Thursday, August 27, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Author of Bath Salts

Canned foods, freshly grown vegetables, arctic goose, caribou, and fish all caught and hunted by the characters are what is being eaten in the zombie novel Bath Salts. It is the middle of the zombie apocalypse and two women living in Toronto, Canada see the reality of the situation around them. They pack up friends and family and run off to the heart of Nunavut where they set up a compound built out of two tiny trailer houses surrounded by a metal fence.

There, they now have to focus on survival. Naturally, the subject of food comes up a lot. Food, is a basic necessity for a person to live, and as such, the characters don’t want to merely get by. They set up a hydroponics shed in which they grow their own vegetables and fruits, as well as whatever herbs they can to make what they manage to trap and hunt more palatable. They keep a couple of mating gorals as livestock to provide them with milk and cheese.

The character of Ali takes on the role of mother for the entire group. She sees there survival as being about more then just living. For her, survival is keeping the humanity of the group intact. As such, she focuses on making their meals about more than just food. It’s about finding a way to make a birthday cake out of old cake mix and goose eggs. It’s about marking the holidays with the appropriate feast, substituting goose and caribou for turkey and roast beef. She sees the food she prepares as comfort and familiarity; something for the group to cling to and keep their spirits alive.

In contrast, An takes on the role of the hunter. She goes out, armed and ready, killing zombies and animals for their meals with relative ease. She believes that survival means staying alive, no matter what. Her attitude is reflected in her actions, and while she is a part of the group, her beliefs keep her as somewhat apart from it all. She will partake in their meals and their attempts to keep the past alive, but her heart isn’t in it like the others.

With two differing viewpoints, how will this group keep together, when their survival against bandits, zombies, and the elements counts on them being a team? Find out in Bath Salts.

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

You can find Alisse here:


Thursday, August 20, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Staci Greason, Author of The Last Great American Housewife

Kate, the heroine-in-training in my novel, The Last Great American Housewife, has a good life – a husband, two kids, and a house in the suburbs -but then her mother dies, and nothing is right. Her good life suddenly feels empty. She hunts, desperately, for something to satiate the hunger. At first, Kate shadows elderly women home from the grocery store. Making certain these women get home safely gives Kate a reason to get up in the morning. But then she is arrested and her days once again are void of meaning. She wishes she had a different life.

One night, over chips and salsa and too many margaritas, she meets a beautiful young college student and poet named Jeremiah. He looks at her the way her husband Nate used to when they were younger – filled with desire.

They meet in the middle of the afternoon at Norm’s on La Cienega. With their legs pressed against each other under the table, they share a slice of cherry pie. The sticky filling is too sweet, the crust, buttery and flaky, and the young man delivering the bite isn’t Nate. For that moment, the pie is all that Kate can taste. She is full. She is a different person - beautiful, carefree and daring. Not a wife and mother wearing elastic waistband jeans on the verge of forty. But after the last of the syrup has been scraped from the plate, all that remains is a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.  The ardent suitor is just a young boy with long hair who writes poetry and can only be loved in another history. Kate is empty.

The question of what sustains us and what is sustenance is at the heart of The Last Great American Housewife.  Most of us live under the delusion that happiness lies somewhere outside. If only we had the perfect husband, the perfect kids, body, car, job, enough money, time, freedom (whatever we think would fill that hole) then our happiness would be fed.  Is our environment responsible for filling our need for self-love, confidence and happiness? Or must we learn to feed ourselves?

Eventually, Kate climbs a tree by the mall to save it from being torn down.  Living on the platform, she quickly learns which foods can be sustained from the heat, wind, cold, birds and squirrels.
Things a housewife can eat up in a tree while hiding from her family include:
Granola Bars
Dark Chocolate
Beef Jerky

That is, unless it rains.  Then she’s pretty much stuck with Gatorade and apples.
Forty feet above the earth, Kate finally discovers the best recipe for happiness:  facing oneself. And when she climbs down, she is no longer hungry.
Except for thin crust pizza with white sauce, fresh basil and sliced tomatoes. Served with a nice Chianti.

