Category Archives: Current Projects

My Love Affair With Cooking

Originally posted on Tor.com:


In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!

I blame my mother.

On a cold Sunday afternoon in Westport, Connecticut, ice crusting my pink striped one-piece snow suit, I walked into the house after hours of building igloos with my three older brothers, desperate for a cup of hot chocolate to thaw me out. As I walked in the house I smelled something I had never smelled before. It was complex, meaty, and rich and pricked my senses alive. I padded into the kitchen and watched as my mother pulled out a huge red oval pot from the oven. She didn’t notice me watching her intently as she lifted the lid, letting even more of the delicious aroma into the kitchen. My mouth was watering. She slowly took something brown out of the pot that I recognized as meat. She blew it to cool it then tasted it; the expression on her face was one of pure radiant joy.

“I wanna try, Momma”

She turned and looked at me standing in the corner near the highchair I had recently outgrown and smiled her beautiful smile. She took another piece of meat, blowing on it as she crossed the kitchen. She kneeled and hand fed me the best thing I had ever put in my mouth up to that point in my life.

“Your first boeuf bourguignon, Chubby.”

I was three years old and that day my love affair with cooking began.

Cooking has taken me through love and life, through heartaches and joys, holidays and vacations. I find cooking to be the most therapeutic exercise on the planet. When I cook I am free. I am creative. I am master of my universe, the kitchen.

When I bought my new house last year the first thing I did was rip out four rooms to build my dream kitchen. It is there that I am an alchemist, a magician, a sorceress. I pickle, I brine, I roast and carve, I bake, I roll, I knead and sauté. I go on rampages of smoking meats and fish, compete with myself to make the best damned banana bread in the history of banana breads and I wipe and clean and sharpen my knives and all is good and peaceful in my world.

Cooking is my sanity, my joy and my way of showing the people that I love that I appreciate them. I have no children, so my friends are the recipients of my maternal love. When I cook homemade meals for them, when the soufflé turns out perfectly, I feel that anything else … any negative minutia of life cannot affect me, I am at peace.

Over the years my passion for cooking has taken me to Italy to study mead making with monks, to France to learn classic sauces next to the great Roger Vergier, to study Thanksgiving menus with Roger Pigozzi at the Biltmore in downtown LA and to take soba noodle classes in the San Fernando Valley. I have studied sushi making and obsessed over piecrusts. I have gorged on cooking shows when down with the flu. I have developed deep dislikes of certain cooking show hosts and pure affection for others. I have even watched Guy Fieri out of complete desperation on a flight from LA to Denver when there was nothing else on and I had forgotten my book. I read cookbooks as if they were novels, devouring each recipe and imagining making them in my mind.

I once challenged myself to make an entire 25 course Indian meal. It was stupendously difficult and entirely edible and it was my very first effort to cook Indian cuisine. I felt a sense of accomplishment that left me mystified; I mean, it’s just a meal, right? No! It’s a challenge, a way to spark your curiosity and heart and if you fail you try again and again until that curry is as good as the one you had in London last year.

I have a feel for spices, an instinct for when a sauce is done. I love making perfect vinaigrette and emulsifying it until it is as thick as a homemade mayonnaise and coming as close to breaking it as possible so it is creamy the way I like it. I love the fierce concentration, the mathematical necessity of baking and the wing-it freestyling of braises, stocks, and stews.

I once booked a trip to Morocco just so I could visit the famed spice markets. My suitcases smelled of turmeric and cardamom for months after. I visited Italy twice during truffle season and once just because there was a man reputed to sell the best branzino in the world and I paired it with a trip to Sardinia so I could have pasta with sea urchin, one of my favorite dishes.

I am obsessed I admit it. Williams-Sonoma catalogues are pornography to me. Some gals like Vogue and Health and Fitness magazines. Not me: give me my subscriptions to Saveur and Cook’s Illustrated any day over such fare. Recently I was trying to spatchcock a chicken for grilling and my poultry shears failed me. I threw them in the trash bin and muttered about crappy quality and such. The man in my life immediately went on Amazon and ordered me a fine new pair. Now that’s love—and a far more appreciated gift than clothes or jewelry.

Last summer I embarked on taking my cooking to the next level. I filmed a cooking show called Sunday Suppers. When I thought about my 30+ year career as an actress, my work running my non profit, my voiceover career and my writing life, I was left with a conundrum: What do I love the most?

When I was truly honest with myself, when I really dug down deep, I realized that I really love to cook. It affects all of the rest of my jobs by setting me free to think and imagine. I love to research and play in the kitchen. I adore getting my hands dirty and inventing, making mistakes and learning. Cooking feeds all of my other creative endeavors by being the one and only thing that I have complete and utter control over.

