Friday, June 14, 2019


What do you get when you cross ancient history with Iron Chef? Sharyna Tran penned the Unearthed story "Whose Cuisine Reigns Supreme?" and we're doing a Q&A with her today about what led her to this unique addition to the anthology!

Altrix Books: What about the UNEARTHED concept made you want to pitch a story?

Sharyna Tran: I liked all the questions that came up with the discovery of the black sarcophagus in Alexandria, especially once it was opened. Who were the woman and two men inside? Why did one of them have a hole in their skull? What was that red liquid?…And what if the answers to these questions were completely unrealistic, yet somehow still semi-plausible, while also drawing on a centuries-old societal fascination with craftsmanship, competition, and food?

(Although, to be honest, wanting to come up with a reason for the internet's desire to "drink the sarcophagus juice" was also a factor.)

Altrix: Tell us a little about your story.

Tran: "Whose Cuisine Reigns Supreme" is an announcer's-eye view of a very peculiar culinary competition, and a natural by-product of my love for food, food TV, and absurdist fiction.

Altrix: What books, shows, or real life events inspired your work, if any?

Tran: The American dub of the original Japanese "Iron Chef" was definitely an inspiration. Also, while diving into databases of papyrus scraps for non-royal Demotic and Hellenic names in Ptolemaic Egypt, I wound up finding additional inspiration for the backstory of one of my characters.

Altrix: What was the most challenging part of creating your story?

Tran: Despite (or perhaps because of) the absurd parts of the piece, it was important to me to make as many of the little details as historically plausible as possible, so I did a lot of research into Ptolemaic Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE. While challenging, and requiring the use of some very appreciated JSTOR resources, it was ultimately quite rewarding, as Egypt at that time was a melting pot of different cultures, cuisines, and cooking styles. And at every point when I researched rather than relying on stereotypes, the story got better.

Altrix: Where else can our readers find your work?  

Tran: This is my first published work (yay!), which is exciting, but also means I don't have much elsewhere for people to read. There is a Deluxe Edition of "Whose Cuisine Reigns Supreme" with some additional minor edits that expand one of the characters, which didn't quite make it into the book (because, well…first published work).

However, in the interest of increasing donations for the American Research Center in Egypt, I'm sending a .PDF of said version of my story by request to readers who e-mail me at with a screenshot or photo of their receipts for both Unearthed and their additional ARCE donation over $2 (if you bought a paperback) or $3 (if you bought the ebook).

Order your copy of Unearthed from Altrix Books!


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