Tag Archives: unusual

Authors Answer 137 – Unusual Writing Inspirations

Authors’ ideas don’t just pop in their minds from nowhere. Something has to inspire them. It could be a person, a scene, an event, a song, anything. Many of these inspirations are quite ordinary. But sometimes, they can be pretty strange.

Question 137 – What was one of the most unusual writing inspirations that sparked a story idea?

H. Anthe Davis

A couple years ago, I wrote a rather large short story (short novella?) based on an idea of very boring vampires. Urban vampire fantasy is always so seduction/violence/whatever-based, and I just don’t like it…but I played several years of Vampire: The Masquerade with friends, so had ideas of other ways to write it. Which is how I ended up with a story about a vampire accountant who finds himself rescued from a vampire-on-vampire conflict over his just-destroyed clan’s wealth and resources by a glam Jewish vampire-hunter and her werewolf musician boyfriend. I really should edit and post it some day.

Paul B. Spence

Er… I’m sorry, that’s classified. I suppose that my more recent inspirations have been songs, for the most part. Sometimes dreams. Sometimes I’m just driving down the road and hear the scenes in my head. Strange, I know. I used to tell myself stories as a child, before I could read. The Remnant is based in part on a childhood story over forty years old at this point. I was a strange and disturbed child.

Jean Davis

Well, it’s not all that unusual, I suppose, but it’s been a long time coming, so I’m going with it. About twenty-five years ago, I ended up in a discussion about where god might come from while serving a customer a drink in the restaurant where I worked at the time. I’ve been mulling those ideas around ever since, and they served as inspiration for The Last God, which was just released this month.

D. T. Nova

I wrote a short-short based on an unusual search term from my blog.

Beth Aman

This one is quite funny. I was on an international flight​, tired and bored, when I looked across the aisle and saw a most peculiar man. He was dressed in a black suit that looked to be about a hundred years old, and the man himself looked to be at least a hundred and twenty. He wore a top hat and carried an old briefcase and a cane,​ and he had a long, hooked nose. He instantly became a character, and his briefcase became a method of smuggling magical artifacts. He​ was the beginning of a new novel, which is my current WIP.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I get a lot of writing inspiration from other peoples’ media (books, video games, movies, TV shows) and also from the insanity that is my dreams, all of which is fairly standard practice, I’d say. However, one of my current works in progress was inspired by a deep, relentless hatred for one of the upper-management bosses at my last job. I’m pretty sure literally everyone else on the crew hated this guy with a passion. Well one day he did something to me specifically that just enraged me beyond the telling of it, and the next thing I knew I was three chapters deep into my second zombie novel, purely because I wanted an excuse to have him torn limb from limb in prose form. A little psychotic? Perhaps. But aren’t all writers at least a little insane?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Still not uncommon? Fair enough. I once saw a design someone made of a fantasy dress with armor and raven feathers. It got me thinking of what kind of royalty or nobility would wear such a dress, which led to creating the culture of an entire fantasy civilization. All from a dress.

C E Aylett

A home made postcard on a website. The picture was of six different locks of hair and on it was written: After they fall asleep, I cut the hair from the kids I babysit. All the people in the website’s forum were saying how creepy it was and I wanted to make it un-creepy, that it was more a cry of loneliness than anything else. It produced one of my strongest pieces, though also one of my saddest and maybe even most controversial. And people who critiqued it all said it was creepy, so that was a massive fail in that sense, though the story is really strong. Oh, didn’t I say the other week I couldn’t think of a writing failure? There you go. There’s one: I failed to un-creep the creepy. But it taught me a massive lesson in setting narrative tone. I still haven’t found anywhere that will publish it, even though it often gets serious consideration.

The postcard also inspired me to write a poem about a woman who was grieving the loss of a child, but that stays in the drawer along with the rest of my poems.

