Friday, June 14, 2013

Authors, Alcohol & Accolades: Volume 8

Alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, may produce all the effects of drunkenness.”
--Oscar Wilde

I am back with another volume in my fun series: Authors, Alcohol & Accolades. Please check Volume 1 for links to all of the prior installments. Each installment showcases some of my favorite authors, and I have returned to highlight a few 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, and any authors who are interested in participating in future volumes can contact me.

Two of these authors enjoy peaty Scotch while the third is more drawn to peach flavored beer. Peat vs peaches? Which side do you fall upon? I'll go with the peat.

Chris Holm (Twitter: @ChrisfHolm)
It is especially cool to find a local New England author who I enjoy, and Chris Holm is currently a resident of Maine. He has written numerous short stories, appearing in magazines such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. He has also been an Anthony Award nominee, a Derringer Award finalist, and a Spinetingler Award winner. My first encounter with his work though was his first novel, Dead Harvest, the first in his Collector series. This series centers on a protagonist who collects the souls of the damned for hell. It has a pulpish/noir feel with strong mystery elements and an intriguing supernatural mythology involving a battle between heaven and hell. It is well written, engaging and the action never lets up. The sequel, The Wrong Goodbye, was equally as good, elevating the scope of the story to a more epic level and I eagerly await the next book, The Big Reap, which is due out on July 30. I have also enjoyed Dead Letters: Stories of Murder & Mayhema collection of 9 short stories, ranging from horror to mystery. One of my favorites was Action, a twisty story about a bank robbery.

"When it comes to food and drink, I'm an unrepentant hedonist, so I could take up several column-inches discussing my favorite libations. In the interest of entertaining someone other than myself, though, I'll endeavor to be brief. As much as I enjoy a well-crafted cocktail or a lovingly brewed pint, my two great liquid loves are wine and whiskey. Both are infinite in their variety and complexity. Both require time and skill to produce, and tell the story of the land and hand from which they came.

"For wine, I tend to prefer bold, ass-kicking reds; there's nothing finer in my mind than a Paso Robles Zin. Although lately, my wife and I have been on a major Spanish kick. They're putting out some marvelous wines at prices even an author can afford. My whiskey tastes vary based on season. Bourbon or American grain whiskey on a summer's day. Scotch once the leaves turn. For the former, I'm nuts about Blanton's or Michter's. For the latter, I'm fond of Macallan when I'm craving something clean and light, but the smoky peat bog that is Laphroaig is my go-to more often than not. And whatever you're pouring, I'll take mine neat, thank you very much."

Zachary Jernigan (Twitter: @JerniganZachary)
From Arizona, Zachary seems to be a twisted (in a good way) and funny person who I hope to soon meet at Readercon next month. He has written over a dozen short stories that have appeared in places, such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, and Escape Pod. I first encountered his debut novel, No Return, which was just published in March. It is a compelling fusion of science fiction and fantasy, bringing to mind the works of Zelazny. It is an epic and inventive novel about astronauts, wizards, gods, arena battles, ancient secrets, and so much more. It is not easy to describe but all of the elements come together in an exciting melange and is an impressive debut. There may be a sequel in the future, but I will look forward to whatever Zachary writes next. If you want something different, seek out No Return.

"I grew up in a Mormon family, and thus wasn't exposed too much to the broader alcohol-consuming culture until my early twenties. When I first started drinking alcoholic beverages, I... well, I suffered them for the effect. The first alcoholic beverage I actually enjoyed was a Lindemans peach lambic (Pecheresse), which continues to be my favorite alcoholic treat.

"Thanks to the increasing popularity of the labor-intensive Belgian beer -- and Lindemans in particular -- my peach lambic can be found in bars all over the US and other countries. I don't always drink it, as I'm not always craving something so sweet, but when I have an occasion to be particularly jubilant it's what I reach for. A great deal of the reason for this is nostalgia, for in truth there are better lambics to be had, but this is the appeal: I savor it, and travel back a bit in time to when I first realized that alcohol could be savored."

Wesley Chu (Twitter: @Wes_Chu)
Originally from Taiwan, and now living in Chicago, Wesley is a former stunt man and a member of the Screen Actors Guild. He is also a contributing writer for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, one of my favorite magazines when I was growing up and which is still a very cool magazine. His debut novel, The Lives of Tao, was just published in April. It is a fun science fiction tale with an espionage bent and a conspiratorial foundation. Warring aliens, stranded on Earth, take control of humans and use them to fight their battles, as well as to try to discover a way to leave Earth. Great characters, lots of action, humor and intriguing historical tidbits elevate this work and make it an excellent debut. It is simply a very fun read.

"When it comes to alcohol, I'm not a tourist. I figure out what I like and stick with it until something else steals the crown. Basically, my drinking preference is one big alcohol Hunger Games. As I get older, I've not only become a scotch drinker, I've become one with very particular tastes. Basically, I love my peaty single malts from Islay. It's almost impossible for a scotch to be too peaty in my book, though the folks at Bruichladdich Port Charlotte certainly have tried. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll drink stuff from Speyside or Highland if I have no other choice, but I’ll be damned if I drink any of the Glens.

"My favorite single malt is an Ardbeg Uigaedail. You drink this puppy neat like God intended. Maybe it’ll feel a little oily as it coat yours tongue. Maybe it’ll remind you of leather and coal. In any case, once you take a sip, you’ll taste the smoke, dirt, sea salt, and just a tinge of spice. The texture of it is almost chewy, and damn that fantastic finish is long. It’s easily one of the more complex single malts I’ve tried (that I can afford). However, who knows?"

Addendum: Wesley has informed me that he now has a new favorite, the Ardbeg Corryvreckan. "I prefer the Corryvreckan a little bit more. Probably not worth the extra cost but a nicer burn."

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