Eating Authors: Michael Jan Friedman

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Michael Jan Friedman

Rounding out the month of July here at EATING AUTHORS is Michael Jan Friedman, who in my opinion has written one of the best Klingon books in the grand and vast history of the hundreds of Star Trek novels that define such a huge segment of the media tie-in universe — and let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that he’s written several dozen of them! But that’s just one facet of Mike’s work.

With sixty-some books to his credit, Mike has landed on the New York Times Best Seller list eleven times. He’s written for comic books (nearly two hundred of them) and for television (an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, but I don’t hold that against him). He’s also one of the co-founders of Crazy 8 Press, and his contemporary fantasy, Fight The Gods, was one of their first releases back in 2011. More recently he’s been crafting mysteries set in the 21st century of the Aztec Empire of an alternate history. How’s that for mind-blowingly original?

LMS: Welcome, Mike. So tell me, what’s your most memorable meal?

MJF: Our younger son, Drew, is a hell of a chef and has been for some time now. His three favorite channels are ESPN, YES (where the Yankees play), and Food Network. Not being much of a cook myself (I can burn water — really, I’ve done it), I never quite got the fascination, but I think it’s something like the excitement we used to get from chemistry sets. You mix in a little of this, a little of that, and hope that you don’t scar yourself for life.

Back when Drew was sixteen, he saw a guy named Jim Valvano running around a basketball court like a crazy man. “What’s that about?” he asked. Valvano was the eminently likable coach of the North Carolina State team that won the NCAA Tournament in 1983 in upset fashion. Ten years later he died of cancer, but not before he set an example of courage in the face of adversity and started a charity — the V Foundation — to fund cancer research. Drew wanted to support that charity, but what could he do? He was sixteen. Then he got the idea that he would cook. With the help of his family and a couple of friends (no one says no to Drew), he made it happen.

Fight The Gods
Aztlan: The Maxtla Colhua Mysteries
Faces of Fire

The first annual Cuisine for a Cure debuted in our backyard, where a couple of dozen intrepid neighbors wrote out checks to The V Foundation while they chowed down on homemade guacamole and mango salsa, citrus grilled shrimp, hand-kneaded mozzarella cheese with fresh tomatoes and basil, wasabi-rubbed skirt steak, chicken francese, and seafood mac and cheese, followed by a raspberry-and-strawberry parfait with homemade whipped cream. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sit down and shmooze much with my neighbors — I was too busy carrying around trays of hors d’oeuvres.

So maybe it wasn’t, technically speaking, the best meal I ever ate. But it was certainly the best meal I ever saw others eat. And when the neighborly horde was gone, they left a nice chunk of change for a good cause. A win-win, which was followed by another Cuisine for a Cure event the following year. But that first one was the most memorable.

Thanks, Mike, and for any readers who are moved by your account into a charitable frame of mine, here’s the link for the V Foundation. Cancer sucks, and you can make a difference.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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