Eating Authors: P. L. Sullivan

1 Comment » Written on February 1st, 2021 by
Categories: Plugs
P. L. Sullivan

As you know (Bob), I usually prepare each Monday’s post a day or more beforehand. Right now for me it’s yesterday (assuming you’re reading this on Monday) and I have big plans for my tomorrow (your today). I’ve just passed the one year anniversary of replacing my immune system and I have a sit-down, face-to-face meeting planned with the head of the bone marrow transplant program at the hospital to go over the results of my bone marrow biopsy from two weeks ago and discuss what it all means for me and my cancer treatment going forward. Bonus points to those of you who have figured out that this is the same physician I dedicated last year’s Eating Authors book to.

As you might imagine, I’m quite anxious about this meeting. But to further complicate things, the weather forecast is calling for snow, somewhere between six and ten inches of the stuff, starting this afternoon and into tomorrow (i.e., Monday) morning. Which may call into question my ability to even get to that meeting.

Because my weather control satellites are not yet fully operational, there’s nothing I can do about the situation and so I choose to think about other things. In this instance, I’m reflecting on the time back in 2010 when I climbed the mountain to attend Walter Jon Williams’s masterclass, the Taos Toolbox. It was a transformative experience for me, and I like to think other authors had similar reactions

And that’s your segue to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, because like me, P. L. Sullivan is an alumnus of the Toolbox and his debut novel was released this past December. Naturally, I invited him here to celebrate.

Bound is being touted as a high energy space opera in which the minds of two characters are joined in a single body (the Bound), and then trained as elite soldiers who get sent out as part of the First Contact Teams to new worlds. Better still, when the Bound die they can be brought back in a new body, and brutal deaths on hostile worlds is apparently the norm.

Yeah, okay, Pat, just take my money and send me the book already.

LMS: Welcome, Pat. So what’s been your most memorable meal?

PLS: Dining, for me is more about the experience and the environment than the food itself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have eaten memorable meals in a great variety of locations — from glamping in Tanzania to a wonderful Indian restaurant in London where our family joined the locals in glaring at a truly obnoxiously loud group of Americans. As to a favorite? I’ll offer up a meal I had in Tokyo in the ’80s.


I was a young and very junior engineer with Texas Instruments, part a team of engineers and managers visiting with important prospective suppliers in Japan. After long days of technical meetings, an important supplier took us out to dinner. I’ve chosen this dinner for you because it was such a stressful and yet delightful event. As a kid from Minnesota raised on fish=fish sticks and spicy=spaghetti sauce, utensils=knife and fork, I was way out of my food element. As a young engineer at a business dinner with a critical supplier, I was in a social environment where making the right social impression was important, but how to do it was uncertain. We were seated on cushions on a tatami mat (midwestern boy is missing his chair already) and were served a shabu-shabu dinner — thin slices of Kobe beef with vegetables, dipping sauces, and communal cooking pots (I have to cook my own?). I discovered how delicious Kobe beef is (can you say amazing?), drank hot sake for the first time, and did passably well with my chopsticks. I had the great fortune to be traveling with a group of Americans whose eagerness to try new things emboldened my quiet self to stretch way beyond my normal limits. They were gregarious (engineers, gregarious?) and genuinely admired the Japanese culture that we were immersed in.

The Japanese engineers and managers were courageous with their English, the Americans did their best and slaughtered the few Japanese phrases we thought we knew, and everyone got along famously. No cultural disasters took place — we’d learned enough to add -san to everyone’s name, to bow and not offer hands to shake, and to use both hands to give and accept business cards. Most importantly, we were genuine in our interest in our dinner companions and delighted to be sharing the meal with them.

I’ve always wanted to get back to Japan; it holds so many great memories, but I’ve never yet made it.

Thanks, Pat. I’ve only been to Japan once as well, but I learned firsthand in Yokohama that once you’ve gone Kobe there’s no going back. I’m still haunted by the memory of the best steak I’ve ever had.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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