B55 Mini Interviews with Erin Roberts, Pete Hollmer, Sarah Jean Horwitz, & Kenneth Rogers Jr.

Happy Friday, Boskone friends! We’re only a month away from Boskone 55. The schedule is out for your planning enjoyment. Be sure to read up on today’s Mini Interview participants and catch them on their panels.

Erin Roberts

erobertsErin Roberts is a writer and communications consultant from Washington, DC. Her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Podcastle, Clarkesworld, and The Dark, and her non-fiction has appeared on Tor.com and in People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy, People of Color Take Over FSI, and Cascadia Subduction Zone. She is a Staff Writer for Zombies, Run!, an Associate Editor for Escape Pod, and a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and Stonecoast MFA program. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @nirele.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I was very lucky – Boskone was the first writing convention I ever attended, with the help of the amazing organization, Con or Bust, which helps send fans of color to conventions. It was the year that there was a crazy blizzard in Boston, but despite the weather everyone was so welcoming and so friendly, from the conrunners on down. I always say that Boskone helped to shape my writing life, because I got the opportunity to meet with Jeanne Cavelos of the Odyssey Writing Workshops, which led directly to my going there, and I met someone in the audience of a panel who told me about the Stonecoast MFA program, which led directly to me applying and attending. Those reasons are really specific to me, but I think they speak to someone I love about Boskone – people want to talk to you, to hear about you, to support the things you are doing and reading and loving. That’s why Boskone, for me, is a must-do.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

Two years ago, I dressed up as Carmen Sandiego, my favorite hard-to-find kleptomaniac supervillain. I’d say that 80% of people had no idea who I was until I told them, but once I said Carmen Sandiego, they totally got it. The best part was getting to quote lines from the Carmen Sandiego show theme song and relive part of my childhood. “Well she sneaks around the world, from Kiev to Carolina…”

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I am working on a couple of novella projects at the moment – as a short story writer, novellas seem impossibly long to me, but I’m enjoying having the chance to sit with my characters for a little longer (and, if I’m being honest, put them through a world of trouble). My favorite project of the bunch is the story of five women (an ex-con, an ex-cop, a reformed grifter, a somewhat-reformed thief, and a fading celebrity/addict) trying to get by in a world where memories can be bought, sold, and traded like any other commodity. I like thinking about the people who get left behind by the world they live in – the ones who fall through the cracks, or are left behind, or are knowingly exploited so that the system runs more smoothly for those in power. The world has failed each of these women in some way, and I am loving writing the story of how they come together to make a difference and create change in spite of that.

Pete Hollmer

PHollmerPete Hollmer is the author of the Togahan series, debuting with A Togahan’s Tale, continuing in A Togahan Returns, and A Togahan’s Chance. He grew up in central New York on a steady diet of fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure and has worked in the tech industry for over twenty years. Pete’s enjoyed designing tabletop and live action games, and spent six wonderfully funny and stressful years writing and producing the steampunk live action role play (LARP) The Calling. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ATogahansScribe.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

It’s intimate. The setting, format, and variety of forums make for in-depth discussion. The convention covers a slew of topics that interest me, and hosts a lot of familiar names in the field. And I live just outside metropolitan Boston, so it’s easy for me to get to. But most of all, everyone is just really friendly. It’s a very welcoming convention.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I would relive watching the cinematic release of Fellowship of the Ring. When I saw it in the theater in 2001, I hadn’t read the book in a while, so I had forgotten enough of the minutia where I could just enjoy the story as it unfolded. I noticed how they edited much for pacing (obviously they couldn’t keep everything), but they integrated so much of Tolkien’s rich description into the set and costume design that it was easy to immerse myself in the story. The fight scenes with the cave troll and the Balrog far exceeded my expectations, and they perfectly captured the drama of Galdalf’s fall. I remember turning to my buddy Ron as the credits rolled and saying, “That was…perfect.” It really set the bar for movie storytelling in the twenty-first century.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

There were tons of characters, and I’ve killed off a bunch. Right now, I’d have to say my anti-hero Fenris is one of my favorites to write, and I think it’s because he doesn’t care what others think, or even if they live, frankly. He’s in it for the twists and turns. “Life gets more fun when you stop caring,” he would probably say, and so his interactions with the other characters are fun, and sometimes funny when they’re not deadly serious. I surprise myself the most when I’m writing him. The odd thing is, he wasn’t intended to last beyond the first book, but folks liked him, so I found new ways to weave him into Dante’s (my main character’s) story. And the two have continued to define each other. Fenris was the best accidental hero I could have created.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m currently writing the fourth novel in the Togahan series (title TBD). The first three books concluded a major plot arc, and this next one launches a whole new scenario with a nice blend of familiar characters and new ones, too. The main characters are fairly well defined, so challenging them in new ways where they grow and change, yet remain true to themselves is what makes it fun. I’m learning about the new characters as I go, and grow to appreciate them more as they reveal themselves. The challenging part now is that with a lot of world building already defined, the risk of contradicting myself increases with every new bit. I try to keep track of it all with spreadsheets and maps, but even then, there’s a fine balance between explaining everything and keeping the action moving. But it’s fun. I love it. It’s the project that I think about, even dream about. It’s the story that I am compelled to tell.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Yikes. Talk about a genre mashup. Shooting from the hip, I’d pick Gandalf, Spock, and Agatha Heterodyne. Do I have to explain why? Yes? Uh, well, Gandalf’s a 3000 year old Maiar wizard, and came back from the dead more powerful. Spock can fly a federation starship, knows time travel, and is a superb logician—and also came back from the dead. Agatha is brilliant, lucky, and inspires loyalty like no other character I’ve ever seen. And I’d have to reread 10 years of comics, but I’m pretty sure she came back from the dead too. Apparently I’ve assembled the zombie team.

Sarah Jean Horwitz

shorwitzSarah Jean Horwitz was raised in suburban New Jersey, where her love of storytelling grew from listening to her mother’s original “fractured fairy tales,” a childhood spent in community theater, and heaping dose of Harry Potter fan fiction. Sarah was a film production student at Emerson College when she took her first screenwriting class and realized that making up a movie’s story was a lot more fun than actually making it happen. She graduated with a concentration in writing for film and TV in 2012. Naturally, the first project she decided to write after graduating film school was a book. A few years and many odd jobs later, that book became The Wingsnatchers, the first book in the Carmer and Grit series. The Wingsnatchers was a Spring 2017 Kids’ Indie Next Pick and Junior Library Guild Selection. The second Carmer and Grit book, The Crooked Castle, hits stores in April 2018. Sarah’s other passions include feminism, circus arts, extensive thematic playlists, and making people eat their vegetables. She lives with her partner near Cambridge, MA. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter  @sunshineJHwitz.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

This is the first convention I’ve ever been invited to as a published author. So that’s exciting! Thanks, Boskone.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

I once went into anaphylactic shock after a dinner date with my (then relatively new) partner. (Talk about a romance killer! Surprisingly, he stuck around.) I later discovered it was an unusually severe reaction to a condition called “oral allergy syndrome.” Basically, your body sometimes has a wacko reaction to certain proteins and leftover pollen in uncooked vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts, and goes, “Hey, I’m allergic to pollen! GTFO.” I was instructed to avoid most uncooked fruits and vegetables, to which I replied, “Um, I’m a vegetarian.” I am still a vegetarian. I carry an EpiPen, and I’ve never had a severe reaction since that day, but I fully admit to living life on the edge and indulging in all the raw fruits and veggies my heart desires. I was born a rebel, obviously.

v0MR__129497When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

In 2013, I dressed up like Daenerys Targaryen circa season one, complete with baby dragon. I was not as much of a hit in the Barnes & Noble College where I worked as you might have expected.

