Eating Authors: Wendy Van Camp

1 Comment » Written on July 26th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
Wendy Van Camp

The last few days are a bit of a blur that included the three-day 28th annual conference of the Klingon Language Institute — or as we like to call it, the qep’a’ cha’maH chorghDIch. Unfortunately for me, a freak storm (though some insist a tornado was involved) hit my area late the day before the conference, toppling trees and pulling down power lines. It knocked out the power here for 46 hours and there was also the small matter of an electrical cable that hung five feet off the ground spanning the entrance to my driveway so for most of that time in addition to being without electricity, we couldn’t leave. I got by, carefully husbanding various battery packs and overtaxing the hotspots produced by my phone, managing to put in some limited time at the conference. Eventually the power came back, we dealt with the horror of what had gone on in the freezer, and I returned to the conference. It was, as it always is, glorious! We had over 100 people attending, connecting from all around the globe. Hard to believe that I started all of this 30 years ago on a lark.

But I overdid it at the conference Thursday through Saturday, and paid for that indulgence on Sunday. I was tired all day, to the point where it’s about 10pm as I write this for you to be reading at 7:30 tomorrow morning. So, sorry, but no segue to cleverly introduce Wendy Van Camp, who is this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest.

Typically, the people who share their meals here are novelists, but after 72 hours of speaking Klingon, I’m okay bending the rules a bit. Wendy doesn’t just write science fiction, but also regency romance and, more significantly, poetry. She’s also incredibly organized, as I learned when we did a panel together on “Juggling Multiple Projects” for SFFcon last month. And she’s old-school, making use of day-timers and filofaxes and notebooks, generating calendars and scheduling entire years in advance, freeing up time for working on her own projects.

Wendy is also the creator behind No Wasted Ink, a blog on the craft of writing that features author interviews, sci-fi and fantasy book reviews and poetry, and her a scifaiku poetry collection, The Planets was a finalist for the Elgin Award.

In addition, a little tidbit that I doubt she realizes, Wendy and I both attended James Gunn‘s Speculative Fiction Workshop (albeit during different years).

LMS: Welcome, Wendy. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

WVC: When Covid-19 arrived in March 2020, I remember feeling completely terrified of leaving my home and fearful because we had no food reserves in the house. The pandemic caught me unprepared.

The mail delivery system became my friend. To bypass the empty store shelves in my neighborhood, I learned to find small independent mail order groceries that still had supplies. Basics such as pasta, rice, flour, and canned goods slowly returned to my larder. We relearned how to bake bread and cooked everything from scratch. The cooking helped keep my mind off the troubles in the world.

The Planets

In October, our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary arrived. In the “before time,” as we now call the time before the pandemic, we would have treated ourselves to dinner out and perhaps catch a play. This anniversary, our entire state was in lockdown. No movie theaters were open. All our favorite restaurants did not allow a sit down meal. Delivery services were lackluster, even when they could find us. The best we could hope for was fast-food with a drive-thru window.

The afternoon of our anniversary, we settled into our car and drove toward the beach. The weather was warm. The wind through the car windows tasted of salt and seaweed. We played our favorite music on the radio and cruised through areas we used to visit when we were dating. We remained in our car to be safe.

Around four thirty, it was time to pick up our anniversary meal. One of our favorite restaurants was Ruth’s Chris. We love their steaks and have gone before for special occasions. The restaurant had no in-person dining along with a limited menu, but their take-out counter was still operating. I dropped my husband off and circled the lot because of no available parking spots near the restaurant. The restaurants in the complex had converted much of the parking lot to outdoor dining. The weather was hot, but a few brave souls were under the tents. Our restaurant had four little tables in front of it, all uncovered and in the hot sun. I was glad we had not considered that option.

The Curate's Brother

My husband remained inside for a quarter hour. Once he stepped out, I popped the trunk. In the back of our car, we had a pair of coolers. One for hot food and one for cold food. We packed the coolers according to temperature needs.

When we got home, I pulled out my china to set our table and opened a bottle of wine. We opened the coolers to see how the food fared during the forty-minute drive home. The steaks were still warm and perfectly done inside. Our baked potatoes were massive and flaky-dry as they should be. All the bread and sides were as good as they would have been inside the restaurant. The only thing that didn’t make the journey was the butter. It had turned into ghee. Opps. It had been in the wrong cooler.

