Emmie Mears
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Cooking for the King

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Cooking for the King

Last night I watched An Idiot Abroad with the spouse. In this episode, Karl Pilkington went to Uganda and South Africa, ostensibly to see some gorillas in the wild — but of course in traditional Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant style, he is sent on various other missions to include finger painting with cow dung with the Ndebele tribe and tracking rhinos by tasting their droppings.

I know.

I was jealous too.

During this stint, Karl was told that the Ndebele tribe would teach him their painting tricks if he would cook a dinner for their king. If you’ve ever watched the show, you’ll probably cringe at that description on the basis of past experience.

Karl set about shopping to cook for the king. He bought various items that he would have about in England — packets of crisps (that’s chips if you hail from the Americas), gummi worms, beans, toast, cheese, etc. He bought Coke and Fanta. He prepared to cook a dinner for the king of the tribe, thinking he was just cooking for the king and a couple others.

When they showed up (wearing whole cheetahs, Karl remarked), there were many more than he expected. No less than six or seven in the king’s retinue, and Karl became frantic trying to get his toast with beans and cheese sorted. The king asked him where the meat was — because men eat meat. This of course flustered poor Karl, who hadn’t any meat. Instead he went onto the next course. He made custard and cake for dessert, and the king and company asked for more, which sent Karl into a right tizzy.

As I pull and prod my manuscript into some semblance of order, I wonder if I’m actually Karl Pilkington trying to cook for the king. Here I am doing my thing with my toast and beans and biscuits, and all I’m wondering is if the king and his retinue will savor this bit of Emmie au gratin, or if they will wonder where the meat is.

I’m hoping they’ll think it’s a right delicacy, my manuscript. 🙂

When was the last time you felt like you were cooking for a foreign king? Did you know what was expected of you, or did you feel like some guy might just pop out wearing a cheetah?


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Author | Emmie Comments | 6 Date | January 17, 2012



Well, that’s a hard one. I guess, Karl should have asked someone what the King would expect. I think you’ve done your homework and you are cooking up exactly what the Agent Kings and Queens will want. I suppose all you have to do now is make sure you don’t spill anything or forget the trimmings.

I suggest that you forget you are even going. I know, that’s hard, but think about what you will be doing AFTER the conference. Plan for that and you won’t be so nervous about the conference because you’ll be planning out which agent to send your ms to. 😉

January 17, 2012 | 3:06 pm


Contrary to what Ricky likes to say, Karl is a genius! He’s certainly quirky, but he’s got great insight sometimes too.

I’ve done the pitch slam and talked to agents and editors face to face–I know these butterflies all too well.

I’m an extrovert, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous than when I mustered up the courage to walk up to Tom Doherty, introduce myself, and ask him a few questions. I had seen him a number of times at different events (Norwescon in Seattle and at the last 2 World Fantasy Conventions), but I had never had the guts to just talk to him. When I finally decided to do it, I wasn’t trying to push a book or anything–I just wanted to meet him, so I didn’t feel much pressure about it. He ended up being really friendly, and I wished I had approached him a few conventions earlier.

Good luck this time around!

January 17, 2012 | 5:00 pm

Chris G.

Well now that’s the trouble, isn’t it? Addressing poor Karl, I must say, you’d think if he’s put on the spot for cooking a meal like that, he’d think to ask some of the finer details–like what such royalty might want (ah, customs) or how many might be attending (I mean honestly, how often do you ever think of a king and such just dining by their lonesome?). C’est la vie.

I think that foreign king cooking sensation applies to pretty much any aspect of the “pitch” portion of the writing program…editors, publishers, you name it, but as to you: breathe, Emmie, breathe! I’m sure they’ll love it; don’t go too crazy with that red pen now.

January 18, 2012 | 1:43 am

    Emmie Mears

    I love Karl. Sometimes he says something so utterly profound, and I have to love the bloke. 🙂

    I’m trying to breathe, and it’s mostly working, as I have yet to keel over and turn blue. I feel confident for the most part. I think something good is going to happen.

    January 18, 2012 | 1:59 am

Tony James Slater

Something good is bound to happen! :0)
Take Karl for example – after all that he got to come home with the film crew, probably business class, and have a cup of tea in his flat with the wife. For him I imagine that’s paradise – so no matter how pear-shaped it goes on the day, there’s always something to look forward to when it’s all over!

January 18, 2012 | 2:58 am

    Emmie Mears

    Aye, that’s absolutely true!

    I have a lovely two days off waiting for me when I return from New York, and that is naught to anguish over. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by, Tony!

    January 18, 2012 | 3:09 am

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