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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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Eating the Fantastic
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Now displaying: Page 1
Nov 26, 2021

Pig out on Peruvian with Lawrence M. Schoen as we discuss how he was able to release 12 books in a difficult year affected by both a pandemic and chemo, the pseudonym he was relieved he never had to use, what caused him to say "you find the answers to the problems of your life by writing a story about it," the RPG improv which led to the creation of his Barsk universe, what he learned at the Taos Toolbox workshop which caused him to completely rewrite one of his books, the all-important power of the subconscious, how transcription software affected his style, why he doesn't want people to read the final paragraph of his second Barsk novel, his relationships with the indie side of publishing, the many joys of mentoring, how he uses hypnotism to help other writers, and much more.

Nov 12, 2021

Take a break for baklava with Hugo Award-winning writer Suzanne Palmer as we discuss her recurrent dreams of accidentally impaling someone with her trophy during the ceremony, the Ray Bradbury story she copied out of a library book by hand word for word as a child, the differences between <em>The Hobbit</em> and <em>The Lord of the Rings</em> (and why some readers have difficulties with the latter), the way a friend's urgings she do NaNoWriMo caused her to take her writing more seriously, the spark that gave birth to her interstellar repo man Fergus Ferguson, how the pandemic affected the writing of her latest novel, and much more.

Oct 29, 2021

Feast on kabobs with award-winning writer E. Lily Yu as we discuss why she was glad that when she first came up with the idea for her novel <em>On Fragile Waves</em> she had no idea how long it would take to complete, what she learned through each successive draft of the novel before she was satisfied, why it can be exhausting to see people as they are rather than as you want them to be, the effort required to make the effortful appears effortless, the reasons rejection can be a blessing (especially during the early part of your career), what she learned reading slush for <em>Fantasy</em> magazine, how writing interactive video games helped her write better short stories, and much more.

Oct 15, 2021

Join writer Sam Maggs as we discuss the <em>Stargate SG-1</em> convention that was her gateway drug for fandom, why her debut comic book story turned out to be a <em>Star Trek</em> tale, the way the arcs of our careers ran in completely opposite directions, what it was like releasing six books during a pandemic, how <em>The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy</em> was born though complete serendipity, the audition that got her the gig to write an <em>Unstoppable Wasp</em> novel, how she dreamed up her pitch for <em>Captain Marvel</em>, and much more.

Oct 1, 2021

Snack on shredded jellyfish with Renée Witterstaetter as we discuss how Jerry Lewis launched her interest in comics, the way science fiction fandom led to her first job at DC Comics, the differences between the Marvel and DC offices of the '70s and '80s, what made Mark Gruenwald such an amazing editor, her emotional encounter with Steve Ditko, the inflationary info we learned about the writing of letter columns during the '70s and '80s, her work with John Byrne on <em>She-Hulk</em>, how <em>Jurassic Park</em> caused her to leave Marvel, the prank Jackie Chan asked her to help pull on Chris Tucker, and much more.

Sep 17, 2021

Join four comic book cognoscenti at the 2021 Steve Ditko mini-con in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania to hear Javier Hernandez analyze the hypnotizing choreography of Spider-Man's fight scenes, Zack Kruse explain how Ditko's early work for Charlton held the seeds of everything the artist did later in his career, Carl Potts reveal what happened when he returned to Ditko an original page of Creeper art after he learned it had been stolen, and Arlen Schumer declare Ditko to be more than just a great comic book artist, but instead a great American artist who happened to create comics.

Sep 10, 2021

Break bread with Veronica Schanoes as we discuss what it's been like trying to write her first novel during a pandemic, why she can only read Jane Yolen's intro to her new collection half a page at a time, how she makes sure her fairy tale-inspired fiction works even for those who don't catch the allusions, the joy which comes from putting the right words in the right order, how Kelly Link convinced her she should take herself seriously as a writer, whether research inspires stories or stories inspire research (and how writers make sure they don't force readers to suffer for that research), the way fairy tales take place "outside of historical space-time," the importance of Joe Strummer and the Clash, and much more.

Aug 27, 2021

Bite into a Baltimore camel burger with Michael R. Underwood as we discuss how his tango past impacts his writing of action scenes, his early love for Star Wars and Spider-Man, how reading Joseph Campbell ignited his desire to write fiction, what he learned about publishing as a kid and how that affected his career expectations, the lessons the late Graham Joyce taught him about the best way to revise novels, the balance you must keep in mind when inserting Easter eggs into your stories, how he constructed his Genrenauts universe and why he returned to it after a long absence, the importance of found family, his advice for successful collaborations, and much more.

