cooking the books

Magic Wants to Be Fed: Cooking the Books with Robin Hobb

This summer, I met Robin Hobb at Loncon3. We were both on a great food politics panel and she is as lovely and charming in person as you can imagine. When I asked her later if she’d join Cooking the Books for an interview, I knew my chances were slim, given that she’s hard at work on the new book – but she said yes. Everyone wins!

Robin is the bestselling author of short stories, books, and fantasy series including the Farseer trilogy, The Liveship Traders trilogy, and The Fitz and the Fool trilogy. Knowing that Robin has many loyal fans, I offered the lovely folks at reddit/fantasy a chance to join me in interviewing her. What follows are her fantastic answers to the questions we put together — please join me in welcoming Robin Hobb to the November Cooking the Books!

CTB: From the start of the Farseer Trilogy, Fitz’s status changes seem marked by where he eats (or is left to await food) – was this something you plotted out or something that happened naturally? Fitz’s observation ‘that food served in the kitchen was warmer than that served in the hall’ is quite wonderful – was that a reflection on the burdens of status?


It’s Hard to Fish from an Airship: Cooking the Books with Rajan Khanna

A year ago, Rajan Khanna and I read together at a New York Review of Science Fiction reading, curated by Amy Goldshlager.

Rajan read from Falling Sky, and the passage I heard was amazing. Earlier this month, Rajan joined Cooking the Books for a podcast answering all sorts of questions about post-apocalyptic cuisine.

To hear Rajan yourself, hurry to the World Fantasy Convention in Washington DC, where he’ll be reading on Thursday, November 6 from 2:30-3pm, or head to the December KGB Fantastic Fiction Reading in Manhattan, where he and author Steven Gould will join forces for an evening of … fantastic fiction.

You can read an excerpt from Falling Sky at

Or, should you desire, you can hear him talk about Falling Sky right now, on the latest installment of the Cooking the Books podcast. (more…)

How to Cook a Shimmer: Cooking the Books with E. Catherine Tobler

This month, Cooking the Books is delighted to welcome guest cook E. Catherine Tobler. A Sturgeon Award finalist and a cupcake connoisseur, Tobler has Senior Editor at Shimmer Magazine.  Elise asked if we would like to know how a Shimmer is made, and we, of course, said yes.  (previous Cooking the Books collaborations with SF/F magazines include A. C. Wise presenting How To Brew a Bugzine.)

Shimmer Badgers hard at work.

Shimmer Badgers hard at work.

It is a well known fact that Shimmer cannot be found in the wild and does not grow on trees. Shimmer is only brought to fruition through a careful nurturing and monitoring process, which involves practices we are revealing here for the first time. Just as last year we bravely exposed the horrors of slush-reading badgers, we are now opening the door upon Shimmer’s very own badgers, and how they cook Shimmer.

(Please note that all badgers are supervised and wear hair nets while in the Shimmer kitchens. Their paws are washed in fresh spring waters after their hourly romps in the clover meadows. They are never unsupervised while stoking the Shimmer Ovens of Industry. Except that one time, which this article is not exploring.) (more…)

The Clockwork Kitchen: Cooking the Books with Beth Cato

If trapped aboard an airship, with only a tin of cinnamon, a pinch of yeast, and a bag of somewhat questionable flour, our heroine, author Beth Cato would unquestionably come up with delicious baked goods in time to destroy her enemies. We are certain of that.

Cooking the Books is delighted to welcome Beth on the day her book, The Clockwork Dagger, debuts!

(You can read the first chapter of The Clockwork Dagger at

Beth joins us to talk about the research that went into the book, especially regarding food, politics, transport, medicine, and gremlins.

Thanks to Beth, you can score the very ARC written by Beth that was then gently read by us in preparation for this interview. This ARC is experienced, in good condition, and comes with your very own Cooking the Books Con Ribbon as a bookmark. (Yep, we’re making you read to the end for the entry terms. We were not born yesterday.)

So! Grab your goggles and your traveling-case, adventurers! And bring a good appetite, because Beth’s shared her recipe for maple fudge, as well as the story behind that fudge’s connection with The Clockwork Dagger.

Everyone armed with their weapon of choice? (more…)

That’s Craft with a ‘C': Cooking the Books with Max Gladstone

Max Gladstone’s fiction mixes modern economic theory with thaumaturgy, necromancy with bankruptcy laws, and his characters draw you into their world before you realize the dangers involved. Talking to Max is a bit similar – you never know where you’ll end up. Be well assured, it will be mindblowing. Max joined the Cooking the Books podcast to celebrate his new book in the Craft Sequence, Full Fathom Five, just out from Tor.

The ingredients for podcast #003 – Cooking the Books with Max Gladstone include:

  • 10% stone golems
  • 3 times the Recommended Daily Amount of artificial gods
  • The best street food money can’t buy
  • What to eat when you’re stuck at the office and still living
  • 2 Dragon Steaks
  • Island economics and class divides
  • One box of Kraft macaroni and cheese
  • Seasoned with Anime, Loncon, and the John W. Campbell awards
  • Plus Max’s new story, The Angelus Guns


Lessons from the Portuguese: Cooking the Books with J. Kathleen Cheney

Very excited to have author J. Kathleen Cheney join Cooking the Books today! She’s here to talk about Portuguese cooking and the Golden City, where magical beings have been banned for decades, though many live there in secret.