We enjoyed every bite of that meal. It was a moment of semi-normality during a long period of stress that would continue to stretch out through 2021. I feel grateful for our home and for the years that I have spent with my husband. It was truly a memorable anniversary dinner.

Thanks, Wendy. The past months are a blur for many of us — and often that’s just as well — but it’s wonderful to read of someone who managed to carve out a lovely memory in there as well.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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

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Eating Authors: Lisa Silverthorne

1 Comment » Written on July 19th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
Lisa Silverthorne

The qep’a’ cha’maH chorghDIch begins later this week. For those that don’t speak the language, that’s the twenty-eighth annual conference of the Klingon Language Institute. It’s a lot like a family reunion (and indeed we’ve been doing this long enough that we have college-age second generation speakers who attend) but without the potato salad. Also, people tend to spit a bit more. We’ll be running virtual again this year, and last time I checked we had over eighty people signed up. The internet is a glorious thing.

And speaking of the internet bring people together, you may recall I was recently part of an online book bundle. Surely that’s segue enough to introduce you to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Lisa Silverthorne, who was also a part of that limited offer.

Lisa has been publishing fiction for more than twenty years. This includes a dozen novels, two collections, and more than one hundred shorter works. She describes her writing as “heartfelt magical suspense.” This sometimes takes the form of paranormal angel romances (such as her A Game of Lost Souls series) and sometimes looks like genetic engineering or military science fiction. Somewhere in the middle she also writes paranormal time-travel ghost romances too.

She lives in Las Vegas, NV.

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

LS: My most memorable meal took place in my parent’s restaurant. World travelers, my parents had gathered favorite recipes from their travels and offered their own versions at the restaurant. It was the type of small college town, upscale restaurant that hosted many high school prom dinners and was packed on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and college football weekends. All the tables had lit candles, tablecloths, and cloth napkins. And the wait staff wore tuxedo shirts, black pants or skirts, and black bowties.

And this occasion wasn’t even a holiday. It was Dad testing out items from his newest menu, but it was a family dinner — one of the few I’d had since high school.


Tucked in a cozy booth lit with a crystal chandelier and a flickering candle, my mom, brother, and I sat with my dad. But he never sat long, always up dealing with restaurant issues.

The meal began with a crisp, lemony glass of Chilean chardonnay and buttery stuffed mushroom caps that burgeoned with crabmeat and parmesan cheese. The mushroom caps melted in my mouth and didn’t last long.

A hearts of palm salad followed with thin-sliced tomatoes, capers, red Bermuda onion slices, white asparagus spears, artichoke hearts, and hearts of palm drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It looked like artwork, every layer arranged in a circle and drizzled with dressing. Back then, every bite had been an evocative new flavor, the tangy capers, artichokes, and vinaigrette mixing with the mellow hearts of palm and asparagus. I’d never heard of hearts of palm back then, so I’d been intrigued with the whole notion of this salad and its combination of flavors.

The Cinderella Hour

After the amazing salad disappeared, I experienced my first taste of Bearnaise sauce in a dish my dad called Salmon Oscar. The flaky cut of salmon nestled on top of a layer of white asparagus and grated potatoes topped with crabmeat and Bearnaise sauce. The tarragon mixed with the rich sauce, the tender salmon asparagus, the potatoes almost grounding the dish with a hint of shallots and garlic. Accompanied by my first glass of merlot, rich and hearty like a warm autumn beach bonfire.

Long after the entrees and the wine disappeared, the final course was a white chocolate mousse cake with fresh strawberry sauce and cups of hot coffee. I was already beyond full, but my mom and I split the cake with its white chocolate mousse icing decorated with shaved white chocolate. The fresh strawberry sauce was the perfect complement to the fluffy mouse and white cake.

This meal remains one of my favorite meals. My parents are both gone now and so is the restaurant. It was a place where I grew up, a place I worked for well over a decade, and a place I learned to appreciate food and family. Lessons I will forever carry with me as I cook and share these recipes with others.

Thanks, Lisa. A surprising number of authors in this series have grown up in restaurants. There’s potential for a themed anthology there, or at least a heck of a fine dinner party with hours swapping entertaining stories (as well as a drinking game anytime a tale mentions a Hobart).