Kenneth Rogers Jr.

krogersjrKenneth has been living and teaching in Baltimore City since 2010 with his wife, Sarah, and two daughters, Mirus and Amare. In that time he has taught 6-10th grade English in Baltimore, Maryland. Kenneth has earned a masters degree in education from Johns Hopkins School of Education, the number one ranked school of education in the country. Since growing up and moving from Peoria, Illinois he graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio in 2008 with a dual degree in Political Science and English, he has written and published five novels. Those six novels are: Thoughts in Italics, a book of short stories that range from speculative to science fiction; Writing in the Margins, a novel that intertwines the characters of Jack Mueller and John Rubaker that makes the reader question what is reality and fiction; Sequence, a dystopian science fiction novel telling the story of Andrea Remus and Thomas Charon through each memory they are forced to relive as they are downloaded in a computer known as the Pandora Complex to save the human race; The Diary of Oliver Lee, the first in a young adult trilogy that tells the story of Oliver Lee, his ability to “stream” stories from the minds of those around him, and his search for the first couple he ever “streamed”; Love and Fear, book two in the Liturian trilogy which tells the story of Kevin and his continued search for Oliver Lee and answers to his possible future and fate; Raped Black Male: A Memoir which tells Kenneth’s story of what it means to be a male rape survivor, overcoming stereotypes of what it means to be black, and male, and that men can’t be raped; Heroes, Villains, and Healing: A Guide for Male Survivors Using DC Superheroes and Villains which uses comic books and back research to help male survivors of child sexual abuse understand and heal from their childhood sexual trauma. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @liturian.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

My favorite Boskone memory is being invited out to dinner with a group of other black science fiction authors and feeling welcome.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

My favorite piece of work is my science fiction novel, Sequence. It stands out the most because it blends together the most from so many different worlds. While incorporating mythology, astronomy, and orbital equations I experimented with memories and being able to transition from one thought to the other in a way that may the reader question their reality. It also won two book awards, so I guess there’s that as well.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I am currently working on third book to my young adult trilogy The Chronicles of the Last Liturian. I am also doing a lot of research on trauma, the brain, and Marvel characters for my next self-help book that uses Marvel superheroes and villains to help heal male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Finally, I am outlining a science fiction novel that tells the story of character who can travel at different points throughout his life, but only when he drowns. All my projects excite me because they are issues I care about and believe the world should have more information on.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Janet Catherine Johnston, Steve Davidson, Toni Kelner (Leigh Perry) & Daniel M. Kimmel

Janet Catherine Johnston

jjohnstonJanet Catherine Johnston is a scientist, engineer, master costume designer and choreographer, playwright, dance teacher, singer, martial artist, private pilot, and science fiction author. She is a co-author on numerous scientific journal articles on space experiments as well as on geophysics. She has traveled to 50 countries, including Outer Mongolia, Svalbard and East Germany. She has lived in New York, Alexandria (VA), London and Moscow, but always returns to her Plum Island home. Her hard science fiction stories have appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (Of Night; Lune Bleue) and her one act plays have been produced n Boston. She has lead space experiments from concept through Critical Design Review, tests and integration, launch, checkout and data analysis, been an invited participant at NASA Mission Design Laboratory, and published multiple scientific/technical reports. She holds four science/engineering degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently she is finishing a screen adaptation of her novella, Lune Bleue.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

People at Boskone have read a variety of sub genres of science fiction I always learn something when I come!

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Definitely The Ring Trilogy. I first read it in college and never wanted it to end. It created a world that seemed like home and part of it is with me all the time.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

Almost all of my life qualifies for this. Buy me a coke sometime and I’ll tell you some amazing tales of travels to far off lands (Svalbard to Outer Mongolia), ghosts, and psychic phenomena. It’s been a long strange path.

oqWJ__127281When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I think I was born in costume. I can remember wearing my mothers high heels, her black slip and putting a long lace chapel veil over my hair and I was a Spanish lady when I was very small.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I have adapted my novella Lune Bleue (Analog, Oct 2013) to a full length screenplay titled Blue Moon. It’s an adventure story about three people in the wrong place at the wrong time and their struggle to survive on the Moon. I think the story makes a better film than written story.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Mighty Mouse, Wonder Woman and Batman. Among them I think any foe could be felled!

 

Steve Davidson

sdavidsonSteve Davidson is learning how to be a widower. As he does that, he continues to helm the Amazing Stories website. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @AmazingStories0.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Well, Boskone is local, making it easier on the budget, but if it weren’t a great convention, I’d be going elsewhere. Boskone has managed to strike a good balance between the needs of the “modern” convention and maintaining fannish traditions.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Sadly, I think it was the tremendous out-pouring of sympathy, gratitude, condolence and community surrounding the memorial for David Hartwell. Everyone really came together and shared each other’s memories and pain. It was a true expression of the idea that fandom is a family.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Picking up Starman Jones in the bookmobile. (John) Berkey’s cover just blew my ten year old head completely off. I teased myself with that read, finishing up a handful of Wells, Verne, Shelley & Stoker first, all the while staring at that cover with tremendous anticipation. It was like someone opened the door to the golden kingdom, and I was about to step through.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

That if I had not managed to obtain the trademarks for Amazing Stories, the name would have ended up being used as the title for a series of Canadian travel books.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

James Bolivar “Slippery Jim” diGriz, Ellen Ripley and the hacked T1000.

