On Community and Instant Noodles: The Sad Bastard Cookbook by Zilla Novikov and Rachel A. Rosen

This post marks the first time that I have written about a book I worked on as an editor. But since the story of my involvement with this project is all tied up in what I want to say about it, it seems fitting.

I don’t remember how I first discovered Night Beats, but I think it was on the bird app. It tickled my fancy the second I learned about it. Night Beats is at once a fictional television show and an artists collective. The fictional television show (“simply the best/worst TV show that was never made”) was born out of the imagination of writers and friends Rachel A. Rosen, Zilla Novikov, and Sabitha Furiosa, who dreamed up this “rubbish paranormal police procedural” that the characters in all of their books were obsessed with watching. These wonderful folks then made Night Beats Creative Commons to make sure writers and artists could use it fairly and freely, and now Night Beats the collective is open to anyone who wants to write Night Beats the TV show into their fictional universe.

Somehow, without us intending it, Night Beats went from a plot device to an artists collective. We have a newsletter. We promo each other’s art. We share cat photos. We have the Night Beats Press to publish our books???”

Night Beats Extended Universe website

(Alongside these support networks, Night Beats also has a regular feature called Wrong Genre Cover, which is a very good time.)

Back in the foggy mists of 2021, I was chatting over Twitter with Zilla Novikov about beta reading. I had volunteered to beta read her novel, and while that did not end up happening (entirely my fault, and may I add that she was very gracious about the whole thing), she mentioned that she was working on a cookbook and asked if I would be interested in beta reading and recipe testing that. I said sure, but I am a plant-based eater, so I wasn’t sure how helpful I would be. Not to worry, she said, the book is all vegetarian with lots of vegan options. Thus my involvement in The Sad Bastard Cookbook began.

I don’t feel like it’s going out on a limb to say that you won’t have read a cookbook like this one before. It’s an instruction manual for feeding yourself when you are not up to much. I know that I’ve had plenty of these days in the past year (or ten). For anyone else who sometimes feels that the energy it takes to meal prep, grocery shop, and make a meal is just too much, The Sad Bastard Cookbook is here for you. Not only is it there for you in a practical sense, with meals and snacks that are manageable even when nothing else is, but it is there for you emotionally too, by reminding you that you are not alone, and that even in your darkest days, you deserve to eat.

It has recipes to make when you’ve worked a 16-hour day, when you can’t stop crying and you don’t know why, when you accidentally woke up an Eldritch abomination at the bottom of the ocean. But most of all, this cookbook exists to help Sad Bastards like us feel a little less alone at mealtimes.”

The Sad Bastard Cookbook

No lie, this cookbook brought a tear to my eye.

In keeping with the values of the Night Beats collective and the ethos of the cookbook, the authors chose to make the e-book available for free. To quote their website, “It’s hard to survive late capitalism and we want to help.” A noble cause if I ever heard one, and I wanted to help, too. So I offered my professional editing services free of charge.

In truth, the book was not difficult to edit. Authored as it was by seasoned writers, the writing was already polished and shiny. I did my small part to ensure consistency and get rid of typos, and then I passed it on back. I was feeling a warm glow about this book going out into the world.

And while I may not have been paid in dollars and cents, I was paid a thousand times over by the pleasure of working with goodhearted, talented, funny, kind people who valued my efforts in a way that many paying clients do not. Once the book was finished, I received a fantastic book box from Zilla, including a print copy whimsically illustrated by Marten Norr, a Sad Bastard meal kit (featuring a package of vegan ramen, a packet of Berbere spice, and even a spoon!), my very own Night Beats magnets, and a wee little pickle charm. (This last item delighted me in particular because it was listed on the customs form on the shipping envelope, and I like to think of it confounding the customs agents.)

But most of all, the reward comes from helping to be a part of something that is actively working towards supporting a community, and eschewing the ways in which we are taught to follow unthinkingly along lines of profit and personal gain. Communities of care are more important than ever right now, and being a part of this one was a delight.

Here’s to helping each other when we can, making food so we don’t die, and making our communities better places. ❤️

One thought on “On Community and Instant Noodles: The Sad Bastard Cookbook by Zilla Novikov and Rachel A. Rosen

  1. Thank you so much. This is the kindest thing. You were so wonderful to work with and you helped so much more than you give your self credit for!


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