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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

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Eating Authors: Eric Klein

No Comments » Written on July 12th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs

As happens every month, this particular Monday has me heading back to the hospital for my routine oncology check-up. What’s a little different this time though is I’m four weeks out from my third COVID-19 vaccination, a jab of the ol’ J&J brew to supplement the two ineffective (i.e., non-reactive) Pfizer vaccines from January and February. I’ll be getting tested for the presence of antibodies and maybe, just maybe, I will get to come out of lockdown mode. Here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, regular readers here will know that I was recently part of a book bundle organized by the IASFA. It was a good project, and it created the opportunity for me to become acquainted with more of the group’s members. That’s the segue today because one of my co-bundlists was Eric Klein, and it only made sense to invite him to be this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest.

He has a keen focus on how science and technology affect us, as can be demonstrated in his nonfiction activities in the world of Telecom and Cyber Security. Somewhere in there he found time to write fiction, a hard SF novel that includes a tour of the solar system.

Eric describes himself as an avid science fiction and fantasy reader, a huge Star Trek fan, and a Shakespeare aficionado. Clearly it’s only a matter of time before he applies himself to Klingon so he can read the Bard in the original language.

LMS: Welcome, Eric. What stands out in your memory as your best meal ever?

EC: Now that is a hard question, I have had many meals with great food and company. But the one that stands out is when I was knighted into the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, founded in Paris in 1248. It was created when Louis IX, the French King later canonized as Saint Louis, ordered the establishment of several professional guilds including that of the “Ayeurs” or goose roasters. They were a well-established guild until 1793 when the guild system was dissolved during the French Revolution. In 1950 the organization was revived as the association founding the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

The One

Now before I describe the meal, I would like to mention the location. Here we were, several hundred people in the ruin of an ancient Khan that was built in the 18th century during the Ottoman period. I was there with friends and family that came to see my knighting. The meal was based around venison, and each course used different parts of the red deer. Starting with the liver pâté through the filet mignon tips.

Truth be told, it was not the best meal of my life in terms of food, but the ambiance and ceremony more than made up for that. There we were, in this converted old ruin, with the light coming from candles in niches in the walls and on the tables and everyone dressed for a formal event. Then they got to the formal part of the event. There were three of us being knighted that night. And the official officiating had flown in from the main branch in Paris. But, he did not have a sword. In fact, the organization did not own a sword, so usually they would use something else for the knighting. As it happens, I do own one and had been asked to bring it. So there I was being knighted using my own sword in front of friends and family before they served the dessert.

Thanks, Eric. I’m a little surprised to learn that you had to bring your own sword. Then again, any meal that involves swords — whomever they belong to — is already off to a great start.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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

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Eating Authors: Michael J Adams

No Comments » Written on July 5th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
Michael J Adams

I spent a portion of the past weekend rooting through piles of papers and boxes, much of which had been shoved into this corner or onto that shelf, items that came to me a few years ago in the months following my mother’s passing. Dusty report folders with memories of things I’d all but forgotten. I’m sure many of you reading this have been in similar situations and cringed upon opening scrapbooks of ancient photos, images perhaps best summed up by the question “What was I thinking?”

My particular flavor of neuro-atypicality hasn’t left me with much in the way of memories from my youth, but I can appreciate it when I hear about it from others, which was the case with this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Michael J Adams as he related his most memorable meal.

Michael writes about private eyes and tooth fairies, which wouldn’t be that unusual for a genre author, except when those job descriptions apply to the same person. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to risk any spoilers. Michael lives in a suburb of Chicago with his wife and children, living a double life by working in IT by day, and writing fiction by night. I have no idea what he’s told his kids about the tooth fairy.

LMS: Welcome, Michael. As you look back over your life, what meal sticks out?

MJA: I have a notorious sweet tooth (something the main character of my debut series shares—which is humorous because she’s a tooth fairy). However, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a foodie and I wouldn’t say there are any specific meals that stick out to me.

A Tooth Fairy's Promise

What does stand out are experiences with individuals I’ve shared meals with. I was lucky enough to share a unique relationship with my late grandfather. I say that because he owned his own private plane (a 4-seat, single-prop Cherokee Piper). Every couple of months we’d fly out of the DuPage airport in the Chicago Suburbs, land across the border of Wisconsin, and then he’d buy lunch.

Sometimes it was just the two of us, and sometimes it was one of his other “flying buddies”. And the meals were never anything fancy — usually a simple Greek Family restaurant. But I’d get to sit and listen to them sweet talk the waitresses, share stories about landing in pot fields in Columbia, and pick up new vulgarities.