Gregory S. Close

I get a lot of ideas from history and non-fiction, but the inspiration for Greyspace was pretty fun, unintentional and off-the-wall. I was in an online Science Fiction writers workshop/class with the full intent of revising and publishing an old story about the fun and consequences of relativistic travel and leap-frogging technology, but the instructor told us that he wanted to see three writing ideas. So, I added the idea I fully intended to develop, a second idea about nano-bots, and the third, which I just threw in there so I could submit it on time, was basically a joke about spaceships that couldn’t achieve Faster Than Light travel through scientific methods, but instead had to rely on a sorcerer to get them through Hyperspace. “What if instead of Scotty in the Engine Room, you had Merlin.” And that ended up being the idea we both liked the most.

Eric Wood

I wrote a story about my childhood stuffed animal (which I still have, by the way). Though the little boy in story wasn’t me. Perhaps his imagination was. Barnaby and his boy were in the grocery store with Mom and got lost. While there they took a trip around the world.

Jay Dee Archer

I have a children’s book idea that began as a single sentence that my daughter said about two years ago. It has to do with dinosaurs, everyday life, and a child’s creative imagination. Maybe it’s not a very unusual inspiration, but

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Authors Answer 84 – Unusual Author Talents

I was going to call this Stupid Author Tricks, but I don’t want David Letterman to get angry at me. If you think authors just write, you’re wrong. They also have some interesting talents! This week, we share our talents with you.

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Question 84 – Do you have an unusual talent? What is it?

Linda G. Hill

I can lick my own nose. I’m incredibly fast at licking other people’s noses too. Mostly my family… strangers don’t take too kindly to it.

Gregory S. Close

I’m older and less fit now, so I don’t know if I still have this talent, but in my younger days I could do a pretty mean vertical jump from a standstill.  I enjoyed startling my friends by suddenly jumping to some seemingly inaccessible window sill or ledge.  Unfortunately, I did not also have super strength, spider silk with the tensile strength of steel, amazing agility or a sixth sense.  That would have completed the package into something more useful.

D. T. Nova

Not really. The only thing I can think of is the taco-tounge-roll thing that I’ve heard most people can’t do. It sounds silly, but hey, it’s what Buttercup has instead of freezing breath like Blossom or talking to animals like Bubbles…wait, that’s even sillier.

While that was true, it was more of a demonstration than an answer, since I’ve been told my talent is being able to remember random details from shows I haven’t seen in 20 years.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I can break a cell phone in record time. Not the most convenient talent. My current phone has a malfunctioning power button that will only work about half the time, so turning off the screen or the phone itself is a chore.

Jean Davis

What, killing fictional people in creative ways isn’t unusual enough? I used to be able to skin a deer in ten minutes back when I was a teenager and did it after school as my first job.

Paul B. Spence

I’m really good with weapons. Any weapons. I have a talent for survival. I suppose my most unusual talent is a talent for learning. I’m really good at many different things.

Eric Wood

Not that it’s unusual, but you don’t find many in every day life who know how to juggle. I can juggle three of pretty much anything. Eggs. Balls – baseballs, basketballs, doesn’t matter (though I’ve never tried bowling balls – yet). Rings. Bowling pins. I used to have torches I would light on fire and juggle those. I can juggle any combination of things, too.

S. R. Carrillo

I possess the unenviable ability to bust out into a cold sweat, no matter how calm or warm or comfortable I am.

H. Anthe Davis

The only thing I can think of is my fondness for making up new words to current songs, a la Weird Al Yankovic.  I used to reword songs all the time for my MMORPG characters, but haven’t done much recently — though I do pick at this idea I had of a musical version of my series now and then.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t know whether I’d call it an “unusual” talent, but despite the fact that I’m one of the messiest people I know (I put everything down where I stand, so everything is lost all the time) I’m ridiculously good with paperwork. A while back my coworkers and I were working on this thing called a “dredge” that was designed in the Netherlands, and the paperwork was just outrageously confusing. It turned out that in addition to the confusing nature of it, the people who had made our work packs had completely screwed up by trying to organize it the way we normally would, which meant that they had sheets from different files all balled together in the wrong order and it was just a complete mess. I worked with three electricians and two instrument techs for a week to get it all settled so that we could hand it over to the parent company, and I’m totally confident in saying that if I hadn’t been involved it would have taken a month. By the end of it one of the boys would ask me where in the 2000+ pages of documents was the page for a certain device, and I’d be like, “It’s in book #2, section #6, somewhere between pages 10 and 20.” lol

