Eating Authors: Mary Robinette Kowal

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Mary Robinette Kowal

The last few days have been pretty exciting for me. Friday was World Elephant Day, and as such it seemed like an ideal date to announce that the fine folks at Tor Books had purchased a sequel to my novel Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard (we’re still working on a title). Then on Saturday, Barsk received the Cóyotl Award for Best Novel of 2015. Yesterday I did massive amounts of laundry and packed up so that today, Monday, I could fly off to Kansas City for an early arrival at the WorldCon.

I suspect this kind of frenetic pace is routine for this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest. Certainly she travels more than any other two authors I can name. I’ve known Mary Robinette Kowal since 2005 and have had the pleasure of watching her skills expand and her career explode. Nowadays she describes herself as a puppeteer and a novelist, but she’s known for being a voice actor, an art director, a past SFWA Board member, and an award-winning podcaster. Her work as an author has brought her the Campbell Award, multiple Nebula nominations, and two Hugo Awards, to say nothing of her legion of dedicated fans.

Mary’s Glamourist Histories series — often described as Jane Austen with magic — spans five volumes of utter delight (and not just because Doctor Who has a cameo in each volume). Tomorrow sees the release of her latest novel, Ghost Talkers, with as compelling a premise as anything you’re likely to hear (full disclosure: I heard Mary read a snippet from the book months ago and I’ve been hungering for it ever since). Take note, this is a title you’ll see on all the award short lists next year.

LMS: Welcome, Mary. It’s great to have you here. Now, what stands out for you as your most memorable meal?

MRK: Ironically, my most memorable meal is one that I remember very little of, except one dish. That dish is an embodiment of love.

Ghost Talkers

In 2001, my husband Robert and I got married at my parents home in Chattanooga, TN. This is the house my grandfather built and we are so Southern that it’s even named, Woodthrush Woods. I wanted a wedding that was really personal and where everyone involved was someone I knew and loved. I didn’t want to have random photographer dude wandering around, so we asked my cousin to take the photos.

For the music, I had my voice teacher and one of my best friends — it helps that I know opera singers, yes?

Where we ran into a conflict was that I wanted family to cook the food. Mom wanted a caterer. Our arguments were all, “But I want Aunt Gen’s fried okra” and Mom going, “It should be elegant.” When she pointed out that asking Aunt Gen to cook okra for 75 people was a lot to ask, I relented and we got the caterer.

It was lovely and I don’t remember anything about the meal, except this. When we opened the buffet line, as bride and groom, I got to the end of the line and there was a waiter standing there with a big grin and dish covered in a cloth. She flipped back the cloth.

It was a bowl full of Aunt Gen’s fried okra.

Thanks, Mary. I don’t think there was any okra at my wedding, but like you I can’t remember anything that was served. I recall being told where to stand, and then a blur of time later Valerie was feeding me wedding cake to applause. This is how it’s supposed to be, right?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

photo credit: © 2012 Rod Searcey

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