As with all teens, at some point hanging out with my grandfather wasn’t the “cool” thing to do. We flew less and less and before I knew it, we’d had our last flight. I wish I could say our last meal consisted of a grilled ham & cheese and fries and a country-fried steak, but I couldn’t tell you.

Cherish those memories.

Like the time he took the family to Hooters. Again, I can’t tell you what I ate, but the scowl on the faces of my grandmother and mother are all too clear in my mind’s eye.

Thanks, Michael. I’ve heard more than one pilot talk about the pleasures of a “$100 hamburger,” but that grilled ham and cheese is priceless.

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: CW Lamb

No Comments » Written on June 28th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
CW Lamb

Just over two weeks ago, I participated in the online convention of SFFCon, and I so enjoyed myself that for the first time in more than a year, I’ve been thinking a lot about attending conventions. For health reasons, at least for now, I’m limiting my focus to events within driving range. Fortunately, the 2021 World Science Fiction Convention (aka DisCon III) is in Washington, D.C. less than three hours away. Their hotel opened to reservations last week and I swooped in and secured a room before they ran out. So that’s where you can find me come December. Before that though, I’ll be heading down that same general direction for Capclave in early October. I like that convention a lot (sharp-eyed readers may have noticed I dedicated my last novel to them!). At this stage, I don’t know if I am willing to do programming, let alone sit in a crowded room to attend anyone else’s panels, but worst case scenario I’ll spend the weekend hanging out in the lobby and visiting with anyone who comes by.

I mention all of this not just to clue you in to my upcoming schedule, but because it was during the aforementioned SFFCon where I met CW Lamb, this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. Charlie took on the challenging task of moderating a panel entitled Creating an Alien Civilization that included myself, Shelina Valmond, Allen Stroud, and SJ Schauer. He did a great job and the experience was a blast, so naturally I asked him to come here and share a meal.

Charlie’s a fun guy and he’s not above slipping a bad pun into his fiction. Life has moved him around from the Southwest to the Pacific Northwest and across the country again to Jacksonville, FL where he now makes his home. Not content to sit indoors at his keyboard (writing is only a part-time gig), he enjoys boating, scuba diving, shooting, motorcycles, and classic cars (but probably not all at once).

LMS: Welcome, CW. So, let’s talk about your most memorable meal.

CWL: I consider myself to be a bit of a Foodie, so just picking one memorable meal is a little like asking a mother of four to pick her favorite child or, more appropriately, for an author to pick their single favorite book.


For pure ambiance and a fantastic food experience, I have to go with my trip to New Orleans in 1992 for the IMSA Grand Prix du Mardi Gras. I was a design engineer for Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers, and we were in an all-out brawl with Jaguar for the Manufactures Championship Title that year. The midpoint of the season was the New Orleans race, and we were one win behind Jaguar at this point.

The racecourse wound through the Superdome’s adjoining city streets, and we made our temporary home on the stadium floor inside the dome itself. Working here allowed us easy access to the famous French Quarter and all of the renowned eateries. We headed out at night, searching for dining adventures, and then to the famous Café Du Monde for coffee and beignets at breakfast.

The Lost Ranger

The night before the big race, we had a busy day practicing and preparing the racecar. Once finished, we made our way toward the river and the many bars, cafes, and restaurants hidden within the Quarter. It was in one of those back-alley bistros where I ordered the best pork chops with red beans and rice I have ever experienced, before or since.

Pork served atop a bed of beans and rice, the seasoning and blended flavors had me enthralled with every bite. Unfortunately, I was soon stuffed to the gills, a clean plate before me, and no room for dessert. My biggest regret is that I never bothered to learn the establishment’s name, to pass on its fame, so it lives in my memory as a mystery location.

We would go on to win that race and seven more races in a row that year to lock down both the Manufactures and Drivers championships.

Thanks, Charlie. Some of the best food exists in New Orleans, and you’re now the fifth person who has misplaced a phenomenal restaurant there (mine vanished under mystical circumstances, replaced the following day a vacant lot).

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: Anthea Sharp

No Comments » Written on June 21st, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
Anthea Sharp

One of the things I’ve missed about conventions is meeting new people. Especially when I’m doing programming, there are usually folks on the panels with me whom I’ve never met. As I mentioned previously, I have not been a big fan of the online version of most conventions, but I recently participated in SFFCon, which has only ever existed as an online event (and the entire programming is available on their YouTube channel). That’s your segue to how I met this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. Anthea Sharp was the moderator of a panel involving me, Martha Carr, and Wendy Van Camp, the four of us talking about the tools we use to juggle multiple projects at the same time.

