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Episode 33 – Author’s Choice

Catherynne M Valente

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Joining me for this episode’s online chat is one of my favourite authors of weird and wonderful fiction, Catherynne M Valente.

Catherynne is the New York Times bestselling author of forty works of speculative fiction and poetry, including Space Opera, The Refrigerator Monologues, Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making (and the four books that followed it).

She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Prix Imaginales, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, Romantic Times’ Critics Choice and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

We talk about her many fabulous books, how she came to write and then crowdfund the first book in The Fairyland series which went on to win the Nebula Award, planting Easter eggs in Space Opera, writing complicated books, the weather and her latest short story which just so happens to be a Star Wars story!

It’s a longer chat than normal, but so much fun 🙂

The pairings:

Little, Big by John Crowley

The epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood—not found on any map—to marry Daily Alice Drinkwater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all. It is a wonder.

Catherynne chose a classic cocktail from 1688 – Milk Punch – to pair with this eerie and complex story.

Possession by A.S. Byatt

An exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire—from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.

Man Booker Prize Winner (1990)

Catherynne suggested a 1920s cocktail called The Last Word to pair perfectly with this passionate literary thriller!


Smart Ovens For Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan

A collection of offbeat, mind-bending short stories that are a joy to dip in and out of.

A cat-shaped oven tells a depressed woman she doesn’t have to be sorry anymore. A Yourtopia Bespoke Terraria employee becomes paranoid about the mounting coincidences in her life. Four girls gather to celebrate their underwear in ‘Happy Smiling Underwear Girls Party’ and so many more. These are funny, sharp, witty and surreal stories that are somewhat disturbing at heart as they give us a glimpse of a potential future world and what might be…

I was thinking that i’d love something fresh and sharp to drink whilst reading these stories and the wine that comes to mind is an Argentinian wine called Torrontes – it’s nickname is The Liar as it smells sweet but is actually very dry and has an almost salty and lean taste and texture in your mouth. I think it would pair perfectly with this book of inventive and biting stories!



This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.