Like on the show, in your story the food plays such a major part. The way you described everything Hannibal prepared for Will was so vivid and integral to each chapter. I wanted a recipe section at the end because the meals were so detailed. Are these meals that you’ve had before, or did you research them? Are you a foodie?
I’m very happy to have arrived in the Hannibal fandom because it’s a fandom that I have to do very little research for. If I do research it’s stuff along the lines of the climate in Tuscany or how to get blood out of a certain material or what to do if your dog’s been stung by a bee. Food is something that I already know. Actually, if I go back to Redwall for a second, that’s something that the Redwall books are very well known for.
For whatever reason, Brian Jacques, the author, obsessively details everything they’re eating all the time. If someone is packing a bag for a long journey, he describes what they put in their bags. Like, “and she packed four apples and two oat scones.” They’re always having feasts, it’s not a Redwall book if it doesn’t start and or end with a giant feast.
I didn’t know what a lot of these foods were when I read them as a kid. Nowadays, they seem really strange, like they’d eat things like celery trifle. Trifle is a cake thing, the way you’d use leftover cake is that you’d pour heavy cream on it then put more whipped cream on, which is a great idea. So…celery cake? Is it a savory trifle? I don’t understand. Reading them always made me hungry.
So I’ve always been into food. My whole family is into food. A lot of my family lives in Malaysia, and we took this trip from the airport to the hometown where my grandmother lives. It’s maybe four hours by car, but somehow we made it take twice as long because every few miles my cousin would be like, “Oh this village is really well known for its roast duck, we should eat here,” and so we’d pull over and eat duck and then we’d get back in. A few miles later, “This village is really well known for its wontons, we should eat here,” so we’d pull over and eat some wontons. And then we got to my grandmother’s house, and my grandmother was like, “Hey, I cooked some crab for us! Come eat some crab!” And I’d be like, “Oh my God I’m gonna barf.”
I just grew up with a healthy appreciation of food. I was not a picky eater as a kid. I love to cook, and over the years I’ve achieved some technique. To give you an idea, the dinner I had today before we started chatting was pot-au-feu that I made yesterday, which is basically fancy French pot roast. You take beef and a lot of vegetables and you put it in a pot and cook it for a very long time. I eat very well. I am not a skinny person by any means, and I eat a lot of offal. I’m Chinese, I grew up eating pig snouts, and pig ears, and pig kidneys. I don’t think any of that stuff is weird. So when I started writing Hannibal it was very easy for me.
The things I have to look up are, like for the priest fic, I wanted a lot of Hannibal’s dishes to be kind of humorous, like there’s one dish he prepares, deviled kidney. (laughs) A dish with devil in the name! He feeds Will lots of apples, pork chops with apple sauce on the side, poached apple at one point. The forbidden fruit.
And so some of those I had to look up, because after a while I ran out of ideas. How many more ways can I get apples into something? I ran out of apples and I wondered what other funny foods to come up with, so I tried searching for deviled foods. That was when I found deviled kidney, which was not a way I’d ever had kidney. I read a recipe and thought it looked kind of easy, so I went to the butcher and picked up a couple of kidneys. Now it’s entered my regular rotation because it cooks really fast and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. I keep a couple kidneys in the freezer. This is true for a lot of the Hannibal recipes as well. Janice Poon is the food stylist on Hannibal and she has a blog, Feeding Hannibal, where she has a few recipes on it.
Some of them are too elaborate for me to cook frequently, or at all. I mean, baking something in clay? If it’s going to involve me going to an art supply store it’s not going to happen. She has a recipe for tandoori liver there that has also entered my weekday rotation because it also cooks very fast and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. So I’ve memorized it because it was easy.
About half of the dishes I look up, but if I want something kind of interesting or funny I have a few tabs open in my browser right now that are from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine because a lot of them are the kind of things that Hannibal would cook. A lot of times if I see something that I think would be good for a story, I often end up cooking it myself. Because it sounds good.
How many of the recipes have you cooked from “he raises me?”
I think most of them. I haven’t made pork chops in a while. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve read dishes in other people’s fics that I’ve ended up cooking. Like emungere, she mentioned a dish at one point. At the very end of her fic “Where all Ladders Start,” Hannibal mentions something about, “There’s also lamb stew with preserved lemons in the fridge if you’re still hungry.” And I’m like, “What is lamb stew with preserved lemons? I must know about this!” I found some recipes, but actually preserved lemons are really hard to find and I ended up having to preserve my own lemons. I made it and mentioned it to her later. I was like, “You know that lamb with lemons that you mentioned in that fic? It’s actually really good, I’m going to make it again sometime!” And she was like “Oh good, I’ve never eaten it. I’m glad that it’s something that people actually eat.”