Allen Tiffany

Survival. I’ve done way too many stupid things in my life to still be alive, or at least not badly maimed. From playing with guns to driving at 125 in the middle of the night with my lights out I’ve done more than my fair share of immature things. Fortunately, I never hurt myself or anyone else. Here is the one that went a long way to helping me grow up…

I met an old friend who lived on the northwest Pacific coast. After a long night in a bar, we were not stupid drunk but had more than a few beers. We wound up on a beach (I don’t now remember where) at about 2:00 AM when it was near 40 degrees. The beach was extremely wide and had only a modest incline, and it was pockmarked by mounds of rock about 10 or 15 feet above the sand. We were chatting and not paying much attention, but found it mildly amusing to follow every receding way out until we came to another pile of rock, which we scramble up as another wave would come in.

Finally, we chased a receding line of water out, and struggled up another mound of rock as the next wave crashed in. The water rushed around our little island…and it kept going. And then another wave came in on top of the first. After that came the next wave, and then another. After about five minutes, the water was up to our knees and we were struggling to maintain our footing, dry land was at least 200 yards away, and we were wearing heavy jeans and coats. We also knew that if we fell off our underwater pile of rock, once the water started to recede, we’d be pulled out in to the ocean, and dragged under as our heavy clothes pulled us down. The cold water would also sap our energy.

After a while, we could no longer see the edge of the water. In the moonlight we hung on to each other looking around, feeling like we just as easily could have been in the middle of the Pacific. I don’t remember our exact words, but it was something to the effect of how stupid we were.

The water did — ever so slowly — begin to slide back into the Pacific basin. When it was only knee deep we jumped in and ran as hard as we could to the east.

Jay Dee Archer

I can roll my stomach. Well, I could do it far better when I was a kid, and these days, it just gives me mild nausea. My stomach rolls like a wave from top to bottom. My daughter can do it, too.

But I think a better talent is my ability to visualise any place as a map in my mind. When I know exactly what a place is like, I can see it in my mind like I have Google Maps installed in my brain. Now if only I could hook it up with GPS.

How about you?

What unusual talents do you have? Share them with us in the comments below.

Authors Answer 83 – Author Quirks

June is the month you get to learn a bit more about the authors. You’re going to find out some interesting facts about them. You see, authors are people, too. They have their quirks, idiosyncrasies, and talents. This week, you’ll learn something unusual about the authors.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 83 – Can you tell us one quirky fact about yourself?

Allen Tiffany

I scored in the 7th percentile on English GRE. I was not an English or literature undergrad, but I applied to a big state university’s Graduate Creative Writing program. They accepted me based on my publication record to that point, but asked me to take the English GRE “just because”. I agreed, did not study for it and got creamed because so many of the questions were about all the literature most English undergrads have already read. Nonetheless, to the best of my knowledge, I’m one of their more successful writers.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

A quirky fact? Hmm…I don’t know. What is considered quirky? How about the fact that I sometimes sing Disney tunes while I’m alone in the car? Or that I sometimes act out scenes from my stories in the shower to see if they sound right? Or the fact that I collect Funko Pop vinyl figures and I’m rapidly rounding in on having 700 of the little friggers? Those are all fairly quirky, right? lol

H. Anthe Davis

I hate driving and won’t go anywhere new until I’ve thoroughly investigated the route on Google Maps and had a few days to stew on it.  I haven’t driven on a highway since I got my license; I just use surface streets.

S. R. Carrillo

Um, some would argue that I am all quirk, no filler. One really strange thing that I’ll say about myself is that, a lot of times, some of the elements in the stories I write tend to end up becoming reality for me, long after I’ve written it. It’s not really all that cool, seeing as how I write dark, crazy stuff, but maybe that means I should write a happy, healthy story – and try to get that one to stick. 😛

Eric Wood

The only thing quirky I can come up with is that l wear mismatched socks. I really wouldn’t call that quirky though because I’m definitely not the only one.

Paul B. Spence

I programed a computer for the first time when I was five. It used punch cards. Does that count as quirky? How about having broken just about every bone in my body, some more than once?