Anthea is a USA Today bestselling author of YA fantasy, blending fairy tales and computer gaming in her fiction. Not content with that mash-up, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk. Her latest book (out this past May) is White as Frost, the first volume of a new Darkwood Trilogy. This is Snow White and Rose Red in a whole new light.

LMS: Welcome, Anthea. What stands out in your memory as your best meal ever?

AS: The best meal I remember having was at Kirala Japanese restaurant in Berkeley, back in 2001. My husband and I and our 18-month-old daughter were traveling from WA to CA and stopped in the Bay Area to visit relatives. After a long day in the van with a young child who needed a lot of attention, we weren’t sure about going out to eat, but they wanted to treat us to dinner. So, after splashing some water on our faces and packing a bag full of entertainments for the kid, we headed out for sushi.

White As Frost

I don’t recall the ambiance at Kirala, particularly, but from the moment the bacon-wrapped asparagus appetizer came out to the crispy sesame ball dessert, the meal was simply splendiferous. Melt-in-your-mouth tuna and salmon underpinned with just the right hit of wasabi, draped languidly over perfectly seasoned sushi rice. Seaweed salad like a soy-flavored mouthful of ocean, but even that was tender, too, without the annoying stringiness of most wakame. We ordered plate after plate – sizzling gyoza, vegetable tempura light as clouds, sweet and smoky unagi rolls. Even that old staple, teriyaki chicken, was grilled to perfection and complemented by, not drowned in, a piquant sauce. Nothing we hadn’t eaten before (except the bacon-wrapped grilled asparagus, which was crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked inside) but a fine example of taking every element of the food one or two steps further into greatness. Super fresh, super well-prepared, exquisitely flavored.

We talked and ate and had a bit of palate-cleansing sake, and the meal probably took two hours. Through it all, our kid was amazing – hanging out in her high chair, scribbling with crayons, eating shelled edamame and bits of sticky rice with her fingers. I recall a nearby couple stopped at our table just to mention how great our kid had been throughout the lengthy meal. One of those perfect confluences of everything going right, from the fabulous food to the gracious company, to the well-behaved offspring. Memorable indeed.

Thanks, Anthea. I have a profound weakness for sushi, especially the quality of sushi that’s readily available in the Bay Area. It’s why I don’t dare live there. For similar reasons I am not permitted to live in New Orleans. It’s a sort of geographically-enforce moderation.

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: Micaiah Johnson (Astounding Award nominee)

No Comments » Written on June 14th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
Micaiah Johnson

June is continuing to fulfill its promise. Last week I managed a small getaway, the highlight of which was a five hour meeting with a co-author for a shiny new series, and I’m optimistic that we’ll have the first book out before the end of the year. I also hit a major wall of medical bureaucracy (boo!) but quickly found a workaround courtesy of members of the SF community (hooray for the Facebook Overmind). And tomorrow my latest novel, Ace of Thralls, will be available from the ’zon in both ebook and trade paperback formats.

By way of not only continuing the celebration of good things but also segueing into this week’s EATING AUTHORS post, let’s return to boosting the signal for this year’s Astounding Award nominees (Lindsay Ellis, Simon Jimenez, Micaiah Johnson, A.K. Larkwood, Jenn Lyons, and Emily Tesh). Today I get to introduce you to Micaiah Johnson.

Her bio describes Micaiah as a biracial author who was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness community in the Southern California desert. It goes on to point out that she graduated from high school at just thirteen. She has an MFA, and she just finished her comprehensive exams in her PhD program at Vanderbilt where she studies race and robots. This summer she’ll be attending the prestigious School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell.

It’s also worth mentioning that her debut novel The Space Between Worlds was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a finalist for the LOCUS Award, and took home the Compton Crook Award.

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

MJ: My most memorable meal is also my favorite meal is also my least favorite meal, depending on the year. Most of us who are latchkey-kid-adjacent can name at least one large-batch meal, born to be leftovers, that we hated not because it was gross but because we knew it too well. For me, it was my mother’s chili. Cooked in a giant black pan that intelligent people tell me is a soup pot, but I will only ever call a cauldron, the smell of chili in the kitchen meant my sisters and I would be eating it once a day for, at the very least, a week. Every I’m hungry would be met with eat some chili. Every there’s no food would result in there’s the chili. There was always — like crocodiles or horseshoe crabs or some other prehistoric creature that manages to slog forward through time untouched — the chili.

