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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
May 15, 2024

Chow down on cryptid pizza with writer/editor Lesley Conner as we discuss why horror is where she feels the most comfortable as a writer, how her role at <em>Apex</em> magazine grew from Social Media Manager to Chief Editor, her "Price is Right" method of filling out an issue's word count, why she hardly ever reads cover letters, the trends she's seen in the slush pile and what they mean, the key difference between editing magazines vs. anthologies, her longtime obsession with serial killers, how to go on writing after one's writing mentor passes away, and much more.

May 3, 2024

Devour a Georgian dinner with Dan Parent as we discuss why we both loved the legendary Ramona Fradon, how a Charlton Comics pamphlet gave him the tools to take his art more seriously, what he learned working at the start of his career with the great Dan DeCarlo, the character fans demand he draw the most during his convention appearances, the Archie artist who tormented him during his early days, how to respect legacy characters while still keeping them fresh, whose blood got added to the ink of which comics, how hopeful artists can do now what he did then, and much more.

Apr 18, 2024

Sup on scallops with Arthur Suydam as we discuss the way a lengthy hospital stay resulted in him falling in love with comics, what Joe Orlando said to convince him to start his comics career at DC instead of Warren, the permission he was granted upon seeing the ghastly artwork of Graham Ingels, what he learned from dealing with cadavers during his art student days, how Gil Kane hurt his feelings by chewing out his early work, the grief Frank Frazetta got out of dealing with <em>Mad</em> magazine, the way his work for <em>Epic Illustrated</em> made Archie Goodwin squirm, why Marvel teamed him up with Robert Kirkman for its Marvel Zombies project, his reason for avoiding social media like the plague, and much more.

Apr 5, 2024

Join writer Sunny Moraine for dinner as we discuss how the short story version of <em>Your Shadow Half Remains</em> exploded into a novel (and whether either of them would have existed at all without COVID-19), why pantsing is good but can sometimes become a nightmare, the way stories come to them cinematically,  several questions to which I didn't want to know the answers but only whether <em>they</em> knew the answers, the unsettling demands of <em>Skinamarink</em>, why we both love ambiguity but most of the world doesn't, how to interpret and when to implement the feedback of beta readers, the writerly gifts given to us by our subconsciouses,  why their short story days seem to be behind them, the two reasons they hate the process of titling their tales, and much more.

Mar 22, 2024

Join biographer Julie Phillips for Jӓgerschnitzel as we discuss why she called <em>The Baby on the Fire Escape</em> "a weird hybrid monster of a book," the one thing she regrets not researching more thoroughly for her Tiptree bio, the reason there's more space for the reader in a biography than a memoir, why some children of artistic mothers can make peace with their relationships and others can't, the three things she felt it important to squeeze into the seven minutes she was given to speak at Ursula K. Le Guin's memorial service, her writing method of starting in the middle of a book and working out toward both ends, the occasional difficulty of withholding judgement on one's biographical subjects, the relationship between biographer Robert Caro and editor Robert Gottlieb, plus much more.

Mar 8, 2024

Nosh pastrami with Glenn Hauman as we discuss how he shook things up during the earliest days of electronic publishing, the embarrassing high school newspaper writings of Ted Chiang, the way the assembly-line nature of comics keeps many creatives from seeing the big picture, why he's nobody's first choice for anything but everybody's second choice for everything, his pre-teen encounters with another pre-teen fan who eventually became a Marvel Comics Executive Editor, the philosophical question he asked actor Michael O'Hare just before <em>Babylon 5</em> began to air, the lunch that led to his first published short story being about the X-Men, what visiting Don Heck's house at age 12 taught him about artists and taking an art class from John Buscema at age 13 taught him about himself, the plot of the Warren Worthington novel he never got a chance to write, the free speech lawsuit which had him going head to head with the Dr. Seuss estate, plus much more.

