Eating Authors: Tina Connolly

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Tina Connolly

Hello and welcome not only to this blog post, but also to the start of a new week and a new month! I don’t know about you, but I love October; there’s a freshness to the air, the promise of autumnal breezes, the panoply of leaves transforming in such dazzling displays as to make the colorblind weep with incomprehension. And, in the spirit of such portentous starts, today’s Eating Authors segment allows me to introduce you to Tina Connolly who just so happens to have her first novel, Ironskin, coming out tomorrow!

Tina is a graduate of Clarion West. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and when she’s not busy writing (the sequel to her forthcoming book is already scheduled for 2013), she works as a face painter at fairs and local festivals and fairs. She’s also busy with podcasting. You’ve probably heard her voice more than once, as she’s a regular narrator for such classic podcasts as EscapePod and PodCastle. Oh, and she just picked up a Parsec Award for her own flash podcast project, Toasted Cake.

LMS: Thanks for helping launch October for us, Tina. Now tell me, what’s your most memorable meal?

Ironskin

TC: I could go with eating ham and brie on a baguette for the first time, outside somewhere in the south of France. (And perhaps I should, since possibly my very favorite dish is ham and toasted brie on olive ciabatta. Add pesto if you have it. No, you can’t go wrong with salt and fat.)

But I’ll go with a night that happened this summer. So my hometown is Lawrence, Kansas, and I went home for two weeks to take Kij Johnson’s novel workshop at the Center for Study of SF at KU. Now I did start writing in Lawrence, after college. (I even had a tiny critique group that included the excellent Lane Robins, who now has like 6 books out.) But beyond that, I had no idea that there was an SF scene out there to find. No idea about workshops, conventions… no idea that there was even this CSSF pair of workshops and associated Campbell Conference right here in my hometown. I didn’t discover any of that till I went to Clarion West in 2006, and by that time I’d been living in Portland, Oregon for a year.

It’s always odd to go home. Things change, you know. The shops change, buildings get built. But beyond that, you change, and so every time you come home you see things from a different angle. So one night shortly near the end of the workshop I headed out to a little place called Esquina with fellow workshopper Elizabeth Shack. Someone with excellent taste had kindly put a list of restaurants to try on the board downstairs, and they were all my favorites from years ago, still going strong. Except for Esquina, which was new.

It turned out to be in the old Round Corner drugstore, so that was sideways step #1. And then, as soon as we had ordered, Kij came in, bringing friends. Some of the guests of the Campbell Conference had just landed, so we ended up eating dinner with our instructors Kij and Chris McKitterick, as well as guest teacher Andy Duncan and Campbell guest Sheila Williams. (All of whom were lovely dinner companions.)

I now have a ton of friends in the writing scene. And I’ve been going to conventions for six years. So I’m used to eating in restaurants (often terrible chain restaurants, sadly) in strange cities with famous writers and editors.

But I’m not used to doing it in Lawrence. In the old downtown drugstore.

Right, are you still waiting for the food? The food was great. It was kind of a tapas-y place, so I ordered the bread and cheese plate (they called it something fancier) and was happy. (See my favorite meal, above.) It came with crusty slices of a sour-ish bread, and then several kinds of Spanish cheese, none of which I knew, as well as a very good fig jam and Marcona almonds. And then I ordered these giant green olives stuffed with anchovies, because how can you pass that up? You can’t. Add a nice cucumbery gin sort of cocktail on the side.

You can’t go wrong with salt and fat. And a little step sideways.

Thanks, Tina. Having done a writers’ workshop at KU (and dined with Kij and Chris too, come to think of it) I know just what you mean. Salt and fat. Yum.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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