B54 Mini Interviews: Sarah Beth Durst, Melinda M. Snodgrass and Vincent H. O’Neil

With only two days until Boskone, we know how to get you into the spirit! Check out our latest set of mini-interviews.

Sarah Beth Durst

sarahbethdurst_146Sarah Beth Durst is the author of eleven fantasy novels for adults, teens, and kids, including Drink Slay Love, the basis for the upcoming TV movie of the same name, airing on Lifetime in 2017. Her latest book for kids, The Girl Who Could Not Dream, came out in November 2015 from HMH/Clarion Books, and her latest book for adults, The Queen of Blood, came out in September 2016 from Harper Voyager. Sarah won the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times.

She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. Find her online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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

I am working on an epic fantasy series called The Queens of Renthia, set in a world filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits. The first book, The Queen of the Blood, came out in September from Harper Voyager, and the second book, The Reluctant Queen, will be out in July. It’s been one of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had. Extremely immersive. Sitting down at my computer every day feels like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia (except instead of Narnia, it’s a world that wants to kill all humans).

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember (except for a brief time when I was five and wanted to be Wonder Woman), but I’d never actually met a writer or knew anyone who had. Writers were these mythical beings. Or dead. I wasn’t sure an ordinary person like me could become a writer. But then when I was ten years old, I read Alanna by Tamora Pierce, about a girl who becomes a knight in a land where only boys become knights. I remember closing that book and thinking, “If Alanna can become a knight, then I can become a writer.”

Who is your all-time favorite fictional character? What is it about this character that you love?

My all-time favorite fictional character is Silk from The Belgariad by David Eddings. I first read The Belgariad when I’d finished devouring all the books in the children’s section of the library, and my mom brought me upstairs and showed me the SF/Fantasy shelves. (I’m fairly certain this moment was accompanied by trumpets playing and a chorus singing.) These books were the first real epic fantasy series that I’d ever sunk into, and the thief Silk brought humor to the adventure. Since then, I’ve always loved a dose of humor with every tale.

Melinda M. Snodgrass

Melinda Snodgrass studied opera at the Conservatory of Vienna in Austria, graduated from U.N.M. with a degree in history, and went on to Law School. She practiced for three years, and discovered that while she loved the law she hated lawyers so she began writing science fiction novels. In 1988 she accepted a job on Star Trek: TNG, and began her Hollywood career where she has worked on staff on numerous shows — Reasonable Doubts, Profiler, and has written numerous television pilots and feature films. Presently she is the Executive Producer on the upcoming Wild Cards series for UPC. In the prose world she writes for the book series and co-edits Wild Cards with George R. R. Martin. She has finished the second book in her five book space opera series for Titan Books and is working on book 3. Book 1— The High Ground was published in July. The three books in the Edge series — The Edge of Reason, The Edge of Darkness and The Edge of Dawn are currently available from Tor Books. For fun she rides her dressage horses, plays video games and spends a lot of time in the gym. Find her online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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

Developing the Wild Cards books as a TV series. As one of the executive producers and writer for the show I get to think about everything from the opening credits, composers, actors for the various roles and how to bring this complex world to life.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

Seeing East Coast friends, but also the great programming and the artist reception on Friday night.

Who is your all-time favorite fictional character? What is it about this character that you love?

Kip from Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel because he never gives up, he never stops trying and caring. Whenever I’m sad I reread this book and decide I can keep going.

 

Vincent H. O’Neil

vincentoneil_41Vincent H. O’Neil is the Malice Award-winning author of the Exile mystery series (Murder in Exile, Reduced Circumstances, Exile Trust, and Contest of Wills) as well as the theater-themed murder mystery Death Troupe. He has also written two horror novels called Interlands and Denizens, featuring the historian Angela “Ree” Morse.

 

Under the name Henry V. O’Neil, he is currently writing the Sim War military science fiction novels with Harper Collins. The series currently consists of Glory Main, Orphan Brigade, Dire Steps, and CHOP Line. A native of Massachusetts, Vincent is a graduate of West Point and holds a master’s degree in international business from The Fletcher School. Find him online at his website and on Facebook.

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

I just finished writing the fifth and final book in my military science fiction Sim War series with HarperCollins, and I’m very pleased with how that story ended. The last book will come out in ebook at the end of February, so right now I’m working on a fantasy short story set in a world loosely based on Renaissance Italy. I’ve been reading a lot about the Borgias and the Sforzas, and was struck by the casual relationship many of them had with violence. In my fantasy short story, I’m exploring the different attitudes of the people who pay others to commit murder for them, and the people who perform those tasks for money. It’s quite a challenge, and something very new for me.

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

I graduated from West Point in the 80s, and one of the training experiences available to me was a course known as Ranger School. Ranger is one of the toughest programs the army has, and it goes for two months. You’re not allowed to sleep very much, you’re not fed very much, and you carry heavy rucksacks over challenging terrain while performing complex tasks. I did Ranger during the wintertime, which posed an added degree of difficulty in training locations in the mountains of north Georgia and the desert in Utah. That course was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and I learned a lot about myself as I went through it. My military science fiction novel Glory Main draws from that experience, as it pits four marooned soldiers against the elements with no water, food, or weapons.

Who is your all-time favorite fictional character? What is it about this character that you love?

The character of Felix in John Steakley’s military sci-fi novel Armor. Without giving too much away, I always loved Felix’s humanity. Convinced that he’s not up to the requirements of combat, Felix puts his faith in a part of his personality that he calls Engine. In battle, Engine takes over and does all the things Felix believes he’s too scared or too squeamish to do. It’s a marvelous response to stress, but as Felix’s service continues he begins to wonder if there might be a point where even Engine will break.

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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