Jean Davis

Only one quirky thing? Well, the most obvious is that I have bright hair. Currently, it’s pink with blue and purple streaks. I’ve had bright hair since 1986 with only a couple years of attempting to be colorless due to dress code restrictions. Why the rainbow locks? It’s a mojo thing, and really, it’s a great conversation starter.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Hmm, quirky facts. I always have a hard time with these questions because I’m not sure what about me would qualify as quirky. I can pick up objects with my toes, does that count? Or the fact that I still have a baby tooth that refuses to come out to this day?

D. T. Nova

I tried growing “hot-blooded sideburns” once and found out they’re not worth it in real life.

Gregory S. Close

This is either a quirk or just a quirky story, I’m not sure…

I once won a Jeep from a national contest through 7-Up.  It was one of those things where the bottle cap had a prize like “Free 16 oz 7-Up,” or a “Sorry, try again!” message stamped on the inside, so you’d pop open the bottle and then see if you won anything.  I bought a six pack on a Friday (part of a long weekend trip to visit my brother at college and play D&D) and on the last bottle, which I opened the following Monday (after returning to my own school)… Pop!  There it was.  “You Win a Jeep.”

I was really excited.  I didn’t have a car of my own, so this was pretty cool.

As I read the rules to see how I could claim the prize I discovered the contest had ended at midnight the day before.

Because I was young and stupid, I did not contact the contest to see if I could claim the prize anyway, assuming rules were rules.  Later on, I realized they may have awarded the prize anyway.

I won a Jeep that I did not win.  Used up all my good contest luck.

Oh well.

Jay Dee Archer

I guess the quirkiest thing about me is how I used to refuse to wear jeans until high school. I’d always wear sweatpants. I used to think that jeans are too scratchy, and I wanted to be comfortable. When I showed up at school on the first day of high school wearing jeans, a lot of my friends were shocked. I just shrugged it off.

And of course, I like to read encyclopedias for fun!

How about you?

Tell us one quirky thing about you. What’s unusual about you? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 69 – Unusual Comments and Requests

The more well-known an author gets, the more likely they’ll receive some interesting comments or requests by email or on their blog or website. Some may be lucky to get totally sane comments, others may get totally crazy requests. This is what we’ve received.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 69 – As a writer or blogger, what was the most unusual request or comment you’ve received?

D. T. Nova

I don’t think I’ve gotten either a comment or a specific request that was really unusual. (Unless you count spam comments, which can be hilarious when they aren’t just unreadable.) Or a specific request at all.

I got a comment from someone who didn’t like Oreos. That was really unusual.

Eric Wood

I wish I could say I’ve received from strange and unusual requests or comments, But I can’t. Or at least not truthfully. I sure can’t wait to read what the other authors share for this one!

Gregory S. Close

I can honestly say that I’ve not received any weird or outlandish requests.  I guess I can look forward to the day when that might be a problem!

Linda G. Hill

I don’t get many unusual requests. The comments that often stump me are those which make no sense because of typos or because the writer’s first language isn’t English. The latter I find to be quite tricky, since I know what it’s like to try my best at a foreign language only to be laughed at.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I don’t think I’ve gotten any off the wall requests. The closest I’ve come was an invitation to join a food tour in Miami and blog about it. That request on its own wasn’t strange, especially because I kept a sporadically-updated food blog at the time, but the strange part was that the invitation came in the form of a comment on my writing blog. (I went on the tour and it was tasty, by the way.)

S. R. Carrillo

Every comment I’ve received has been unusual in its own little way, but this is another matter of memory, and that is where I continuously fail.

Paul B. Spence

I usually don’t like to talk about my love life… In seriousness, I suppose the most unusual was someone asking me if writing about so many “evil” things was difficult for me, morally. Took me a moment to realize the person was talking about Science, my comfort in writing about women and gay issues, and the equality in my books, not the ancient evil monsters from beyond. I was troubled by that…

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t know if I’ve really gotten that many unusual requests or comments. On YouTube I’ve gotten a few declarations of love that caught me a little off-guard, but there hasn’t been much strange or unexpected on the blog or with regards to the book. I suppose if I was going to give one example, I’d say this one rating/review I got on “Nowhere to Hide” on Goodreads. The guy basically had nothing but good things to say about the book, but then he gave me a 3-out-of-5-star rating. That really perplexed me, because if I had literally nothing bad to say about a product, I’d probably give it 5 stars, right? And if he really thought it was only worth 3 stars, then why didn’t he explain his reasoning? I don’t know, that one just kinda annoyed me. I can handle the 3-star rating, but tell me why ​you only gave it 3.