Aug 13, 2021

Three recent second novelists — Karen Osborne, Sarah Pinsker, and K. M. Szpara — discuss why “second books are weird,” what (if anything) they learned writing their debuts which made book two easier, why pantsing is a thing of the past, whether book two had them concerned about creating a brand, how writing acknowledgements for second novels can be strange, the way deadlines made taking time off between books impossible, the dangers of being abandoned by debut culture, the fear of fewer pre-publication eyeballs on book two, how the pandemic will affect the creation of future novels, and much more.

Jul 30, 2021

Binge on the Balkans with Eisner Award-winning comics writer Tom King as we discuss the two questions no one in comics can answer, his attempt at age 11 to get a job at Archie Comics, how he goes back to the beginning when writing a classic character such as Supergirl, whether Alan Moore would have had the impetus to create Watchmen in today's environment, our dealings with comic book censorship, the weird way Monica Lewinsky caused him not to get hired by MAD magazine, the differences we discovered early on between Marvel and DC, what he learned as an intern to the legendary Chris Claremont, the Black Knight pitch he got paid for which was never published, the way comic book people are like circus folk, why the current state of Krypto proves I could never go back to writing comics, and much more.

Jul 16, 2021

Nosh with Nebula Award-winning writer John Wiswell as we discuss his motivation for giving one of the greatest acceptance speeches ever, how he learned to build meaning out of strangeness, the way writing novels taught him to make his short stories better, his dual story generation modes of confrontation vs. escape, why what we think we know about the Marshmallow Test is wrong, the reason we're both open online about our rejections, how the love of wallpaper led to him becoming a writer, why we've each destroyed our early writing from time to time, what he learned writing a story a day for six years, and much more.

Jul 2, 2021

Dig into dolmades with agent extraordinaire Joshua Bilmes as we discuss how the COVID-19 lockdown impacted the publishing industry, what he learned by visiting 238 Borders bookstores, the offer he's made to bookstore employees he's surprised has never been taken up, how writing letters to <em>Analog</em> led to his career as an agent, what life was like at the famed Scott Meredith literary agency, the fact which had he but known he might not have gone out on his own as an agent, why he's had to redefine what "pleasure" means, what he has to say to people who think they don't need agents, the sixth sense he possesses which helps him choose new clients, and much more.

Jun 17, 2021

Share sushi with Philip K. Dick Award-winning writer Meg Elison as we discuss her pre-pandemic prediction for the kind of year 2020 was then shaping up to be, how reading Terry Bisson's "They're Made Out of Meat" changed her life, using tabletop RPGs to deal with the powerlessness felt during recent times, the way rereading taught her to be a writer, our dual fascination with diaries, when she realized her first novel was actually the start of a trilogy (and the songs which helped her better understand each installment), why she followed that post-apocalyptic trilogy with a contemporary YA novel, and much more.

Jun 4, 2021

Share shahi korma with writer Karen Osborne as we discuss her biggest surprise after signing with an agent for her first novel, how she was able to celebrate the launch of that debut book <em>and</em> a Nebula nomination during the COVID-19 lockdown, what you need to keep in your head to never go wrong about a character's motivations, how the Viable Paradise writing workshop taught her to lean in on her weird, the favorite line she's ever written, how she wrote fanfic of her own characters to better understand them, why she doesn't want her daughter to read her second novel until she's 13, the way <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em> changed her life, how the Clarion workshop taught her to let go of caring what other people think of her writing, what Levar Burton means to her childhood, and much more.

May 21, 2021

Nibble prosciutto bread with Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated writer Nino Cipri as we discuss how they made peace with the heat death of the universe, the way their favorite endings also feel like beginnings, the false assumption things will always get better, how their award-nominated novella started out as a screenplay, their trouble with titles and fascination with trees, the many pleasures of ambiguity, how we almost lost them to mortuary science, why they've been called a verbal terrorist, and much more.

May 7, 2021

Grab gỏi cuốn with award-winning writer Aliette de Bodard as we discuss how best to deal with imposter syndrome, the way the pandemic contributed to her completing a long-unfinished story, the phone call which sparked her to focus on more personal stories, when she realized she was building universes rather than single stories, how anger over <em>Revenge of the Sith</em> gave her insight into the kinds of universes she did and didn't want to build, why the <em>Shadow and Bone</em> TV adaptation wasn't the escapist entertainment she hoped it would be, how writers can fight back against the cliches popular culture puts in our heads, whether writers can control the effects of their stories when they have no idea what individual readers might bring to them, how best to use anger appropriately, the importance of a story's final line, what she wishes she'd known about writing rules when she began, and much more.