Toni Kelner (Leigh Perry)

lperryLeigh Perry writes the Family Skeleton mysteries featuring adjunct English professor Georgia Thackery and her best friend, an ambulatory skeleton named Sid. The Skeleton Paints a Picture is the fourth, and most recent. As Toni L.P. Kelner, she’s the co-editor of paranormal fiction anthologies with Charlaine Harris; the author of eleven mystery novels; and an Agatha Award winner and multiple award nominee for short fiction. No matter what you call her, she lives north of Boston with her husband, two daughters, one guinea pig, and an ever-increasing number of books. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @Family_Skeleton.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

It was at Boskone that I met with Ginjer Buchanan to pitch some series ideas, and she picked the pitch that became my Family Skeleton mysteries right there in the lobby bar. The second runner up is at a Boskone when I was talking Dungeons & Dragons with Myke Cole, and he mentioned the limericks that used to run in DRAGON Magazine, and proceeded to quote one. As it happens, I wrote that limerick–it was one of my early publications. So that somebody remembered it mumble-mumble years later astonished and gratified me.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

This is embarrassing for a mystery writer, but here goes. My sister and niece Amanda were visiting, and my niece wanted to explore the area behind our house which contains several detached garages. Our own garage isn’t visible from the house, and we never use it. Amanda came running back and asked why there was a car in our garage. It turns out two guys who lived in a kind of boarding house that opened onto that same area were running a chop shop. They’d steal cars from Boston, bring ’em back to behind our house, and strip ’em. And they broke into our garage to store one of the stripped, stolen cars. The best part? When my husband Steve was talking to the police officer who came to check out the situation, Steve mentioned, “You know, this is supposed to be where they caught Albert DeSalvo.” (DeSalvo is widely believed to be the Boston Strangler.) And the officer said, “I know. He’s my uncle.” Now how could I put that into a book?

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

My family and I went to Disney World for Halloween activities several years ago, and I did a simplified Mrs. Potts. In human form, I hasten to add. I kept it simple so I could still enjoy the rides, but I had the apron and cap, and a group of French students were much impressed and wanted to take a picture with me. In subsequent years, I wear skeleton shirts or my Jack Skellington dress, but that’s the last full-blown Halloween costume.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m working on the fifth in the Family Skeleton series. This far into the series, the challenge is to retain the elements that worked in previous books while keeping the story fresh. So

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Wonder Woman–because she’s Wonder Woman. The Flash–the Barry Allen version from the TV show. Because he’s an awesome cinnamon bun and if anybody could reform those three, it’s Barry. And Sherlock Holmes–either the original or the version from Elementary, because he’s smart enough to figure out all their plans.

Daniel M. Kimmel

dkimmelDaniel M. Kimmel’s reviews appeared in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette for 25 years and can now be found at Northshoremovies.net. He writes on classic SF films for Space and Time Magazine. His book on the history of FOX TV, The Fourth Network, received the Cable Center Book Award. His other books include a history of DreamWorks, The Dream Team, I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies, and Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and other observations about science fiction movies which was shortlisted for the Hugo Award for “Best Related Work.” His first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret, a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award. His latest book is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He is a past president of the Boston Society of Film Critics and past co-chair of the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @dkimmel.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

This year is a special Boskone for me as the media guest of honor is my good friend Nat Segaloff, the author of A Lit Fuse, the biography of Harlan Ellison. It’s a superb book, possibly the best Nat has done, and anything that brings him back east and let’s us get together is good. Plus, although I know him for more than three decades, this will be the first time we’ll be sharing at least one programming item together.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

It’s hard to pick out a single “favorite,” but I suppose I have to have a special place for the essay that gave the title to my Hugo-nominated collection of essays on science fiction films, Jar Jar Binks Must Die. It put me on the map in the science fiction world, and I could always tell who the audience for the book was. When I announced it at conventions, it would be greeted with laughter, cheers, and applause. When I got what what I referred to as “my mother’s reaction” (“Very nice, dear. What does it mean?”) I knew that person wasn’t the audience for the book.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Coming out next year, my third novel, Father of the Bride of Frankenstein, allows me to draw on a number of interests to create a comic romp that includes reanimated bodies, wedding plans, legal proceedings, and religion. I’m hoping that readers will be entertained and surprised reading it as much as I was writing it. It reminded me that inspiration is a mysterious thing: there are things that happen in the story that I didn’t plan on but my characters led me there. I kept at it because *I* wanted to know what happened next.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Elaine Cunningham, Kevin McLaughlin, Gillian Daniels & Tom Easton

Elaine Cunningham

ecunninghamElaine Cunningham is a New York Times best-selling fantasy author whose publications include 20 novels, four dozen short stories, and a graphic novel. She is best known for her work in licensed settings such as the Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, EverQuest, and Pathfinder Tales. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @e_cunningham.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I have lived in Rhode Island for nearly twenty years but have never attended Boskone. It’s long overdue! And speaking of overdue, I have been writing fantasy for over 25 years but have never explored the filk aspect of fandom. As a former music teacher–a mezzo-soprano who plays several instruments–I’ve often thought about getting involved with filk. So I’m looking forward to observing my first sessions with an eye toward participating next year. I’m not a dancer, but the Regency Dance on Friday evening sounds like great fun, if only to observe!

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Danilo Thann, a bard who appears in several of my Forgotten Realms books and short stories. He was inspired by two favorites from my adolescence: The Scarlet Pimpernel and everything written by Oscar Wilde. As you probably gathered from that description, he is much more than he appears to be. His foppish persona amuses me, as does his fondness for swords that belt out bawdy songs during combat.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m working on a novel set in a fantasy version of Elizabethan England. It spans about a year, from midsummer of 1566 until May 26, 1567. The end date was the revival of the Eisteddfod, an ancient Welsh bard competition. According to history, its purpose was to grant licenses to qualified bards, making traveling musicians dependant upon royal favor, and, theoretically, less likely to spread rumors. This theme–the political and social impact of disinformation–is one of the challenges of this story, as it hits a little too close to home. But the story has many of my favorite things: music, history, intrigue, betrayal, mythology, folklore, and properly malicious faeries.

Kevin McLaughlin

kmclaughlinKevin McLaughlin is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty science fiction and fantasy novels and more short fiction than he can easily count. He owns Role of the Hero Publishing, and produces the monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine by the same name. Kevin began writing at age seven on an old manual typewriter. That first short story was enough to give him the bug, and he’s been at it ever since in one form or another. A professional member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and the Romance Writers of America, Kevin likes to pass along the help he once received, so that newer writers can achieve their dreams, too. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @KOMcLaughlin.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

With Boskone, it’s a home town advantage thing, since I live in downtown Boston! Plus, when I moved here back in 2012, the New England Science Fiction Association folks were some of the nicest, most welcoming people I met shortly after arrival. Glad to be a part of this convention. This will actually be my first Boskone, though! Until last May I was working as a nurse, and Boskone has always landed on a work weekend for me. Now that I write full time, I can finally take the weekend off and come to this event – at last!

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

This is an easy question. My mother took me to New York City to view a special premier opening for the first Star Trek film. I was six years old at the time. I’d never been in the middle of a group of people with such excited, positive energy before. There was a full-theater standing ovation when the credits opened, when the Enterprise first appeared on screen, and at the end. It was one of those experiences you NEVER forget!

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Interestingly for a novelist, it was an essay, not a story. When I was in college, I had an English teacher named Professor Kloeckner. We had to write an essay on Catch-22” I wrote mine quickly, spun it out with little care, and turned it in knowing it would get an A like every other paper I wrote. But it didn’t; I was given a D. I was furious, since I knew the paper was better than most of the class, and some people had As and Bs. I asked why. He told me I could write better than that, and he wasn’t putting up with me giving him half efforts. If I wanted a better grade, I was welcome to rewrite it and turn it in again.

