Eating Authors: Linda Nagata

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Linda Nagata

This week’s guest here at EATING AUTHORS is Linda Nagata, and even if you haven’t read her fiction (and if not, why not?), you should recognize her name because her novel The Red: First Light is on the short list this year for the prestigious Nebula Award. In addition to the book’s obvious talents, it has the distinction of being the first time a self-published title has been nominated for the Best Novel Nebula, making it one of the exceptions that prove the rule about signal to noise in the world of self-publishing.

Nor is Linda a stranger to such notoriety. She won the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 1996 with The Bohr Maker, and had a previous Nebula nomination for her novella “Goddesses” in 2000.

In addition to her very popular series, The Nanotech Succession, she has several stand alone novels, a couple of short story collections, as well as the Stories of the Puzzle Lands series.

LMS: Welcome, Linda, I appreciate you being here. Ready to share what stands out for you as your most memorable meal?

LN: In an ironic twist of fate, I am answering this question a week after I managed to fracture my jaw. The incident itself isn’t much to tell: just a mundane moment of gracelessness involving flip-flops, deck stairs, feral chickens, and concrete. So here I am, trying to recall the most memorable meal of my life when I cannot eat any meals at all! Or at least none that don’t come out of a blender. After a week of blender-fair, I am quite confident that none of these liquid meals are going to be remotely memorable—more like, the sooner forgotten the better—though the broccoli-cheddar-cheese soup from Costco is surprisingly good.

But a memorable meal…

The Red: First Light

When I considered this question, one of the first candidates that sprang to mind was a long-ago, twelve-course gourmet Chinese wedding feast to which my husband and I had been invited. I can’t tell you what we ate—it’s been too long—but every course was amazing, and redefined Chinese food in my mind. That’s a meal I would love to repeat.

Another candidate dates from just last year, when my husband, daughter, son-in-law, and I discovered a wonderful, formal teahouse alongside the Atago Shrine in Fukuoka, Japan. The shrine is perched at the top of a wooded hill, and the teahouse is just below it. Never mind that we enjoyed the best mochi I have ever had—the highlight was outside the window: a huge cherry tree, over a hundred years old and in full bloom.

The Bohr Maker

Goddesses & Other Stories

But that was more of a snack, not a meal. So for most memorable I will point to a simple get-together that happened years ago when I was in California on a solo trip doing writerly things that were supposed to help nudge my career along. When I reached Los Angeles, a friend was kind enough to put me up, and he and his wife took me, and a couple of others, to dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. That was the first and only time I’ve ever had the good fortune to enjoy Moroccan food, and while I can’t remember any of the details, I do remember that it was absolutely wonderful. The traditional setting was beautiful, the wine abundant, the belly dancer, impressive. But of course it was the company that made it memorable. We were all science nerds and science fiction fans, and while I had not known any of my companions for long, we all clicked. Coming at the end of a stressful business trip, it’s the sheer fun of conversation and companionship that still stands out in my mind.

Thanks, Linda. You know, I’ve had the pleasure of a similar Moroccan meal (complete with dancer!) and I agree, there’s just something about the combination of Moroccan food and atmosphere that combines with good companions to achieve perfection. And like you, I’ve only done it that one time. Why is that?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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