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Interview: Gwendolyn Clare on “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast”

Tell us a bit about “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast.”

The story is about a master vintner sent to sample and make a record of the wines in a foreign country while a military invasion takes place.


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

This is unusual for me, but in the case of “Tasting Notes” I can actually point to a specific moment of inspiration. I attended a wonderful talk by medievalist Michael Livingston at the Nebula Conference last year, and in describing his research on the Battle of Crecy, he mentioned acquiring key information from, of all things, a cook’s journal. I was fascinated with the idea of reconstructing major political events from the perspective of someone whose concerns are tangential to those events — people like that cook, who was more worried about how many chickens the English king was eating than he was about the battle they were marching toward.

As you can probably tell from the story, I am also an incurable wine snob. Anything worth enjoying is also worth analyzing to death — that’s my motto. It’s a particularly interesting challenge to try to describe senses like taste, smell, and mouthfeel, because there’s such a paucity of words for those (in the English language, at least).


What are you working on now?

My debut novel comes out in February 2018 from Imprint/Macmillan. Ink, Iron, and Glass is a steampunk historical fantasy full of mad science and man-made pocket universes, set against the backdrop of the Italian unification movement. Currently, I’m drafting the as-yet-unnamed sequel.


Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m very excited to make my first appearance in F&SF!



“Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” appears in the September/October 2017 issue of F&SF.

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Click on the image of Ms. Clare’s forthcoming book and you’ll be taken to her website:



One Response to “Interview: Gwendolyn Clare on “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast””

  1. Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast (von Gwendolyn Clare) – Die Gedankenecke on October 24th, 2019

    […] einem Interview verweist Clare auf die Aufzeichnungen eines Kochs aus dem 14. Jahrhundert aus denen Historiker […]

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