Apr 23, 2021

Grab an egg roll and join comics writer/editor Jim Salicrup as we discuss the illustrated postcard which convinced Marvel Comics to hire him at age 15, how John Romita Sr. caused him to change his name the first day on the job, what he did to enrage <em>MAD</em> magazine's Al Feldstein, his late-night mission to secure Stan Lee's toupee, what editor Mark Gruenwald had in common with Bill Murray, why the 1970s' <em>X-Men</em> revival was like <em>Amazing Fantasy</em> #15, how he convinced Todd McFarlane to stick to Spider-Man (which eventually led to a blockbuster new comic), the possible connection between Stan's love of crossword puzzles and the famed Marvel Method, and much more.

Apr 9, 2021

Grab a slice of pizza with A. T. Greenblatt and eavesdrop as we discuss the writing workshop-induced panic which caused her to begin writing her latest Nebula Award-nominated story, how the Viable Paradise workshop helped kick her writing up a notch, why she prefers Batman to Superman, the importance of revisions, critique groups, and community, what's to be learned from rereading one's older work, why she's a total pantser, her love of Roald Dahl, something she wishes she'd known earlier about the endings of stories, how much of writing is being able to keep secrets and not explode, and much more.

Mar 26, 2021

Bite into BBQ with Zig Zag Claybourne as we discuss how creators can self-define their success to avoid jealousy and despair, why he's always preferred Marvel to DC, how he'd annoy his family with his love of the original <em>Star Trek</em>, the two professors who showed him he could be a writer, why the title is the soul of a story, the most important pointer he received after reaching out to romance writer Beverley Jenkins for advice, why he does some of his best writing in the bathtub, how dialogue reveals character, whether his wild duology will ever become a trilogy, how to survive toxic fandoms, and much more.

Mar 12, 2021

Grab a slice of pie with podcaster Gil Roth as we discuss his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first <em>Superman</em>, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer during his days reviewing for <em>The Comics Journal</em>, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.

Feb 26, 2021

Savor Stan Lee's favorite sandwich with comics writer Jo Duffy as we discuss why she knows what Superman will look like when he's 100, the many reasons our kid selves both thought Marvel had D.C. beat, the genius of Marie Severin, how I may have inadvertently been responsible for her getting a job as an Assistant Editor in the Marvel Bullpen, what it was like to work with Steve Ditko, the firing she still feels guilty about 40 years later, how she approached the challenge of writing <em>Power Man and Iron Fist</em>, the letter she wrote to Stan Lee after the death of Jack Kirby, the two-year-long <em>Star Wars</em> story arc she was forced to squeeze into a few issues, the best writing advice she ever got, and much more.

Feb 12, 2021

Nibble hors d'oeuvres with award-winning writer Mary Robinette Kowal as we discuss the temporal differences between puppetry and science fiction conventions, how she transitioned from writing magical Regency novels to the Lady Astronaut series, why unlike many writers, she reads her reviews (albeit selectively), the reason she's able to write relationships between reasonable people so well, how she constructs a science fiction mystery, why it's so important she likes her characters' clothing when she picks a project, the meaning of science fiction itself within her science fiction universe, the way she uses sensitivity readers to make her work better, how a novel is like a clear glass pitcher, and much more.

Jan 29, 2021

Settle in for bagels and a schmear with comics retailer Joel Pollack as we discuss what the pandemic has done to the comics shop business, the comic his mother bought him which changed his life, the card game which led to him getting his first piece of original art, how his run-in with a young Howard Chaykin convinced him he wasn't cut out to be a professional comics artist, what opening day was like at the first of his Big Planet comic book stores, the biggest sales event he's seen during his 35-year retailing career, what inspired Bernie Wrightson to draw a freaky issue of <em>Swamp Thing</em>, how he fights back against the Comic Book Guy cliche to makes his shops welcoming places, our joint distaste of slabbing, why he doesn't like doing appraisals, and much more.

Jan 15, 2021

Savor spanakopita with Nick Mamatas as we discuss why there's a generational divide when it comes to what potential readers might think his upcoming novel <em>The Second Shooter</em> is about, our joint Brooklyn heritage and history with professional wrestling, why he threw away the first dozen stories he wrote, the reason Marvel Comics was always better than DC, his encounters with the famed monologuist Brother Theodore, the first bad book he ever read, the way having been a journalist helps him collaborate without killing his co-writers, why work for hire assignments can be difficult, how we feel about our refusal to pick a genre lane, and much more.

Jan 1, 2021

It's time for cookies and conversation with writer/editor/publisher Ian Randal Strock as we discuss what he said upon meeting Isaac Asimov which caused the Grand Master to refuse to write him a limerick, why he prefers <em>The Princess Bride</em> novel to the movie, the reason his father advised him not to name his publishing company after himself, why the 1,000-word short story is his natural length, the question editor Stan Schmidt asked before purchasing his first story for <em>Analog</em>, the essay which so thrilled him he felt compelled to start his own magazine, the most difficult aspect of running your own publishing company, why ending a story too late isn't as great a sin as starting one too early, how his fascination with presidential trivia began in the bathroom, and much more.

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