The Space Between Worlds

When I left home it was in the fashion of all Jehovah’s Witness teenagers leaving home — in an explosion and an exile. My last year at home was every cliché about teenage self-discovery conflicting with parental control, like Dirty Dancing but without Patrick Swayze and with far more quoted scripture. I was poor, living in a trailer with mold in the ceiling and the kind of landlords who are so difficult, so unstable, they are forced to keep the rent cheap because only those who have no choice would put up with them. I was isolated. I was hopeless. I was hungry.

One night there was a knock at the door, and I opened it to that familiar giant pot of chili with one hundred dollars tucked into the lid. My parents were not the kind of people for whom one hundred dollars was nothing. In three months, they would be facing another foreclosure, losing their house in the hills of Hesperia and having to move with two grandmothers into an apartment in a-less-than-desirable part of an already less-than-desirable town. But here was a hundred dollars. And a week’s worth of food. In my memory I held the still-warm pot like a buoy and cried, but that may be a trick of a decade’s distance and my dramatic imagination. But it felt like that. It felt like I was holding onto something that was the difference between drowning and not-drowning.

For the next week, every desperate, panicked I’m hungry or I don’t have any food was met by a different, calmer voice from my childhood answering: There’s the chili.

Thanks, Micaiah. I’ve eaten more than my fair share of chili, and while I’ve never lived in a trailer, I vividly recall starting grad school and only being able to afford to eat ramen noodles, three meals a day for several months. Chili tastes better, and it also keeps you warm.

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: Marcus Alexander Hart

No Comments » Written on June 7th, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
Marcus Alexander Hart

Welcome to the first Monday in June. As it happens, yesterday was the 34th National Cancer Survivors Day. Want to know more? Just click that link.

I have to say, June is looking pretty good already. I put a book on sale yesterday; through Sunday Pirates of Marz is 99¢ in the US and £0.99 in the UK. Also, Ace of Thralls — the long awaited third book in my Freelance Courier series — is available for pre-order and will be released on the 15th.

But wait, there’s more! I’ll be meeting with my oncology team today to discuss what (if any) options exist given my resistance to COVID vaccines, and tomorrow I’m going on a road trip (my first in over a year) where I will check into a hotel, dine on out-of-state takeout, and have socially distanced meetings with several author colleagues and friends for two days. As if that wasn’t enough, I’ll return in time to be part of the programming for all three days of SFFCon, an online convention organized last year by my friend (and past EATING AUTHORS guest) A.K. (Amy) DuBoff. So, yeah, and all of that is just this week. There’s so much going on in June that I’ll have to wait until next Monday to tell you more.

But that’s okay, you’re not here to get the scoop on me, you want to read about another author’s most memorable meal. And a good thing too, because this week I invited Marcus Alexander Hart to be the guest for EATING AUTHORS. I first met Marcus a year and a half ago at 20Books Vegas, an Indie Writers’ conference, where he was organizing a meet-and-greet of authors who self-identified as creating humorous SF. Naturally, I wanted to learn more about him.

Once upon a time Marucs was working in computer animation, but he walked away from the video game industry to, in his words, “write the Great American Post-Nuclear-Apocalypse Adventure Comedy Novel.” Alas, things rarely work out as we plan them, and some might say that Marcus wandered in the literary desert trying his hand at some very different kinds of books before returning to his true love, the intersection of space and comedy. The proof of this can be found in his latest novel, Galaxy Cruise, a sci-fi comedy that follows that classic strategy of piling on more and more, like a SF version of a Marx Brothers film. The book will be released in a mere two weeks, but you can pre-order it right now (and you should).

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

MAH: Have you ever heard of a thing called Rental Car Rally? On a random Friday in July, forty or fifty cars full of costumed maniacs gather in Los Angeles for a madcap, all-night, road trip/scavenger hunt/moving violation. When the starting gun sounds at the stroke of midnight, each team is given a list of ten top-secret checkpoints they must visit on the several-hundred-mile journey to the finish line. Whoever hits them all with the most style and the lowest odometer reading wins eternal glory and a gas pump handle poorly spray-painted gold.

Galaxy Cruise

If you can imagine a Cannonball Run with less speed and more poor life choices, you’ve got the basic idea.

