What can I say about Richard Auffery? We first met on a press trip to Italy and have traveled to Argentina, France and the Kentucky Derby together. He’s become one of my best friends in the wine and spirits writing circuit. In this edition of Fred’s Friends, I ask Richard, The Passionate Foodie and fantasy novel author, some tough questions.

You’re also a lawyer. How in the world did you get into wine and spirits writing?

About eight years ago, I started hanging with a new group of friends and we would meet once a week to play cards and other games. When I would meet them, I brought wine with me. Though they usually drank beer, they started getting into the wine. Soon enough, others started bringing wine too until everyone ended up bringing a bottle each week. We then decided to do a podcast of wine reviews, discussing the wines we tasted each week. Eventually, I added restaurant reviews and reviews of other wines I drank outside of our weekly tasting. After 1 1/2 years, everyone else was burnt out with writing and I ended up being the only one contributing. So I decided to move off on my own and started The Passionate Foodie.

My pal Richard Auffery. Guess who convinced him to wear an ascot?

My pal Richard Auffery. Guess who convinced him to wear an ascot?

And, how did you become so fascinated with sake?

I have always been fascinated with all things Japan, from its history to culture. So it was only natural that I gravitated toward their food and drink. My first experience with Sake was hot sake at a Chinese restaurant. It was awful, boiling hot and the fumes burnt my eyes like paint thinner. But once I learned more about Sake, I realized chilled Sake would be better. When I tasted my first chilled Sake, I fell in love with it and was eager to taste and learn more about it. My Sake reviews now extend back 7 years.

I’ve also tried to catapult you into the magazine writing biz, but you seem perfectly happy writing for yourself. Would you ever sacrifice your blog writing for magazine writing?

I have written for a couple local newspapers as well as two local magazines. I would like to write for more magazines, however, I also won’t sacrifice my ethics to do so. There are magazines which want articles that primarily discuss their advertisers and that does not appeal to me, especially if I don’t think those advertisers make compelling products. I have a reputation I wish to protect and don’t wish to become seen as a shill. I currently have an assignment to write a Sake article for a major trade magazine and there is no requirement to push any specific products or advertisers.

In Demons, Gods & Sake, you’ve essentially found a way to combine your love for fantasy and sake. How cool is that? And, where did you get the idea?

I am a voracious reader and has always had that dream of writing novels. I have written dozens of short stories and two prior novels in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Though I have previously posted some of my short stories on my websites, I had never published anything. With the advent of ebooks though, I saw a great potential there to share my fiction with everyone. I wanted to write something different, as well as something food/wine related. Sake seemed like a cool niche and it lent itself well to exploring the rich mythology of Japan. I want my fiction to educate and entertain, to explore Japanese legends which few people knew about. There are many Japanese legends which involve Sake. Plus, by basing it in Boston, I could also reference some of my favorite restaurants and other places. I started with a short story, the first in the Tipsy Sensei series, hoping it would be well received and give me an incentive to continue writing more stories in the series. Each story seemed to get more and more kudos so the fourth installment became a full-length novel: Demons, Gods & Sake. I also felt that it would be worthwhile to publish it as a trade paperback. It too has received rave reviews and I am working on another Tipsy Sensei novel, as well as collecting some of my prior stories into a collection.