Mini Interviews: Dana Cameron, Brendan Dubois and Charles Gannon

At Boskone, you’ll find folks working on a wide variety of projects in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. From urban fantasy, military science fiction or SF/F mysteries, today’s mini interviews from Dana Cameron, Brendan Dubois and Charles Gannon will give you a little taste of the variety Boskone offers.

Dana Cameron

Dana Cameron’s fiction is inspired by her career as an archaeologist. In addition to the six Emma Fielding mystery novels and her “Fangborn” urban fantasy novels, Dana’s short fiction covers the spectrum, including mystery, historical, noir, thriller, SF/F, Sherlockian pastiche, and horror. The latest novel in the Fangborn series, HELLBENDER (47North, 2015), combines archaeology with werewolves, vampires, and oracles. Her work has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award. Dana lives in Beverly, Massachusetts. Check out her website or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

Seeing old friends and making new ones!  I got to know Boskone through the mystery world and realized that there was a lot of overlap among the many genres represented at Boskone.  A place where I can spend the weekend talking about comics, Dr. Who, Sherlock Holmes, monster, movies, and SF/F? Sign me up!

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

The time a guy with a gun who came to the archaeological site where I was working was pretty definitive.  He showed up and started to use a metal detector, and when my boss protested, the site looter pulled a pistol on us.  A lot of things run through your mind at a moment like that, but I figured the only thing I could safely do, in that moment, was memorize his description, license plate, etc.  Eventually he left and we were able to make a report to the sheriff.

A few months later, I was telling a friend about that event, and she said, “you should write it down.”  A blinding moment of satori, and I realized I needed to write a novel.  That led to the six Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries, which led to everything else.

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

I’m working on a whole flock of things!  My second Sherlockian pastiche will be published next year in Echoes of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger.  My fifth Anna Hoyt colonial noir short story will also be published by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.  And my very first science fiction will also be out this year.  There may even be another Fangborn short story in the works—my latest Fangborn UF novel, Hellbender, came out this past March.  I’m very proud of these stories, and the more I can write across genres, the happier I am.

The novel project I’m writing next will be a noir crime novel based on the Anna Hoyt character.  It’s very dark, and frankly, she’s not easy to live with.  She’s not what you’d call a role-model for finding peaceful solutions; on the other hand, she’s a great vehicle for sneaking in some of my feminist politics.  It’s set in 18th-century Boston, and I really enjoy bringing in my expertise on that period to my fictional work.

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? (It could be a moment from within any of the films, a moment associated with the films, or something inspired by the films.)

My favorite Star Wars memory comes from the first time I saw the movie (“A New Hope”), and Princess Leia picked up a blaster and started searching for a way to escape.  I really didn’t understand at the time why that made me so incredibly happy, but after more than a decade of having watched so many princesses literally sleep through the action and wait for someone to save them, I realize now that I was more than ready for a female character like Leia.

 

Brendan Dubois

Brendan DuBois of New Hampshire is the award-winning author of eighteen novels and more than 150 short stories. His first true science fiction novel, “Dark Victory,” was published in January 2016 by Baen Books, and he’s currently working on its sequel. His short fiction has appeared in Playboy, Analog, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and numerous anthologies including “The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century,” published in 2000, as well as the “The Best American Noir of the Century,” published in 2010. Two of his short stories have appeared in Gardner Dozois’ “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” anthologies. His novel, “Resurrection Day,” won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Novel of the Year. His stories have twice won him the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and have also earned him three Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations from the Mystery Writers of America. He is also a “Jeopardy!” gameshow champion. Visit his website or find him on Facebook.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

I’ve been to several Boskones before, but this upcoming one will be very special for one simple reason:  a month earlier, my very first science fiction novel, Dark Victory (Baen Books) will have been published, and it will be a treat indeed to be at a science fiction convention as an SF author.  It will be great to mingle with readers and fans as a published science fiction author (although my first published novel, a mystery called Dead Sand, was published in 1994.)

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

That event happened to me as a high school student while attending my very first Boskone, in 1977.  In the pre-Internet days, one experienced science fiction fandom through magazines and fanzines.  It was a thrill beyond belief to be among fellow SF and fantasy fans, to know you weren’t alone.  As chance would have it, on Friday, the very first night of the convention, I struck up a conversation with author David Gerrold, who invited me to go out to dinner with his friend, fellow author Larry Niven, and Larry’s wife Marilyn.  To spend a few hours with this charming group inspired me to become a published author, no matter the struggles, no matter the obstacles.  And after years of effort, that happened… and I know it all came from that night at Boskone.

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

I’m currently working on the sequel to Dark Victory, called Red Vengeance. Except for my Lewis Cole detective series, this will be the first sequel I’ve ever written, and I had a lot of fun doing it, and returning to the science fiction universe of Dark Victory. I do hope that this second book will set the stage for a third, and possibly a fourth…

 

What is your favorite Star Wars memory, scene, or line?

Again, it was Boskone in 1977.  At the time the con would run 24-hour a day films, cartoons, shorts, reels and previews.  I had heard buzz of a new movie called “Star Wars,” and they had a trailer available.  The crowded room broke out in cheers after seeing the preview… it was something so new, so terrific and different, every there knew it was going to be a hit.