Luckily I can cook anytime I have free time and I do. I will continue to cook for my loved ones and I will continue to learn and grow as a chef. At the end of the day I know cooking is a hobby, but my oh my, what a joyous and fulfilling hobby it is.

ClaudiaChristian-mom

Claudia Christian and her mother in the kitchen

Wolf's Empire: GladiatorClaudia Christian has been an actress in TV and film since 1983 starring in dozens of films and the Hugo award winning science fiction series Babylon 5. She voices many of the top games in the world including Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, Halo, World of Warcraft and Fallout 4. She runs the non-profit C 3 Foundation, which helps people suffering from AUD. She is the top advocate for The Sinclair Method and has made a documentary about the treatment and the people she has put on it called One Little Pill. Claudia is the co-author (along with Morgan Grant Buchanan) of Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, available June 28th from Tor Books. She resides in Los Angeles.Tor.com Publishing logo

Wolf's Empire: Gladiator

Pre-Order “Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator” Now!

The reviews are already starting to pour in for Claudia and Morgan Grant Buchanan’s new sci-fi historical fantasy novel, “Wolf’s Empire.”

Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com:

In the Galactic Roman Empire, eight noble houses fight for power. One gladiator fights for justice. This is Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, by Claudia Christian’s and Morgan Grant Buchanan.

When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her―a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown–she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies.

But Fortune’s wheel grants Accala no favors―the emperor decrees that the games will be used to settle the civil war, the indigenous lifeforms of the arena-world are staging a violent revolt, and Accala finds herself drugged, cast into slavery and forced to fight on the side of the men she set out to kill.

Set in a future Rome that never fell, but instead expanded to become a galaxy-spanning empire, Accala’s struggle to survive and exact her revenge will take her on a dark journey that will cost her more than she ever imagined.

Pre-order “Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator” now via Amazon.com.

Reviews

“Space empires and the Roman Empire go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan have created a rich, enjoyable tale based on history, liberally seasoned with imagination and pulsating with adventure.” — Kevin J. Anderson, #1 bestselling author of “The Dark Between the Stars.”

“Combines the violent excesses of gladiatorial combat, alien biotech, the heights of cruelty, and the terrible cost of triumph.” — L.E. Modesitt,, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of “The Heritage of Cyador.”

“A big, fascinating book — and it needed every last page to accommodate the vast canvas on which this exciting gladiatorial and high-tech epic is played out.” — Mike Resnick, 5-time Hugo Award winner.

“If the Roman Empire had never fallen, this would be its science fiction. The empire has expanded into space, powerful families are fighting for power, justice and entertainment are brutal, and Rome is definitely not a democracy. A sweeping vision of a very alien future for humanity.” — Sean McMullen, Hugo Award nominee and author of “Souls in the Great Machine.”

“An epic, brutal, bloody work of imagination that thrillingly melds the classical traditions of Ancient Rome with Space Age technology.” -— Cecilia Dart-Thornton, bestselling author of the “Bitterbynde” series.

“Fascinating . . . We now know that Ancient Rome never died but went on to become a vast galactic empire.  This mesmerizing new novel brings its passions and grandeur gloriously back to life.” —Thomas Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of “The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee” and winner of the Lincoln Prize for Lifetime Achievement in History.

“The story starts big and then keeps opening up, expanding until a galaxy isn’t big enough. I stayed up way too late reading it.” — Larry Bond, New York Times bestselling author of “Fatal Thunder.”

“What if Rome never fell, instead conquering the Earth, and expanding its empire to the stars?   Awash with political intrigue and breakneck hand-to-hand combat, Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator wastes no time, giving us a running start to a lushly-written new alternate history series.” — Steven Barnes, co-author of the “Dream Park” series.

“One Little Pill” DVD Ships in August

One Little Pill Movie DVD Cover

One Little Pill Movie DVD Cover Artwork

There’s still time to place your pre-order for Claudia’s documentary film, “One Little Pill.”

DVDs are $19.99, plus shipping and handling.  Shipping is scheduled to begin August 10, 2015.

So you know, all proceeds will be used to further the fantastic work of the C Three Foundation, including:

  • $0.50 of every DVD sold goes toward the C3’s Key Chain Program, which provides TSM users a critical compliance tool free of charge
  • $2.00 of every DVD sold also goes to support C3’s Physician Outreach Program.

For more information, please visit the Official One Little Pill movie website at: http://www.onelittlepillmovie.com/purchase-dvd.html

“The Original: The Trials of Sara Larkin” is now available in the store

TheOriginalFrontCover_300pxClaudia’s new book, “The Original: The Trials of Sara Larkin,” is now available for immediate download exclusively in the Official Claudia Christian Store.

You won’t be able to find it anywhere else and 100% of proceeds go to support the C Three Foundation.