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Eating the Fantastic

I’ve been going to science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic book conventions since I was 15, and I’ve found that while the con which takes place within the walls of a hotel or convention center is always fun, the con away from the con—which takes place when I wander off-site with friends for a meal—can often be more fun. In fact, my love of tracking down good food while traveling the world attending conventions has apparently become so well known that one blogger even dubbed me “science fiction’s Anthony Bourdain.” So after toying for quite awhile with the idea of attempting to replicate in podcast form one of my favorite parts of any convention—good conversation with good friends over good food—it’s finally happening. During each episode, I’ll share a meal with someone whose opinions I think you’ll want to hear, and we’ll talk about science fiction, fantasy, horror, writing, comics, movies, fandom … whatever happens to come to mind. (There’ll also be food talk, of course.) Please note—this will not be a pristine studio-recorded podcast, but one which will always occur in a restaurant setting, meaning that mixed in with our conversation will be the sounds of eating and drinking and reviewing of menus and slurping and background chatter and the servers popping in … in other words, it’ll be as messy as life. And hopefully as entertaining, too. And now … please pull up a chair to the table and get ready to dig in.
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Now displaying: 2022
May 26, 2022

Brunch with writer Steven R. Southard as we discuss how an early meeting with Isaac Asimov had him hoping he could be just as talented and prolific, why it took him 15 years of working on a novel before he realized he was meant to be a writer of short stories, how Jules Verne's <em>Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea</em> changed his life, why alternate and secret histories attract him so (as well as the stories in that genre I never got around to writing), his "snowflake" method for plotting short stories, the secrets to coming up with good ideas for theme anthologies, what movie and TV depictions of submarines get wrong (and which ones get it right), and much more.

May 13, 2022

Join John Appel for a dry-aged burger as we discuss how pitching his debut novel as "<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> meets <em>Golden Girls</em>" got him an agent, why his background in table-top RPGs might be the reason he writes novels rather than short stories, how he deals with the "candy bar" scenes of his plots, the way critique groups and sensitivity readers can help make books better, how to juggle multiple viewpoints and still have them all be equally compelling, the political aspects of his novel which make it a different read than it would have been when it was first begun, his particular set of skills which helped bring fight scenes alive, and much more.

Apr 29, 2022

Eavesdrop on my lunch with Alex Segura as we discuss why <em>Secret Identity</em> could have been his first novel but wasn't, the reason he's so fascinated by the '70s comics industry (and how he was able to get it right), the purpose of the book's period-specific comic book illustration interludes, how Duffy Vohland (the guy responsible for turning me into a comics pro) almost played a much larger part in the story, how to make mysteries work, the way his editor helped to make the book better, what we can expect in the sequel, how Archie Andrews introduced him to comics (and how he felt writing that legacy character himself), writing an origin story for the Star Wars character Poe Dameron, and much more.

Apr 15, 2022

Chow down on butter chicken with Paul Kupperberg as we discuss which superhero starred in his first favorite comic book, the reasons we're in agreement when it comes to the Stan Lee vs. Jack Kirby debate, why his introduction to Superman had nothing to do with comics, what we each felt was lacking in our own early comic book writing, the surprising identity of the DC editor whose books sold the best, what caused legendary artist Don Heck to curse him out, the special challenges of writing comic strips, how he needed to get ready (or not) before writing all those legacy characters, what it was like rebooting Doom Patrol, which Archie character's death upset him so much he had to step away from the keyboard, and much more.

Apr 1, 2022

Pig out on pork BBQ with Paul Witcover as we discuss the reason the pandemic resulted in some of the best years of his freelance career, the way he thrives as a writer when dealing with the boundaries of historical fiction, why his new novel <em>Lincolnstein</em> is "exactly what you think it is," how he writes in yesterday's vernacular without perpetuating yesterday's stereotypes, what can and can't be taught about writing, the reasons he felt lucky to have attended Clarion with Lucius Shepard, the effect reading slush at <em>Asimov's</em> and <em>Twilight Zone</em> magazines had on his own fiction, what Algis Budrys told him that hit him like a brick, and much more.

