Mini Interviews: Darlene Marshall, Kenneth Schneyer, and LJ Cohen

Boskone is a great convention for those who love science fiction and fantasy literature as well as for professional and aspiring writers. In today’s mini interview, a few of our participating writers share why they look forward to attending Boskone and why you should attend.

Darlene Marshall

Darlene Marshall writes award winning historical romance about pirates, privateers, smugglers & the occasional possum. Look for her newest novel, The Pirate’s Secret Baby (2014). Visit Darlene’s website, like her on Facebook,  or follow her on Twitter @DarleneMarshall.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?
Boskone is the perfect mix of professionalism and fandom. I always come away from it with information that’s helpful to my writing, whether it’s swordplay demonstrations or panels on worldbuilding. In addition, the fans are interesting, fun, and interested in what’s happening in SF, Fantasy and related fields. They recharge my batteries, and help me return home with a fresh focus on my writing. Finally, it’s a con that’s just the right size–not so large that one can get lost in the shuffle, not so small that there’s not enough happening to hold our interest. You know it has to be special if I’m willing to fly from Florida to Boston in February!

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?
I’m writing a follow-up to my 2014 novel The Pirate’s Secret Baby. As soon as I finished TPSB, I began to wonder, “What does happen to a pirate’s illegitimate, mixed-race little girl when she grows up?” To give you a clue, the working title of the current project is The Legend of Marauding Mattie, or, The Pirate, Her Cabin Boy, and What The Parrot Saw. What’s challenging is, well, everything. I’m weaving into the novel real events from the 1830s while selling readers on a story with pirates, cross-dressing heroines, and a hero who’s wondering how the hell he landed in this mess. And then there’s a parrot who thinks he’s the ship’s cat, so it’s getting more complicated by the day. I’m confident though that I’ll have it all worked out at some point. After all, as my publisher gently reminds me, if I don’t finish the book it’s hard for him to send me royalty checks for it. If readers are scratching their heads and wondering at this point where the SF connection comes in, I’m a long-time SF & convention fan whose day job is writing historical romance. But I find what I get out of Boskone helps me professionally. Learning from the good writers there transcends genre lines.

If you could recommend a book to your teenage-self, what book would you recommend? Why did you pick that book?

So much good SF was published after I was a teen, it’s hard to know where to begin. I think I’d recommend the YA novels of Sharon Shinn and Terry Pratchett. Both authors write outstandingly good SF and fantasy that deals with real issues, the kinds of things teens wonder about: war, religion, relationships, ethics. If I had to pick only two books by those authors, I might go with General Winston’s Daughter by Shinn and Nation by Pratchett. The first novel deals with race and colonialism, the second is about survival, and growing up, and the choices we make in life.

KenSchneyerKenneth Schneyer

Kenneth Schneyer received a Nebula nomination for his 2013 short story, “Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer”.  Stillpoint Digital press released his first collection, The Law & the Heart, in 2014.  You can find his stories in Analog, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clockwork Phoenix 3 & 4, Bull Spec, Ideomancer, Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Podcastle, and elsewhere.  He attended the Clarion Writers Workshop with the mighty Class of 2009, and now belongs to the Cambridge Science Fiction Workshop.  By day, he teaches business law and science fiction literature at Johnson & Wales University.  A Polish Jew from Detroit, he now lives in Rhode Island with one singer, one dancer, one actor, and something with fangs.  See his blog at ken-schneyer.livejournal.com, his bibliography at www.writertopia.com/profiles/KennethSchneyer, and his musings on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

Seeing the friends I only ever get to see at conventions.  When I first started attending, it was to help publicize my work, become known by publishers and other writers, and attend panels concerning interesting stuff. But the longer you do this, the more it’s about the people you enjoy hanging out with.

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

I’m revising a short story that challenges race and gender issues in high adventure fantasy. The two big hurdles are: (1) it can be presumptuous for a straight white dude to write something like this, and I want to avoid making an ass of myself, and (2) I want to make sure that the plot and characters are compelling and convincing, and don’t get lost in my political intent.

How would you describe your work to people who might be unfamiliar with you?

I use alternative, indirect voicing a lot. My stories often play with, subvert, or abuse the ordinary narrative assumptions most readers have when they approach a story. I write both science fiction and fantasy, and I don’t particularly care about the boundaries between the genres; basically I write whatever comes to mind.

LJ Cohen

LJ Cohen is the writing persona of Lisa Janice Cohen, poet, novelist, blogger, local food enthusiast, Doctor Who fan, potter, and relentless optimist. LJ lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. When not doing battle with a stubborn Jack Russell Terrier mix, she can be found making something out of clay, or working on the next novel, which often looks a lot like daydreaming. Time and Tithe, the sequel to her YA fantasy debut novel, The Between, will be published in February of 2015. She is currently writing the sequel to Derelict, a science fiction novel. This is the first year LJ is also participating in the Boskone art show.  Visit Janice’s website, like her on Facebook, add to your G+ circle or follow her on Twitter @lisajanicecohen.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

Writing can be a very solitary pursuit, and when what you write is science fiction and fantasy, even friends and family who understand what it is to have a writer in their lives may just scratch their heads at what you choose to create. (“Are you ever going to write anything normal?” “Why are your stories always so weird?”) To spend several days embraced by fellow writers, readers, and fans of the geeky and the odd is a little bit of paradise.

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

I am currently drafting the sequel to DERELICT, my most recent SF novel. Since this is book 2 of a planned series, it gives me the chance to deepen the world of the story and extend the conflicts that were hinted at in book 1. In DERELICT, we hear about the war forty years prior that caused the ship, Halcyone, to become the wreck Ro Maldonado resurrects. In its sequel, we discover that the war still casts its shadow on the shape of the Commonwealth. Filling in the pieces of the story’s past allows me to see its present in a new way. That’s very exciting. One of the challenges in this series is managing an ensemble cast. Ro took center stage in DERELICT. In the current story, the sibling relationship becomes the focal point when Barre has to find Jem before black market doctors implant his younger brother with an illegal neural. While each story stands alone, the overarching story of the Commonwealth and the war that created it is sprawling and complex and I can’t wait to get it all down on paper.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?

In the past couple of years, our family has experienced several significant and traumatic events, including a fire that chased us out of our home at 5 a.m. on the frigid morning of December 1, 2010. What I realized, watching our house and our possessions burn, was that so much of what we worry about doesn’t really matter, that life is short and uncertain, and if you wait until the time is right to take a chance, it may never happen. We were unbelievably fortunate to survive that fire and compared with nearly losing my life or my family, very little else has the power to scare me. Rejection? Negative reviews? Whatever. Bring it on. Four years later, I am still grateful for every day (and for cloud back ups!).

About Brenda Noiseux

Product Owner by day/Sci-fi geek and community builder by night. Using my super hero powers for the good of all kind. I'm the organizer several groups, including the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen, a women's comics discussion group and a writer for Women Write About Comics.
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