Aug 5, 2015

Blog Tour & Food From Fiction: School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough

Today I am delighted to welcome Kelly McCullough to my blog.  Kelly has written fantasy for adults for years and School for Sidekicks is his first book for younger readers.  Check out his website for some fun book launch videos he's been making in anticipation for the release of School for Sidekick.  It's a great read that I know will be a big hit in my library!  Here's the synopsis:
Evan Quick is a GIANT superhero geek who dreams of one day becoming a superhero himself. Every morning he checks to see if he's developed his powers overnight, and every day there's nothing. No flying, no super strength, no invulnerability—that always hurts to check—no telepathy, no magic. Not even the ability to turn off the alarm clock without smacking the switch.

But then Evan somehow manages to survive a supervillian's death ray, and is sent to the Academy for Metahuman Operatives. Unfortunately, his new school is not what he expected, and instead of fighting bad guys, Evan finds himself blacklisted, and on the wrong side of the school's director. If Evan ever wants to realize his dream, he must convince his "mentor" Foxman, a semi-retired has-been, to become a real hero once again.
For author guest posts I like to ask them to share a recipe that is either a dish from the book or something they just enjoy.  Here is Kelly's post:

So, for this blog post I asked Foxman for one of his recipes. This was his response:

Foxman's Korean Chicken Burritos
Guaranteed goodness you can eat on the run.

The first thing you have to know about cooking for costumed heroes is that the meal can be interrupted at any time by anything from supervillain attacks to alien invasions or natural disasters. If you ever watched a superhero movie you know that the more involved the cooking process and the more you’re into the meal, the higher the chances of interruptions.

So, before anything else, your recipe has to take that into account and be flexible in the cooking process, or have some major built-in safety procedures. I prefer to go with the latter, and all of my recipes begin thusly:

1) Build one large robotic culinary prep system.* You’ll want it to have at least six arms, all with modular capacity so it can swap out any of its hands for a prep knife or powered whisk. I recommend building these in titanium sheathed with a hyperdense polyceramic armor–something ablative is ideal. You don't want stray plasma blasts to knock out an arm just as the meringue peaks are hitting that perfect spot.

That's why I armor all of my appliances too, and the stove has both internal and external shock damping to prevent small missile impacts from causing the soufflé to fall.

2) Computer control for the robo-chef.** I prefer to go with full blown artificial intelligence, because that gives the system a much better chance of figuring out whether a meal is just on pause for a villain battle, and the timing can be sorted by adjusting temps, or if it's going to have to park the cordon bleu fare and shift to sandwiches and other grab and go meals for the duration of an invasion. However, friends who've had some rogue AI issues swear by a simple but highly adaptive supercomputer with no self-awareness.

Which way you go is up to you, but whatever you do, remember to armor the daylights out of the computer core and harden it against EMP. Because if you don't someone is going to toast off a nuke somewhere close by, and then, bang all your recipes are gone forever. Which is another reason to always backup, backup, backup.

3) Decide how far back to basics you want to go. For example, my robo-chef is always stocked with staples like flour, water, sugar, eggs, and salt because I prefer to have things like crusts and breads made to order for more elaborate meals. I also stock in frozen crusts, and buns and things for quicker meals, and I know some heroes who prefer to have meals mostly prepared beforehand so the system is really doing more reheating than cooking, but that's always seemed so cheap and easy.

4) Ingredients:

8 Large whole wheat tortillas

1 lb. chicken breast, shredded.
1/4 cabbage, shredded

Sauce for Chicken:
2 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons chili paste
2 tablespoons chili flakes
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoons sake or other rice wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Black bean mix:
1 can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon butter
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos
1/4 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
1 whole avocado, diced
1/4 cup diced green olives
1/4 head of crisp lettuce, shredded

5) Preparation under normal circumstances. Pretty simple actually, you order delivery on all the ingredients, along with any other groceries you might. Once they arrive at your dummy address—got to protect that secret identity—you have your sidekick collect them and bring them back to the secret lair. There, place the groceries on the kitchen table in easy reach of the culinary robot.

If you've got good AI, you're done at that point except for the eating. If you've gone with a more rudimentary robo-chef, you'll probably have to instruct it to put away the groceries, load the ingredients in the appropriate hoppers and give the machine an execute command. Then, you just sit back with a nice drink and wait for the robot to call chow time.

6) Preparation in emergencies. It's possible that the computer will be having a hiccup, or there might be power complications. In that case you might have to give verbal commands on individual steps. If so, it goes like this:

Computer: Mix the chicken sauce ingredients.
Computer: Add the shredded chicken and cabbage to the sauce, stir
Computer: Prepare two pans.
Computer: Pan one, add the chicken and sauce mix over medium heat
Computer: Pan two, drop in one tablespoon butter, and minced garlic
Computer: Pan one, bring to boil and then simmer for 4 minute
Computer: Pan two, thoroughly sauté garlic, then add everything but beans, lower heat
Computer: Pan two, as pan one starts to bubble, add beans and bring back to medium
Computer: With one minute left on pans, put tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds
Computer: Lay out tortillas and distribute chicken and bean mixes evenly
Computer: Add cheese to tortillas and let melt
Computer: Query guests as to extras they would like
Computer: Add extras as ordered
Computer: Present plates to guests.
Computer: Clean the kitchen

*I'd include schematics, but OSIRIS (Office of Strategic Intelligence and Research, International Section) has informed me that all of that is considered classified and not suitable for sharing with the civilian population.

**Again, I can't offer schematics due to national security considerations, but really, AI is fairly straightforward and a simple application of first computing principles will get you there pretty quickly without violating any stupid national security directives.

Thanks for visiting my blog today Kelly. I hope the book will be a big hit. I will be book talking this at my library all year!

Do you have a question for our guest author? Kelly McCullough will be on Reddit doing an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) this Thursday August 6th at 3:00 PM Eastern Time. He'll be answering questions about School for Sidekicks, all past works, being a writer, his cats, and much more. You can submit your questions by going to at the scheduled start time.


  1. Sounds yummy, the book and recipe :) Adding this to the TBR, thanks Jana

  2. So glad you enjoyed the book!