Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Authors, Alcohol & Accolades: Volume 2

"Man being reasonable must get drunk; The best of life is but intoxication; Glory, the grape, love, gold - in these are sunk - The hopes of all men and of every nation
--Lord Byron

I am back with another volume in my new series, Authors, Alcohol & Accolades. Volume 1 showcased four of my favorite authors, and I have returned to highlight four more, and to delve into their drinks of choice.  I have found this to provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of the writers I enjoy, and hope you like the interviews as well. You can look forward to further volumes in this series too.

Brad Beaulieu (Twitter @bbeaulieu)
Brad's debut fantasy novel is The Winds of Khalakovo, the first book in the The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy. It possesses a more unique Russian flair to its setting, as well as an intriguing combination of political intrigue, action-adventure and magical feats. Don't expect a breezy, easy read but savor its more literary bent, taking the time the enjoy its rich language and detail. A dedicated reader is going to be very satiated, and look forward to the next novel in this trilogy, like I am.

"Strangely enough, I wasn't much of a drinker in my twenties. It wasn't until my thirties, when I started to cook more, that I developed more of a taste for it, wine especially. I've tried all sorts of alcohols, largely just to explore something new—to see what all the fuss is about, as it were—but sometimes to cook with them. In beer, my current favorites are Trappist ales, especially Chimay Blue. In fact, I have some in my fridge now, waiting for me to make a new batch of beer-cheese soup. I also quite enjoy Scottish whiskey. I recently made a pilgrimage with some friends to Lady Gregory's in Chicago and tried a bit of Laphroaig Caideras, which was incredible. Hands down, though, my favorite alcohol is Pinot Noir. I love the complexity of a good Pinot, but I also like that a bit of the sweetness remains. My favorites are those that are fruit forward with a good amount of spice, plus some oakiness. My favorite winery is the Sanford Winery in Santa Barbara County, which got a bit of a cameo in the movie Sideways."

Jon Merz (Twitter: @jonfmerz)
A local author, Jon is relatively prolific, his stories ranging across genres including horror, fantasy, science fiction, espionage and more. His riveting Lawson Vampire series are supernatural-espionage tales, kind of like James Bond meets True Blood. He has created an honorable hero, a fascinating mythology, formidable villains, and lots of twists and turns. With several Lawson stories published each year, there is much to look forward to, as well as a future TV series! Highly recommended.  Check out his other novels too, like Parallax, Prey, and Vicarious or his short story collections like This Time of Night. And Jon, in collaboration with Joseph Nassise, just released The Cerberus Protocol, the first in the new fantasy-thriller HELLstalker series. I have not read it yet but will do so soon.

"My single favorite drink is Bombay Sapphire and tonic with three wedges of lime. The delicate flavoring of juniper in Bombay Sapphire blends remarkably well the lime. I'll pour a stiff measure slowly over ice, let it chill for about twenty seconds and then add the tonic water, stir, and then top it off with the lime wedges. This has been my drink of choice since college, through the military, and my time handling private security protection work - up to the present when I enjoy toasting a new publishing deal or sales milestones."

Kevin Hearne (Twitter: @kevinhearne)
One of the most enjoyable series I have read this past year is Kevin's Iron Druid Chronicles, currently consisting of three books, Hounded, Hexed and Hammered. It is an urban fantasy, a mix of druids, vampires, werewolves, gods of various pantheons, witches and much more. All three books are compelling and easy reads, and you will find it very difficult to put them down. I read all three of them within a week as I was captivated by their charms. A fascinating collection of characters, lots of exciting action, and a keen wit combine to make these books an excellent read, and all get a strong recommendation. The next book in the series, Tricked, is due out in April 2012.

"My favorite drink these days is a blend of brews that we in the Southwest call a Snakebite. Some people, however, call this drink a Black Velvet. Take your favorite hard cider—Strongbow or Woodchuck is best—and fill your pint glass halfway with that. Then pour some Guinness on top of that over the bottom of a spoon. You get a beautiful black and gold drink that mixes and changes as you go; dark and woody at first, light and sweet at the end. Serve with fish and chips from Rula Bula (or your favorite pub that knows what they're doing in the kitchen) and you're in a gastronomic holy land."

Mark Lawrence (Twitter: @Mark_Lawrence)
Mark's debut fantasy novel, Prince of Thorns, the first book of a planned trilogy, was a superb read, the riveting tale of an amoral protagonist, a fascinating anti-hero who is ruthless in the attainment of his goals. The tale is violent and not for the faint of heart, but that grittiness is also one of its assets. This is one of the best fantasy debuts I have read in quite some time. I eagerly await the sequel, to continue the tale of Jorg Ancrath, the Prince of Thorns, and urge everyone to check it out.

"How something tastes is in some significant degree a function of how you come to be putting it in your mouth. In many ways it's not dissimilar to the way in which we react to a novel. If it comes with recommendations from the right quarters, if it is sold as a work of genius, something a only connoisseur will appreciate the finest points of, with great packaging that tells a compelling back story... well we're more likely to see the good in it. London Pride is the flagship ale of the Fuller's Brewery, a company with 165 years of brewing experience, produced on a site where beer has been made for nearly four centuries. It is a mahogany bitter, a smooth and astonishingly complex beer with a distinctive malty base complemented by a rich balance of well-developed hop flavours from the Target, Challenger and Northdown varieties. Years back I whipped a bottle at random off the supermarket shelf and drunk it down without expectation. I realised I was pouring something rather special down my gullet and paused to read that 'astonishing/complex/distinctive/mahogany' verbiage off the label. London Pride is one of those rare products that makes you sit up and take notice without requiring the mood music to be right. The kind of thing we'd all like to achieve whether brewing beer (something I do badly) or writing a book (something I've had more success with). Try it. Enjoy."

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