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INTERVIEW – Tam Linsey – author of Botanicaust (bonus -GLUTEUS free recipe)

From one Alaskan to another…

Welcome to Cabin Goddess, Tam Linsey! 

 

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? Tough one. While the past might be a safer way to go because we know what to expect, I think I’d take the plunge and see the future. Imagine what people who lived a mere forty or fifty years ago would think if they were able to travel forward to right now. Back then, calculators that could add were cutting-edge (not to mention bulky!) What would they think of our smartphones with GPS tracking? Totally sci-fi. I can only imagine what inventions might come along in another forty or fifty years. I’d love to see a holographic television. Or a matter transporter!

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? I am all about survival. Self-sufficiency. I’d love it if my island was a lush oasis with a fresh-water lagoon and plenty of coconut trees. But I’d more likely end up on a stretch of barren sand periodically swamped by the tide.

Along that line of thinking, I’d make sure I had a multi-tool pocketknife, a large sheet of tough, clear plastic, and a spool of fishing line. Then I can set up a mini desalination station, fashion a pole or net with the fishing line, and the multi-tool – well, that’s self-explanatory. If nothing else, I can entertain myself carving coconut shells into adorable figurines I can talk to when I get lonely (i.e. go crazy.)

Victorinox SwissTool

Victorinox SwissTool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Hands down, chocolate peanut butter. But only if I can get to the carton before my kids steal all of the peanut butter swirl out of the middle. *grumble grumble* At least I like chocolate ice cream, too. (Did you know that we Alaskan’s consume more Ice Cream per capita than anyone else in the US officially and unofficially the world? It is true look it up! )

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? When I have time, I like a smoked salmon omelet with fresh chicken eggs and snipped green onions aside a slice of freshly baked, gluten free bread. The salmon, of course, we caught ourselves and smoked, the eggs were laid by my hens that very morning, and the green onions are growing on a windowsill if it is winter, in the garden in summer. The gluten free bread is homemade because store bought GF bread sucks.  (keep reading! Tam & I added a few special Alaska flavor for y’all)

One food you would never eat? I think saying never will lead one straight to a situation where one must face that choice. Take the cannibals in Botanicaust – they didn’t start out choosing to eat other people, but were forced to make that choice in order to survive. One could say they are the ultimate conservationists. (this is good to know, very very good to know *putting away my bear insurace)

But if I had to say never, I’d never eat another human being. How’s that for an answer? (I think I can go with that, I had not been able to find a suitable Long Pig recipe to go with this interview so, emergency recipe averted!)

(It is the week of Halloween when even Vegetarians better watch out, cannabalism is “cropping” up all over!!)

Cannibalism

Cannibalism (Photo credit: Barbara.K)

Pet Peeves? You know when people open a beer and leave the bottle cap right there on the counter-top? Right next to the garbage can? Not IN the garbage can. On the counter. Next to the garbage can. That drives me nuts. (I have to laugh, we live in Alaska, and this happens all the time, I mean come on!!)

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Food is a huge issue in the world right now, with genetic modification at the top of the controversial list, and Botanicaust will make readers think about the future of genetic engineering in a new way, not only for crops, but for humanity itself.

Moon over the Kenai mountains in fall, Homer Alaska home of Tam Linsey

Moon over the Kenai mountains in fall, Homer Alaska home of Tam Linsey

 The salty tang of seared flesh mixed with the scent of flashed weeds churned her stomach, pushing bile up her throat. Unwanted memories tore through her, flashes of a past left forgotten.”

BOTANICAUST by Tam Linsey ~ Location 730 of 5999 (12%)  

WE INTERRUPT THIS ORANGEBERRY INTERVIEW to play a little Cabin Goddess fun! Tam and I are both Alaskan’s, she had already stalked asked me to review her book. (which I am going to do soon, go buy the book it ROCKS and read and review it… do not let the cannibal angle throw you off, it is a love story, with cannibals. (Not like Pavarti’s short story) genetically morphed plants and people and an Amish compound.. yep you have to READ IT.)  