Kathleen, welcome! Tell us a little about The Golden City and The Seat of Magic — is there a close cultural analog in the world?

The Golden City and The Seat of Magic are set in an alternate Portugal, in what would be the city of Porto, although a somewhat altered version.

What kind of research did you do on that culture?

To research that culture, I did a lot of reading, not only of history, but also period fiction from Portugal (Eça de Queirós and Camões, for example), guide books, cookbooks. Among other things, I tried cooking several recipes from those Portuguese cookbooks. And then we visited the country, spending two weeks in Portugal back in 2012, which was absolutely wonderful. (more…)

Blue Goo in Space – Cooking the Books with Adam Christopher

Is Adam Christopher as charming as he is prolific? Today, you have the opportunity to find out! Born in New Zealand, now living in England, Adam is the author of Empire State (Angry Robot, 2012), Hang Wire (Angry Robot, 2012), Seven Wonders (Angry Robot, 2012), The Age Atomic (Angry Robot, 2013), and most recently, The Burning Dark (Tor, 2014). He has a number of books upcoming as well, including the LA Trilogy, and The Burning Dark‘s sequel: The Machine Awakes (Tor, 2015)

Adam joins Cooking the Books for our second podcast episode to discuss The Burning Dark as well as his novelette Brisk Money, coming to Tor.Com in July.

(UPDATE: there’s a giveaway going on through Monday – details in the comments!)

Want to know what you’re getting into before you press play? Here are the ingredients:


Cookies and Con-versations: Cooking the Books with Rachel Kory

Must remember to be nicer to  agent…

By day (and sometimes evenings and weekends and possibly the wee dawn hours), SGGLiterary agent Rachel Kory encourages and promotes her writers. She’s awesome at it.* When she’s not scouring contracts, Rachel can be found at conventions throughout the country. Here’s the catch about cons: You may not recognize her when you see her, not at first: she’s excellent at costuming too. (Rachel’s been kind enough to share some of her photos below.)

A hint, for those who are lucky enough to cross her path: she’s usually carrying cookies or other delicious foods to share. Curious to find out more? Let’s have a con-versation… (more…)

When You’re What’s On The Menu: Cooking the Books with Mur Lafferty

Presenting the first-ever Cooking the Books podcast! – brought to you in no small part by Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast expertise. 

photo by JR Blackwell

Mur Lafferty is the author of The Shambling Guide to New York City (Orbit, 2013) and the recently released Ghost Train To New Orleans (Orbit, 2014). The 2013 John W. Campbell Award winner is also a fantastic friend to new writers. Her I Should Be Writing podcast contains a regular dose of encouragement, empathy, and advice.

What’s more, Mur is funny as all get out, and that comes across really well in a podcast. Let us know what you think! Get Your Cooking the Books podcast here!
It’s also here!

Cooking the Books #1: When You’re What’s On the Menu – Cooking the Books with Mur Lafferty – April 24, 2014

Want to know more before you commit to clicking the link? I’d be remiss if I didn’t list the ingredients. Here we go:

When You’re What’s On The Menu: Cooking the Books with Mur Lafferty contains:
  • 1/2 scoop I Should Be Writing
  • Assorted lesser gods
  • 2 Underground Publishing city guides for vampires, zombies, and monsters
  • 1 city talker
  • 2 favorite New Orleans restaurants
  • 1 road trip with Ursula Vernon

Plus! the following recipe for Ego Pie: 

Mur says: “Ego Pie is essentially Emeril Legasse’s chocolate creme pie, but you add 1/4-1/2 of a teaspoon of cayenne. My husband says that’s too much, but the point is to go past enjoyment into a little bit of pain because that’s what an ego needs.”
Mur Lafferty can be found at and on Twitter at @mightymur
Thanks for tuning in, everyone! Next month, we shift back to the blog with more interviews. Meantime, leave a comment to let me know what you thought of the podcast format.  For Reasons to be named later.

Available via paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
(Amz) (BN) (Indie) (Waterstones)

Available via paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
(Amz) (BN) (Indie) (Waterstones) (Audible)

Many Things At Once: Cooking the Books with Russell Galen

Douglas Levy

photo by: Douglas Levy

Russell Galen figured out by the age of 14 that helping authors was his career path. By the late 1970s, he’d secured an apprenticeship with one of the great literary agents of the era. In 1993, he joined two other literary agents to found what is now Scovil, Galen, Gosh Literary. With passions that include science and nature writing, science fiction and fantasy, Russ represents writers including Cory Doctorow, Diana Gabaldon, Terry Goodkind, Steven Gould (his Cooking the Books interview was our first ever), James Rollins, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cassandra Clare, and new novelists including Ken Liu, Charlie Jane Anders, and me*. (See how smooth I was, sticking that last one on the end? SMOOTH.)

Russ’ tastes are legendary, and I was delighted when he agreed to answer questions for Cooking the Books – so delighted that I threw him a curveball, below, about what upcoming releases should be paired with which foods. I suspect we will see more pairing suggestions in the future.

None of the other questions I asked him were easy ones either. I’m not sure where that falls on the brave/stupid scale of how to work with your agent, but his replies are phenomenal, and I’m very grateful Russ shared some of his time.

Everyone ready? Let’s all sit down to an agent’s lunch with Russell Galen… (more…)