No one had ever challenged me like that before. English had always been an easy A. So I rewrote the paper and got a C. Still frustrated, I did it again, revising my thesis, re-reading the book, looking deeper into other analysis which had been done of the work. In short, I worked my tail off through multiple deep revisions of that stupid little essay. I finally got an A-.

I still have a printout of that paper in a box of my old writing.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m writing the fourth book in a series about what it means to be alive in a blended science fiction and fantasy setting. If a human consciousness is uploaded to a game world as the body dies, and that person’s memories and thoughts are intact inside a game world but they can never again impact the outside world, are they still alive? Does life matter, if the only thing you can impact are the lives of the other people locked into the virtual afterlife with you? When does human consciousness and AI blur? That’s the underlying premise of the Valhalla Online series, the fourth book of which is my current project.

But that will be released long before Boskone. By then I expect I will be working in a shared world with other authors, contributing my books to expand that universe. Which will be *really* fascinating, since I’ve never done that before. The opportunity to work closely with other writers in such a universe will be interesting and fun.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Galactus.

Just him.

Really don’t need anyone else. One burp, and the problems are largely solved. To borrow Ripley’s line from Aliens – “nuke the site from orbit; only way to be sure.” Or eat the planet. Either way works.

Gillian Daniels

jdanielsGillian Daniels writes, works, and haunts the streets in Boston, MA. Since attending the 2011 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Flash Fiction Online, among others. She currently reviews for The New England Theatre Geek. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @gilldaniels.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I live in Boston and enjoy connecting with local fans, authors, and readers. It makes me feel more a part of the community.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

During my first Boskone, bonding with Clarkesworld narrator Kate Baker over Doctor Who was enormously fun and a very sweet experience.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I would want to read the The Princess Bride without seeing the film, first. They’re very similar, but I think my experience of the movie colored too much of my thoughts on the book. I would want to read it again without preconceptions.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

My short story “The Oracle Sings a Torch Song” in Not One of Us, April 2016. It was my favorite story I wrote at Clarion UCSD when I attended in 2011. It proved to me that I could ascend to new levels of fiction writing and didn’t have to stay confined to one writing style or set of themes. It was a story that genuinely surprised me while I wrote it. On some level, I feel the same way about my story, “His Wife and Serpent Mistress” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, October 2017. I don’t know where it came from; it just came out when I sat down to write.

oBVm__126945When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

2017, I was female Captain America. I want to dress up for as many years as I can.

 

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m currently editing/revising my first official space opera short story/potential novella. It’s been something I’ve wanted to write for a very long time. I didn’t realize how much I loved the genre.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Iron Man, because he’s a gifted engineer apart from the billions of dollars and selfishness; Miles Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold’s books, because he’s deeply clever, endlessly energetic, and has impressive knowledge of future technology; the elf warrior, Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, from Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands, a young female warrior from a matriarchal society who believes men are gentle souls who must be protected. They’re all fantastic characters at tactics in their own way, which would be needed to fight these antagonists. Also, I would love to see their banter together.

Tom Easton

teastonTom Easton is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a well-known science fiction critic (he wrote the science fiction magazine, Analog‘s,  book review column for 30 years), and a retired college professor. He holds a doctorate in theoretical biology from the University of Chicago. He writes textbooks for McGraw-Hill on Science, Technology, & Society and Environmental Science. Over the years he has published about fifty science fiction and fantasy short stories, ten science fiction novels, and several anthologies, of which the latest two, co-edited with Judith K. Dial, are Conspiracy! (NESFA Press, 2016) and Science Fiction for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads (Fantastic Books, 2017).

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Scaring a roomful of fans with a presentation on violet wands. (I love antique technology!)

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

For over a decade, I was a “source” for the National Enquirer. They would call when they wanted thoughts on futuristic topics (they paid too). I’m not sure people would never believe it, though, since I have given talks on the experience–at Boskone, of course!

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Jeff Hecht and I had lunch recently, and we realized that when security agencies start building databases of voice samples taken from cell phone conversations and home assistant intercepts, there will be serious privacy issues. When I got home, I found that China is already doing this. So we’re working on a story.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Granny Weatherwax, Cohen the Barbarian, and Tiffany Aching. Because Terry Pratchett.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Christopher Paniccia, Heather Albano, Steven Popkes & Roberta Rogow

The Boskone Mini Interview series is going strong with four participants covering science fiction and fantasy through novels, games and even filk (fan folk songs). Read on to find out more!

Christopher Paniccia

cpanicciaChristopher Paniccia was born in Providence, RI. He grew up in East Providence, RI and Rehoboth, MA. For over twenty years he has been an educator at the elementary and college levels in the Boston area. As an author and illustrator his goal continues to be one of inspiring others to follow their dreams. His student’s remain a huge inspiration to him and directly inspired his first book, Gridiron Conspiracy. The Gridiron Conspiracy Trilogy continues to expand its reach to all types and ages of readers. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he was a Combat Medic. He lives with his family in the Boston area. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @CPaniccia15.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I spend a great deal of time at conventions selling both my novels and my illustrations. As an author and illustrator, it is extremely important for me to network with others in the business. Attending Boskone allows me the best of both worlds. The multiple-panel platform allows me to spend lots of time talking to fans of fantasy and science-fiction. I love to share what I do with others and hope to inspire others to do what I love to do.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Chris Strong from my first novel, The Gridiron Conspiracy, is my pride and joy. Chris is modeled after my own life and being very autobiographical it is amazing for me to read about him and share with others his story. Although many of Chris’s experiences mirror my own, he continues to grow as his own character and build with each passing book. He really stands out as an unwilling hero who in the end stands up for his beliefs and others.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

My current project is an epic saga about an ancient alien aivilization right under our noses here on earth. When the two civilizations meet the earth will never be the same. If you are a fan of the Ancient Alien Theory then you will love this terrific series, The Haven Series, Book One being Heavens Gate will have you begging for more. The exciting part of this project is the actual research needed to put the two civilizations together into one believable world. For me the challenges are to expand the original story out into a ten book series. Creating an epic saga that readers will follow for years to come is my focus on this project as I do not want the story to become stale and I want my readers to look forward to each installment.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

I would choose Wonder Woman as she always amazes me with her wit, power, and understanding. As a hero she uses all these skills to thwart her enemies. Next I would choose, The Wolverine as he is a no nonsense hero that fights for what is right no matter what without asking for permission. Lastly I would choose Captain America because as a veteran myself he stands for everything I stand for and he will never leave a fallen man behind.