Jean Davis

I wish I had an entertaining story to tell here, but  my blog followers have been well behaved and comments on my writing have been fairly standard. I’ve been thankful for that, but now I’m going to be waiting for something really far out there to pop up so I can share it the next time a question like this pops up.

H. Anthe Davis

Beside bizarre spam comments?  Nothing much, really.  All my commentators have been (apparently) sensible people, and the wacky comments tend to come from my RPG friends, so they don’t really count.  (I play some of my story-characters in games with them, so now and then we’ll break into in-character commentary on a post.)

Allen Tiffany

In response to my novel on combat in Vietnam, a woman reached to me on my page on Facebook and publicly posted pictures of the headstones of her husband, brother and uncle. She said they all  died in combat in Vietnam or later from wounds suffered in Vietnam. She thanked me for writing about the trauma of war and the wreckage it leaves behind. I did not know what to say for a while. I stared at that one for a long time before I could respond.

If I did not fully believe it before this happened, it certainly drove home to me the power of words and of storytelling.

Jay Dee Archer

I’ve had a couple. The first was a comment about a worldbuilding post I’d made on this blog. It came as a response to a Facebook post I made linking to the blog post from someone I knew in school. He’s a Christian fundamentalist and creationist, and he was offended about my talk about the creation of a planet.

The second was a request to write a guest post on the blog. It was an interesting topic, and I said yes. However, it turned out to be an advertisement or endorsement for a product, which goes against WordPress guidelines for free blogs. I cannot have advertisements for products, unless I have a paid account.

How about you?

Have any of you bloggers or authors received unusual comments or requests? Share them in the comments below.

Authors Answer 68 – Authors Research the Strangest Things

Authors appear to be very intelligent, don’t they? Well, a lot of the knowledge they’ve gained for writing is through research. And there are some bizarre topics that they’ve researched. I’m sure you’d be surprised, amused, or horrified if you went through an author’s Google search history. But don’t worry, it’s all for the book!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 68 – What are some of the most unusual things you’ve researched for your writing?

Allen Tiffany

Whether or not a dual star system can have a planet orbiting one of the stars. There seems to be one line of thinking that it can be done if the planet’s orbit is at a 90 degree angle to the plane on which the two stars orbit each other. I also saw an article that said it was not possible, and tried to explain why with mathematical equations. I gave up trying to understand it, and I went with the first article because it fit my story.  🙂

H. Anthe Davis

Oh I’ve researched LOTS of stuff.  The most interesting to me was eye enucleation, but some recent ones include properties of silk armor, pre-modern heating and cooling, farming techniques, volcanic hazards, photosynthesizing sea-slugs, bee vision, unusual riding animals, fungus crafts, scar mobility exercises, eyeliner tattoos, and alpine survival.  All relevant to the story/world, even the sea-slugs!

Jean Davis

As with most writers, my search history can be quite disturbing depending on what project I’m working on. I’ve can’t think of anything too far out there, but I’ve definitely hunted down a lot of details on dead bodies and everything between the best horse breed to pull a gypsy wagon and various methods of space travel.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Ooh…I have to think about that. I’ve seen some pretty insane research topics pop up during NaNoWriMo, that’s for sure, but those weren’t usually mine. Actually, come to think about it, I don’t do a whole lot of researching because I write more fantastic stuff, the kind of stuff you can mostly just make up from scratch. I did once research how far a human can walk in a single day because I was worried that I was being ridiculous in my estimations of time passing during a long journey. I’ve looked up information on guns because I didn’t want to sound like I had no idea what I was talking about. Ooh…here’s a good one…while I was writing my zombie novel, “Nowhere to Hide”, I took to Google to find out if it was feasible for a 130-ish-lb girl to use a sword to hack right through another human’s neck. That one probably got me on a few government watch lists.