Feb 23, 2024

Snack on sushi with Ray Nayler as we discuss how his time living outside the U.S. helped him become a better science fiction writer, why he feels the greatest effect of having written <em>The Mountain in the Sea</em> was a culinary one, the reason we agree our favorite part of writing is rewriting, the sad results of his accidental Facebook experiment, whether his mammoth memory behavior is based on scientific facts or is purely speculative, why we'll likely never be able to truly resurrect extinct species, how changes in culture can affect evolution, the train trip where he received career advice from a stranger he didn't realize was Neil Gaiman, why we aren't totally in control of our writing destinies, how he's haunted by the ghost of an alternate version of himself, plus much more.

Feb 9, 2024

Nibble garlic naan with Jo Miles as we discuss how what began as a short story blossomed into a trilogy, the way to juggle multiple points of view and keep them balanced, the science fictional precursors which helped them create their sentient ship, how to properly pace the arc of a burgeoning romance, the importance of making sure a redemption arc feels earned, the way their mandate for writing optimistic science fiction came to be, the differing ways we were each affected by the pandemic, how the Taos Toolbox workshop teaches writers to break down the beats  of their stories (and why that terrifies me), plus much more.

Jan 23, 2024

Munch MVP sandwiches with MVPs Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan as we discuss why <em>The Coode Street Podcast</em> is "the <em>Cheers</em> of podcasts," the foolish statement made during their first episode which meant there had to be more, the identity of the guest who was most resistant to appearing on their show, the reason the podcast made Paul Cornell want to run, the different interviewing techniques necessary when having conversations with the voluble vs. the reticent, the white whales whom they could never snare, how to make sure we're speaking to more than just our own generations, their advice for anyone who wants to launch a podcast of their own, the way to avoid getting canned responses out of guests, how their conversational methods have changed over 13 years, whether critiquing books or rejecting stories has ever affected relationships with a guest, and much more.

Jan 12, 2024

Join Izzy Wasserstein for Kansas City BBQ as we discuss the way Sarah Pinsker sparked her lightbulb moment, why it's important for her to learn your chosen D&D character, which <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em> characters caused her to take her first stab at writing, the change she'd make in her life if she were independently wealthy, why we both miss those paper rejection slips from publishing's pre-electronic days, the disconnect between the way we feel about certain stories of ours and how readers respond, the most important gift she was given by the Clarion writing workshop, our perverse love for second-person present-tense stories, how surprised she was when she sold a story to <em>Analog</em>, and much more.

Dec 29, 2023

Join Pat Murphy for lunch at "the single best restaurant in the world" in Episode 215 of Eating the Fantastic as we discuss the part of Robert A. Heinlein's famed rules of writing with which she disagrees, why she felt the need to attend the Clarion writing workshop even after having made several sales to major pro markets, the occasional difficulties in decoding what an editor is truly trying to tell you, the importance of never giving up your day jobs, why she can't read Dylan Thomas when she's working on a novel, the differences between the infighting we've seen in the science fiction vs. literary fields, what we perceive as our personal writing flaws, a Clarion critiquing mystery I've been attempting to solve since 1979, the science fiction connection which launched her career at the Exploratorium, and much more.

Dec 15, 2023

Feast on crab fried rice with Nina Kiriki Hoffman as we discuss the way a ghost story which left her wanting more led to her taking her writing more seriously, her early reactions to reading Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula K. Le Guin, how the Clarion workshop convinced her she could have a career as a writer, the way she wanted to grow up to be a combination of Ray Bradbury and Zenna Henderson, what she learned about characterization from Samuel R. Delany while at Clarion, the major difference she saw between the horror and science fiction communities during the early days of the Internet, how my perception of the arc her career was affected not by what she wrote but by what she sold, the lesson Ellen Datlow taught her which she passes on to her students, and much more.

Dec 1, 2023

Snack on spanakopita with Neil Clarke as we discuss how Clarkesworld was born (and what he wishes he'd known back when the magazine launched), the motivation behind his unrivaled response times, the irresponsible impact of AI on science fiction and what he's doing to help ameliorate it, how he proactively analyzes submission data to make sure he receives stories from diverse voices, the differing effect of the pandemic lockdown on first time vs. established authors, why it's hard for people to sell him a time travel story, his problems with <em>Star Trek</em>'s transporter, the true meaning of rejections, why reading science fiction in translation is so important, Lester del Rey's prophetic warning about the provincialism of U.S. fandom, and much more.