Heather Albano

halbanoHeather Albano is a storyteller and game designer – the author of the steampunk time travel trilogy Keeping Time, the creator of the steampunk Sherlock-Holmes-themed interactive novel A Study In Steampunk, the co-creator of five Choice of Games titles, and a contributing writer to the Amazon Alexa game Codename Cygnus. She’s always looking for new ways to tell stories and is currently excited to bring her live action design experience to augmented reality games. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @heatheralbano.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

In 2013, David Olsen and I attended James Patrick Kelly’s and Steven Popkes’s  singularity panel. David and I walked out of the room arguing over a philosophical point raised by the panel, and continued to argue over lunch in M.J. O’Connor’s, and before the end of the meal, had mapped out a novella-length story contrasting our two viewpoints – and even figured out an ending that did not explicitly endorse either. You know. Like you do. Especially at Boskone. Fascinating scientific panels trigger interesting intellectual ideas that cascade into “I have to write that story.”

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

“What is the golden age of science fiction? Age twelve.” It applies to non-science fictiontoo.

When I was eleven, I discovered Sherlock Holmes. By the time I was twelve, I had gone through all of Conan Doyle, every episode of the Jeremy Brett series then available from PBS and A&E (in the days before boxed DVD sets were a thing and you had to wait for the networks to dish them out, then beg your parents to let you stay up late on a school night), and every pastiche available in a three-library radius (in the days before ordering stuff from the internet was a thing either). And then one day over eighth-grade winter vacation, I discovered The Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer – for 99 cents, in a used bookstore that has long since gone out of business.

I read it in a day, in two huge gulps broken only by my mother’s insistence that I come downstairs for dinner. I had never read a re-imagining of a cultural myth before. I had never read an adaptation of *anything* that took a story element latent in the original and teased it into a plot entirely of its own, and one that moreover turned on its head the universe’s original rules of engagement. I didn’t know you could *do* that.

Is that where I learned that stories change their shapes, depending on the perspective they are viewed from? Maybe. I certainly learned that lesson more thoroughly in classrooms, later. Was the seed of A Study In Steampunk planted there? Almost certainly. In The Seven-Percent Solution, the villainous Professor Moriarty is in fact the mild-mannered elderly professor of mathematics he appears to be. In A Study In Steampunk, my heavily-Sherlock-Holmes influenced interactive steampunk novel, heroes and villains change places depending on the perspective of the player. The whole story is painted in shades of gray, appearing differently depending on the path you choose to walk through the world.

I have a degree in English literature; I create stories for a living; I know how stories are put together. And so I’m harder to surprise, these days. It’s been many years since I read something that *broke my brain* the way The Seven-Percent Solution did at age thirteen. I’d definitely relive that feeling if I could.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

It wasn’t exactly for Halloween, but my favorite costume is the one I put together a few years ago to go to Dawn Metcalf’s steampunk-themed birthday party. Geek that I am, I decided to go as one of my own Keeping Time characters! Katarina Rasmirovna and I both had a wonderful time.

Steven Popkes

StevenPopkesSteve Popkes is best known for his short to medium fiction, much of which has been collected in various “Best ofs”. He has three novels: Caliban Landing, Slow Lightning and Welcome to Witchlandia. He is an embedded systems software engineer, a private pilot and studies judo. He lives in Massachusetts where he enjoys gardening, aquaculture and raising turtles. Visit his website at www.stevenpopkes.com.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

When I managed to convince Tom Easton to buy James Cambias’ story on the dealer floor.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Firefly. There was an excitement about it. I felt like this had never been done before and I was watching something new unfold.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Bishop 24 from Future Boston “The Egg” and Slow Lightning. He came from an invertebrate evolutionary history and was completely different from human beings in root and branch. But managed to appreciate them over time because of his mistakes.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m working on House of Birds. It’s the answer to the question: “What does violent child abuse, moral decisions and the terraforming of Venus have in common?” The answer is this novel.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller and Leslie Groves. With those three a hydrogen bomb is secure. Who needs super heroes?

Roberta Rogow

RobertaRogow_195Roberta Rogow, writes historical mysteries, although she often twists the history, Her most recent book, Malice in Manatas, continues the adventures of Halvar Danske, the Hireling of the Calif of Al-Andalus, as he chases murderers in an Alternate Colonial Manhattan (think The Last of the Mohicans meets Arabian Nights, with a Spanish accent). Roberta is also known as a filker and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2013.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

It’s writer- and book-oriented, as opposed to visual media, such as film, anime, etc. And there is really great filking as well. (That’s science fiction folk songs, for those who don’t know.)

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I think my best song is “Fact/Fiction”, which I wrote many years ago, when the Voyager and other space probes were proving that everything we thought we knew about the solar system was wrong! But we loved the books written about swamps on Venus and canals on Mars anyway, because the characters were so compelling and writers like Robert Heinlein and C.L. Moore made the scenes so real. Science fiction was “why we went to space, after all.”

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m writing the sixth book in my Saga of Halvar the Hireling, the mystery series set in an Alternate Colonial Manhattan. I love working out how Manahttan would be if it had been settled by Spanish Moors and how the Moorish influence could have been extended to the Age of Exploration (in actuality, 1492 marked the end of Moorish dominance in Spain, and the beginning of Spanish influence in the New World). It’s world-building, and mystery plotting combined, and I get to play with historical characters… but the Manhattan geography hasn’t changed, so I can still walk where my characters walk. And I get to work in two different genres as well.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Gerald L. Coleman, James Cambias & Deirdre Crimmins

Our latest batch of mini interviews touches on the importance of having science fiction and fantasy characters who represent us, reliving childhood fascination with the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a participant who’s been coming to Boskone since she was a kid-in-tow.

 

Gerald L. Coleman

Gerald ColemanGerald L. Coleman is a philosopher, theologian, poet, and author residing in Atlanta. Born in Lexington, he did his undergraduate work in Philosophy and English at the University of Kentucky. He followed that by completing a degree in Religious Studies and concluding with a Master’s degree in Theology at Trevecca Nazarene University. He is the author of the Epic Fantasy novel saga, The Three Gifts, which currently includes When Night Falls (Book One) and A Plague of Shadows (Book Two). He has appeared on panels at DragonCon, SOBSFCon, Atlanta Science Fiction & Fantasy Expo, the Outer Dark Symposium, and has been a Guest Author and panelist at JordonCon and Imaginarium. He is a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and has recently released three collections of poetry entitled the road is long, falling to earth, and microphone check. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on @Iconiclast.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I’m interested in Boskone for its history, its focus, its reputation among fellow authors, and its new interest in being more inclusive and diverse.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

The main character, Bantu, in my epic fantasy series, The Three Gifts. He stands out as the embodiment of what I was always looking for when I perused the shelves in the science fiction and fantasy section of bookstores. He’s a hero that looks like me, that represents me, in my favorite genre. Over the years I read all kinds of interesting and exciting stories: The Faded Sun, Elric of Melnibone’, The Black Company, The Dragon Riders Of Pern, Guardians of the Flame, The Wheel of Time, but none of them included main characters who looked anything like me. Bantu is the realization of that desire and dream, for me and for readers who want a more diverse landscape in science fiction and fantasy.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

In between working on book two of The Three Gifts, which I finished this summer, and book three, I’ve written some short stories for upcoming anthologies. Those are exciting for me, because I get to create more characters and tell their stories in different sub-genres of speculative fiction. But I’m most excited about a pure science fiction novella I’m working on about a seventeen year old black girl with certain gifts who might have to save the galaxy. It’s not dystopian – I think, honestly, we’ve had enough of that. But I think it’s fresh and interesting and exciting. I know there’s a vast, untapped hunger for Speculative Fiction, especially Science Fiction that centers around black characters and people of color. The Three Gifts is pure epic fantasy, so writing this pure science fiction story is exhilarating.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Wow, what an interesting question. Ok, I’ll refrain from picking characters from my own stories. Let me see, I think to fair we should try to stay in the same genre of the villains, right? So, I’d go with Rand from The Wheel Of Time to stop the Night King. He seems to have the powers necessary to defeat him. Q from the continuum (Star Trek: The Next Generation) to stop the Emperor, though convincing him to do it would be the hardest part. And Doctor Manhattan (Watchmen) to take down the Master/Missy. Can a Time Lord regenerate if they’ve been atomized?

