Mini Interviews: Jeanne Cavelos, John Langan and Melanie Meadors

As we close in on February 19th, the first day of Boskone, we bring you another mini interview packed with fun answers by three exciting authors. Help us welcome Jeanne Cavelos, John Langan, and Melanie Meadors.

Jeanne Cavelos

Jeanne Cavelos began her professional life as an astrophysicist working at NASA. After earning her MFA in creative writing, she moved into a career in publishing, becoming a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she edited award-winning science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels and won the World Fantasy Award. Jeanne left New York to pursue her own writing career and find a more in-depth way of working with writers. She is the author of two science books, The Science of the X-Files and The Science of Star Wars, and four novels, including the best-selling The Passing of the Techno-Mages trilogy. Her writing has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. Jeanne is currently working on a near-future science thriller, Fatal Spiral. Jeanne founded and serves as director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping writers of fantasy, SF, and horror improve their work (odysseyworkshop.org). Odyssey holds an annual six-week summer workshop in New Hampshire. Guest lecturers include some of the top writers in the field. Odyssey also offers online classes, critiques, and numerous free resources for writers. She has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work at Odyssey. Check out her website or find her on Facebook.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

It’s wonderful to spend time with friends, many of whom I only get the chance to see once a year, at Boskone.  I’m looking forward to the crazy fun that spontaneously erupts when I’m with so many creative people who love the same things I love.  I’m hoping for some of the great insights I’ve had listening to panelists at previous Boskones.

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

I’m currently writing a science thriller set in the near future called Fatal Spiral.  It’s about cloning and genetic modification, but mainly about how our genes influence our personalities, emotions, and behaviors.  Many things excite me about the novel, but I suppose I’m most excited by the chance to explore how much we can transcend nature and nurture–genes and environment–through will, and if will is truly something separate from genes and environment, where does this “will” come from?

As for challenges, never write a novel set in the near future—especially if you’re a slow writer.  Technology has changed so much in the time I’ve been writing this book, I’ve had to upgrade my technology three times.  The cool things I invent keep getting stolen from my head and produced by various companies.  I’ve now taken the precaution of writing with a foil hat to protect my thoughts.

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

I tend to create characters who are very screwed up and struggling with a bad situation. They often suffer, and often die.  At the same time, I try to build suspenseful plots that take some unexpected turns and keep readers worrying and guessing until the end. Hopefully there’s some intense emotion and some cool science, too.

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?

The moment that is burned permanently in my memory is of sitting in a theater at age 17 when the original movie came out and seeing that opening shot, of Princess Leia’s small ship being pursued by a Star Destroyer.  At that time, no movie spaceship had ever looked as large as that Star Destroyer, and as it passed before the camera, gradually revealing its huge dimensions, I was so struck by awe and wonder that I couldn’t breathe.  I wrote about this major moment in my life in the introduction to my book, The Science of Star Wars.  Writing that book was a wonderful way to combine my love for science with my love for science fiction, and to explore areas like planets, aliens, robots, spaceships, weapons, and the Force, and see how those things we love in Star Wars might someday be reality.

John Langan

JohnLangan-CoverJohn Langan is the author of three collections: Sefira and Other Betrayals (Hippocampus 2016), The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies (Hippocampus 2013), and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters (Prime 2008). He has written a novel, House of Windows (Night Shade 2009). With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters (Prime 2011). One of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Award, he lives in upstate New York with his wife and younger son. Check out his website or find him on Twitter or Facebook.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

As ever, I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and to making new ones.  This year, I’m also looking forward to the debut of Erin Underwood’s The Grimm Future anthology, in which I have a new story.

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

Reading Stephen King’s Christine during my freshman year of high school was one of the pivotal experiences in my life.  Before that book, I had been thinking I wanted to go into comics; after it, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

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

I’m completing stories for a variety of anthologies devoted to some truly strange subjects. There’s also a novel I’m supposed to get back to.  The challenge and excitement lies in writing something that doesn’t repeat what I’ve done before, in continuing to move in new directions.

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

I’m looking forward to all kinds of things.  The tops are probably Laird Barron’s next collection, Paul Tremblay’s new novel, and Livia Llewellyn’s next collection.

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

I continue to derive a lot of inspiration from King and Peter Straub’s fiction, so I’m happy to describe myself as working in that tradition.  I love monsters.

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

Han Solo steering the Millennium Falcon directly into the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back.  Nothing encapsulates the sheer bravado of the character for me like that gesture.

Melanie Meadors

Melanie Meadors 2A writer of speculative fiction and lover of geeky things, Melanie R. Meadors lives in a one hundred-year-old New England house full of quirks and surprises. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on on more than one occasion. Melanie is the Publicity Coordinator at Ragnarok Publications and also a core contributor to the GeekMom website. Her story, “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” will be included in the upcoming Champions of Aetaltis anthology, early 2016. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

I love attending Boskone because it’s the perfect size. It’s large enough to feature excellent programming from some of the top people in the speculative fiction industry. There are panels at Boskone that aren’t available elsewhere, but there are also those that stay on top of what’s hot in the genre. There are panels that are fun, and then those that make attendees think. There is truly something for everyone. At the same time, Boskone is small enough to maintain a more intimate atmosphere. If you come in order to meet someone, you’ll have no problem seeking them out. Everyone seems to be relaxed and approachable, instead of always running around through crowds, late. There are also plenty of opportunities for people to get together built right into the programming.

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

Right now I’m finishing up a young adult novel that has been haunting my brain for a couple years now. For me, the challenge I always face with a writing project is not allowing my day job as an author publicist/marketing guru influence my creativity. It’s very easy for me to let marketing thoughts invade my creative space. “That will never sell!” “How would that be categorized?” I’ve had to learn to silence that part of my mind while I write, because otherwise self-doubt becomes crippling. My new novel is basically something I would have wanted to read when I was a teen, science fiction with a fantasy aspect to it, and I hope readers enjoy it!

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

This sounds a bit odd, and I swear I wasn’t on drugs, but in college, I had a double major in physics and astronomy. One night in Flagstaff, AZ, I was walking from one side of the NAU campus to the other, and was admiring the stars as I usually did. Since Flagstaff is an astronomy city, with Lowell Observatory there as well as the campus observatory, the street lights etc are designed to keep light pollution at a minimum, so the stars are quite amazing there (for being in a city). Suddenly I had this weird moment where I could feel just how big things were, and how very small the section I could see (which is huge relative to a single person!) was. Everything I had learned in advanced physics came together, and the numbers I had been staring at for so long suddenly represented something real rather than being abstract, and I can’t ever remember feeling such awe (and a little fear) at how much we don’t know about the world we live in, at how much we will NEVER know. But it’s not just scary how little we know or how small we are. After my moment of strange panic, I actually felt comforted. How small my problems were compared to how big the universe is! Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to bring my mind back to that moment. Why am I worried about such trivial things? The world will still be here long after I am gone. This influences my writing as well. The interesting thing about fantasy, to me, is making it plausible. Making it all make sense, because in our universe, there are infinite possibilities. Perhaps somewhere, on some other planet in some other galaxy, a place like Middle Earth actually exists. Maybe there are dragons. We are only limited by our imaginations, yet how much reality is out there that goes beyond our imaginations? The world is a strange and amazing place.

 

 

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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