Eating Authors: Dave Walsh

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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!

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