James Cambias

JamesCambiasJames L. Cambias writes science fiction and designs games. Originally from New Orleans, he was educated at the University of Chicago and lives in western Massachusetts. His first novel, A Darkling Sea, was published by Tor Books in 2014, followed by Corsair in 2015. His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Shimme, Nature, and several original anthologies — including the collection Hieroglyph, edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn. Most recently, his story “Treatment Option” was featured on the X-Prize foundation’s Seat 14C website. Mr. Cambias has written for Steve Jackson Games, Hero Games, and other roleplaying publishers, and is a partner in Zygote Games, a small company specializing in science and nature-based games. His most recent game title is Weird War I, from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Visit his blog or find him on Facebook.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I like Boskone’s literary focus, and the strong awareness and emphasis of science fiction’s history. It’s also a good size: small enough to be informal and intimate, with no “velvet ropes” between participants and attendees; but big enough to have an interesting variety of activities. It’s a great old-fashioned science fiction convention, and I like that.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I’m tempted to say the opening of Star Wars, but that’s like talking about how much I enjoy oxygen. So instead I’ll cite my childhood experience with the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When I was six or so that was the greatest movie ever made. I saw it again a few years later as a worldly-wise eight-year-old and hated it. That was my first experience of changing tastes and perspectives. Still, I wish I could see the movie I saw when I was six. That one was great.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

The last time I really made a Halloween costume for myself was back around 1995 when I dressed as Jean-Paul Sartre. I still have no idea what Sartre looked like, so I got a beret and a striped shirt and went as a comic-strip Frenchman with a copy of No Exit.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Okay, so to stop an evil undead wizard, a space wizard with a Galactic Empire, and a time-traveling psychopath, there’s really only one hero who can save us.

Dorothy Gale. Dorothy eats Wicked Witches for breakfast, snacks on Nome Kings, and has Yookoohoos for dessert. Those three won’t even get a smudge on her gingham dress.

If we actually think Dorothy needs backup, I’d pick Flash Gordon and The Spectre, but really they’re just window-dressing.

Deirdre Crimmins

Deirdre Crimmins

Deirdre is a Cleveland-based film critic. She regularly contributes to Rue Morgue Magazine, Birth.Movies.Death., and Film Thrills. Her specialty is contemporary horror film, though she grew up going to cons. Follow her on @dedecrim.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I’ve been attending since I was a kid-in-tow!

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I’d reread Slaughterhouse Five. I read it in high school and adored it, but I wonder how I would have related to it differently as an adult.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

In 2015 my sister and I dressed up as the Grady twins from The Shining.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

There are always new films to review.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Victoria Sandbrook, Robert J. Sawyer, Flourish Klink & Karl Schroeder

Boskone has a literary vibe, but we’re still fans of quality science fiction and fantasy across all media. Find out which of today’s mini interview participants love Star Trek (enough to dress up for Halloween), who’s had their own TV series and who’s stories include worlds with live action role play (LARP). They also share their thoughts on the lasting friendships they’ve made at Boskone.

Flourish Klink

fklinkFlourish Klink is half of Fansplaining (“the podcast by, for, and about fandom”), co-founder of the Harry Potter fanfiction site FictionAlley, on the board of the Interactive Fiction Technology Association, and Chief Research Officer of Chaotic Good Studios. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @flourish.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I spend a lot of time engaged with internet fandom, with media fandom, and with newer styles of cons. Boskone reminds me of an earlier style of fannish engagement. I don’t get to go to filksings at San Diego Comic-Con, and even at some larger science fiction and fantasy cons, I don’t always see the same sort of long-term community that’s developed over the course of decades. Boskone is a delightful space that reminds me that fandom is all about community, individuals getting together to celebrate things they love.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Most things I like, I don’t really want to experience again for the first time. For example, the Harry Potter books are a central part of my fannish life, but I don’t think that I’d like them if I experienced them for the first time now: my love for them has more to do with the community that grew up around them and my own growth process than it does the books themselves. Other things I love because of how big and repetitious they are: what would it even mean to experience Star Trek for the first time? I could hardly appreciate Star Trek until I got through huge chunks of it; going back to the first Star Trek episode I ever saw would have nothing interesting for me.

So that pretty much leaves monumental individual works of fiction. There’s lots of those I’d love to read or watch for the first time – Connie Willis’s Blackout/All Clear, for example – but most of them it’s just that I’d like to experience discovering it again. But there’s one that’s more complex than that: when I first read The Lord of the Rings, I was too young to really appreciate all of its elements. (I still may be too young to appreciate all its elements!) I just wanted to skip over the slow bits and get to the fighting. Today, the fighting still makes me weep (the Ride of the Rohirrim!) but the slow bits are infinitely meaningful. But what would it have been like to experience it all as an adult? So that’s my choice – I’d like to see what it would be like to experience LOTR for the first time, but with a fuller life experience, and see if that changed my reaction to it.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Right now, I’m thinking a lot about the ethics of people lifting ideas from fan culture. I’m not sure what form this project will take yet; I’ve agreed to give a talk about it in the spring at Babycastles Gallery in NYC, but I’m not sure what else will come of it. I’m thinking especially of things like computational projects that lift fan fiction titles, or skim from forums, or similar. These issues have been dealt with more broadly many times, of course, but fandom is a peculiar space—a subculture that’s become more than subcultural; a space full of people marginalized in some ways but finding power in others; a space that makes its output freely available online, and encourages mashups and playful engagement, yet maybe doesn’t want people to come in and break tacit rules about how we interact with each other’s art… Who knows where it’s going, but I think it’s a necessary line of inquiry and wider discussion.

