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Monthly Archives: May 2018
I will add more pictures in later, editing them in as they get processed. For now, I want to record some of my thoughts and memories from the past weekend and the Nebula Awards conference weekend, before a brand-new weekend … Continue reading
Hello. I love, read, and write fantasy fiction. Oh, and I’m a vegan.
When I sell my fantasy novels at Comic Cons, I’ll usually sneak a little reference onto the bottom of my table white board, such as Vegan, or Vegan-friendly. In my mind, this covert signal will draw vegans to my table, whispering, “I am one too. Tell me, sister, about your fiction.” Like that first moment of connection in a dystopian novel. This doesn’t happen. Instead, people skip all the other great things on the board, point right to vegan, loudly state, “Look, it says veggan!” and then laugh. This hasn’t dissuaded me from the attempt. About half of those times, someone will ask, “Vegan-friendly fantasy fiction? What’s that?” They laugh. Then when I start to answer, they leave.
In my mind, whenever someone asks what could be vegan about fantasy, it proves to me that they’ve never been a vegan reading fantasy. In addition to a lot of the violence and war in the genre (it’s usually a central component, even outside of grimdark), the best scenes feature someone riding their steed in a fine leather vest to grab a hock of ham. I’m not even sure I know what hocks are, but I have concluded they are key to the development of fantasy heroes. So, you know, my fiction is just focused a bit differently.
I’m not here to get into all of that, though. I’m here to talk about one of Cat’s and my favorite subjects: yummy food. Now, I’m not an authority on gourmet cuisine. Go to a vegan restaurant or check out many amazing online vegan chefs for that. (I’m particularly fond of Richa Hingle.) Hey, I’m not even a great cook. But I haven’t eaten meat in over two decades, so I can definitely speak to “what we eat.” Don’t worry. This is just a quick blog to spark some ideas. But if you don’t mind eating plants, here are five simple foods you could give a spin.
I’m not the world’s best cook by any means. If given the option, to steal more time for writing I will order in or use prepackaged dinners. But there are things I make when I need that extra comfort that take-out or microwave meals won’t provide. It was no surprise that one of my favorite home-made meals made its way into my novel Chaos Wolf.
In that scene, Jordan is due to present herself to the alpha werewolf of the Black Oak Pack for one final test. Alpha Shane has made it clear that if she can’t prove that she is in control her shapeshifting, he will kill her. She has just confronted Montgomery, her vampire mentor, about information he has withheld from her. Her trust in him is shaken when she needs his support the most. She’s exhausted emotionally and physically and needs something she can look forward to beyond mere survival. So she cooks.
Jordan doesn’t toss something into the microwave that warms up in two minutes. She doesn’t reach for the take-out cartons from the dinner the night before. She chooses to make a meal that will take a half hour to prepare and ten hours to cook.
In an act of quiet defiance against all of those who think she’s going to fail, Jordan chooses to hope that she will be there to eat it when it’s done. In her mind, it’s not her last meal, but her next meal to look forward to when she returns home.
A student wrote in to let me know they’d made it into Odyssey, huzzah, and asked if I had any advice about attending a workshop. As a matter of fact I do. Like many things in life, you get more out of a workshop if you’re willing to invest a little effort beforehand, during, and afterward.
I went through a number of workshops in college at both the undergraduate and graduate level, but the place where I learned the most was Clarion West, a six week workshop in Seattle. My instructors were Octavia Butler, Andy Duncan, L. Timmel Duchamp, Connie Willis, Gordon van Gelder, and Michael Swanwick; my classmates included Ann Leckie, E.C.Myers, Rashida Smith, and Rachel Swirsky, among others. If you read a lot of F&SF, you may recognize many of those names and realize how incredibly privileged I was to be part of that year.
Imagine a Hellmouth. No, not the one in Sunnydale, California—a medieval Hellmouth, straight out of a manuscript illumination. Pointy teeth, flames, unhappy people.
When I decided that I wanted to write a book about a medieval woman who leads a raid on Hell, that was the sort of underworld that immediately came to my mind. A mouth, though, implies a throat, and a stomach, and, well, everything else.
So I had a Hellbeast on my hands, a creature that spends centuries underground, but occasionally makes an appearance on the surface. It’s a little like a platypus, but without the bill. And a lot bigger.
Within the Hellbeast, there are revenants. But there are also humans—some have been altered in various ways, and some are extremely long-lived, but they are humans nonetheless. This led me to an unusual world-building question: What do people eat in the underworld?