentioned his fondness for food, scotch, good friends, and enthusiastically telling you that something was the best (whatever it was) in the world.

Thanks, Naomi. There are a lot of scotch aficionados at SF conventions and I often receive invitations to their private tasting parties. But like you, I think the stuff tastes like gasoline and I always demure so someone who can appreciate the vile stuff will get my share. But now I’m wondering if your late friend Kent had an opinion on the best scotch, or at least the best scotch from that night.

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.


Eating Authors: Sharif Khan

No Comments » Written on June 15th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Sharif Khan

I’ve surely mentioned this before. My unconscious likes to sabotage me with creativity. I could be under a deadline, or just trying to make headway on a given project. I have things that I really need to get done. That’s when I’m most prone to shoot myself in the proverbial foot because suddenly I get an idea for a new project, or the solution to a different project. And it’s oh so shiny and cloyingly sweet. It has so many colors and textures and blinky lights and clickable buttons of different sizes. That’s the kind of a week I’ve had. And it’s hard to be annoyed, because really, the new thing is so great.

But it doesn’t help with progress on the current (and much more pressing) thing.

This phenomenon isn’t all that different from the paralysis that keeps some writers from ever finishing a manuscript, or keeps them forever rewriting. As I tend to tell hypnosis clients, the main job of the unconscious mind is to keep us safe, and at some level something about finishing a project looks like it could expose us to danger or risk or some threat, so let’s make sure we never finish, right? Knowing this, it’s usually a simple matter for me to do a little self-hypnosis and assure my unconscious mind that there’s really no problem. Once I do, the cool new idea can be set aside and I can get back to work on the thing I should be doing. The trick of course is to realize what’s going on while I’m in the middle of it, and that can take several days.

None of which has much to do with this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, other than to offer up the most tenuous of segues because, as Sharif Khan has demonstrated in his nonfiction book Psychology of the Hero Soul, he has an interest in the workings of the mind. Given the current pandemic and the focus on first responders, my guess would be that the book has been selling well.

Meanwhile, he recently released his first novel. Brave Fortune, came out about six weeks ago, a curious blend of epic fantasy and dystopian science fiction. It’s an ambitious debut, by turns metaphorical, philosophical, and literary. Check it out.

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

SK: I went with a friend to this exotic place, The Sultan’s Tent & Café Moroc, a Moroccan restaurant that serves French-Moroccan cuisine in downtown Toronto in my neighbourhood of the St. Lawrence Market across from Berczy Park with its dog-themed water fountain.

Brave Fortune

We were seated in a luxurious, lantern-lit tented enclave with potted palms, plush divans and pillows, and old paintings from Morocco. The place is reminiscent of 1930s Casablanca and would probably be a good spot for a remake of the movie with Bogie. Actually… no, don’t mess with Casablanca!

I had their Lamb Freekha — lamb shank, ancient grains, root vegetables, and toasted cashews. It was to die for. The meat was soft and tender and slid off the bone. I finished off the meal with some baklava and Moroccan Mint Tea, which the server poured from a great height, which enhances the flavour and is seen as a sign of respect.

The highlight of the night was being treated to an authentic belly dance performance. All in all, a sensuous culinary and artistic feast.

That’s what I love about Toronto, which was named the most diverse city in the world by BBC Radio. You literally have a taste of all countries at your fingertips. Having lived in Canada, US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, a lot of my fictional work tends to take a broader world view.”

Thanks, Sharif. I’m a fan of the full Moroccan restaurant experience, and it’s been far too many years since I’ve availed myself of it. I can sit on cushy pillows at home, but belly dancing may have to wait until dining-in options reopen and the world becomes a bit safer.

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.

photo credit: Marco Lappano


Eating Authors: John P. Murphy

No Comments » Written on June 8th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
John P. Murphy

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.

Red Noise

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.

The Liar

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.


Eating Authors: Eric Warren

No Comments » Written on June 1st, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Eric Warren

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.

Caspian's Fortune

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.


Eating Authors: Dave Walsh

No Comments » Written on May 25th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Dave Walsh

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.

Shattered Lineage

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.

Cydonia Rising

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.

Terminus Cycle

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.

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Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.


Eating Authors: Gerald Brandt

No Comments » Written on May 18th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Gerald Brandt

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.

The Courier

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.

The Operative

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.

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Click this link and sign up for a weekly email to bring you here as soon as they post.


Planning for November

No Comments » Written on May 13th, 2020 by
Categories: Freebies
Tags: , , , , ,
20 Books Vegas

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.

Flash Drive

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.

Flash Drives

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.