Robert J. Sawyer

rsawyerRobert J. Sawyer has won the best-novel Hugo Award (for Hominids), best-novel Nebula Award (for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (for Mindscan), plus the Aurora, AnLab, Galaxy, Seiun, Robert A. Heinlein, and Audie Awards, among others. He was the 2014 recipient of The New England Science Fiction Association’s  (NESFA) Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (commonly referred to as the Skylark), and that year was also one of the initial nine inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. His 23 novels include Calculating God, Rollback, Wake, Triggers, Red Planet Blues, and Quantum Night. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name, and he was one of the scriptwriters for that series. Rob — who holds two honorary doctorates — has published in both the world’s top scientific journals, Science (guest editorial) and Nature (fiction), and he is a member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Canadian government, and the only person ever so honored for science-fiction writing. He lives just outside Toronto. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @RobertJSawyer.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Honestly? The number of professional writers: so many of my dear old friends and colleagues come every year, and this is one of my best chances to catch up with them over a meal or a drink. Writing is a lonely profession; many cons have a few writers in attendance but Boskone attracts a large number from all over eastern North America. It’s like a family reunion.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s, in large measure, the reason I’m a science-fiction writer today. My father took me to see it in first-run in a great old Cinerama theater. I was born in 1960, and I was eight years old. The math was easy, even for a kid: by 2001, I’d be 41 — and my father, sitting next to me, was already 44: before I’d be his age, according to this film, the world would be full of talking computers, lunar cities, and interplanetary travel.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Honestly, my most recent novel, Quantum Night. It was the culmination of everything I’d been saying philosophically for the 27 years I’ve been a novelist and the 37 years that I’ve been a published short-story writer. Indeed, I’m not sure how I could ever top it; it was intended to be the capstone, and I may in fact not write any more novels — although only time will tell.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I had so much fun working on the FlashForward TV series on ABC, based on my novel of the same name, that I’ve been devoting a lot of time lately to other TV projects. Everything in TV is a long shot, but FlashForward is very fondly remembered as a great concept in Hollywood, and so I have no trouble getting any meetings I want. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Victoria Sandbrook

vsandbrookVictoria Sandbrook is a writer, freelance editor, member of the Boston Speculative Fiction Writing Group (BSpec), and Viable Paradise graduate. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Cast of Wonders, and Swords & Steam Short Stories. She is an avid hiker, sometimes knitter, long-form talker, and initiate baker. She often loiters around libraries, checking out anything from picture books to monographs. She spends most of her days attempting to wrangle a ferocious, destructive, jubilant tiny human. Victoria, her husband, and their daughter live in Brockton, Massachusetts. She reviews books and shares writerly nonsense at on her website and Twitter @vsandbrook.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Boskone is one of the places I get to be my many selves all at once. I can speak as a writer with a few published stories to my name; as a critique partner whose networks converge in one geographic location for that short weekend; as a friend who gets to see everybody I haven’t seen since last year; as a fan who wants to hear from writers and editors I admire; and even as a mom who has had to nurse a fussy kid while attending (or presenting on) panels. The conversations–on and off the program–have always recharged me and left me ready to write. And with everything going on in life, I need that kind of space and encouragement!

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

In 2015, I was a Star Trek: The Next Generation science officer and my daughter was a little chubby Jean- Picard. The intervening Halloweens with a toddler (who was Stitch and then a dragon, for reasons I’ll let you surmise on your own) have been a little too crazy to dress up. But I have a feeling I’ll find a way to do something fun again next year!

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Between querying a novel with agents and playing “submissions tetris” with my shorter work, I’ve got a new novel on the drafting board. It’s big and fantastic and industrial and entirely second-world, which feels equally exciting and challenging after tackling several historical fantasy projects of varying sizes in the last few years. I finally have the creative license to make everything up! But, wait, that means I actually have to make everything up! So far I’d pitch it as part sword-and-sorcery, part court drama in an aging, industrializing empire, with a magical arms race, religious conflict, and a squad of assassins that would so be besties with Dorne’s Sand Snakes.

Karl Schroeder

kschroederKarl Schroeder is a Canadian science fiction writer and futurist. His ten novels explore ideas such augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and exotic worldbuilding. As a futurist, he has consulted with many government and private organizations and gives talks and workshops all over the world. He has several upcoming publications including a novella set in his Lockstep universe, and a new near-future novel about augmented reality-LARP-based alternative economics (and burglary). Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @KarlSchroeder.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Over the years I’ve made many friendships with authors, editors, artists and fans on the east coast. A special treat for me in attending Boskone is spending with cover artists whose work I’ve admired since before I was published.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I have an inexplicable love for my character Gennady Malianov, a pathologically shy Ukrainian arms inspector whom I’ve written about a number of times. Gennady embodies every sense of awkwardness I have about myself; he prefers toxic nuclear accident sites to cities because at least in such places he knows he won’t have to talk to anybody. He’s my anti-James Bond–neither dashing nor brave, not a killer, manipulator or even particularly clever, Gennady is nonetheless more important than Bond: he’s the world’s janitor, cleaning up after the messes of the Cold War. I’ve loved writing every story I’ve told about him.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

There are no such incidents. My life has been utterly ordinary and includes no moments anyone would be surprised to hear about. My apologies for that, but it’s true. Everything about me that is interesting is on paper.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m just finishing a near-future thriller about blockchain technologies, next-generation governance, and larp-based alternate-reality post-market participatory economics. The hero’s a young woman who used to be a burglar; she goes on the run as her past catches up to her, only to find that in mid-21st century America, it’s impossible to disappear anymore–unless she takes a leap of faith into the gamified virtual economies that are replacing traditional markets…

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B55 Mini Interviews with Christian Baines, Joshua Bilmes, Fran Wilde, & Laurence Raphael Brothers

At Boskone, science fiction and fantasy writers, aspiring writers and fans come together. Today’s mini interview participants write about gay paranormal, flight fantasy and near-future AI romance or represent some of today’s best writers. They also share fond memories of Boskone Kaffeeklatsches (small group / informal round-table discussions).  If you’re new to Boskone or haven’t yet tried a Kaffeeklatsch, be sure to sign up at the convention!

Christian Baines

CbainesChristian Baines is an awkward Australian nerd turned slightly less awkward author of dark fantasy, horror, and weird fiction. His novels include gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, and Puppet Boy, a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. His first novella, “Skin”, was released as an e-book in 2017. He now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on those odd occasions he can’t find his passport. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @XtianBaines.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, and growing up in a religious household, horror was always forbidden fruit, so of course, I stuffed myself with as much of it as I could as soon as I could. More than that though, I love taking these elements and using them in stories to explore a diverse range of characters and ideas and needs that are very human, but often not given a voice. I’m looking forward to Boskone because it explores and welcomes such a wide range of ideas and topics and arts on that imaginative canvas.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

This is a weird question for me because I often have to watch my favorite movies more than once to understand them, or at least form my own theories about them. There are two TV shows I’d love to ‘discover’ for the first time again. Carnivale because that was the first time I felt totally immersed in a long-form, TV story that didn’t care if I understood everything, and wasn’t trying to explain its mythology. You had to pay attention, extrapolate, and fill in the gaps for yourself (I didn’t discover Twin Peaks until a few years later). The other was Penny Dreadful which was the first time I’d seen the classic Victorian horror stories brought together as an effective whole, played completely straight, in a context where I could take them seriously. It’s achingly beautiful, sincere, and even scary, and I felt utterly transported.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