Nov 17, 2023

Polish off a Peruvian lunch with Alex Shvartsman as we discuss how intimations of mortality got him to start writing fiction, what he learned as a pro player of <em>Magic: the Gathering</em> which affected his storytelling, why he set aside his initial urge to write novels in favor of short stories, which U.S. science fiction writers are more famous in Russia than their home country, the reason his success as a writer and editor of humor came as a surprise, why he feels it's important to read cover letters, the secret to writing successful flash fiction, his "lighthouse" method of plotting, and much more.

Nov 3, 2023

Binge BBQ with the legendary Mike Gold as we discuss the way his hiring at DC Comics was all Neal Adams' fault, how the guerrilla marketing he learned from Abbie Hoffman helped him quadruple direct market sales, the Steve Ditko <em>Creeper</em> cover which sent a not-so-secret message to publisher Carmine Infantino, why editor Murray Boltinoff compared Marvel Comics to the Beatles (and not in a good way), which staffer was "the most disgusting human being I'd ever met in my life," how First Comics was born, his secret weapon for getting creators to deliver their work on time, our differing contemporaneous exposure to <em>Fantastic Four</em> #1 (and how his related to Merrick Garland), the way an off-hand comment led to a classic John Byrne comic, how the comic book field is like a donut shop, and much more.

Oct 24, 2023

Chat and chew over fried calamari with the award-winning writer Michael Marano as we discuss how his love of science fiction storytelling led him to explore wrestling and roller derby, the lessons we each learned from our early rejections, his preference for old school <em>Dungeons & Dragons</em>, how his crush on Linda Blair affected his first celebrity interview, whether writers ever really retire regardless of what they claim, what his career as a film critic taught him about the possible arc of his fiction writing career, and much, much more.

Oct 12, 2023

Dine on oxtail stew with Lauren Beukes as we discuss why the genre community is like a giant amoeba, how her choice of D&D character is in perfect sync with the way she writes, the reason she only recently realized she has ADHD (and why her new novel <em>Bridge</em> is definitely an ADHD book), why AI can never replace writers, the ways in which the protagonist of her new novel is different from all her other protagonists, the importance of authenticity readers, why acquiring editors at publishing companies are like restaurant critics, the importance of art in helping us find our way through the darkness, the reason you shouldn't be so hard on your younger self, how she uses the Tarot to get unstuck, and much, much more.

Oct 3, 2023

Relive Capclaves past and present during the lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival, where you'll hear R. Z. Held and me bond over rejection, David Hacker explain his love of listening to writers read, Michael Dirda recall why Orson Scott Card once kneeled before him on an elevator, James Morrow share his fascination with Charles Darwin, how Katy Lewis found her husband through Dungeons and Dragons, Michael Walsh's favorite moment as a con chair (which involved Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, and George R. R. Martin), Bill Lawhorn clarify the creation of the bronze dodo, Sarah Pinsker reveal how and why her first science fiction convention was Capclave, Adeena Mignogna explain why space is cool but space travel gets really hot, Mike Zipzer's memories of Terry Pratchett's surprise visit, Sarah Mitchell's arranging of a secret con wedding, Sunny Moraine opine on how the world's response to COVID-19 changes our ideas of what would happen in a real-world zombie apocalypse, John Pomeranz chat about how the infamous Disclave Great Flood transformed him into a hotel liaison &#8212; and much more!

Sep 22, 2023

Join Hildy Silverman for a Georgian feast as we discuss the kindergarten incident which taught her all she ever wanted to do was write, how to keep writing when the whole world is telling you to stop, what she learned early on from such literary lions as Sue Miller and Jayne Anne Phillips, the lunch that changed her life, why she loves writing for themed anthologies (and how to do it right), what made her decide to take over as editor and publisher of <em>Space and Time</em> magazine, how to beat the odds of the slush pile, the ways being an editor helped her become a better writer, how she's managed to collaborate without killing her writing partner, and so much more.