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

Staci Greason starred on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, as the late Isabella Toscano-Black. She created the hit weekly food column "Dishing" for MODE magazine, and was the author of the popular blog Anxiety: a Love Story as well as the novel The Last Great American Housewife (optioned by Rockinghorse Productions). When she isn’t writing or hiking, she loves to coach fellow scribes at The Write Muse (

You can also find Staci here:

Twitter @StaciGreason                    Facebook          

Thursday, August 13, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Katherine Gilraine, Author of the Index Series

How do people spell togetherness? What do they usually have on the sidelines while discussing anything in the world, from personal to politics? The answer is a four-letter word: food.

We don’t generally think about what part food plays within the story, but it’s something that we do need to consider as part of a matter of course in our writing. With all the time that we invest into building our worlds, building our characters, crafting the plots, we need to consider what sort of meals the people that we authors create use to come together.

Think of your everyday meals at work. Think of what a person would eat if they were traveling, or sitting down with family. What does one order on a date?

For myself, personally, the meal I love the most is seafood dynamite at this one sushi place I like. It’s a concoction of shellfish, topped with mayonnaise and cheese, and baked. Sounds very heavy, but it’s not; it’s an appetizer dish barely 4” in diameter. It is, however, delicious, and I love little more than hunkering down with it after a long week at work.

I’ve not quite paid attention to food as I wrote it in the books, but I always went with whatever seemed to be the most natural thing. A quiet, cozy dinner in a private dining room, just to friends and family - roast chicken and vegetables, red wine. Comfort food. A cozy private dinner, and yet to one of the characters, Kataria, who has never felt like she was part of a family, to feel as such was something new. For all the comfort of a family meal, she is not altogether yet part of the family that she was born into, and for all the comfort of everyone else at the table - her sister, the people who were right alongside with her sister - she is the one feeling like the odd girl out.

It brings the next part of the food equation into the table: drink. A lot of people drink. A lot of people drink different things for different reasons. Some don’t drink at all. But it’s just as important as the role that food plays.

So let’s take Kataria for an example. After the end of the fourth volume of The Index Series, Kataria is every bit as shaken up by the Battle of Earth as anyone else. Unlike her sister, however, she never felt like she had a safety net to work through the psychological after-effects of the battle. Her sister, Arriella, stops sleeping and barely eats, which directly impacts her work. Conversely, Kataria is determined to keep everything together, and this turns her to the well-known comfort of humans: alcohol.

However, regardless of how Kataria feels when she’s alone, which is evident by the lowball after lowball that she knocks back to dull out everything she doesn’t want to think about, there is always a place for her at her sister’s dinner table. Whether it’s exotic pear champagne from another world, or just simple chicken and veggies, she is welcomed and accepted - regardless of whether or not she feels as such. She, like anyone else sitting down at a new dinner table, just needs to be brave enough to take the first bite.

Katherine Gilraine, wishing a bon appetit. 

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

You can visit Katherine here:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Amelia Gormley, Author of STRAIN

Scavenging in the Post-Apocalyptic World

The worst of the plague has passed. The vast majority of the world’s population is dead. Sure, there are still cannibalistic zombie-like creatures roaming around, but for the most part it’s safe to venture out of seclusion and thank God it is, because your carefully hoarded supplies are almost exhausted and you’re in real danger of starving to death.

But that’s okay, because assuming other survivors haven’t gotten to them first, grocery store shelves are loaded with non-perishables that no one is going to need. So you arm yourself with a small arsenal and make your way to the nearest supermarket. So far, so good. No plague victims to infect you. No cannibals to eat you. And you’ve managed to evade the other survivors who would shoot you just on the off chance that you were after their supplies.

The store is dark, of course; the grid collapsed months ago when all the people keeping it up and running died. But you have flashlights and batteries. The windows and doors are intact, so it hasn’t already been looted. So you break in and slip inside.

