B55 Mini Interviews with E. Ardell, Dan Moren, Tamora Pierce, & Robert B. Finegold M.D.

The Boskone Mini Interviews, which first began in December 2014, continue as our way to introduce our members to Boskone’s guests and program participants as they share fun, interesting, and amusing thoughts about their lives and experiences. Our inaugural Mini Interviews for Boskone 55 feature E. Ardell, Dan Moren, Tamora Pierce, and Robert Finegold — all of whom we are very excited to see at Boskone this year! This is your chance to meet them before the convention begins in February. Enjoy the interviews, and get the pre-Boskone conversation started by leaving comments and sharing your thoughts!

We look forward to seeing you in February! Enjoy the first of this year’s Mini Interview Series.

E. Ardell

Award-winning author E. Ardell spent her childhood in Houston, Texas obsessed with anything science fiction, fantastic, paranormal or just plain weird. She loves to write stories that feature young people with extraordinary talents thrown into strange and dangerous situations. She took her obsession to the next level, earning a MFA from the University of Southern Maine where she specialized in young adult genre fiction. She’s a big kid at heart and loves her job as a teen librarian at Monterey Public Library in Monterey, CA, where she voluntarily shuts herself in rooms with hungry hordes of teenagers and runs crazy after-school programs for them. When she’s not working, she’s reading, writing, running writers critique groups, trying to keep up with a blog, and even writing fan fiction as her guilty pleasure. Her first YA science fiction novel, “The Fourth Piece”, was released by 48fourteen Publishing in July of 2016. Visit her website, like her on Facebook,  or follow her on Twitter @E_Ardell.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

This will be my very first Boskone 55. I was invited to attend last year’s event by a graduate school classmate of mine, and I wasn’t able to, and also did not know much about the convention. After researching the events, I wish I had known about this convention years ago and had been able to save up to attend. The attending author line-up and events were amazing, and this year’s will be even better. I couldn’t hide my excitement when I found out Catherine Asaro would be coming as the science speaker. I hope to make Boskone 55 my yearly “thing”.

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

The last time I dressed up for Halloween was October 2017, I am a Halloweenie. I dress up every year. This year I actually had two costumes because I went to different costume events; one was specifically themed. The themed event was a Harry Potter meet-up and I represented my house: Slytherin. Yes, that’s right. I’m a proud Slytherin. There’s nothing wrong with having ambition, and if you have to be a little sneaky to reach your end goal, well–points to me for being clever :D. My other costume was actually a cosplay of one of my own book characters, Desiri Lilias. I wore this costume to a book convention earlier in October, and then wore it again for Halloween. The character is a mean warrior mage. I had an awesome time piecing together the outfit and choosing the wig.

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

My current project is finishing up the sequel to my first book, The Fourth Piece. I’m excited, because the story behind this series is one that has been with me for a very long time. Anyone close to me has heard drafts of this story and knows how far it’s come since I was 12 years old. As I pen the ending to the second story, I realize I have never gone this far with my characters on their adventure. I’d never written beyond the initial book, though I know where the story needs to go. I’m discovering things about my characters I’d never known before as I let the story flow unscripted. I really like where this book is going. If the first book was climbing the peak, this book, The Third Gambit, is taking a look out at the world from that new height and jumping off.

So, yes, you can tell I’m excited, but this book has also been very hard to write for the reasons stated above. It has an important job to do: it has to push the story forward and be a bridge from the first book into the third. It has to build an entirely alien world from the vantage point of people who’ve been brought up on Earth. While doing that, it also has to launch the main plot, build tension, evoke empathy, and just be an enjoyable story that readers will want to continue. I feel like I can’t miss a beat, or I’ll end up with a “sophomore slump.”

BONUS QUESTION: If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

After very careful deliberation, I decided on my heroes. I wanted a little eye candy on my team, but I also wanted to crush the opposition, so I did not choose Thor, Captain America, Nightwing, Quicksilver, or anyone else who looks great in spandex and leather, but the people I chose are awesome. To combat The Night King, I chose Rogue (from Uncanny X-Men). She’s got super strength, flight abilities, and not only does she borrow powers, but the person she takes from is rendered unconscious and/or very weak. Addio Night King. For the Emperor, we have Dr. Strange, deal with that Sith Lord, haha! For Master from Doctor Who, I unleash Raven (The New Teen Titans comics). Her mental capabilities and offensive powers will smoke him down. On the sidelines, cheering them on when they win (because they will), will be Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Quicksilver (from Quicksilver Mini-Series comics) and Nightwing in their leather cheer-leading bodysuits. Take that evil-doers!

Dan Moren

Dan Moren is a novelist, freelance writer, and prolific podcaster. His debut novel, the rollicking sci-fi adventure The Caledonian Gambit, was published by Talos Press in May 2017. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Macworld, Fast Company, Popular Science, and Yahoo Tech, among other places. He formerly served as a senior editor at Macworld. He also co-hosts tech podcasts Clockwise and The Rebound, writes and hosts nerdy quiz show Inconceivable!, co-hosts movie show Not Playing with Lex and Dan, and is a frequent panelist on the Parsec-award-winning podcast The Incomparable and its spin-offs, Total Party Kill and TeeVee. Dan lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he plays ultimate Frisbee, enjoys games (of the video and tabletop variety), and is generally working on a novel or two. When he’s not wasting time on Twitter, anyway. Visit Dan’s website or follow him on Twitter @dmoren.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Most of my best experiences at Boskone have been related to the people I’ve met there. Way back in 2006, at the first Boskone I attended, I went to a kaffeeklatsch with Cory Doctorow. It was an interesting discussion, I’m sure, but what I remember most is Cory’s predilection for making small origami swans during the entire thing. He was still engaged in everything we were talking about, but it was mostly just as though he needed to be doing something with his hands. At the end, when we got up to go, I snagged one of the swans from the table, and I’ve kept it to this day.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