Are you planning a sequel or continuation for this story?
(Spoilers, select to view)God no. Actually, when I first conceived it I always knew it was going to have an open ending. In my head I thought the ending was going to be Will confronting Hannibal in his office. I sort of had this mental image of Will standing outside the door of Hannibal’s office, gearing himself up by reciting Psalm 27 to himself. That’s the one that he ends up reading in the very last chapter. The one is the title of the last chapter, actually.
Opening the door to confront Hannibal was going to be the end of story. But when I actually wrote it, it didn’t turn out the way that I thought. It ended up being Hannibal coming to Will’s office. So I didn’t get that dramatic door opening that I wanted, but I think it still ended the way I wanted it to end.
Very rarely do I write sequels. This musician that I really like and admire, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, he sums it up really well. He says there’s always the choice of re-recording old songs and making a “Best Of” album or recording new songs, and I’m always going to choose the new album. I would rather make new material than go back and redo old material. Once I write a story and it’s out of my head, it’s out. If I don’t write DVD commentary, six months later I’ll be like, “I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote that,” or “Oh! That’s a good joke I made there!”
Of course I’ve gotten a lot of comments of “What happens next?” I honestly don’t have a clue! The ending that you make up in your head is just as good.
There are only a few stories where I kind of have an inkling of what happens next. A story that I wrote, “if you come all the way down with me,” that one I do have an idea of what happens next. A few people have asked about that one, and I mean, I know, but I don’t want to say. Because it just closes off the possibilities of the reader. Not that anyone has to listen to me; whatever ending you make up in your head is completely legitimate.
I’ve told people, if you want to write a sequel, then go ahead. No one’s taken me up on that. My feeling is like, I’m already writing fanfiction; I’m hardly going to object to fanfiction of my fanfiction.
What are you working on now?
The one that I’m actively working on now is a Hannibal/Silent Hill crossover. If you know about Silent Hill, it’s a series of psychological horror video games. You go to this town, Silent Hill, and it’s populated by all the monsters of your subconscious. Which I kind of figure, that’s basically Will Graham’s life already. Hannibal is a creepy and terrifying TV show and Silent Hill is a creepy and terrifying video game, so I was like, “Let’s combine the two! Why not? 600% more scary.” I have it outlined.
Is that going to be novel length or a one-shot?
It will be a long story, I think. I don’t want to predict how long, but pretty long. It’s not going to be a 4000 word story, it will definitely be a long story where an over-arching narrative. It’s going to be at least 20,000. I feel safe saying that. Of course, now that I’ve said that, it’s going to turn out to be half that length.
I’m also working on a much shorter one-shot, a wingfic, actually. I’ve never written wingfic before, but I love reading it, and it seems a shame to me that there isn’t much, if any, wingfic in Hannibal fandom. So I’m fixing that.
And then after that, who knows…? I have a lot of ideas, hahaha, so it’s all about picking which one to write next.
Do you read a lot of Hannibal fanfiction?
I’m not right now, because I’m writing so much fanfic. That’s the thing, if I’m writing a lot I’m probably not reading a lot. Just because there’s not enough time in the day. Whenever people are like, “You gotta read this fic! Have you read this fic?” I’m kind of like, “You have a choice here. Do you want me to write more fic? Because if you do then stop telling me to read this thing.”
Also because Hannibal is such a small fandom there’s less stuff that I am interested in reading. I don’t want to diss whatever people are writing, people are writing whatever they want to write and that’s great. It’s just not necessarily stuff I’m interested in reading. Like ChillyWilly for instance, which the by the way the best pairing name I’ve ever heard. I love it! ChillyWilly! But I’m not into that; I just want to read Hannigram. Or there’s a lot of long incomplete works in progress. Those I don’t read until they’re done, but then when they’re done I’m like, aaahh, I don’t have time to read a hundred thousand words! I have all this writing I need to do! So that cuts down on my options.
If you had to rec, one or two fics for someone who’s just getting into the Hannibal fandom, what would you suggest?
I would definitely rec anything by emungere. I think everyone already knows that. If
Coloredink is a writer of fiction (fan and otherwise). Her Hannibal and Sherlock works can be found on Archive of Our Own. She also reblogs pictures of dogs and the food she prepares for Hannibal viewing parties on Tumblr.