She and I met at her book signing at Gulliver Books on September 13th and I will be posting a review soon! Like I said, Her book is FABULOUS! Sneak peak? This is actually going in the favorite of 2012 pile too!~

Tam Linsey Signing @ Gullivers 9-13-2012 Fairbanks, AK

Tam Linsey Signing @ Gullivers 9-13-2012 Fairbanks, AK

OK SO if you were to make your book a meal, what would it be? What would the menu be?

Wow, what a question to ask about a book featuring cannibals! “What’s on the menu?” (Of course, like I was going to let that slide, Tam!)

There is a scene in Botanicaust where Tula, who photosynthesizes most of her own calories, watches Levi consume a fire-roasted muskrat. A vegetarian friend told me I’d completely captured the sensation of a vegetarian watching a carnivore. Since this is largely Tula’s story, I’d make the menu vegetarian and sexy. Perhaps a nice, spicy Indian dahl with ginger chutney and rice and a creamy rice pudding for dessert.

Imagine this – Botanicaust is coming (pre book) you are love vegetables and all things leafy, the threat of plants no longer being able to be consumed is upon us and you have the ability to make one last meal out of the best Alaskan ingredients (not just the veggies) What would you make? 

 An Alaskan meal must, of necessity, include some form of wild game. Salmon, moose, caribou, bear. I’ve even eaten mountain goat (which was, by the way, the best meat I’ve ever eaten in my life.) But if I could only make one last meal I’d have an appetizer of Alaska sweet carrot sticks and kohlrabi slices. For the main course I’d make make moose meatballs in marinara sauce over brown rice spaghetti noodles (I’m gluten intolerant.) On the side I’d have fresh garden peas in butter. And for dessert, I think I’d serve a wild Alaskan blueberry pie with ice cream.

Okay, now you’ve made me hungry… (You are welcome, Sweetie!)

You and I are Alaskan’s,. but in two different ways, you left and came back, I came to and haven’t left, we both love Alaska. Alaskan’s are different creatures, we think differently, we problem solve differently, most importantly, even you guys down south (hehe) problem solve differently. What did you bring to the story that you think is uniquely because you are Alaskan?

 The main premise in Botanicaust is the loss of the ability to grow crops. Since Alaska is completely dependent on outside sources to feed the population, I’m hyper aware of the possibility of losing our food supply. If I remember correctly, we only produce about 3% of our food locally. I like the idea of being self-sufficient if disaster were to strike. I try to grow or hunt for as much of my family’s food as I possibly can. 

In writing Botanicaust, I pondered who might be the least susceptible to something like an invasion of genetically altered weeds. I have family in Amish country, and have seen how many of them still have their “hands in the Earth.” That is why I chose to make the Holdout an Amish derivative. 

 

Lowlying Alaskan Cranberries - Kriss Morton ©2004

Lowlying Alaskan Cranberries – Kriss Morton ©2004

FAST & FESTIVE questions:

  • Top Shelf or Just a shot? — I’m a writer, do you think I’m rolling in dough? Just a shot for me, unless you’re buying *grin*
  • Coke or Pepsi? (yes pick one) — Coke, but if it has rum in it, I’ll drink either.
  • Gloves or Mitts?Mitts, please.
  • Winter Solstice or Summer Solsticesummer solstice because I LOVE the all-night-light!
  • Cranberries or Raspberries (Alaskan of course)Can I choose blueberries? No? Oh, fine. Cranberries, but lowbush, not highbush. The highbush cranberries smell like dirty feet. (I concur, nasty highbush crap!)

