Eating Authors: Liz Williams

1 Comment » Written on September 30th, 2013 by
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Liz Williams

I’m rather persistent when it comes to recruiting writers for this weekly blog feature. I’m sure some of those authors who have been on the receiving end of my emails would use a different word, perhaps “annoying” or some more colorful term that loosely translates to “leave me the hell alone, you ass!” though I prefer to think of myself as tenacious. It’s a necessary quality for EATING AUTHORS, because for every author who responds promptly there are three (or six, or ten!) others who are too busy to reply to the email, let alone generate an answer to the single question asked here. And that’s perfectly reasonable, because writers are busy people. We’re supposed to be writing. We’re juggling projects. We’re facing deadlines (or worse, have recently blown them).

This week’s guest is a good example. I’m happy to say I consider her a friend, which is why I’ve been trying to lure Liz Williams here for over a year. But she’s been just too busy. And yet, I persevered, because I wanted to ensure that you, gentle reader, would have a chance to meet her if you hadn’t yet had the pleasure of her fiction.

Liz’s first novel, The Ghost Sister, came out back in 2001. Her second, Empire of Bones, followed in 2002. Both received nominations for the Philip K. Dick Award. In 2004, she received a third nomination for Banner of Souls. That’s not all that surprising considering she has her doctorate in the Philosophy of Science, she’s just that smart.

More recently, she’s been writing her brilliant Detective Chen novels (beginning with Snake Agent), a series in which a mortal detective’s jurisdiction includes the edges of Heaven and Hell. Add in some “assistance” by his opposite number, an immortal vice cop from Hell, and you have everything you need for a great read!

LMS: Welcome, Liz. And don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you about thoats. Instead, I’d like you to talk about your most memorable meal.

LW: The most memorable meal I’ve ever had was in China, in the city of Xi’an. I went there on a tour of the Silk Road, with three other writers, and we were taken to the Opera House to see a traditional-for-tourists performance, which I remember as being very dramatic and more than somewhat Klingon. However, prior to the performance itself, we were taken to dinner in the opera house restaurant, which was memorable because it was composed entirely of dumplings.

Snake Agent
The Ghost Sister
Banner of Souls

Now, I am a big fan of dumplings. I even like the name – round and plumping onto the plate. I make them at home, but here they’re the stodgy suet and herb version that goes well in a beef stew. It would be wrong to say that I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like: the big German potato sort, which resembles a soggy tennis ball, aren’t so great in my book. But otherwise: bring them on.

I like dim sum, too, but I’m not so good at making the kind of dumplings that feature in that form of cuisine. The opera house, however, pulled out all the stops. The pork dumplings were in the form of a little pig with a curly tail. There were small fish-shaped ones. There were dumplings shaped like pumpkins which were filled with, natch, pumpkin. They were so cute (the animal ones had little beady eyes) that we all felt guilty about eating them, rather as you do when biting the head off a chocolate bunny. And because dumplings are very small, the different kinds just kept on coming. When the final dumpling had been consumed, we were taken into the performance itself; digestion aided by a massive dose of adrenaline as various demons battled one another. And people ask me where I get my ideas from…

Thanks, Liz. My wife and I are both big fans of dim sum, though I can’t recall ever getting dumplings that had been made to look like their source animals. Oddly disturbing.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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One Response to “Eating Authors: Liz Williams”

I really enjoyed Snake Agent.  I was fascinated by Liz’s highly original take on heaven and hell and the bureaucracy involved in managing the transition from life to afterlife.  She combines fantasy, paranormal and police procedural in a unique futuristic chinese setting.


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