Friday, April 12, 2024

FOODFIC: Please Welcome KJ Waters, Author of Killing Time

Imagine stepping back in time to ride a horse in the Texas plains in the late eighteen-hundreds. Can you feel the grit between your teeth? A sprinkling of that same dusty landscape served in the bowl of bison and beans, the scent of the campfire intertwining among the other flavors as you eat out of a tin cup. 

In my latest time travel novel, Killing Time, I capture this scene just outside of Sterling Texas in 1872. For me the setting holds the danger and excitement of the time in post-civil war America when the Native Americans held tight to their remaining land.

As a fun twist, I’ve put Ronnie Andrews, the time traveler, in the clutches of Jesse and Frank James who are part of a rescue party retrieving Ronnie from the clutches of the Comanches. Jesse and Frank were in Texas during that time hiding out from the Missouri law under the pseudonyms of Jere Miah and Ben. 

Soon the sun grew tired and lay along the soft plains, ready for a long night’s rest. They stopped to make camp. The stars above spoke of another time and place, for they shone in such abundance it hardly looked like the night sky she knew. 

By all appearances, these men had slept out in the open air too many times to count. Each man knew his role. They unsaddled horses and set up camp. Ronnie wondered what they could possibly use for a fire, since there was not a tree in sight. 

“Sit right there so Jere Miah can keep an eye on you.” Ben pointed at a blanket near the man making a fire. “I don’t mean to be harsh to you on account of your tumultuous day. But if we’re all going to get back alive, you need to follow some rules.” Ben spoke sternly, counting on his fingers with each point he made. “First, do not leave camp unattended. Second, do not make loud noises. All our lives are at stake here. The noise carries across the plains, and they’ll be on us in no time.” He flattened down his mustache and fixed her with a hard stare.

Ronnie nodded, wishing for her own bed instead of the dangerous open sky. 

Ben pointed at a scruffy blondish man. “Now you get comfortable, and Jere Miah will get some vittles ready.”

Jere Miah blinked rapidly, his mouth tight showing his disapproval. The unevenness of his ears gave him a young, comical look, but hard steel shone in his eyes, providing a disturbing contrast, like the killer clown in a horror movie. Not so funny. She watched him build the fire with dark, oddly shaped kindling. Soon the fire blazed with dry grass as the final ingredient. 

Ronnie was curious. “Jere Miah, what are you using for firewood there? I didn’t see a branch anywhere around.” 

He kicked a loose chip with his boot to shove it under the others in the pile under the flames. “Ma’am, we use dried buffalo chips. They’re all over these parts.” 

The only odor was smoke and a slight scent of burning grass. “I didn’t know you could burn that.” 

Jere Miah nodded as he set a pot on the flames and emptied a nearby canteen into it. When the water boiled, he emptied a dark substance into it from a small burlap sack. The scent of strong coffee gave away the contents. In another pot, Jere Miah emptied several cans of beans and stirred it with a knife. Soon the other men gathered around the fire and ate from their saddlebags waiting for the meal.

Gary approached from the darkness and handed Jere Miah a bundle wrapped in leather. It was a huge chunk of meat from an injured bison they’d encountered at the watering hole. He sliced off several dozen inch wide cubes and dumped them into the beans, stirring again with the knife. Gary wrapped the remaining meat and carried it off.

Max handed her a biscuit, and she bit into it, nearly breaking a tooth. “Careful, it’s hardtack.” It tasted like a very stale saltine.

The sun had set, and the only light was from the fire that threw shadows all around, adding an unsettling, ethereal feel to the camp. The horses were nearby, as evidenced by the occasional snort. When the coffee boiled and sat for a spell, the men dipped tin cups in the pot, coming away with grounds sticking to the edges. 

The men were quiet, but finally Gary spoke up. “Look, we’re almost home. Let’s be grateful that Rose is okay, and we didn’t lose Max.” 

A few men nodded. Jere Miah held a hand out for each man’s tin cup and ladled the chow, filling it to the brim.

Ronnie was handed a cup and spoon for her first hot meal of the day. She waited for it to cool, half listening to their conversation while lost in her own frightening thoughts of the earlier attack. It smelled good, but she was hungry enough to eat it, regardless of taste. 

A tentative bite of the hot, fragrant food left her wanting more. Ben set the hardtack in the cup soaking up the juices. Ronnie copied him and was glad for it. There were only so many beans she wanted in her system. The dried biscuit softened nicely and did enough to fill her belly, tasting a lot like a saltine cracker. The few chunks of buffalo meat were tough, but flavorful. Soon she was too sleepy to keep her eyes open and lay back, gathering the blanket around her. 

It was a small comfort to hear the male voices telling stories around the fire as she drifted off to sleep. Just before she dozed off, she said a prayer for their safety.

One thing I love about writing time travel stories is I can dive into the past, exploring the clothing, living conditions, and what food was important in those times. Those details bring stories to life. In my time travel series, Stealing Time, I send Ronnie Andrews back through the eye of a hurricane to different centuries, each fraught with dangers of the time. 

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

You can find KJ here:                Instagram

Twitter @KJWatersAuthor           TikTok    

Facebook Fan Page          Pinterest    

Books on Amazon            Goodreads

KJ Waters is the international best-selling author of the Stealing Time Series (Stealing Time, Shattering Time, Killing Time) and the short story Blow. Her books are described as “breathtakingly original,” with “edge of your seat” action, and “characters are so well-written that they seem like real people.” Her books are often found on the Amazon best seller list next to Outlander and Michael Crichton’s Dragon’s Teeth. 

In addition to her writing, she is the runs KJ Waters Consultancy providing author consulting services covering branding, social media, and publishing. For free chapters and giveaways, visit her website at 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Shelley! This was a lot of fun! Excited to see more on your blog. What a great idea!