Eating Authors: Jonathan Maberry

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Jonathan Maberry

Today I have the pleasure of telling you about another of the incredible authors living in the greater Philadelphia area. When I say that Jonathan Maberry knows how to kick ass, I do so both literally and figuratively. His early writings were nonfiction, books on martial arts training that drew on his own experience and expertise (he holds an 8th degree black belt in Shinowara-ryu Jujutsu). When he was ready to write fiction, he began with Ghost Road Blues (the first book in his Pine Deep trilogy), and took home the Bram Stoker Award for best first novel.

His Joe Ledger books are a series of bioterrorism thrillers, starting with Patient Zero, that include a bioweapon that transforms human beings into zombies. Jonathan’s Benny Imura series combines YA and SF, offering up a teenage boy, Benny, growing up in the remade world that exists after the zombie apocalypse. It began with Rot & Ruin, and the fourth volume, Fire & Ash, came out just last month.

Jonathan’s also written comics, movie novelizations, and nonfiction books on folklore and the occult. He’s also one of the founding members of The Liars Club, a group of (mainly) Philadelphia area professional writers. And today he’s here to share what may be the most incredible of all the meals we’ve seen on this blog.

LMS: Welcome, Jonathan. What stands out in your mind, meal-wise, as your most memorable?

JM: My most memorable meal was one in which I served more than ate. Set the Way-Back machine to the early 1970s. I was in seventh grade and the librarian from my middle school was the secretary for several clubs of professional genre authors. Because she knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, she used to drag me along to some of the meetings, and over the course of several years I got to meet guys like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, L. Sprague de Camp, Murray Leinster, Lin Carter, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke and quite a few others. Some only once or twice; others more often. As these parties I was the designated beer-fetcher, sandwich maker, chips-and-dip dispenser and all around waiter-cum-dogsbody.

As it turned out Bradbury and Matheson were the authors I spent the most time talking to. They looked at some of my primitive stories and gave me very sound advice. They also talked to me about both the craft of writing and the business of publishing. On one wintry evening in New York (where we’d driven from Philadelphia for a holiday-themed meeting), I brought with me several sheets of Christmas cookies my girlfriend’s mother helped me baked. And when I say ‘helped me’ I mean she baked them while I watched. I am a danger to human life every time I step into the kitchen. The cookies were shaped like flying saucers, aliens, bats, monsters, and rocket ships. My girlfriend’s mother was a science fiction nut and was insanely jealous that I was meeting her idols. At the party, I did a dastardly thing and took credit for the cookies and for an avocado dip my grandmother had made and sent with me. I know, it was scandalous. But it meant that the authors all clustered around me because the cookies were insanely good.

Ghost Road Blues
Patient Zero
Rot & Ruin

So, there we were, Bradbury and Matheson—two towering giants of science fiction and fantasy—eating cookies, eating avocado dip, drinking the beers that I fetched for them, and taking turns telling me stories about what the world will be like when I became a professional writer. They each gave me presents that year. Bradbury gave me a signed copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes and Matheson gave me a 1954 edition of I Am Legend. Each year since I buy brand new hardcover copies of each, read them on Halloween week, and donate them to a library.

Now both Matheson and Bradbury are gone, but every time I eat a Christmas cookie (and probably less so when I have avocado dip, which really wasn’t very good) I’ll clink it against a glass of milk in their honor and wish them well in their journeys through the stars.

Those were mighty damn fine cookies.

Thank, Jonathan. Possibly the best illustration of the results of Paying It Forward I’ve ever seen.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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