Thursday, June 18, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Mark David Gerson, Author of The MoonQuest

Guess Who’s Coming As Dinner?

What do you do when you’re invited to dine with cannibals? That’s Yhoshi’s dilemma in an early scene in The MoonQuest, the first book in my Q’ntana fantasy trilogy.

Yhoshis gaze shifted nervously from Boldar, cleaning his second bowl of stew with a long black tongue, to the two massive cooking fires that danced at the far end of the hall. Loud crackling pops exploded from one, where a sapphire oval of oil-brushed pyan sizzled. A man-size cauldron bubbled into the second.

Do you eat what your hosts are eating? And if you don’t, do you risk finding yourself working up a sweat in one of those man-size cauldrons?

Yhoshi said little at first and ate less. He picked guardedly at the strange stew that filled his bowl, wrinkling his nose at the curls of aromatic steam that rose lazily from it. I devoured mine greedily. Served only on rare occasions, the lustrous orange-yellow concoction was one of my favorites, its naturally sweet broth an ideal base for the red bela nuts, green zanga fruit and elegantly thin strips of purple gelaaa that floated within.

The good news, as Yhoshi soon discovers, is that even though his Tena’aa hosts want everyone to fear them as vicious man-eaters, they are vegetarian…and gentle. They’re also terrible teases.

Gwillm bugged his eyes, bared his teeth and lunged. All color drained from Yhoshis face.

I had lots of fun with that scene, not only because Yhoshi needed a good prick to his ego. But when you’re fashioning a hitherto-unknown world from scratch, everything is made-up…including the food! And that’s great fodder for the imagination.

The MoonQuest and its StarQuest and SunQuest sequels are filled with exotic food and drink, among them the speckled tosti fish you can swallow in single gulp (raw, if that’s to your taste!); the stick-like tikinà fruit you crack open to get at its soft, crimson-seeded flesh, and the o’aka gourds that can be scooped out to make a sweet soup…the perfect accompaniment to your late-night Q’ntana Trilogy reading. As the old adage goes, “Oaka soup, sweet and red. Just the thing for after bed.”

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Mark David!

You can find Mark David here:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Chris Galford, Author of As Feathers Fall

In The Hollow March, and its sequels in The Haunted Shadows series, the nation of Idasia is consumed with war. War means famine. It means thirst. It means struggle. Many of the people within are thus not able to count on reliable meals like the ones mentioned below—it is the plotters, the ones left behind, who have time for such extravagance. Rather, for those fortunate enough to find themselves along one of Idasia’s many rivers, a simpler meal of salmon and eggs might make a day or, for soldiers, scavenged berries and hardtack—a dry sort of biscuit that might once have been bread—or a simple repast of soup might have to suffice. By the time of the second novel in the series—At Faith’s End—even that can be hard to come by. Of course, all these people also live at a time when pure drinking water is less common than heavily watered wine—called Ramil—as the alcohol is used to guarantee anything untoward in the water is purged for drinking…

Drink up!

Basically, it can be a little hard at the moment to get a decent bite to eat in the Idasian Empire (follow the link to find a map of the empire for easy reference!). It’s not that the expansive nation suffers from a lack of creativity; just ask the cooks at Vissering Keep, for example. For them, in spite of the conflict ravaging the lands outside (and in fact, in part, because of it), there are no lack of important figures rushing through the premises at all hours, and they come from a people with large and varied appetites.

For these, lunch (Mittagessen, in the native tongue) is the greatest meal of the day, and it is swimming with flavor. It’s good to be the king, but it’s not bad to be a prince, a count, or even a minor lord, either, and here, in the halls of the Count Palatine Cullick, that phrase is brought to fruition in the form of sausages, bratwurst, and nearly everything pork-related braised to roasted, juicy delight. For those closer to the forests, or still with secure trade lines, boar and venison also make for a fine course at times. A smattering of carrots, cabbages, and layered casseroles add a touch of flavor to the side of such meals, but neither honey nor jam are likely too far from the eclectic mix. Coming from a temperate land pulling in its wealth from the great central and fertile plains of the continent, there is no shortage of things to consider.

These folk tend to like to draw out their flavor in more natural ways, though. While honey and jam are fine extravagances for zest, the most popular herbs are milder: parsley, thyme, laurel, chives and nutmeg tend to temper the natural tastes, while the garlic preferred in the southernmost reaches of the empire have yet to spread popularly beyond that coast.

Yet it is worth remembering a nation is not built merely on what those whom have plotted civil war from the highest strata of society digest. Rather, a society is sustained by the people at the ground level—people like the mercenary and exile Rurik Matair, or the soldiers of the Imperial army, as they wage war against enemies both abroad and within. In other words, those folk mentioned at the beginning of this article.

These differences in experience, though, are just the sort of things that add layers to the delectable world of Rurik Matair, the Cullick family, and all the myriad characters caught between them in the struggle for reason and stability in a troubled land. The plotting Cullicks dine on nothing but the finest, while those churning through the effects of their actions have little need for their hearty meals—they are a little more interested in drink, if it could take their minds off the heavy burden of survival for a time.