And that’s when the smell hits you.

All that meat. All that fish. All that dairy and produce. All without refrigeration for the last several months. The milk jugs have exploded because the milk inside has fermented. Flies are all over; the rotten meat in the butcher’s counter display is infested with maggots. Mealmoths flutter everywhere; all the flour and oatmeal in the bulk bins and grains that weren’t in airtight containers are full of weevils.

Cans and some of the boxes are intact, but first you need to brave the rats you hear scurrying around in the dark. And you don’t have much time to do it, because sooner or later those cannibals are going to find you. Better hurry.

But let’s say your hideout was rural. Plenty of farmland, but protein might be a problem. But hey, cows and goats survived the plague too, and there are deer to hunt, right?

Terrific. Do you know how to butcher the carcass without nicking the intestines and tainting the meat? Do you know how to preserve the meat you managed to butcher, or will most of it rot before you have a chance to eat it?

Or maybe it’s ten years after the plague, and you’ve had to leave your refuge and all your supplies behind. Only now the non-perishables in the grocery store (the ones that survived the rats and looters) have, well, perished.

These are the sorts of scenarios I had to consider when writing my post-apocalyptic novel Strain and its prequel, Juggernaut and their upcoming sequel, Bane (all available from Riptide Publishing.) It’s easy to imagine that there will be plenty of non-perishable food around in the event of the end of the world, but the logistics of survival are a lot more complex than one might imagine.

Juggernaut takes place immediately before and after the world-ending plague, while Strain is set ten years later. For Strain and Bane, I had to imagine a world in which all the grocery stores had already been ransacked, and most clusters of survivors have already begun to relearn farming and herding livestock. Preserved meats—salted, smoked, jerky and so forth—would be common. For those who didn’t have supplies and know-how to preserve fruits and vegetables, produce would largely be a treat for the warmer months. This is why, sometime around the last major ice age, human beings evolved to be primarily carnivores.

Yes, you read that right; the claim that humans evolved as omnivores is actually quite misleading. We have the ability to eat vegetation and we require certain nutrients that are mainly found in fruits (such as vitamin C, lest we develop scurvy), but our digestive systems are actually far more similar to carnivorous animals than to omnivores. So in Strain, there’s more of an emphasis placed on seeing the characters eating fresh and preserved meats.

For Juggernaut, the logistics were quite a bit more complicated. I was dealing with characters who were still immediately accustomed to having endless quantities of food available to them with just a quick trip to the market. They wouldn’t know or have had time to relearn anything about farming or animal husbandry. Luckily the libraries will likely have gone unlooted and there will be books to read to learn about the subject. It will just take time.

But, for the most part, farming is a little more intuitive, and easier to accomplish for people who are still largely keeping themselves sequestered to avoid contagion. They wouldn’t dare venture out to hunt or try to round up the livestock that had managed to survive the neglect of not being fed and cared for by humans who had died. The survivors would probably focus most of their animal husbandry attempts on chickens, who are portable enough to make the journey to safety with the people in question. Their eggs could be a primary source of fat and protein and they’re small enough to maintain in quarantine pens and small enclaves of survivors.

Alas, gourmet cooking is likely to be an art form that will likely die out with most of the population. Fare will be simple and straightforward. Surviving takes enough effort without diverting energy to producing complex or time-consuming meals, especially since most cooking is going to happen over open fires. The electric grid, we’ve already established, has collapsed, and natural gas pipelines will only last as long as there are people to maintain them as well. Once they lose pressure, that’s gone too.

The same applies to the water supply. The only places that will have running water or indoor plumbing are places that have windmills to power pumps that will pressurizes pipes from in-ground wells. The digging of latrines will have to be strategic and most people used to indoor plumbing won’t realize that. We can probably anticipate a “second plague” of people dying from problems with sanitation and inadequate/compromised food supplies.
It’s almost enough to make one want to start stockpiling supplies and become a survivalist, isn’t it?

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

You can find Amelia here: