Eating Authors: Robyn Bennis

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Robyn Bennis

Hello. We interrupt this year’s regularly scheduled posts of Campbell Award nominees’ meals (already in progress) to bring you debut novelist Robyn Bennis‘s most memorable meal instead because, well, her book comes out tomorrow! And — full disclosure here — I blurbed it, so naturally I want you all to check it out. Don’t worry, we’ll return to Campbell nominees next week, but right now EATING AUTHORS is all about Robyn.

Despite breaking into the novel business with a book all about airships and military protocol, Robyn actually has a Day Job in the biotech field. She’s worked with human gene expression, gene synthesis, genome sequencing, neural connectomics, cancer diagnostics, and rapid flu testing. It’s only a matter of time before she realizes she can combine her two areas of expertise and when she does one of two things is going to happen. Either she’ll grow her own living airship (likely using DNA from something found trapped in an ancient piece of amber) or her next book is going to be a kick-ass bio-tech thriller. Either would make for a worthy successor to Michael Crichton.

LMS: Welcome, Robyn. Tell me about your most memorable meal.

RB: I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1993. Or possibly 1994. Sometime between ’93 and ’97, anyway, because Bill Clinton was president but we hadn’t heard about Monica Lewinsky yet. The place was Daytona. Or perhaps Fort Lauderdale. Actually, it could have been St. Augustine, now that I think of it. It was definitely one of the less-cool vacation spots in Florida. Maybe Panama City.

Anyway, I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was July 4th, Independence Day. Oh, you know what? It must have been ’95, because it was a year before the movie Independence Day came out. The Bennis family was on vacation and we were trying something new: dinner theater. The food was heavenly. Or maybe it was bland. It could have been horrible, now that I think of it. I’m not even sure what I had. It’s possible that my ability to remember stuff like it was yesterday has been slightly exaggerated, okay? I do recall that they had free refills on sodas, which wasn’t a common thing back then.

The Guns Above

And then the lights went down and the show began. John Adams stepped onto the stage, lamenting that one useless man is called a disgrace, two are called a law firm, and three or more become a Congress.

The play was 1776, a musical of the American Revolution—the finest musical of its genre until Hamilton came along. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can recall every difference between that presentation and the movie version I saw later. I remember how Custodian McNair played a smaller part—perhaps a casting issue. I can point out the songs and sequences that were cut for time. I can remember smirking when Ben Franklin flubbed a line, and Richard Henry Lee had to cover for him.

It was, by far, the best and most memorable meal I have ever had. And you know what? It must have been Ft. Lauderdale. Yeah, if it was 1995, it could only have been Ft. Lauderdale, because we never visited Panama City or Saint Augustine past ’94, and we avoided Daytona after all my mom’s friends were arrested by the Feds in ’96.

See? I remember it like it was yesterday.

Thanks, Robyn. Memory is a tricky thing (says the former professor of cognitive psychology). But I still don’t understand why the Feds arrested your mom’s friends for performing dinner theater.

Next Monday: A return Campbell nominees and another meal!



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