Paul B. Spence

Oh, my. Where to begin…? The fact that it takes longer than anyone wants to think about to explosively decompress? The effects of nuclear radiation on human tissues? Serial killers? Ancient Sanskrit? Penis length of great cats? I mean, who doesn’t want to know that? Right? The list goes on.

S. R. Carrillo

The only one I can think of off the top of my head would be the different kinds of acid and which one is used in pool cleaning. Like most writers, however, I research the wildest of things in pursuit of my craft. I’m sure there are much more heinous things out there I’ve Googled that I simply cannot recall. ^_^

Elizabeth Rhodes

My research into the Black Death turned up some strange things. I specifically looked into plague infections in animals, human superstitions surrounding the plague, and previous attempts to treat it. The topic may not be as strange as some of the others mentioned in this post, but the results sure were.

Linda G. Hill

Hahaha! I often say that if anyone peeked at my search terms on Google, they’d wonder a) what kind of disease I have, b) how am I hiding all those addictions, or c) what kind of psychopath I am. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m on some sort of international watch list for the criminally insane.

Gregory S. Close

I spent an inordinate amount of time determining whether or not some characters were eating pottage or porridge at an inn.  (It ended up being porridge, for those who want to know).

I also really enjoyed researching insults – it’s pretty cool to see how different terms have evolved into insults and to recreate that in my world-building.  The key elements of insults: they are almost always derived out of religion or bodily functions, and often the conjunction of the two!

Eric Wood

Thanks to the inspiration from a fellow blogger, every Friday I do a post where I answer questions my two kids have asked throughout the week.Therefore, I have had to look up everything from baby crows to the coldest temperatures on earth. I’ve looked up what blind people see and earthquakes. It’s great fun!

D. T. Nova

Geographic distribution of eye colors.

Whether or not you can “draw” a weapon or tool that isn’t in a sheath or holdster, or if there was another word for it.

Multiple instances of “I need a name that means X” result in spending a lot of time on baby name websites…and the fact that I’ve also researched pregnancy might give anyone spying on my search history a very wrong idea.

Which reminds me: the effects of certain drugs.

Jay Dee Archer

I’ve had a few interesting searches. For my Ariadne series, I’ve researched wind directions depending on latitude, the effects of an electromagnetic pulse on electronic systems, climate zones, injuries caused by a chisel, mineral hardness, and information about male and female plants. For my future Solar System series, I’ve researched Holst’s The Planets.

Future topics will be the psychological effects of rape, PTSD, government types, urban planning, and genetically modified plants and animals.

How about you?

What are some of the strangest things you’ve researched for writing? I wonder who has the strangest topic. Leave your answer in the comments below.

The Weird Valentine’s Day Weather

It’s Valentine’s Day, the day when women give chocolates to men in Japan. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. This is what I see right now.

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This is Shonandai Station. The rain is heavily beating on the roof of the station. It’s a downpour. It’s currently 18 degrees Celsius, which is highly unusual for winter here. Today is expected to be sunny in the afternoon, very windy, and 23 degrees.

What’s going on? Is it climate change? No, a strong low pressure system has taken root over the Sea of Japan, and it’s pulling up warm tropical air from the Taiwan region. It’ll be a beautiful afternoon.

It won’t last, though. Tomorrow, it’s expected to snow in the evening. Sudden change, isn’t it? Well, Friday’s forecast is for 19 degrees now. Up and down. It’s too springlike.

How’s your weather?

Japanese Food Taste Test – Chocolate Yakisoba

A couple weeks ago, I was informed of a new flavour of yakisoba, which is a kind of Japanese fried noodle. The usual flavours are Sauce (which is a soy sauce based sauce) and Salt (a lightly flavoured sauce based on salt). Well, just in time for Valentine’s Day, they’ve introduced Choco Sauce Yakisoba.

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It looks pretty normal, though the toppings were chocolaty.

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But pictures just aren’t enough. I took a video of the experience. It’s pretty short, so it’ll only take 30 seconds of your time. Please watch!

Do you want to try it? Are there any unusual flavours of food you’ve tried? Let me know in the comments.