Eating Authors: Darcie Little Badger

No Comments » Written on August 24th, 2020 by
Categories: Plugs
Darcie Little Badger

In the middle of last week I had a crash and burn moment. I’d been pushing myself too hard, both physically and mentally, and even though the result has been insane levels of productivity and accomplishment, by late afternoon when the fatigue comes rolling in, I get frustrated as I imagine how much more I could do if my body would just get over the need to keep playing recovery games.

But timing is everything, and I recalled a moment of serendipity from four years ago which helped restore my mental/emotional balance. I’d had a story idea that involved plankton. Yeah, you heard me. But… I knew that I didn’t no much about plankton, and the particular notion I had in mind wasn’t something that I was going to be able to research with my limited biology background. So naturally, I reached out via social media for someone who might know a little bit about the subject. And almost instantly I was in contact with this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Darcie Little Badger, a doctoral candidate in oceanography who was a day or so away from her defense and an expert in, you guessed it, plankton. I have a lot of serendipity in my life, so much so that I don’t question it any more. So I probably shouldn’t be all that surprised that when I had my crash and burn moment, I was already primed with the memory of magical plankton conversations because Darcie’s first novel, Elatsoe, was due out on Tuesday.

As she has hauled me back from the brink (all unknowingly) last week, I now get to tell you a bit more about Dr. Darcie Little Badger, Lipan Apache, oceanographer, and author. That debut novel? It’s both a New England Book Award finalist (young adult category) and a BookExpo 2020 Young Adult Buzz Finalist. Darcie also co-writes Strangelands, a comic series in the Humanoids H1 universe. And if that’s not enough to impress you — and let me be clear, you should have been satisfied with just her plankton bona fides — she’s had her short fiction featured in an episode of the podcast LeVar Burton Reads.

LMS: Welcome, Darcie. It’s wonderful to get back in touch with you. Please tell me about your most memorable meal.

DLB: My most memorable meal (for all the wrong reasons) involves a boat trip with my boss, a heavy Italian breakfast, and seasickness. The story’s an amusing comedy of errors, but I don’t want to ruin anybody’s appetite, so I’ll describe a more pleasant meal instead.

I’m engaged to a veterinarian named T, and during the 12+ years we’ve known each other, T and I have eaten lots of tasty stuff. I’m talking everything from a multi-course Gudetama-themed dinner at a Curry House in California (it was almost too cute to eat) to coffee, warm cookies and sandwiches at the Austin Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. But my most memorable meal has to be a hash brown, egg, and pancake combo from Denny’s. Here’s why:


After earning my PhD, I moved to Connecticut to be close to family. In contrast, T lived on the Californian coast. Because it’s possible to write anywhere — even on a plane — I visited T every couple months, spending half the year (take a bit) on the west coast and half the year (give a bit) on the east coast. (This was pre-pandemic, by the way; I haven’t seen my fiancé since March, and we’ve sadly had to delay our 2020 wedding ’till 2021.)

Here’s the thing. Remember how I mentioned seasickness earlier? Well, I get other types of motion sickness, too. Sometimes on a plane. Because of that, cross-country flights can be miserable experiences. Once, before I found the right medicine, I alternated between fainting and writhing with nausea for five hours.

So, yeah. Plane rides are less than relaxing on a good day. And although I haven’t experienced severe motion sickness in years, it’s always a fear I carry in the back of my mind.

Anyway, the second time I made the big cross-country trip, my flight was delayed an hour. Then — I kid you not — my bag was the absolute last thing to slide onto the baggage carousel. By the time I called T to tell them, “I’ll be waiting outside,” it was well past midnight, and I couldn’t wait to curl up under a warm blanket and sleep.


“On the way,” they said.

Seven minutes later, they pulled into the pickup zone and loaded my exactly-forty-nine-pound bag into their SUV. With a grateful “Thank you,” I slid into the passenger-side seat. That’s when I noticed the Denny’s take-out bag at my feet. “It’s for you,” T said. “There’s extra syrup in the bag. I also got you a Shirley Temple.”

While waiting for my flight to land, T had camped out in a Denny’s near LAX. That’s where they bought me hash browns, scrambled eggs, and pancakes.

As I dug into the hash browns — they were deliciously salty and crispy, cooling but not yet cold — I imagined my fiancé sitting, alone, in a diner booth. Still wearing the scrubs from work. Drinking coffee refills — they’d ask for soy milk or oat milk in each cup; they always do — and checking their phone for updates about my flight. Maybe, when I finally landed at half past midnight, they thought about the one-hour drive ahead of us. Maybe they thought about how little sleep they’d get before another day of surgeries and consultations at the veterinary clinic. I don’t know. But what I do know is this: they thought of me. Thought of how hungry I’d be, of how much I love hash browns (I really, really love hash browns).

That realization is why one Denny’s meal (devoured in a car, with heavy metal screaming from the radio and the skyline of LA twinkling in the rearview mirror) is more memorable than all the others. It’s so often the little things–everyday, gentle gestures of love–that make an impact.

In conclusion: my darling, I can’t wait until our next meal together. <3 To everyone else: thank you for reading. 🙂

Thanks, Darcie. At the end of the day (or the beginning of a new one), nothing says love like fried tubers! Hmm, I wonder if Waffle House does wedding registries?

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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