Mar 18, 2022

Share deep-fried wontons with Library of Congress curator Sara Duke as we discuss the first piece of artwork she longed to get her hands on after a 13-month pandemic absence, our joint loathing of slabbed comics, the misconceptions many people have about the Library of Congress, the things most people no longer remember about <em>Blondie</em>, her comic book exhibit cancelled by COVID, the serendipitous way a PhD in 17th century Irish history led to her becoming a curator, her early (and continuing) love of MAD magazine, and much more.

Mar 4, 2022

Eat enchiladas with Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Paul Tremblay as we discuss his legendary hatred of pickles, what it was like writing a pandemic novel before a pandemic only to see it published in the middle of one, if reviewers would have reacted differently to his zombies had <em>Survivor Song</em> been published any other year, his feelings about the description of him as a postmodernist, our shared love of ambiguity in fiction, whether horror having a moment means horror will also have an end, the one passage in his most recent novel which caused an argument with his editor, what's up with the movie adaptations of his books, and much more.

Feb 18, 2022

Brunch with two-time Hugo Award nominee Natalie Luhrs as we discuss why I had a more optimistic outlook on her chances of winning last year than she did, the emotions which inspired her most recently nominated work and the doxxing that resulted from her offering up that opinion, her love for <em>Dune</em> even as she recognizes the classic novel's problematic parts, what she once said about the Lord Peter Wimsey continuations which caused a backlash, the ways romance and science fiction conventions differ, where she chooses to expend her spoons when controversies arise, the importance of making our shared fannish community a welcoming space for all, recent science fiction novels which blew her mind, and much more.

Feb 4, 2022

Nibble noodles with Daryl Gregory as we discuss how he celebrated the two books he published during the pandemic, what caused him to say about his latest novel, "I like to split the difference to keep everyone as unsatisfied as possible," the narrative technique which finally unlocked the writing of that book (and why it made <em>Revelator</em> more difficult to complete), how our mothers responded to our writing, the way marketing affects the reading protocols of our stories, how listening to Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm argue about one of his stories freed him as a writer, the promise a murder mystery makes to a reader, his "Mom Rule" for Easter eggs, the way he tortured a comic book artist with an outrageous panel description, how to play fair when writing a science fiction mystery where anything can happen, what Samuel R. Delany told him which helped him make his first sale to F&SF, how he doesn't understand why everybody doesn't want to be writers, the way his writing gets better during the times he isn't writing, Gardner Dozois' "ladder of sadness," and much more.

Jan 21, 2022
Dig into duck with Usman T. Malik as we discuss why the first pandemic year was his most prolific period ever as a writer, how the Clarion Workshop helped him decide what kind of writer he wanted to be, our shared concerns over revising our early stories, the way his medical training gives him an intriguing advantage as a writer, how every love story is a ghost story and every ghost story is a love story, what it was like running Pakistan's first science fiction writing workshop, why he prefers Stephen King to Dean Koontz (and what that taught hm about his own writing), the cautionary tale told to him by Samuel R. Delany, how writers teach readers the way they should be read, and much more.
Jan 7, 2022

Breakfast on Eggs Benedict with Fonda Lee as we discuss what it was like finishing the final book in her Green Bone Saga trilogy during the pandemic, her secret for keeping track of nearly 2,000 pages of characters and plot points, why every book project is terrifying in its own way, how much of the ending she knew at the beginning (and our opposing views on whether knowing the ending helps or hurts the creative process), the warring wolves inside her as she writes the most emotionally difficult scenes, why she starts to worry if her writing is going too smoothly, the framing device that became far more than a framing device, why her natural length for processing ideas is the novel rather than the short story, and much more.

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