Mini Interviews: E. J. Stevens, Errick Nunnally, N.A. Ratnayake

We’re getting closer and closer to Boskone! We also have three new Mini Interviews for you today! Come meet E. J. Stevens, Errick Nunnally, and N.A. Ratnayake. You may have seen them at Boskone before, but this is their first time attending as program participants. So, please help us give them a warm welcome this year!

E. J. Stevens

EJStevensE.J. Stevens is the author of fourteen works of speculative fiction, including the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal romance series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning Ivy Granger urban fantasy series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Visit her on her website, follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook, and find her on Goodreads.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

I am looking forward to so many things at Boskone 2016. I love seeing old friends and discussing books and writing with people who share my passion for speculative fiction, but the thing I look forward to the most at events like Boskone is spending time with my readers.

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

IvyGrangerCoverI’m currently working on Hound’s Bite, the fifth full-length novel in the award-winning Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective urban fantasy series.

The greatest challenge when writing a novel in a long running series is to maintain consistency while demonstrating character growth and, of course, holding the reader’s interest. So much has happened in the previous books of this series—assassination attempts, trips to the Otherworld, and attacks on the city of Harborsmouth by bloodthirsty water fae, a demonically enhanced abductor of fae children, a serial killer skilled in necromancy, and a horde of pyromaniacal imps—that reader expectations are high. I’m excited to say that readers anticipating another wild ride with Ivy Granger and her supernatural allies have something special to look forward to with the July 2016 release of  Hound’s Bite.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?

I am a HUGE fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I have been increasingly impressed with the two Netflix Original series Daredevil and Jessica Jones that released in 2015. As my readers may have deduced, I love damaged characters. The more broken a hero or heroine is the better. Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones are exquisitely damaged by their pasts and tortured by the weighty responsibility of their supernatural gifts. I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters in season two.

What is your favorite Star Wars memory, scene, or line? What is it that that memory, scene or line that continues to stick with you today?

HanAndLeiaMy favorite Star Wars scene is when Han is about to be frozen in carbonite. Leia blurts out, “I love you” and Han replies, “I know.”

At this point in The Empire Strikes back, Leia has endured imprisonment at the hands of the Empire, and had to watch as her family was murdered and her home world was destroyed. Her reaction to losing Han is all the more heartbreaking when you consider what she has already had to endure. But then Han flashes that crooked grin and replies, “I know,” and the scene becomes even more powerful, because here is a man about to face possible death and he is being strong, not for himself, but for the woman he loves.

I also have the following Star Wars lines displayed in my writing space to help keep me motivated.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” –Yoda
“Never tell me the odds.” –Han Solo
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” –Darth Vader
“In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Impressive. Most impressive.” —Darth Vader
“Stay on target.” –Gold Five

Errick Nunnally

ErrickNunnallyBorn and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Errick A. Nunnally served one tour in the Marine Corps before deciding art school would be a safer—and more natural—pursuit. He strives to develop his strengths in storytelling and remains permanently distracted by art, comics, science fiction, history, and horror. Trained as a graphic designer, he has earned a black belt in Krav Maga with Muay Thai kickboxing after dark. Errick’s successes include: the novel, Blood For The Sun; a comic strip collection, Lost in Transition; and first prize in one hamburger contest. The following are short stories and their respective anthologies: Lycanthrobastards (Wicked Seasons); Harold At The Halfcourt (Inner Demons Out); Legion (Doorways to Extra Time); The Last Apology (A Dark World of Spirits and The Fey); You Call This An Apocalypse? (After The Fall); Recovery (Winter Animals: stories to benefit PROTECT.ORG); PROTECTORS 2 (stories to benefit PROTECT.ORG) and The Elevation of Oliver Black (Distant Dying Ember). He also has two lovely children and one beautiful wife. Visit him on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Nunnally-BloodSunWhat are you looking forward to at Boskone?

No idea! Well, finding out what it’s all about, I’ve never been. Ironically, I have picked up a friend from the airport and driven him there without any clue as to what was going on there. He’d done some work with Ian Tregellis, developing the author’s web site. When I dropped him off, I spotted a Toyota hybrid with the custom plate “MONTAG” and knew I was missing something.

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

Not too long after buying a home in Boston (Dorchester), the company that I’d been happily working for (a graphic design firm) closed it’s doors. I decided to work for myself for a while and I set five goals for myself during that time. One of them was to finally write the book that I’d been putting off since my final years in college. “Blood for the Sun” came to fruition and it took some time, but I refined it enough to sell to a publisher. I suppose the defining moment came when I finally realized, after over a decade, that I should do more to follow my heart’s desire rather than half-step through the world, coloring within the lines. Nothing lasts forever, of course, and I headed back into the workforce a couple of years after completing the book. Since then, it’s been one epic battle after another to redefine my life so that it satisfies my soul rather than someone else’s bottom line.