 

Gluten (and Gluteus) Free Wild Alaskan Blueberry Pie

Wild Alaskan Blueberries Kriss Morton ©2004

Wild Alaskan Blueberries Kriss Morton ©2004

 

   

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 eggs, cold
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

INTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until it resembles course cornmeal (I use a pastry blender or food processor.) Beat the eggs with the vinegar and add it to the flour mixture. Fold together until you can squeeze the dough into a ball. Divide in half.
  2. Dust a large sheet of parchment paper (don’t try to do it without the paper) with tapioca starch, place one ball of dough on the parchment, and dust the ball. Place a second sheet of parchment over the dough and roll the dough into a circle to fit into the pie pan.
  3. Remove the top sheet of parchment and use the bottom sheet of parchment to lift the dough into the pan. Repeat for second dough ball to be used as pit top.

FOR FILLING:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen Alaskan blueberries (if using commercial blueberries, reduce sugar to 3/4 cup)

Mix the filling together and pour into the prepared pie shell. Top with second pastry crust and crimp the edges. Cut a vent in the top and bake at 375? F for 50 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes for frozen berries.) Cool before serving.

photos provided by Tam Linsey

photos provided by Tam Linsey

AND NOW back to your regularly scheduled interview, take it away Tam!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. A person’s face speaks better than words, and I was rewarded with many open-mouthed, wide-eyed expressions as my niece read Botanicaust. How often does an author actually get to see someone reading her work? Now I imagine all my readers making those faces as they enjoy reading my books.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Learn story structure. So many advise, “just write,” and that is important, but I believe understanding the psychology of story – the way humans interact with story structure – is of utmost importance. The cadence of suspense and revelation for the reader is what keeps them not only reading, but also thinking about a story long after they have reached the end. The way a story is constructed guides a reader’s emotions, and emotion is what connects the reader to the story.

I could write an entire article on my take on structure – in fact, I probably will some time soon – but for readers seeing this now, I suggest reading a book about screenwriting. Save the Catby Blake Snyder was my first introduction to story beats. I would also highly recommend The Anatomy of Story, by John Truby, or if you are an auditory learner, try Michael Hague’s YouTube video series.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I’m already in God’s Country, as people in Alaska call it. I love my home. But I would love to have a vacation home somewhere warm, with sandy beaches and enough breeze to keep cool. Kauai would be awesome.

What is your favorite Quote? Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Because I’m such an avid reader, I come across new words and don’t know how to pronounce them. When I try to use the word in public, I embarrass myself. I use this quote to turn it into a joke.

Hidden talent? I am a certified Alaska Master Gardener. Not that I’d consider that talent hidden; you can see my garden on Google Earth (it’s that big.) But gardening is my other passion besides writing. I also graft my own Alaska hardy fruit trees and have a producing orchard. I’m brewing 15 gallons of hard cider right now.

If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be? I actually have a personal kryptonite that is very real; I am gluten intolerant. Eating wheat, barley, or rye makes me sick. And you’d be surprised at the number of common food items with derivatives of these grains in them. Soy sauce, for instance, is most commonly made from wheat. Yes, soy sauce.

Potlucks are difficult for me. People try to feed me, but they never imagined the sour cream they used had modified food starch in it, or that I can’t eat the stew because they put beer in it. I suppose that is part of the reason I am so into growing and cooking food myself.

What do you do in your free time?  I love to be self-sufficient, which is not easy to do in Alaska. I have a 1000+ square foot garden, 22 fruit trees, and a greenhouse for hot weather crops. We have raised chickens and ducks for meat and eggs, geese, hogs, and even a steer – all on a 1/2 acre lot. We also hunt for moose and caribou, deep-sea fish, dipnet salmon from the river, and gather wild mushrooms and berries.

If that isn’t enough work, I then have to process and preserve all that food. I jar, freeze, dry, jelly, pickle, and brew. Needless to say, in summer, I have no free time! At the end of the day, I feel really good about my life.

photos provided by Tam Linsey

photos provided by Tam Linsey

What’s your favorite season/weather? In Alaska, we have early winter, dead of winter, break-up, and construction. Anything else is a fluke. But on those rare, fluke days, when the sun shines until midnight, a breeze keeps the mosquitoes at bay, and the mountains rise green around me, I am at my happiest.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? I’m a small time kind of girl. I live in a giant state, but with an insignificant population (we only get 1 State Representative in Congress, and because of time zones, our vote is nearly last.) I went to a tiny college where I often had a mere five or six people in a class. I live in a small community on a cul-de-sac in a plain-jane, small house.

