What was the inspiration for this story?
The inspiration for this story started somewhere with my curiosity over not seeing certain roles, positions, or careers explored that often in secondary world fantasy. While there has certainly been a shift these days, I still see so much epic fantasy centered around soldiers and royalty, chosen ones and dark lords, assassins and magicians. And that’s not to say any of those are bad, far from it! But I’ve always wondered, where were the stories of the epic fantasy interns? The postal workers? The low-level bureaucrat, the civic engineer, the dude working at the bodega? Where do these people and their lives and their lines of work, their passions, fit into a strange, magical secondary world? So Hark was born of my hope to explore what a chef is like in a world of gods, demons, monsters, and magic, and what does cooking look like? Who is he cooking for? What does he cook? How do you even begin to cook a deity? All of these things swirled in my brain for a long time, and when they finally started coming out on the page, that’s when “Godmeat” began to take form.
Hark and Spear make for interesting partners. Did their relationship change over the course of writing the story, and if so, what were they like in a previous draft?
Oh, absolutely. Hark and Spear always butted heads, and always came from different worlds, but in previous drafts, they were much closer. In earlier drafts, a few things were different: Hark was much, much younger, and actually traveled with Spear on her hunts. That meant she had a lot more to say, and while she didn’t like him, she had a gruff fondness for the poor, young idiot chef about to doom the world. We learned a lot more about her, and there was a certain fervency on her part, that maybe she could use her tragedy to teach younger Hark to come back from the brink. In the final version though, Hark is older, and Spear has no such fondness for him at the outset. She sees an old fool whose pride and pain have made him who he is, and she wants no part of his care or journey beyond what they absolutely have to do. Their final moments together may mark a turn in that relationship, with blooming, begrudging respect for Hark’s actions, but that story lies off the page, for the moment.
I imagine many readers might finish “Godmeat” with a hungry stomach (I count myself one of them). What was your approach to writing about food, specifically the details that went into crafting those sequences?
I’m certainly one of those people as well! I love food, and I especially love cooking, learning new recipes, trying new things, as well as creating meals and dishes for other people. I actually wanted to be a baker when I was a kid, so I was always in the kitchen, learning and doing my best to help out. Between that, family dinners, and just mainlining the Food Network, I learned there was a certain magic in food already. So with “Godmeat,” it was about including as much sensory detail as possible, blending the right amount of texture, taste, and scent, along with the touchstones of more divine or magical wordplay, to show the interaction between the food as we know it and what these particular dishes could look like. At the end of the day, I just tried to make these meals as beautiful and strange and as enticing as I could, and tried to think, “Well, if I was going to be eating a tuna steak born of the flesh of an ancient god-beast, what would I make with it?” and tried to let my palate lead the way!
What’s next for you? Are there any projects that you can talk about?
For the spring, I’ll be editing my new epic fantasy novel with comments from my beta-readers, finishing up a query letter for it, and hopefully sending it out to prospective agents! So all fingers and toes crossed for that. Otherwise, I’m just tinkering away on a bunch of new short fiction, starting what I hope is the last draft of my “mad scientist family dramedy” novel, and trying to wrap up a number of incomplete projects here and there. Oh, and of course, experimenting with new recipes to make! Thanks so much, and thanks to everyone who read “Godmeat”!
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