Eating Authors: James Maxey

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Welcome to another installment of asking authors about their favorite meals. This feature was inspired by my protagonist, the Amazing Conroy, who in addition to being a stage hypnotist is also very much a foodie.

This week, we hear from James Maxey. James is the author of the Dragon Age trilogy consisting of Bitterwood, Dragonforge, and Dragonseed. Before this he authored the Phobos Award winning superhero novel Nobody Gets the Girl. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there, he had a story in Prime Codex, the first book I published through Paper Golem. As with last week’s entry, James gives us more than just simply a meal.

Bitterwood James Maxey

LMS: So tell me, James, what’s your best, most memorable meal?

JM: I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff in my day, but my best meal had very little to do with food. In the first half of the last decade, I became romantically involved with a woman named Laura Herrmann who, unfortunately, passed away from cancer about five years ago. Laura was in reasonably good health for a number of years after her diagnosis, but the last two months of her life were pretty rough. She had a lot of trouble eating, trouble sleeping, and very little energy to spare for anything beyond getting out of her bed and going to sit on her couch to watch TV.

About one month before she passed away, I came home and found her looking utterly depressed. It was April, a beautiful spring morning, and I felt like it might do her some good to get outside for a little while since she’d basically been trapped in the house for a month, making no trips anywhere except the hospital. I coaxed her out to my car still in her pajamas and we went for a drive through the country. Chapel Hill is surrounded by a lot of farms, and everywhere we went nature was eagerly cooperating with my plan to help her have a good day. There were wild flowers blooming everywhere, entire fields bright yellow with buttercups.

We drove around for about two hours and I could tell Laura was getting tired, but also that she’d had a good morning. We’d been more or less taking roads at random and as I was driving down a road I’d never been on before we found ourselves approaching the interstate and right off the exit there was a Sonic drive thru. Laura had barely eaten in a month. She was surviving on Ensure. It had reached the point where I’d stopped trying to encourage her to eat since it just seemed to be nagging. But, as we neared the drive-thru, I asked if she might want to get a milkshake. She didn’t,.. but she said she’d like some tater-tots. So we pulled into Sonic and had some tater-tots with melted cheese and a couple of sodas. I can still remember the potato smell that filled the car as she opened the bag. She wolfed down those potatoes with genuine gusto. I had one or two; salty, greasy, starchy… and absolutely the best thing to eat on the earth.

Laura passed away a month later. That was five years ago. And, it’s trite, but true… life goes on. Time heals. I started dating someone new two years ago and this November we’ll be married. Cheryl and I have had a LOT of great meals together, and our wedding registry is heavily weighted toward our dream cookware. We are both Food Network junkies, and we have cooking down to an art. We’ve learned to make the food we hated as kids, like collard greens and brussel sprouts, taste so good we lick the plate. And that’s with food some people won’t touch. Give us some good steaks or fresh strawberries and we can make a feast you’ll write home about.

So I’ve eaten better food, no question. But the one meal I know I’ll never forget are those tater tots, wolfed down in a noisy parking lot of the interstate.

= = = = =

Thank you, James. I’m never going to be able to drive by a Sonic without recalling this tale.

Best wishes on your impending nuptials, and hey, when you’re registered, let me know and perhaps readers here will want to chip in and get you guys something.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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