From Craig: One of the things I love about where I live is the vibrant arts scene. So many writers, visual artists, actors, photographers, right here in a fairly isolated corner of the world. Author Lise McClendon is one of my friends who’s doing interesting work. I’ll let her tell you about her new collaboration:
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Get any five writers in a room together and something combustible can happen. Also drinking. Cocktails, wine, you name it, your writer friends have imbibed.
Writers or not, we all love food (and drink – sensing a theme?) So when four of my writer friends and I started writing a novel together our love of sustenance, of American food, of regional specialties, came roaring to the surface. From lobster in Maine to weird, color-themed meals in California, to Texas barbeque, American food is fabulous and varied. Lots to discuss there, and salivate over. (What is a Montana specialty food, you ask? Could it be a tiny purple berry perhaps? More on that below.)
But first, why the hell write a book with four colleagues who live all over the country? We have an authors co-op and had already done a short story anthology. Since we’re novelists the logical (or nut-ball) next step was a collaborative novel. It wasn’t easy. Just coming up with a theme, some kind of sketchy general outline, was difficult. The momentum didn’t start rolling for, oh, years. At any point along the way we could have thrown up our hands and said, Well, actually, no.
But you may have heard something about persistence. It’s one of the keys to being a novelist. You must finish what you start if you ever want to get a book out there in the world of readers. So we persisted. We had google groups and email rounds. We came up with an idea of bumping off reality TV chefs, a silly notion that fell from the cosmos into our brains possibly because we’d like to do it in real life. Fiction is so cathartic.
Despite the craziness of the idea, it was fun. Lots of fun actually. We built a villain, developed a protagonist or two, learned some dark secrets about each other, and just went a little nuts. We fed off each others’ ideas and whipped them into shape. (And used just about every cooking metaphor known to writer.)
We decided to pattern the title at least on the iconic nonfiction book, Eat Pray Love. Initially we were going to call it Beat Flay Love. We couldn’t come up with anything better for ‘Love’ so left that but we realized ‘Flay’ was a little close to a real-life chef’s actual name. Unwilling to court defamation suits we changed it to ‘Slay.’ And we were off.
Like a herd of turtles.
Three years, much hair-pulling and, well, drinking later we finished Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge. To celebrate we’ve put together a cookbook of party recipes called Thalia Filbert’s Killer Cocktail Party. To get a copy send a quick note to Thalia (our pseudonymous five-person author) at email@example.com.
As a long-time Montanan I wrote a special section in the novel set on Flathead Lake, involving a bison roast and huckleberry pot au crèmes. Also one particular drink, a Berry Drop, made from huckleberry vodka. In the book it has a special ingredient that you won’t want if you make it at home. I’ve left the puffer-fish poison out of the recipe in the Killer Cocktail Party book. The secret ingredients? Ginger-infused sugar for the rim and a sweet Montana huckleberry in the bottom.
With our sincere apologies to Elizabeth Gilbert, we offer up a slice of mayhem and laughs on October 1.
Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge
by Thalia Filbert
October 1, 2015
• To pre-order the book for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015BQUZCK
• To add it to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26258450-beat-slay-love
• To request a paperback at your local independent bookstore: ask for ISBN: 978-0-9819442-1-0
• To buy a paperback online: https://www.createspace.com/5737186