Interview With Crystal King + #DebBallGiveaway of FEAST OF SORROW

Today it is our very own Crystal King’s turn to sit in the Deb Ball guest chair! By now you have heard the exciting news: Crystal’s debut novel, Feast of Sorrow, released this week from Touchstone.

Set amongst the scandal, wealth, and upstairs-downstairs politics of a Roman family, Crystal King’s seminal debut features the man who inspired the world’s oldest cookbook and the ambition that led to his destruction.

On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar’s reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denarii. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome’s leading epicure.

Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius’s help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals. Thrasius finds a family in Apicius’s household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and her handmaiden, Passia whom Thrasius quickly falls in love with. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome.

When I read advanced version last year, I was lost in Feast of Sorrow. I read it in a day! The characters, the setting, it all sucked me in. Crystal worked for nearly a decade write and publish Feast of Sorrow, and the hard work shows. I am so proud of her and excited to see what will come from the publication of this novel.

Here’s one of my favorite reviews for Feast:

“King’s descriptions of the food and entertainment are exquisite, her characters are beautifully drawn, and events and people of the times are deftly woven throughout . . . A delight to the senses, King’s debut novel is to be savored and devoured.”  (Library Journal, starred review)

Don’t have a copy yet? (Whaaat?!) Enter to win a copy in the #DebBallGiveaway! Retweet our post on Twitter:

Or you can also enter by sharing the post on Facebook. We will select and contact the very lucky winner on Friday, May 4th at noon (US Only).

Crystal talks about the book in this video from Touchstone:

And now for the interview and Crystal sharing a few things about her way may not know yet!

Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.

Most of my dear friends do know this “quirk” but I think it would be surprising to readers to know that I was once a very picky eater. When I was young my fathers job took him away during the week for long stretches of time leaving my mother to take care of three kids under the age of six (I was the oldest). It meant that during the years where my palate was likely to diversify it didn’t and instead I grew up on Kraft Mac & Cheese, Trix, Hamburger Helper, hotdogs and casseroles. I didn’t begin liking shellfish until I was out of college and living in Seattle and it wasn’t until I was nearly thirty when I branched out to things other people might consider normal such as mushrooms and blue cheese. Dining out in a “fancy” restaurant was an anomaly for much of my early years. When I met my husband, who loves going to great restaurants and trying new food experiences I made a huge shift, vowing to try everything at least once–or mostly everything, that is. I still have some issues like which foods can overlap on a plate and about food textures, for example, no cooked leafy greens or tomato slime for me! I also tend to intensely taste bitter or spicy foods. Something that my husband thinks is mildly spicy can ruin my entire day. Fortunately my palate has greatly expanded. It had to–the foods of Apicius are strange to modern tongues and I needed to have a sense of adventure. 

Where do you love to be?

Photo c. 2016 Crystal King

“Oh Rome! my country! city of the soul!”
—Lord Byron, English Poet

Byron captures it all. Rome is the home of my heart. I’m forever yearning to get back there.

Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.

My husband has a really stupid turkey gobble imitation that makes me crack up every.single.time.

Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?

I have about a 150 pages of a fantasy novel parked on my computer somewhere. It’s a seriously great story, a time-travel trilogy about a god that has lost its power and how he uses mortals to get it back. I loved writing it but have to admit that I put it aside because I thought it wasn’t “serious” enough, or acceptable enough. That was a long time ago, however, and the genre has grown in popularity since then, mainly due to the rise of films such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight and the Hunger Games. I love reading fantasy and losing myself in those worlds and it is exciting to see so many others feeling the same way. I think I’ll still write that story someday. Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. LeGuin crossed genres so why can’t I? I have a few more Italian chefs to write about first, though!

If you were a drink, what drink would you be and why?

So I’m a bit of a cocktail nerd because I count among my dearest friends one of the best bartenders in the country (no exaggeration), Todd Maul. Ten years ago, when St. Germain elderflower liqueur first came on the market, I asked Todd to make me a drink using the flowery stuff. The result was a drink with gin, grapefruit juice, elderflower (and I’m totally forgetting what else!) that my husband and I dubbed The Polaris because it had a bright, starry taste (and I’m a bit obsessed with stars). Later on when he opened up his own bar, he renamed it The Crystal. It’s such a good, straightforward, happy drink.

Congratulations, Crystal! All of us at the Debutante Ball are insanely proud of you. Readers will love Feast of Sorrow.

Crystal King grew up in the Pacific Northwest but now calls Boston home. As a marketing and social media professional, she has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. Crystal’s passion for ancient history and the world of food and wine has fueled both her writing and her love of the country of Italy. She has been learning the Italian language for the better part of the last decade. Feast of Sorrow is her debut novel.

Feast of Sorrow is available in bookstores across the US and Canada and at these fine online retailers:  Amazon | B&N | BAM! | Google | iTunes | Indie Bound | Kobo


Author: Lynn K Hall

Lynn Hall is a memoirist, activist in the movement to end sexual violence, ultra-runner, and crazy cat lady. Her memoir, CAGED EYES: AN AIR FORCE CADET’S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE, was published by Beacon Press in February 2017. Her writing has previously appeared in the New York Times, The LA Times, Hippocampus Magazine, The Sexual Assault Report, The Manifest-Station, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and elsewhere. In the summers, Lynn copes with publication anxiety by spending too many days in the Colorado mountains, and in the winters, with pans of brownies. She lives in Boulder with her partner and their 23 cats. Just kidding…she only has five.