Eating Authors: William C. Dietz

1 Comment » Written on December 19th, 2016 by
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William Dietz

The last few days have been difficult ones in my home. My mother died in her sleep late last week, and though she had a full life and had spent the last few years in very poor health, still just now it’s hard to think that she is gone. Some might wonder why I didn’t take this week off from EATING AUTHORS, but others among you know that there is a welcome distraction found in focusing on routine tasks, and preparing this post has given me some peace. To the many readers out there who have expressed condolences over my loss, I thank you. Now let us move forward as though this were just another Monday.

Out guest this week is William C. Dietz, and I have to say one of the things I like best about him is he didn’t start writing his first novel until he was thirty-nine. That was back in 1984 and since then, he’s written more than fifty books, including his extremely popular Legion series, media tie-in books and game novelizations.

Bill’s latest work, Into the Guns, came out a couple months back from Ace and promises to be the first volume in his new America Rising series.

LMS: Welcome, Bill. So tell me, what stands out as your most memorable meal?

WCD: In 1975 my wife and I quit our jobs and ran off to Africa. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Eventually, when the money ran out, we had to go home. Rather than log a nearly continuous seventeen hours in the air from Johannesburg, South Africa to Seattle, Washington, we chose to take a mid-trip break in Rio de Janeiro.

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Based on previous experience we wanted to hire a driver/interpreter for a day. That’s spendy, but it’s also efficient, because it allows us to choose what we see and cover a lot of ground. We wanted to visit Christ the Redeemer, take the cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf, and get an overview of the city.

Thanks to the folks at the hotel we were able to hire an English speaking driver named Ricardo. He showed up in a pristine ’66 Lincoln four-door sedan. The car was Ricardo’s pride and joy. Whenever we stopped he would pay the local street urchins protection money to make sure that nothing happened to it. Finally, after a long and enjoyable day, Ricardo asked where we’d like to have dinner. We said something like, “On a beach. You choose.”

And choose he did. Ricardo drove us through the city — and then south along the coast past the high rise buildings, the favelas, and the houses beyond. The Atlantic ocean glittered to our left — and Brazil stretched away to the right.

Drifter

As the light began to fade Ricardo pulled up about a hundred feet from an open air restaurant. “This is the place,” Ricardo announced. “Order the prawns… And a beer.” Then with his sun glasses on, Ricardo leaned against the Lincoln, and lit a cigarette. If anyone looked cool he did.

My wife and I made our way across white sand to the open air restaurant. There were no customers other than ourselves. And, as we looked around, there was no sign of where other people might come from. No hotels. No condos. Nothing other than the colorful fishing boats that were pulled up on the beach.

The eating area consisted of nothing more than a thatched roof resting on four wooden poles. The tables were rickety, covered with cheap plastic cloths, and flies were everywhere. We considered leaving. But there was Ricardo to consider. He was leaning on the Lincoln and staring out to sea. Could we tell him we didn’t care for his choice? No, we couldn’t. And we didn’t.

Andromeda's Fall

A waitress arrived. We ordered beer and the prawns. The air was warm and the beer was delightfully cold. It slid down my throat. The flies began to get organized. First they marshalled themselves in companies, battalions, and brigades. Then they took to the air and swarmed us. But we were committed — and Ricardo was watching. So we waved our hands at them — and did what we could to defend the table.

The prawns arrived fifteen minutes later. They were HUGE, they were golden, and they were perfectly cooked. There was no need for anything else other than another beer. Once dinner was over we returned to the car. Ricardo flicked a cigarette butt away. The little red eye rose and fell. “The prawns… They were good, no?”

“The prawns were good, yes,” I replied. “Thank you.”

“De nada,” Ricardo replied. The back seat of the Lincoln took us in, the motor purred, and we returned to the hotel. I don’t think Ricardo will read this. But I hope he’s out there, still cool, and still driving the Lincoln.

Thanks, Bill. But you’re a cruel, cruel man sharing this tale of Ricardo and a seaside restaurant that none of us will ever find. Like talking about this great bistro you went to in Brigadoon.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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One Response to “Eating Authors: William C. Dietz”

This is wonderful!  What a storyteller Bill is, although you’re right, it’s cruel to tempt us to a meal we’ll never have.

I’ll start following this blog, because I love 1) authors and 2) food, not necessarily in that order!


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