Today I am so pleased to welcome Kim Fielding to Joyfully Jay. Kim has come to talk to us about her latest release, Christmas Present. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Food cravings are cruel, aren’t they?
There seem to be two rules for my cravings:
- The food is something very specific.
- The food is something that, for some reason, cannot easily be obtained at that moment.
For example, years ago when I was pregnant with my older daughter, I needed two things: Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream and the fruit smoothies from Costco. Nothing else would do. The only DQ was way across town and open weird hours, and the nearest Costco at the time was a 30 minute drive.
Oh, you’re saying, those are pregnancy cravings. That’s not how things normally are. Wrong. Last week I wanted an Impossible Whopper on a day where I had back-to-back-to-back meetings and a night class, plus kid taxiing, and no hope at all of making it to Burger King.
The worst cravings, though, are for things you can’t obtain for months or maybe even years. Travel incites these. You discover some delicious thing while you’re away and you know you’ll never be happy until you go there and get that thing again. I have a large collection of these agonies thanks to time I’ve spent abroad. What I wouldn’t give some days for a Croatian strukli, a Bosnian burek, really good cheese spaetzle (Germany), Icelandic skyr, Austrian kaiserschmarrn, a Barcelona xurro dipped in pudding-like hot chocolate, Hungarian chicken paprikash, fish tacos from Baja…. Well, you get the idea.
I long for American regional specialties too. They’re never as good anywhere else. I’ve never had a bagel as good as one in New York or deep dish pizza as good as Chicago’s. When I lived in Nebraska I loved a fast food thing called a Runza. Pineapple tastes best when you’re in Hawaii and it’s just been picked, and if you want the best smoked salmon you need to be standing at a little shack on a harbor along the Pacific, looking at the boat that brought that fish in.
I live in California, where a wide variety of foods are available in restaurants and stores—in some places. Not so much in my neck of the woods (where we can, however, find outstanding Mexican food). There is nowhere for a good 90 miles that serves a decent banh mi, for example.
This brings us to Korean Fried Chicken. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, this kind of KFC involves—surprise!—battered chicken that’s been fried. The texture is different from the familiar American version, however, because the batter is different and the meat is fried twice. You can get it plain or with a variety of sauces.
The closest place to me to get Korean Fried Chicken is about 90 minutes away—more when traffic’s bad, which is often. This place serves their KFC with several kinds of banchan, the little dishes of kimchi and pickled things. They also serve a credible version of Korean seafood pancakes. But did I mention that it’s 90+ minutes away? Exactly the right situation to create cravings that will drive me crazy.
Today I have a new short novella out, Christmas Present. It’s a modern take on the Dickens story with the addition of KFC because I had a craving. Which I still do. Maybe after you read the story, so will you, so fair warning. But all my royalties go to Doctors Without Borders, so we’ll be craving for a good cause.
What are your most persistent food cravings?
“You want to tell me what’s going on?” Sammy finally asked. He walked around the prep table, took the towel from Lewis’s hand, and tossed it across the room into a laundry bin. He waited.
“It’s… a thing.” That’s helpful, Lewis. Always so eloquent. “We’re supposed to help you see the error of your ways so you can change for the better. Normally, I’d show you everyone else having a great time without you tonight, then some terrifying children would make you feel guilty. After that, Yet To Come would scare the crap out of you by giving you peeks of a bleak future.”
Sammy blinked at him. “Is this… performance art of some kind?”
“No. It’s… magic? I don’t know. People don’t usually ask me what’s going on.” He said the last part accusingly, then softened his voice. “But then people usually have pretty screwed-up lives. You don’t seem to.”
“I used to.” Sammy’s voice was almost a whisper. He stared at Lewis for a long time, and Lewis simply stood there feeling huge and useless and weird. He often felt that way during the rest of the year, but not now, not while he was the Ghost.
“I’m sorry,” Lewis said at last. “There’s clearly been some kind of mistake. I’ll just… uh… leave now.” Although he had no idea where he’d go if he wasn’t magically whisked back home. He’d never been stranded anywhere before. Of course he didn’t have any money or his phone on him—didn’t even have shoes—and the chances of anyone picking him up if he attempted to hitch were zero to none. Calling friends was out of the question too. He hadn’t memorized anyone’s number, and how the hell would he explain that he’d ended up in what was probably California? Besides, he wasn’t really close enough to anyone to request this kind of help.
Deciding that none of this was Sammy’s problem, Lewis started to leave. But when Sammy caught his sleeve, it didn’t cause them to be transported to scenes of holiday revelry, as it should have. However, it did make Lewis stop.
“There’s a story here,” Sammy said. He looked resolute. “I live really close by. Come on over to my place and tell me the tale.”
Lewis’s heart beat a rapid tattoo. Did this handsome man really want to spend more time with him? “I don’t want to bug you.”
“You’re not. C’mon. I have some chocolate cake from the bakery next door.” Sammy winked.
That was an offer Lewis couldn’t refuse.
A modern gay-romance twist on Dickens.
Lewis loves his holiday job. As the Ghost of Christmas Present, he guides people to improve their lives. Sure, he’s a little lonely at home in Minnesota, but Fezziwig the cat keeps him company.
When Lewis is spirited to California one Christmas Eve, he meets Sammy, an ex-lawyer who seems to already have his life in order. Lewis and Sammy share Korean fried chicken and a brief fling, but distance and career obligations appear destined to thwart anything permanent.
Maybe this year, Lewis is due for a special gift of his own.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls California home. She lives there with her family and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.