Book Bites: Children of Arkadia by Darusha Wehm

Book bites is the laid-back younger sibling of Cooking the Books. Authors share a recipe and talk about their book, all in one tasty bite. Today, we have the pleasure of going all the way around the world to introduce you to New Zealand resident Darusha Wehm. She’s a fellow sailor and among the first non-relatives to send me a photo of my (name-twin’s) beautiful walkway in Wellington, New Zealand. (Yes, Book Bites is bribable, but only with bridges.)

We hope you find the antipodean stew as delicious as the fiction… 

Darusha Wehm
photo courtesy of: Darusha Wehm

Children of Arkadia follows three generations of humans and AIs participating in an audacious experiment — to create a just and free society in an orbital space colony. The book is inspired by utopian science fiction and the settlers’ stated goal is to build a better society. However, what I find interesting is that a common goal and good intentions are not enough to make a project succeed. People who hold similar views often still disagree about how to enact change, and there is an inherent conflict between competing views of what doing the right thing actually entails.

And that’s only one part of the challenges that the settlers of Arkadia face. They have to manage the daily needs of human beings — shelter, clothing and, of course, how they are going to feed themselves. The Arkadia colony is a mix of high-tech and rural living. Farming is the chief concern of most of the people — both human and AI — and even those not directly participating in growing food are, to some extent or another, foodies. Among the human population, at least, everyone needs to eat.
Betsy Rhys-Jones is a refugee in a society where work is encouraged, but optional. She isn’t content to sit by the river watching others plow the fields, even if field plowing isn’t exactly in her wheelhouse. So she is among the first group to create local markets, offering their expertise and craftwork for their neighbours. Betsy’s stew pots don’t stay full for long once the word gets around.
Betsy’s Spicy Vegetable Stew
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 potato (small)
  • 1 yam (small)
  • 1/2 cup lentils (or other pre-soaked beans)
  • 1 cup green beans (or other chopped vegetables)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • salt
  • black pepper
  1. Sauté the onion in the oil, with salt, pepper and other spices. (Note – spice amounts are approximate. Adjust to taste/smell).
  2. When the onions are translucent, add the stock and beans. Cover and simmer until the beans are just tender but not quite done.
  3. Add chopped potato and yam. If necessary, add stock/water to cover. Simmer about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the green beans or other vegetables. Simmer until potatoes are soft. Serve with rice or fresh bread.

M. Darusha Wehm is the three-time Parsec Award shortlisted author of the novels Beautiful Red, Self Made, Act of Will and The Beauty of Our Weapons. Her next novel, Children of Arkadia (Bundoran Press), will be released April 28, 2015. She is the editor of the crime and mystery magazine Plan B.
She is from Canada, but currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending the past several years traveling at sea on her sailboat. For more information, visit

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