So to celebrate my book release, I took my very best critique partner friends who happen to live nearby, and I treated them to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Yep, my launch was lunch. They made me feel very special.

What is your guilty pleasure? I play World of Warcraft. There, I said it. Yes, it is a huge time suck. I play until my eyes burn and my fingers feel like they have arthritis from clutching the mouse. I emerge into the sunlight, eyes burning and back kinked from poor posture in the office chair, and realize I lost an entire day. Um, I had a deadline? Whoops. If I find myself in the midst of fellow WoW players, conversation quickly turns to gear scores and DPS. Don’t show me photos of your kids – how ’bout a screenshot of your last Raid Boss? Go ahead. Tell me another Chuck Norris joke. (*snorting* ohh I love you Tam *shoving my PS3 controller under the couch* I never EVER have had this happen!)

Favorite places to travel? I get motion sick on escalators, so travel is not easy for me. By far, my favorite type of travel is the road trip, because I can stop and get out for a breather any time I like.

In Alaska, we only have two highways between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The trip is 350 miles long, over mountain passes, across alpine tundra, and through the Denali Wildlife Refuge right past Mt. McKinley. The sights are amazing, summer or winter.

One time, I broke down in the Wildlife Refuge, with no cell phone coverage, and it was twenty below zero outside (and there was a wolf, right?). The traffic at 3 at night (yes, night – it is dark by then up here) along that road is sparse, to say the least. But someone in another car drove a little way until they found cell coverage and called for help. I was glad I’d packed my snow-bibs and boots. That was one cold haul back, but a story I can tell forever. (Wait you forgot about the wolf!! Oh wait that is when I broke down outside of Palmer! In Alaska, during winter it is against the law not to stop for a car that appears to be broken down. It can earn you SR-22 insurance, a very steep fine and very bad Karma!)



The only crop left … is human.

Botanicaust by Tam LindsyAfter genetically altered weeds devastate Earth’s crop lands, much of humanity turns to cannibalism to survive. Dr. Tula Macoby believes photosynthetic skin can save the human race, and her people single-mindedly embark on a mission to convert the cannibals roaming what’s left of Earth. But when Levi, a peaceful stranger, refuses alteration, Tula doesn’t think the only options should be conversion or death.

Levi Kraybill, a devout member of the Old Order, left his Holdout farmland to seek a cure for his terminally ill son. Genetic manipulation is a sin, but Levi will do almost anything for the life of his child. When he’s captured, he’s sure he’s damned, and his only escape will be death.

Tula’s superiors schedule Levi’s euthanization, and she risks everything to set the innocent man free. Now she and Levi are outlaws with her people, and she’s an abomination with his. Can they find sanctuary in a cannibal wasteland?


About the Author

Born and raised in Alaska, Tam Linsey was the kid who took AP Chemistry and AP Biology her Senior year of High School. After winning a scholarship to a DOE camp at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, touring the superconducting supercollider, and karyotyping DNA from the HIV virus, she came to realize if she pursued biomedical engineering, she might never see the outside of a lab again.

Consequently, she earned a Bachelor of Science in English, and now writes about fictional characters who have taken biomedical engineering to extremes.

She is also an avid gardener, cook, fisherman and hunter, urban homesteader, and GMO labeling advocate in love with self-sufficiency. Her current residence is the great state of Alaska, where she was born and now lives with her husband and two wonderful children

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2 Comments

  1. I had a great time chatting with you, Kriss! Thanks for the killer interview, and I look forward to reading your review.
    Show me some love!

  2. Oh the Cannibal book. Yeah I want to read this one. Yep
    Show me some love!

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