A question for Aatif Rashid

Q: What is the most effort you’ve ever put into making dinner?

A: I’m actually a pretty lazy cook and I go out to eat way more than someone of my income-bracket should — but one time in college I did attempt to cook chicken tikka masala. I spent over an hour trying to buy all the ingredients, which involved trips to two separate grocery stores, since Trader Joe’s didn’t have everything I needed.

Then, because I’d never actually cooked chicken before, I had trouble figuring out what to do. Was I meant to wash it first? To cut it? Eventually, with my laptop on the counter displaying step-by-step instructions, I managed to prepare the chicken and the marinade and put it in the fridge.

I then had to prepare the masala, which was also challenging. The spices came in plastic bags with the labels stapled to the top, but when I opened them and threw out the labels, I had trouble remembering which spice was which, and had to smell them and then google-search what coriander was supposed to smell like and what cumin was supposed to smell like to differentiate them again. I also had difficulty deseeding the jalapeños and once touched my eye with my finger and had to go splash water on my face until the stinging went away.

Finally, I had it all ready, and the spices and garlic and tomato sauce were simmering nicely in the pan — but then I remembered that the chicken had to sit in the fridge for at least another hour. So I turned off the heat and just let the masala mixture sort of sit there, congealing in the pan, and I watched Battlestar Galactica on Netflix while I waited. After a few episodes, I turned the heat back on and put the marinated chicken in. I had to let it all simmer for 10 minutes or so, so I went back to watching Battlestar.Unfortunately, I lost track of time, and a whole episode passed before I realized the chicken was still cooking.

I turned it off and tasted it tentatively. It seemed fine, and not overcooked, though I wasn’t really sure what overcooked chicken tasted like. I then slowly added the cream and watched the masala turn the familiar orange color. It was now past 8:00 and I had gone out to buy the ingredients before 4:00. But there it was, sitting in the pan, a meal I’d actually cooked for myself. I’d forgot to make rice or buy naan but that was OK. I spooned some chicken tikka masala into a bowl and ate it like soup while I sat in front of my laptop and watched another episode.

Aatif Rashid’s story “The World’s Secret Heartbeat” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 2 December 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.

About Sandi Leibowitz

Sandi Leibowitz lives in a raven’s wood next door to bogles, right in the middle of New York City.  After a variety of careers and jobs (including ghostwriting for a monsignor and working behind one of the caribou dioramas at the Museum of Natural History), she is now an elementary-school librarian, which enables her to hook kids on reading, tell stories, and occasionally use puppets and funny voices.  She also sings classical and early music and plays recorders and other non-orchestral instruments.


Sandi Leibowitz’s story “The Nature of Glass” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 9 December 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.

It came from Brad Preslar

Brad Preslar’s story “A Song Without a Voice” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 13 May 2016. The inspiration for “A Song Without a Voice” came to me one summer at an outdoor concert. In Nashville, everyone’s neighbors are in a band, ours included. Oddly enough, our neighbor’s band is Drew Holcombe and the Neighbors. My wife and I had gone to see them play an amphitheater show with several other bands from out of …

A question for Kathryn Yelinek

Q: Do you live near where you were born? Have you traveled much?

A: I live about 2.5 hours from where I was born. This is close enough to visit family on a somewhat regular basis and to make it into New York City when I want (a necessity since I adore Broadway musicals). As to if I’ve traveled much… How do you define “much”? I’ve traveled to South America and to Europe several times. The farthest south I’ve been is Venezuela. The farthest east I’ve been is Poland. The farthest west is California (although I was very young then and don’t remember much). The farthest north I’ve gone is Pond Inlet, on the northern tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. That trip was devoted to seeing narwhals, the unicorns of the sea. It’s still one of my peak life experiences.

Kathryn Yelinek’s story “Hearts and Roses” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 25 November 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.

A question for Allison Epstein

Q: Do you use critique groups or other resources to polish your writing?

A: I swear by critique groups—my writing output would probably decrease by half without them. When you’re writing by yourself, it’s easy to get discouraged and think no one’s ever going to read your work-in-progress. But when you know your critique group is going to read it, plus it has to be ready in three days, it’s serious motivation to get off Twitter and back to work. I belong to a stellar writing group in my neighborhood, where writers of various backgrounds and genres meet up weekly to talk craft, navigate plot holes, and drink too much wine. I’m also notorious for running story ideas past friends with no invitation whatsoever. My friends are used to getting phone calls that open with “Hi, so, question: octopus-people. Yea / nay?” I have very patient friends.

Allison Epstein’s story “Pandemonium” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 18 November 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.