Hard to believe the world is in the midst of a renaissance, isn’t it? If only things would settle down, the culinary artistry would likely see its own revolution—but one can hardly control what revolutions will come slinking about the door when someone’s opened the bottle of human ingenuity. This is the world to which Rurik Matair finds himself, an exile for a crime he didn’t commit, hungry for a justice he cannot even wholly fathom, and joined in his particular meal of earnest revenge and self-doubt by a band of sellswords unaware of how their petty troubles put them at odds in a conspiracy of old families and the return of old magicks…

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Chris!

You can find Chris here:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Ashley Fontainne, Author of GROWL

Growl is a paranormal thriller set in the fictional town of Junction City, Mississippi. Southern food plays a major part in the story. In fact, the main character's family owns one of the two local restaurants: Newcomb's Diner.

Sheryl Ilene Newcomb is only two weeks away from the start of her senior year at Junction City High School. She works part-time at her family's restaurant, is the head cheerleader of the Junction City Cheering Cats, has a steady boyfriend named Dane, and plans to leave the small berg once she graduates. Her grandmother (whom Sheryl calls Meemaw) shares cooking duties at the diner with the oldest living resident of Locasia County, Papa Joe.

Papa Joe is also the last remaining full-blooded Choctaw in Junction City. His heritage and Sheryl's are key components in the story. The Choctaw belief in skin-walking (the ability to change forms) is at the heart of Sheryl's life story.

One of the major discussions about Sheryl's new abilities happens at the dinner table at her family's home. They are surrounded by fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, fresh tomatoes and chocolate cake as her entire family comes face-to-face with Sheryl’s new duties. The sense of a close-knit family, surrounded by a meal prepared by the hands of those who love her, hits Sheryl’s emotions hard, knowing it will be the last time things are “normal” for those she loves. Once the loving, comfortable moment is over, she drops the bomb on them about how her life, her destiny, will alter their perceptions about the world, and her place in it.

In another scene that takes place at Newcomb's Diner, southern comfort food is offered to a very distraught woman who found her employer dead upon her arrival at work. When the death of this particular resident is discovered, the southern tradition of bringing platefuls of food to the remaining grieving family members as respects are paid, showcases the comforting abilities of a home-cooked meal.

Since the book also deals with the ability of certain characters to change forms into those of a gargantuan predator, human flesh is also on the menu!

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Ashley!

You can find Ashley here:


Friday, May 29, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lorna Dounaeva, Author of May Queen Killers

My new novel, May Queen Killers, reads almost like a cosy mystery, but there is a psychological element and a pinch of humour at the heart of the story.

Mystery writer Jock Skone arrives in Fleckford, a small village on the English/Welsh border, where he instantly falls for tea-shop owner Sapphire Butterworth. Not long after they meet, Sapphire is presiding over the village’s May Day celebrations when she suddenly jumps down from her float and flees through the crowd.  Jock runs after her, but is unable to keep up.  Eventually, he trudges back to her tea-shop and a few minutes later, someone throws a brick through the window.

The mystery of the missing May Queen deepens as it is revealed that Sapphire was not the first May Queen to go missing. Jock and his new friend Dylan set out to solve the mystery over endless cups of Yorkshire tea and slices of Battenberg cake.  If you’re not familiar with Battenberg, it’s a light sponge cake made up of chequered pink and yellow squares, cemented with apricot jam and covered with marzipan. 

Sapphire’s tea-shop is 1950s themed, with tea cosies, fancy china and frilly table cloths.  By contrast, just over the road, is the Dragon pub, where Jock is staying. Its landlord, Neil would rather sit and eat a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, than serve his customers. And the only foods on his menu are microwaved shepherd’s pies and chips. I know where I’d rather eat…

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lorna!

You can find Lorna here:


Friday, May 22, 2015

FOODFIC: I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore

When we first meet our hero – Number Four – he’s Daniel James of South Florida. But not for long. You see, Four is literally the fourth of 9 Lorien Garde who are hiding on Earth from Mogadorian hunters until their planet is safe to return to. The methodical elimination demands that once #3 is killed, Four is up next. So within pages of meeting him, our hero Daniel must assume the new identity of John Smith and relocate to Paradise, Ohio, population 5243. The size of the town is important, not because it makes it easier for now-John to blend (it’s actually harder, since new people stick out like Dopey’s ears in small towns) but because it’s nearly impossible for the larger-than-believably-human Mogadorians to blend.

At least Four is not alone; he travels with his “father” Keeper Henri, who stays Henri in every town for simplicity’s sake.* And Henri didn’t choose Paradise because it’s homey; he prefers they not get too attached to anywhere or anyone since they may/probably might/most definitely will have to leave town on very short notice. So of course this is the one place over after 11 years of moves  that Four does make a deep personal connection. And, ironically, he connects with Sarah in the “homiest” place in the school – the home ec kitchen. They bond over cupcakes and shared stories and a mutual frenemy. It’s all more 15-year-old Four has ever known, maybe even hoped for, which is why we get that sinking feeling that the day she becomes too hard for him to leave is exactly when he’ll have to go.

But what if this time he stays? What if he stops running and tries to fight back? Perhaps that could be the recipe for a win…

*You have to think it’d be even easier for Four to call Henri “Dad,” but he never has, even though his birth father was killed along with the rest of his family in the wars on Lorien years ago.