Sep 7, 2023

Munch on a monstrous fish sandwich with Michael Bailey as we discuss his Stoker Award-nominated poetry collaboration with Marge Simon (and how they managed not to kill each other during the writing of it), how he knows when a poem is a poem and not a short story, what reading other anthologies taught him that made his own anthologies better, the economics of small press publishing, how to lose awards gracefully, the way getting an early story torn apart by Douglas E. Winter at Borderlands Boot Camp gave him the boost he needed, why his novel <em>Psychotropic Dragon</em> took 16 years to transform from an idea into a book, how one of the joys of writing is never knowing the end until you get there, his new obsession of making chocolate from fruit to bar, our shared love of revising continually, and so much more.

Aug 25, 2023

Chow down on crispy pickled cucumbers with Lisa Morton as we discuss how seeing <em>The Exorcist</em> at age 15 changed her life, why she sometimes feels guilty about her path to publication, our memories of the late, great Dennis Etchison, the differences between trick or treating in New York vs. L.A., the weirdest thing about working in a bookstore during the pandemic, the differing ways our writing was affected by lockdown, how she myth-busted Halloween, why she doesn't think of rejection as rejection, what she means when she says horror fiction should be more political, writing for themed anthologies, what it would take for us to turn our hand to novels, and so much more.

Aug 11, 2023

Feast on Fettuccine Alfredo with Howard Bender as we discuss how desperate Marvel Comics must have been to have hired young kids like us, his role in founding the Pittsburgh Comics Club (and the way he paid homage to that club down the road in Dial H for Hero), the day he showed Stan Lee his art portfolio over dessert, how he started his career at Marvel using Jack Kirby's taboret, the fact neither of us would have become who we turned out to be without Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, how terrified we both were of production manager John Verpoorten, our first meetings with the late, great Johnny Romita, the important life lesson he learned from inker Mike Esposito, what he was glad he remembered you shouldn't talk about with Steve Ditko, how Marie Severin inspired him in his current career as a caricaturist,  and so much more.

Jul 28, 2023

Bite into baklava with Charlie Jane Anders as we discuss how her childhood fantasy of aliens whisking her away from Earth gave birth to her Unstoppable trilogy, the way writing a YA meant she had to completely change the way she writes, the challenges of bringing a large cast of characters to life while giving them their own inner lives, why she has problems with Clarke's Third Law but was willing to roll with it for her new trilogy, the difficulties of still being at work on the third book of a trilogy when the first was already in the hands of readers, how growing as a writer means embracing the messiness of the process, her reaction to being called "this generation’s Le Guin," what she had to learn to be able to write comics, and so much more.

Jul 12, 2023

It's time for a ramen reunion with my 1979 Clarion classmate Rhondi Salsitz as we discuss her early missed opportunity to workshop with Octavia Butler, the terrible thing Tom Disch told her during their one-on-one meeting during Clarion, the animated series which inspired her to write her bestselling Sand Wars series of novels, why she feels she's still standing when so many of our Clarion comrades aren't, what caused a reader to write an angry letter to Dean Koontz about one of her novels, how she progressed from recognizing there was a problem but not knowing how to fix it to understanding what needed to be done, and so much more.

Jun 30, 2023

Bite into a baconless BLT with Jordan Kurella as we discuss which ice cream flavor he chose to celebrate his Nebula Award nomination, the way readers can tell which stories writers had the most fun writing, how  all he needs to pants a story is the first line, what caused him to say "it's not write what you know, it's write what you're embarrassed about," why he doesn't like to reread his own published work unless he has to, how to avoid getting stuck in rabbit holes of research, the ways writing a book can be like spending time with your best friends, his rule about story titles, why we're both so attracted to writing love stories, how playing the violin in public prepared him for surviving rejection, why he published only a single piece of literary fiction before realizing the fantastic was where he belonged, and so much more.

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