Eating Authors: Ben Reeder

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Ben Reeder

Back in March, I traveled to Seattle to attend Norwescon (my first time at that convention). I did a reading of Barsk and afterwards stood in the hallway outside the room chatting with one of the folks who had attended, an agent I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for a few years. As we leaned against the wall talking, a man hovered nearby, listening in and waiting for an opportune time to insert himself into the conversation. That man turned out to be this week’s guest, Ben Reeder. And make no mistake, he was a welcome addition to the conversation. The three of us ended up abandoning the hallway and finding a small table where we could sit and continue our chat for the better part of an hour.

Ben’s probably best known for his Demon Apprentice series and Zompoc Survivor series, each currently holding steady at three books but given the demand of his readers I don’t doubt he’ll return to one or both of them in time. More recently though he’s been breaking new ground, trading in the undead for nephillim, so he may need a while before going back. It’s a win for us either way!

I should also note that Ben’s appearance here marks a change in policy for EATING AUTHORS. He’s the first of what I’m sure will be many other Indie authors dropping by to share their meals.

LMS: Welcome, Ben. So here’s the question: what’s your most memorable meal?

BR: Wow, this is a question that takes some serious thought. Best meal I remember. By and large, I’m not a very adventurous eater, mostly because I have this rule about food: Food should not hurt. That’s why it’s food. So, any food much spicier than black pepper is pretty much off the menu for me. Since I grew up in South Texas, my culinary life was something of an adventure that largely involved dodging jalapeños. In order for a meal to be memorable in a good way, it has to be paired with a memorable event. It has to be a moment.

The Demon's Apprentice

So when I think about memorable meals, I think of sitting outside Senor Frog’s in some little resort spot in Mexico, with my feet in the sand, enjoying the best salsa I’d ever eaten, enjoying being on my first and so far only cruise. I think of dinner during VisionCon in 2015 when Page of Swords took the number one spot on Amazon’s paranormal list. I think of the dinner at Red Lobster when my beautiful, patient girlfriend and I discussed me going full time as a writer. But if I had to choose the best, most memorable meal I ever had? Lunch in Montana.

Back in the day, in 1992, my best friend Roanen and I worked at this little company microfilming medical records. We got paid every other Wednesday, which meant a run to the local grocery store to cash our checks, fill my car up with gas, and indulge in McDonald’s for lunch.

On this particular night, we weren’t feeling it for McD’s. So, after we filled up with gas, I got back in the car and asked Roanen “Where do we want to go for lunch?”

Zompoc Survivor: Exodus

“Well, we just cashed our checks,” he said in that tone I knew meant he was up to something.

“And we’ve got a full tank of gas,” I added.

“How does Montana sound?” It sounded ludicrous. Insane. And much like the plot of a B-grade buddy comedy. “Two friends decide to have lunch in Montana. Hijinks ensue.” But, we worked in the little town of Nixa. Our dining options were limited.

But as I pulled out of the gas station and aimed my little Toyota at Hardee’s, I said “If we can actually eat lunch in Montana…”

“We can do anything,” Roanen finished. And that meant so much to us back then. We were two young, bright and ambitious creatives with dreams of making it big with our art and our stories. Every night, we would watch planes flying overhead, always going somewhere else, and we would promise ourselves that one day, we’d be one of those people. We were chasing contrails, as we called it. So, if we could set one goal, and make it happen, maybe…just maybe those other dreams had a chance, too.

Ash Fall: The Apocalypse of Enoch

So, a year or so later, Roanen, my wife, a friend of hers and I were hanging out, and the idea of a road trip came up. Everyone had somewhere they wanted to go, someone they wanted to see. A simple “Let’s get in the car and go this weekend” idea turned into “Let’s take a week of vacation and rent a minivan!” And without saying a thing about it, Roanen and I began working the itinerary so that at some point, we would end up driving through Montana.

After a week and four thousand miles of driving, we ended up in Butte, Montana, sitting in Taco John’s. Over a taco and a burrito, Roanen and I gave each other a little fist bump. I still remember that the taco meat was a little sweet, and the cheese was just a little gooey, with that perfect little bit of sour cream. The burrito was HUGE, and I struggled to finish it, but damn, was it delicious. And though I probably went through gallons of Mountain Dew in my young life (for which I don’t think my pancreas & kidneys will ever forgive me), no drink has ever tasted so delicious as that one. I kept that cup for years, and every time I took it down, I remembered that day.

We had done the ludicrous. We’d had lunch in Montana. We could do anything. No meal tastes so good as one seasoned with success.

Color me confused. Given your time in south Texas, I can’t imagine tacos making your top ten list of things to have for lunch in Montana. Huh.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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