My favorite character of my own is probably Eric in Puppet Boy, which is more of a psych thriller. He’s probably the most personal character I’ve written. He’s born to a lot of privilege and yet he rejects it in so many ways, or at least he thinks he does. All he really wants to do is tell stories, but he’s so independent and self-reliant, he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to reach that goal, including keeping a burglar captive and tied up in his basement. I don’t think of him as moral or amoral, just determined. Yet he’s also conflicted because of course he is, he’s 17. I’d worry about him, but I also understand him and, maybe envy, his determination a bit. I wish I’d had that at 17. I just hope I’d manifest it in healthier ways.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m currently working on the third book in The Arcadia Trust series, which is called Sins of the Son. It’s a challenge keeping the various subplots straight, and also not overloading the reader with them, because whenever you’re writing a new book in a continuing series, you can’t assume everyone’s read, or remembers everything from the previous books. So it’s a balance of building a self-contained story that’s exciting and satisfying and continuing the broader story to satisfy returning readers. I’m really excited that this one lets me expand a lot on the mythology of the series. It’s been kept very much in the dark up until now. It also brings in a character I’ve been wanting to include for years. Now’s finally the time.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes. Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard to take care of the Emperor because that should settle that debate once and for all. Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat universe to deal with The Night King, since he has experience with that sort of thing. As for Missy… Wait, why wouldn’t you let Missy take over everything?

Joshua Bilmes

JoshuaBilmes_6Joshua Bilmes is President of JABberwocky Literary Agency, which he founded in 1994, and has been a leading literary agent for science fiction and fantasy for over 35 years. The agency’s clients include #1 The New York Times bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson and Charlaine Harris, and other notable best-selling and award-winning authors such as Peter V. Brett, Jack Campbell, Elizabeth Moon, Tanya Huff, Simon R. Green, Daniel José Older, Walter Jon Williams and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Dan Moren, Greg Katsoulis, and Auston Habershaw are among the agency clients in the Boston area. Bilmes is an avid moviegoer and tennis fan. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @jabbermaster.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for accidentally finding myself at the Boskone hotel in 1979. We were allowed into the Dealer’s Room without having a paid membership, which makes me very glad of Boskone’s current Friday Free Hours that can give people the same opportunity today that I had back then. There were free sample issues, of the then very new, OMNI magazine, which was what gave me an introduction to and very quickly got me hooked on science fiction and fantasy as something other than just having read Tolkien.

I’d also have sworn to you that there was a table promoting The Swarm. But, no. The Swarm came out in 1978, so it couldn’t have been. Further research suggests the table was for Meteor, a movie from the director of The Poseidon Adventure which sunk so completely that I swapped in my mind for a movie of similar vintage and slightly more renown from the producer of The Poseidon Adventure.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Altered States. December 1980. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a movie in 70mm, not even the first time I’d seen a movie in 70mm on a really large screen. This would have been not too many months after I’d experienced Empire Strikes Back in 70mm. The use of sound in Altered States was a lot different than in the general special effects spectacular. The great sound was so integral to the jolts of Altered States. The totality of it blew me away like no other audio visual experience at a movie had done before.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I’m not a writer myself, and I’ve been honored to represent as a literary agent many hundreds of really good books. But I’ll say that I’m proudest of The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. It’s probably the only book I’ve represented that pretty much everyone in my immediate family has read, including both my parents.

Fran Wilde

fwildeFran Wilde’s trilogy, The Bone Universe Series, comes to a close this fall with Horizon joining the award-winning debut novel, Updraft (Tor 2015) and Cloudbound (2016). Her novels and short stories have been nominated for two Nebula awards and a Hugo, and appear in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. She writes for publications including The Washington Post, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, iO9.com, and GeekMom.com. You can find her on Twitter @fran_wilde, Facebook, and at franwilde.net.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I think my favorite memory is the Kaffeeklatsch (I never know how to spell that) where a table-full of readers and Cooking the Books fans helped me test-play a new gameshow called “Your Character Ate WHAT?” We had bonus edible crickets!

Generally, though, my favorite experience at Boskone is sitting — in the bar, in the halls, in panels — and discussing great things to read.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Updraft, and Kirit, because it was the first book of mine I held in my hands while I gave a reading, and Kirit’s words were the ones I read. That was a really great feeling.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

A Halloween 5K years ago. I went as Chell.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I just finished a middle grade novel that means the world to me. I hope it will mean a lot to others as well.

If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

River Song. Because, given her own full-time TARDIS and sonic screwdriver, I think she’d save the world a lot, with or without help.

Laurence Raphael Brothers

lbrothersLaurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and technologist. He has worked in R&D at such firms as Bell Communications Research and Google, and he has five patents along with numerous industry publications. His areas of expertise include artificial intelligence and machine learning, Internet and cloud-based applications, telecom applications, and online games. Over the last three years he has published over a dozen short science fiction and fantasy stories in such markets as Nature Magazine, The Sockdolager, and PodCastle. He is seeking representation for two fantasy novels and has just completed a science fiction novel, Evolutionary Intelligence Enkidu, a near-future, alien-invasion, military aviation, AI romance. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @lbrothers.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I especially enjoy writer and editor Kaffeeklatsches and have attended quite a number of memorable ones at Boskone. At the snowed-in con a couple of years ago I went to Michael Swanwick’s and, at first, I was the only attendee, so we just chatted for a while until someone else showed up. A delightfully pleasant, easy way to be introduced to a writer I respect and admire.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Probably Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, but possibly the first book in his Amber series. I picked these books up as a young teenager at the ideal impressionable age, and both clicked perfectly. His style resonates so strongly with me I barely have any critical discernment when I read Zelazny’s stuff. The lush and poetic rhythms of Lord of Light‘s prose combined with its paean to the spirit of rebellion naturally inspired young me. While in Nine Princes in Amber, the dawning realization of who and what Corwin really was over the first part of the book was executed so skillfully, transitioning from a noir opening to a psychedelic portal fantasy, that it could hardly fail to move me. In both books it’s the combination of masterful technical execution with an awesome, almost explosive sense of wonder experienced for the first time.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m completing revision on a novel called Evolutionary Intelligence Enkidu. This is a near-future military-aviation alien-invasion AI romance. I like the idea of a meeting of hearts and minds and even bodies (via neural link rapport in the novel) that doesn’t necessarily include a conventional sexual relationship. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of artificial general intelligence, and so in this novel I’ve combined both these subjects. I want to give impressions of the first, early days of a line of evolutionary development that could eventually result in something like the great AI Minds described by Iain Banks. The challenges and difficulties experienced by a “first of his kind” AI personality (meant to pilot a plane in alien skies) and his somewhat fraught but profoundly affectionate relationship with his human copilot are at the center of the story. There’s some obvious inspiration here from Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, but also some influence from Chōhei Kambayashi’s novel, Battle Fairy Yukikaze, which was developed into a fun anime series.

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