Charles E. Gannon

Dr. Charles E. Gannon ‘s award-winning Caine Riordan/Terran Republic hard sf novels have been multiply best-selling and Nebula finalists He also collaborates with Eric Flint in the NYT and WSJ best-selling Ring of Fire alternate history series. His other novels and short fiction straddle the divide between hard SF and technothrillers and have appeared through various imprints and in various magazines.

A Distinguished Professor of English and Fulbright Senior Specialist, his best known work of non-fiction, Rumors of War and Infernal Machines, won the 2006 American Library Association Award for Outstanding Book.  He is a recipient of five Fulbright Fellowships and Travel Grants and has been a subject matter expert featured in  various national magazines, as well as media venues such as NPR and the Discovery Channel.

A member of SIGMA, the “SF think-tank,” he has served as a consultant for  various intelligence and defense agencies , including DHS, Pentagon, Air Force, Army, Marines, NATO, DARPA, NRO, NASA, and several other agencies and defense contractors with whom he signed NDA’s.

Prior to his academic career, Dr. Gannon worked as a scriptwriter and producer in New York City, where his clients included the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and The President’s Council on Physical Fitness.  He also has many credits, in game design, including GDW’s Traveller, 2300 AD, and Dark Conspiracy RPGs.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

I enjoy the con’s “classical” feel. Don’t get me wrong: I have a blast at Comic cons and other conventions which are fusions of both old and new SF/F gathering modes. But Boskone is not only keeping alive a con tradition, but is one of the last, true “traditional cons.” It’s hard to say exactly what produces this sensation for me: it could be the sustained focus on literary tracks, or the great art show, or a demographic that cuts across age and interest groups wonderfully. But whatever it is, Boskone is one of the very “best” of its breed: a large regional con with national reach and an interest in bringing in both new, cutting-edge names as well as old favorites. So, yeah: I’m a huge Boskone fan, and am glad to be back!

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

Right now, I’m working on the fourth book in the Caine Riordan/Terran Republic series, Caine’s Mutiny. I am excited by this project because it is actually a much more focused story-line than the first three in the series. I enjoyed the sweep of the earlier books, particularly Trial By Fire (#2) and Raising Caine (#3), but right now I’m ready for something a little different. The largest challenge is to keep the Big Idea hard SF mood of the third book fresh and strong in the dramatic pith of this new novel. Big Idea SF usually flies best on a big canvas. This is going to have a lot less room to turn, so to speak—but I am actually looking forward to working with that.

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

My novels—which to date have been almost all hard SF—have won awards, has garnered two Nebula finalist nominations, and were multiple best-sellers but for all that, they are a distinct fusion of old and new. In short, I wanted to revisit and re-energize a lot of the tropes of classic SF while doing so through prose styles and cultural sensibilities that were distinctly modern. I also determined that I wanted to make the Caine Riordan novels a subgenre mashup that hadn’t really been attempted before: mid-future hard sf with political/techno-thriller. Nothing says “today” more than cutting edge thrillers. They are immediate and visceral. And I wanted to bring that same sense of gritty urgency and reality to my SF. In short, I wanted to imbue a future history with a narrative style that imparted a sense of present-day urgency.

Most far ranging SF or sf-fantasy tends to place us in a far-future world with what I will call the Utopist’s Device: the universe depicted is separated from us by a signifcant gap in  time and historical linkages. It is A Very Different Place that only faintly points back to its origins in this, our contemporary moment.  So, somehow, humanity crossed from the humble banks of our every-day river of reality to that far shore of a wondrously different world. I think this is fine, and I like a whole lot of this literature. I write some of it myself, but it is not, in my opinion, a distinctive project. Lots of people do it. In the Tales of the Terran Republic, I chose to do something very different.

I site my series neither on the banks of contemporary experience, nor on the far shore of a distant future, a point so far removed from today’s realities that we can’t really assess how we could have reached that destination from our current circumstances. Rather, for the Caine Riordan series, I chose a narrative vantage point places the characters squarely upon the bridge of change, the bridge that we must ever build as we move from the present day toward the far shore of the future. And when the series is assembled as a mosaic (my intent from the start), I hope readers will, in retrospect, not only reflect upon how far we have come and how fast, but also, how in getting there, the characters did not experience the journey as an endless rollercoaster of dislocating jolts. Rather, the progress into that vastly changed future seemed deceptively, almost insidiously, gradual, more marked by it seeming normative rather than stupendous.

This is fundamental to my interest in creating immersivity, in creating a world that feels real because it follows a key feature in our experience of change: it does not arrive as a fast cascade of momentous events. Rather, most change comes daily, on cat’s feet, and we only realize how far we have come when we glance in the rearview mirror. Being utterly committed to verisimilitude (because: immersivity), I want that experience to track into my fiction; in short, that change is something we feel more in retrospect than in any given moment.

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? (It could be a moment from within any of the films, a moment associated with the films, or something inspired by the films.)

Okay, I’m sure mine is the same as so many others: Empire Strikes Back. “Luke, I AM your father.” Firstly, this made the whole story arc ring with real classical gravity—and it also showed that Vader was not a simple, brutal villain. He had complex motivations as well as extraordinary power.

AND…I knew from that moment that the Emperor’s prophesy referred to Luke only indirectly; I knew knew *KNEW* that Vader was going to be the one to kill Palpatine in an act of fatal redemption. I was, as the English say, pretty chuffed when I saw the end of the third movie….

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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