Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

The cover of the sad bastard cookbook

Sabitha: Today we talk to one of the Night Beats creators, Zilla Novikov, about The Sad Bastard Cookbook. Full disclosure—I beta read this cookbook, and I love it already. But for people who haven’t had the chance to read it yet, Zilla, tell us about the project that you created with Rachel A. Rosen and Marten Norr.

Zilla: Thanks Sabitha! The Sad Bastard Cookbook is a cookbook of coping mechanisms and dark humour. There’s a lot of mental illness in the Night Beats community—and the world. We wanted to share how we get through eating on the days when picking up a spoon seems impossible. Also, we wanted an excuse to make jokes about Watchmen when we eat beans straight from the can. This cookbook let us do both at once.

Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?

Zilla: I realized I needed to write this book while watching Mrs P stream Dead by Daylight on Twitch. We were discussing ramen hacks, and someone mentioned adding egg to ramen soup to up the protein. Mrs P asked whether you needed to cook the egg first, and the whole community chimed in with suggestions for ways to make egg-in-ramen soup. Before that chat, I thought everyone already knew about eggs in ramen. And I thought there was only one way to prepare them. 

As we’ve worked on this project with our community, I’ve realized that everyone has a version of my story. Sometimes it’s about teaching their sibling, sometimes their students, or sometimes their friends. Eating is essential, but when you’re depressed, or exhausted, or overworked, it can be really hard. Little tricks like eggs in ramen can be so important. This cookbook meant Rachel and I could share our coping strategies, and at the same time learn from everyone else in our community. 

Sabitha: You’ve written two books already, Reprise and Query, and Rachel’s published Cascade. How did writing The Sad Bastard Cookbook differ from writing fiction?

Zilla: You’ve already mentioned the first difference—this is my first time co-writing a book, and my first time having it illustrated. I’m so lucky to work with such fantastic, creative people, who understand what I’m trying to express even when I can’t put it into words. Which is a bad trait in a writer!

The other difference is that this cookbook was sourced from the community. We asked around widely for suggestions about recipes to include, and we were not disappointed! From Cheater Channa Masala to a new pancake recipe, I learned so many tips and tricks, and it’s been wonderful seeing how caring our community is.

Sabitha: It’s an unusual process, but also an unusual sales tactic. You’re making it free.

Zilla: We’re making the e-book free. Unfortunately, we don’t have the wealth to make the paper copy free to everyone who wants it. But we’re not impressed with how capitalism makes it expensive to be mentally ill or in poverty. There might not be much we can do to fight that system, but we can make our book free for people to learn these coping strategies. 

We’re going to release early December, in time for Christmas gifting. The paper copy will go up on Amazon then, and our newsletter subscribers will get access to the free e-book. Both editions make great gifts! We’ll “sell” the e-book version to the general public in Jan, but newsletter subscribers get the bonus of early access to the e-book. We hope you like it!

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