Eating Authors: V. E. Schwab

No Comments » Written on February 22nd, 2016 by
Categories: Plugs
V. E. Schwab

As previously noted on this blog, last month I escaped the winter storms of the northeast by attending Confusion in Novi, Michigan. Among the many folks I met that weekend was this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab, who is easily among the most delightful of folks you’re likely to encounter at a convention. I’d long since invited her to visit here and shill her next book (A Darker Shade of Magic comes out from Tor Books tomorrow), and our conversations and encounters in Michigan just confirmed what great fun she is.

Victoria leads something of a double life, publishing YA fiction under her full name (e.g., her Archived and Everyday Angel series), while using just her initials to release fantasy works and even the occasional superhero novel (actually, Viscious is a supervillain novel. Have you read it yet?).

If you’re not already familiar with her work, I strongly encourage you to check out her fiction. And not just because you’ll find her on the shelf not far from my own stuff.

LMS: Welcome, Victoria. I hope the book tour is treating you well. But enough casual chit chat, let’s get to the reason why you’re here: Tell us about your most memorable meal!

VES: I was in college when my parents suggested we take a holiday to France.

We’d been there once or twice, always to Paris, and I was fluent in the way that only high school students who haven’t had to actually converse outside the classroom think they are.

Rather than spending our time in Paris, we decided to rent a room in a chateau in the Loire, a fairly common practice for those looking for lodging outside of France. We arrived at the Chateau de Monhoudou, and were promptly greeted by two dalmatians, five fluffy sheep, and a single peacock.

The dalmatians were named Rolls and Royce

(The dalmatians were named Rolls and Royce)

Our host was a lovely Frenchman who took as much pleasure from meeting travelers as he did from the incredible estate. At the time, the chateau was playing host to two French families, an English couple, and a German one, to which we added three (my father and I are Amercian, my mother English).

A Gathering of Shadows

One of luxuries of staying at a chateau is the opportunity to take part in an evening meal. Not knowing what we were in for, we paid the fee and settled onto the patio to wait.

It started with raspberry cocktails.

The host appeared on the sun-drenched patio at 5pm, holding a tray of the most beautiful drinks I’d ever seen, the contents fuchsia. They tasted like freshly pressed berries mixed with vodka, lemon, and a handful of other things my newly-21-year-old palette couldn’t discern. At the time, I remember they tasted like sunset.

We lingered on the patio on the summer light, sipping our drinks and chatting, sliding between English and French in an exciting way that only happens in a multi-lingual group.

Cocktails dispensed, we moved inside, and found herself face to face with the first of several courses.

I know other posts lay out in sumptuous detail the cut and grill of each slice of meat, the candied garnishes and decadent sauce, but here’s where I tell you that, for all the meal’s splendor, I can’t remember the details of what I ate. I think the opening course involved some kind of quiche. In the middle, there was a roast chicken. There was, of course, the obligatory cheese course, four or five different kinds with tiny knives embedded in each, before a delicious chocolate torte.

A Darker Shade of Magic

The meal went on for four or five hours, which might sound overwhelming for those of us use to grabbing food on the go or perching in front of the TV, but the truth was, it was magical. Time fell away. The courses, decadent as they were, became an undertone for the conversation, French and English sliding in and around and over each other, but never tangling.

Dessert cleared, we moved from the dining hall into the salon, a cozy chamber filled with books and old, feather-filled furniture, where we took coffee and tea, and the conversation continued into the night.

And while it’s true that 8 years later, I can’t recall the exact details of each plate, and thus can’t tell you how much of that meal’s splendor was the food, and how much was the company, I’ve come to believe that’s true of any wonderful dinner. It’s as much who you’re eating with as what you’re eating.

Thanks, Victoria. I have to agree, there’s something about sliding back and forth between languages that colors a meal in extraordinary ways (especially when one of those languages is Klingon!).

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!



Leave a Reply