Eating Authors: Harry Connolly

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Harry Connolly

Hiya. I’m typing up these words on Sunday afternoon. Since Wednesday night I’ve been hanging with some two dozen speakers of the Klingon language in a hotel just south of the Philadelphia Airport. There has been little sleep but a great deal of linguistic silliness. It is fair to say I am exhausted. It’s also my birthday. By all rights, I should be taking a nap or eating cake (though probably not both at the same time). Instead, I’m here, typing this up, because you need to know about Harry Connolly, who will be the EATING AUTHOR guest when you read this on Monday. So, let’s get to it.

Harry’s the author of the Twenty Palaces series of first-person mystery/fantasy novels. I have to say, I haven’t been able to find out all that much more about him. He’s a mystery, or maybe a fantasy, or both which would be just a bit too perfect given his books. I’m pretty sure he lives in Seattle, that he once lived in Philadelphia, and that he has a son. But that’s it. Heck, I couldn’t even get a full color photo out of the man!

His latest book is Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths: And Other Tales Of Dark Fantasy, but it won’t hold that special place for long because he’s currently working on a new series, The Great Way, which will debut with book one, The Way Into Chaos, in early September.

LMS: Welcome, Harry. So, what’s this I hear about your most memorable meal?

HC: In the early ’90’s, I took my then-girlfriend now-wife to the Boat Street Cafe, a Seattle restaurant that serves provincial French cuisine. At least, it used to. I’m not sure what they’re up to now. We haven’t been back there in years even though they’re in a new, much closer location.

Child of Fire

Back then they were actually on Boat Street, right beside Lake Union. We went because my wife had heard good things but my first glimpse of the place didn’t exactly fill me with promise: There was no view of the water, the walls had been painted landlord white, and there was a huge air conditioning unit mounted from the ceiling right in the middle of the room. I mean, wow, that unit was big, and we were seated almost beneath it.

The menu was more promising. My wife ordered the pork medallions with blackberry sauce and I ordered the normandy chicken.

Let me digress briefly to say this was before the whole foodie craze took off. The Food Network launched a few months after we started dating but they needed a while to get their footing. My only expertise with food came from watching Saturday afternoon PBS cooking shows while stoned.

Our meals at Boat Street were a revelation. I’d never heard of a sauce made from blackberries or any other kind of fruit. (I still thought tomatoes were a vegetable.) I’d never even considered a sauce with cream, mushrooms, and apple cider. Sweet foods at dinner? Who does that?

King Khan

I was astonished and delighted, but my wife was rapturous.

The thing about my wife is that she’s not the most self-conscious person in the world. If she’s happy or annoyed or bored, she shows it. She doesn’t second-guess her responses, doesn’t dial back her enthusiasm, doesn’t hide her opinions. When she’s passionate on a topic, she sometimes frightens people.

Sitting at that table with her, I already knew that I loved her. It was still early in our relationship, but despite the fact that I try to never show an emotion without thinking about it first and have second-guessed every decision I’ve ever made, I knew she was the one.

I also knew she didn’t feel the same way about me.

She was right across the table from me, and I could see how she responded to something she really liked by the way she was enjoying those medallions. I knew she’d never shown the same enthusiasm for me. When someone is as open and immediate as she is, there’s not a lot of room to delude yourself about how they feel. Worse, I knew she was right to be cautious with me, because I had (and have) a lot of shit to deal with.

Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths

And so I was enjoying a delicious meal with an amazing woman, and I was ashamed. I’d fallen for her too quickly. She liked me, but not as much as I liked her. It made me feel like a beggar, grateful for whatever time and attention she was willing to spare. I didn’t want to be in that position (again). It never ends well.

But the counter-balance to all that (secret, internal) drama was the pure pleasure she took in that meal.

Things turned out well in the long run. We’ve been together for over 20 years and have a kid. The Boat Street has never put normandy chicken on the menu again, as far as I could tell, but that doesn’t really matter. I still have my memory of that meal, the unabashed pleasure my wife and I took in it, and my realization that I could have that kind of joy all the time if I could be the sort of person she could love.

Desert was an amaretto bread pudding, which was amazing.

Thanks, Harry. Joy. It’s what’s for dinner. ’nuff said.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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