Eating Authors: Barry J. Hutchison

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Barry Hutchison

This is my buffer week. Last week I was trying to take it easy, convalescing following my surgery and bingeing on TV shows that had been piling up on my To Be Watched list. But now I’m in the last few days of what future-Lawrence might look back on with a wistful sigh. Later this week I’ll be meeting with my oncology team and begin chemo. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing, but it’s also a benchmark of sorts, and in this case one with a certain gravitas to it.

Which is all more reason to have Barry J. Hutchison as this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, because he knows how to bring the ridiculously funny. His Space Team series is so over the top that you’ll forgive him for destroying everyone on Earth in the opening pages of the first book. The thirteenth volume, All The President’s Space Men, was originally planned for an October release, but that may be delayed as Barry had a run in with a cow in late August, totaled his car and broke his wrist.

His humorous SF also includes series such as Dan Deadman, Space Detective and The Sidekicks Initiative (for those of you who want funny with superheros and less space). But lest you think he’s all hilarity and nothing else, please note that Barry also writes scottish crime thrillers under the name J. D. Kirk, the latest of which, The Killing Code, was released late last month.

LMS: Welcome, Barry. I’m sorry to hear about your wrist. And the car. And, well, the cow. But let’s not lose focus. What’s been your most memorable meal?

BJH: I suppose there are two answers to this question. Arguably the most memorable meal I’ve ever eaten was the one I had on a flight from the UK to the US when, aged 14, I first discovered my severe allergy to red peppers, and had to receive emergency medical treatment to stop myself choking on my own tongue and/or vomiting myself inside out.

But I prefer not to dwell on that one.

Space Team

Instead, I like to think back to the meal I had while a guest at a book festival on the remote island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland. I was over for a few days to talk to kids around the island about my children’s books, and was staying at a big old manor house with a handful of other authors.

On the first night, we were invited to a big group meal. Like a lot of writers, I’m not a huge fan of large social gatherings full of people I don’t know, and because I was pretty tired, I tried to make my excuses. The host was having none of it, though, insisting I attend. And so, with teeth gritted and a stomach full of butterflies, I wandered down the ancient staircase and into the dining room.

The sight that I was met by stopped me in my tracks. An enormous banquet table was set up in the dining room, overflowing with fresh seafood caught earlier that day just off the island’s coast. Lobster, langoustines, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab – you name it, it was there. There was roast salmon, red mullet, rainbow trout, and several other varieties of fish, all expertly prepared.

The Killing Code

The chairs had been set out casually around the room, and the idea was that you could help yourself to this vast seafood buffet, then go and mingle with the other guests. In reality, most of us spent the evening camped around the table, hungrily stuffing the food into our faces, hardly able to believe our luck.

Dessert arrived at some point, too, and while we all initially resisted out of politeness, we soon descended on it like wolves, scavenging at the home-made pastries, chocolate cake, and other sweet treats.

I remember chatting to a lot of people and having some very interesting conversations, but can’t recall who they were, or what was said. Instead, I remember the smell of that fresh seafood bounty as I stepped into the room, and the feeling of relief that I had given in, and hadn’t insisted on hiding away in my room with a cheese sandwich and a can of Coke.

Thanks, Barry. I hope you’re happy. Your meal is going to haunt me every time I have to settle for a cheese sandwich.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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