My wife Amanda and I once ran the Rental Car Rally in a white Dodge Grand Caravan that we had modified to look like an ice-cream truck, complete with a huge, illuminated strawberry cone on the roof. Among the other teams competing that night were a black SUV full of Secret Service agents, a 1980s stretch limousine kitted out with Ben-Hur-style gladiators, and a fifteen-person van dressed like Noah’s Ark and loaded with college students in provocative animal onesies. Each vehicle hurled insults and eggs at each other as we thundered through the night up the California coastline.

Checkpoint one involved hopping the fence at a community college to molest some ugly cowboy statues. Number two had us trespassing on a defunct Nike-Ajax missile base. Three was an abandoned oil refinery where we stomped through puddles of God-knows-what and probably shortened our lifespans by several years. But the fourth checkpoint challenge took it down a notch—we were to converge on Solvang, California to “acquire and consume aebleskivers.”

If you’re not familiar, Solvang is a Danish village/tourist attraction, complete with a downtown rendered in medieval-style, half-timbered buildings. It has a statue of Hans Christian Andersen, and one of his Little Mermaid. As you drive into town you pass a full-sized windmill. Then another. Then another. It’s adorably quaint. And that morning it became ground zero for a cavalcade of automotive chaos.

Alexis vs. the Afterlife

As the first light of dawn illuminated the horizon, the picturesque curve of Copenhagen Drive was bumper to bumper with filthy rental cars covered in food-fight detritus and the most puerile graffiti this side of a truck-stop bathroom stall frequented by seventh-grade boys. Thanks to our smartphones, every Rally team knew they could “acquire and consume aebleskivers” at the appropriately, if not creatively, named Solvang Restaurant. Unfortunately, we rolled into town about an hour and a half before they opened.

Rowdy weirdos started to gather in the street outside the restaurant, rattling the door handles and peeking in the windows. By an amazing twist of fate, someone happened to be at work early that day. And by an even more amazing twist of fate, instead of calling the cops, he welcomed the invasive rabble inside.

The intimate eatery was quickly packed with grimy costumed maniacs, giddy with that special kind of delirium you get when you’ve been awake for more than thirty hours. Intricately carved, Bavarian-style booths filled with haggard heavy-metal rockers. Hockey-masked serial killers loitered near hutches displaying neat rows of local jellies and jams. 1920s bootleggers smuggled brown jugs of hooch under shelves of Delftware plates. And all of them wanted aebleskivers.

Aebleskivers (alternately ebleskivers, or Æbleskivers if you’re Danish AF), are basically golf-ball-sized, spherical pancakes smothered in raspberry jam and dusted with powered sugar. And when you’re crashing after a long, stressful night of high-stakes rabblerousing, they are the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten.

One Must Kill Another

Despite the “closed” sign still hanging prominently in the window, more Rally teams kept appearing, filling the place to its exposed wooden rafters. Every time another group of dusty luchadores or sexed-up fairy-tale characters walked in, the solitary waitress would slump in defeat with a groaned, “Let me guess. Aebleskivers?”

That early morning respite of sugary dough balls gave the teams a chance to regroup and share stories of the adventures we’d survived through the night. Aebleskivers and black coffee paved the way to new alliances and friendships. For the next six checkpoints, the ever-present sabotage turned less aggressive and more joyous. We drove rental cars on an ATV beach. We ate terrible barbecue in a Korean-War-era airplane. We threw water balloons out of a seven-story treehouse. We escaped monotony. We lived life.

Eighteen sleepless hours after leaving Los Angeles, Amanda and I crossed the finish line at an unsuspecting ski lodge high in the Sierra Nevadas. Our fake ice-cream truck was covered in a hard shell of sun-baked mustard and dog food and cake mix. Our bodies weren’t in much better condition. But when all was said and done, we walked away from the wreckage with eternal glory and a gas pump handle poorly spray-painted gold.

To this day, winning that award remains one of the top achievements of my life. Which really says more about my slate of life achievements than it does about the Rental Car Rally. But whatever. My point is, if you have a chance, try the aebleskivers. They’re terrific.

Thanks, Marcus. Somehow, despite growing up and spending my formative years in the greater Los Angeles area, I have never heard of this rally before, and though I have been to Solvang on several occasions, I’ve never tried aebleskivers. I’ll have to go looking for them here in Pennsylvania.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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