Eating Authors: J. Mulrooney (Campbell Award nominee)

1 Comment » Written on May 29th, 2017 by
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J. Mulrooney

I’ve spent the past week recovering from the glorious time that I had at this year’s Nebula Conference. I saw a lot of friends, made some new ones, ate the best branzino of my life, had a couple meals with my editor, made sausage with the SFWA Board, successfully resisted the siren song of all the foods in the hospitality suite that were not part of my current dietary regimen, and even got to talk with an astronaut (my third).

Then, in the middle of my recovery I was contacted by this week’s EATING AUTHOR guest. J. Mulrooney had heard through the grapevine that I’d been trying to reach him and while I couldn’t locate him he managed to find me. And so here we are. Still no sign of Laurie Penny, but we’ve seen meals from rest of this year’s cohort of nominees Ada Palmer, Sarah Gailey, Malka Older, and Kelly Robson, and I hope you’ve been inspired to look at their work.

Alas, I’ve never met J. Mulroney and what little I know is just a disjointed collection of particulars: he was born in Canada, is an alunmus of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s been a business consultant in the world of the Fortune 1000, worked for many years as a professional musician, and he insists he once found five dollars on the street. Not a lot to go on, biographically speaking, but his writing strikes me as deliciously quirky, and we’re making tentative plans to meet up in San Jose at next year’s WorldCon. But who knows, a lot might happen between now and then.

LMS: Welcome, Joe. Tell me about your most memorable meal.

JM: I had managed to acquire an illegal butter knife and was using it to scoop dollops of peanut butter from the jar into my mouth, which, at the time, had all of nine teeth in it. Seeing that I had a weapon and was tucking into the rations, the people I lived with (who called themselves my “parents”) tried to disarm me by main force. This was no time for reflection. As they reached for me, I leapt from my high chair to the kitchen table. Like all sensible pirates, I put the knife in my mouth before attempting this operation, both to keep my hands free and also because it still had a lot of peanut butter on it.

The Day Immanuel Kant was Late

I could never quite understand what happened next. There was a sensation of tumbling and falling, a terrific crash, a lot of red stuff that did not taste like ketchup, and then people running around everywhere and yelling things. Somehow I had ended up on the floor, and I explained that I had a splitting headache and I would like my knife and the peanut butter back, please. But no, these weirdos decided it was time to go, and I was shoved into the back seat of a car, where they attempted to tie me into a special chair equipped with fiendish straps and buckles. I fought like two tigers, but, between the headache and lack of peanut butter, they overpowered me and we drove off into the night.

The ride was interminable. Street lights, stopping, turn signals, turning, signs written in a language that I did not understand (I later learned that it was called “English”). In retrospect, it’s clear that they took a crazy roundabout route to prevent me from returning to their secret lair to exact my revenge, but at the time it just seemed like a really long car ride. I found blood and peanut butter in my hair.

An Equation of Almost Infinite Complexity

I was brought to a big building and handed over to a white-clothed flunky who put me on a cart and wheeled me into a room full of klieg lights. It was obvious I was going to be interrogated. I’m not sure what I told them, as, without my consent or even knowledge, some diabolical potion – no doubt truth serum – was administered. Under its influence I lost consciousness.

I awoke – who knows how many hours later? – imprisoned in a crib with high wooden bars. My head still ached, but less so now. It was not until I had examined the entire room looking for any means of escape or something that might be used as a weapon that I happened to touch my hand to my head and realized – there were stitches!

In later weeks, I would learn from a hulking captive (known, in the quaint custom of the prison, as my “brother”) that I had been lobotomized. And to this day, whenever I go to the doctor and he shines the light in my ears, he invariably asks the same question: “Hey! Is that peanut butter in there?”

Thanks, Joe. You know, there’s a lot to be said for childhood trauma (but not by me). My only question for you though is: smooth or chunky?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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One Response to “Eating Authors: J. Mulrooney (Campbell Award nominee)”

Lawrence, I’m afraid I was one of those kids you want to strangle. If you gave me a peanut butter sandwich, instead of saying “Thank you,” and eating it like a sensible person, I would peel it open, inspect it, and then subject you to a critique: too much peanut butter, is that a strawberry, I don’t like lumpy things in my jam, no I don’t eat the crusts, when is my mother coming back, do you have a license to look after children?

Kraft smooth peanut butter. In Canada, it comes in the jar with the two bears on it.


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