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

I tend to write somewhere around the thriller genre with elements of science fiction and horror. When I was much younger, I spent a great deal of my time reading sci-fi and other forms of speculative fiction. To be as involved as I am with monsters and the noir-ish side of the supernatural, I wish I’d read some more of what’s considered the horror classics. Most of my early horror influences came from movies rather than the books those movies were adapted from. It’s actually something I regret. With that in mind, instead of recommending a particular book (or books), I’d recommend a few authors to dig into. The obvious one is Stephen King. I’ve enjoyed his short fiction up to novellas, but his longer stuff has always left me cold. Still, I wish I’d read Salem’s Lot, Cujo, and Carrie a lot earlier in my life. The works of Rick Hautula, John Skipp, Craig Spector, Chet Williamson, Jack Ketchum, and later: Ray Garton and Joe Landsdale would have been fine, earlier additions to my reading repertoire.

What is your favorite Star Wars memory, scene, or line? Why does it continue to stick with you today?

I was all of nine years-old when Star Wars premiered in 1977. My mind was blown when I first saw that movie–like so many others my age. I remember begging everyone and anyone to take me with them when they went to see it and it resulted in my going to the theater eleven times. Each time, the crowds were more and more dense until I recall stumbling out of the place shoulder to shoulder with scores of excited people.

Han-Shot-FirstIn the intervening years, I became a Star Wars “truther.” Han Solo shot first and Lucas’ tinkering with the character’s continuity and other aspects of Star Wars was an atrocity!

(Also, those other three films were planned, but never happened; only one actor portrayed Khan Noonien Singh and embodied the character so well that no other actor dared take the role, and Michael Jackson died shortly after recording “Off The Wall,” his last and greatest album.)

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

M work is a mishmash of my genre favorites, sculpted into something I wanted to see out in the wild. In my case, noir-ish crime thrillers with hefty doses of supernatural horror and science fiction influenced by my background in the military, close-combat training, and growing up in Boston’s inner-city. Two of my favorite comments about my first novel: “A love letter to fandom” and “Everything a gritty urban fantasy thriller should be.” I write what I love and I want to share that with fans of the same.

N.A. Ratnayake

Nalin-RatnayakeN.A. Ratnayake is a former NASA engineer turned science teacher and science fiction writer. His short story “Remembering Turinam” received an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Thirty First Edition. His new novel, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, explores human rights in a future of corporate expansion and colonization of space.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

It’s a certain caliber of nerd that travels to New England in February for the sake of a science fiction convention. And for those who live around here, any extra shoveling and time spent on the MBTA in the winter is a true sign of dedication. The eclectic mix of intellect, passion, curiosity, and creative energy at Boskone is wonderful. Every year I leave the con refreshed with new ideas, writing knowledge, and creative projects to consider.

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

RedSoilMy new novel, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, was recently released in January. The book is the first in a series, so I’m now working on laying out the two books that will follow it.

Red Soil Through Our Fingers was very challenging for me, being my first novel-length work. I had to learn so much about writing, revision, publication, and marketing over the last couple of years. I’m hoping that the second one is easier, at least logistically, now that I’m a little further along the learning curve.

I’ve started to embrace the idea of this series as a political thriller in space. It’s been exciting to learn more about the thriller genre and what makes them work, then trying to imagine what these elements would look like in a hard sci-fi future setting.

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

My stories tend to feature stubborn idealists of various flavors in conflict with social or political systems that are oppressive or unjust in some way. Though I have harsh criticism for some aspects of our present society, I also believe in actively presenting a positive way forward into a better future.

I’m an aerospace engineer and science teacher professionally. I love realistic space settings and credible projections of technology. However, I believe a great story is ultimately about people, not the technical details. I try to create a rigorous, believable, and technically-consistent world, and then move it to the background where it belongs.

If you enjoy being at the intersection of people and ideas, I invite you to give my stories a read!

What is your favorite Star Wars memory, scene, or line? What is it that that memory, scene or line that continues to stick with you today?

Robot-ChickenWhen we were little, my brother and I used to enjoy impersonating all of the characters and improvising our own new (hilarious) plot lines, in the vein of what Robot Chicken has done now. So I have lots of good brotherly memories of the two of us being silly.

My favorite moment from the movies is Vader’s redemption just before he dies. I think that scene in the context of the whole trilogy says a lot about the nature of evil. I remember it being a very powerful moment when my twelve-year-old self realized that even this baddest of bad guys had a good person sort of trapped inside a dark shell. In retrospect, I think it marked the beginning of a slow realization that good and evil are not absolute, mutually exclusive, binary concepts.

~

Register for Boskone today. Join us February 19-21, 2016

B53-RegistrationRegistration Rates (good through January 19th):

  • Adult rate: $50
  • College student rate: $35
  • K-12 student rate: $25
  • Friday: $25; Saturday: $45; Sunday: $25
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