There are way too many new books and films out there to want to revisit the same thing over and over again, but if I could experience one again for the first time, I would probably have to pick The Empire Strikes Back. It’s my favorite movie of all time, and so ingrained in my life and personality that I simply can’t imagine life not having seen it. As disappointed as I might be the lose all the nuance and trivia I’ve picked up about the film over the years, I would be even more fascinated to be able to wade into it as an adult and see how it pulled off being one of, if not the best sequel of all time. How do you take the phenomenal success of something like Star Wars and follow it with a story that not only continues where our beloved characters left off, but expands the entire universe to become so much more. And, come on, who hasn’t wanted to be on the edge of their seat and experience that most epic of plot revelations again for the first time?!

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

When I was 25, I quit my job and took a trip abroad. After I spent the first couple weeks traveling with friends throughout Ireland, I ended up taking the ferry over to the UK. I landed in the town of Holyhead in Wales and was prepared to hop on a bus and head to my next stop when I discovered that it was Sunday and the buses didn’t run at all. After some poking around, I found a B&B (in the days before smartphones or Airbnb) that would put me up for the night, run by an old man who was the spitting image of Edmund Gwenn (the actor who played Santa Claus in the original *Miracle on 34th Street*). My genial host offered to take me to see some of the local sights, including a memorial to a US bomber that crashed during WWII. But it turned out my host was also really into ley lines and dowsing—the latter of which he’d used in his career as a plumber to find water mains. He ended up taking me out to try my hand at it (I can’t say I found anything). The next day I headed off on the rest of my trip, but I never quite forgot that odd experience.

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

I’m working on a few different projects at present, but what I’m most excited about is an urban fantasy/mystery book that’s actually set in Boston. It involves ghosts, a software engineer, and a hefty helping of local flavor. It’s also one of my first attempts to step outside of my comfort zone of writing protagonists of my own race and gender, and while that’s definitely a little daunting, I’m hopeful that it will help me learn a lot.

BONUS QUESTION: If you were building a team of 3 (super)heroes to save the world from this trio of (super)villains: The Night King (GOT), the Emperor (Star Wars), and The Master/Missy (Doctor Who), who would you pick? The only catch is that you can’t pick characters from the GOT, Star Wars, or Doctor Who universes.  Share why you chose your 3 (super)heroes.

* Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) – She can fly, shoot laser blasts, and is generally pretty indestructible. Plus, she doesn’t take any guff and won’t back down from a fight.
* Miles Vorkosigan – To beat a powerful trio like this, you can’t just outfight them—you need to out *think* them. Miles is a master strategist, and he brings the brains to this fight.
* Korra – She’s the Avatar, man. She’s got the heart, and she can harness all of the elements, plus has a powerful connection to the spiritual realm. The whole package.

Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce is a writer technically of fantasy for teenagers (her audience really ranges from 8 to 80), having published 28 fantasy novels in her Tortall and Circle of Magic universes. In addition she has contributed to Tortall: A Spy’s Guide, worked on two anthologies of short stories, and published an anthology of her own short stories. In the past she was head writer of a company that broadcast original radio comedy and drama, wrote comics with her spouse-creature Tim Liebe for Marvel Comics, and for Gail Simone at Dynamite Comics, and wrote a YA novel published originally as an audio book by Full Cast Audio. Tim and Tamora live in upstate New York, where they engage in the perilous pastime of feral and stray cat rescue and raccoon feeding while caring for their own herd of cats and two hyper parakeets. Her next book, to be published in February 2018, is a Tortall novel , Tempests and Slaughter. Visit Tamora’s website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @TamoraPierce.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I haven’t been to Boskone for several years, and I miss my friends. I have more friends there than at any other con. I also like the offerings in terms of panels, vendors, music, and guests.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

It would be the afternoon and evening I first read The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a blustery San Francisco Bay Area day; the tree was battering my windows; I could look out over the foggy city when I took small breaks, which were few. Most of the time I huddled over the book, reading by flashlight after my supposed bedtime, immersed in a world I had never encountered before. I followed Frodo and his friends to that bitter ending, having fallen for Gandalf at his introduction. I would have done anything for that old man, and when I closed the book, I cried my heart out, because I thought it was over.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

There is nothing that stays in my own favorite spot for very long. Everything is my favorite to a point, or I wouldn’t come up with these stories and characters, and they return to my affections as my moods shift. Even minor characters and short stories can be favorites when my mood is right. At this moment I can say Squire and Shatterglass are my favorite books, one in each universe, Squire for the relationship between Kel and her Knight-Master, her fight with a centaur, her care of a wild baby griffin, and her first battles with a dread enemy; Shatterglass for the unending joke of an arrogant 21-year-old glassmaker being unable to master his craft without a cross-grained, impatient 14-year-old girl to teach him to grip his seed of lightning magic. Favorite characters revolve even faster than books, though Tris (the storm mage) often rises to the top, together with Nawat, the crow/man, and Envy, the young stone mage. Their personalities all contain a degree of perversity and a distinct tendency to think for themselves.

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

I’m working on the second book of a trilogy about Arram Draper, known in my second quartet as the great mage Numair Salmalin. This trilogy is about the years when he studied magic as Arram at the university of Carthak in the south, making friends who would be major figures in his adult life, acquiring magics great and small, meeting a variety of gods great and small, not to mention the strange magical creatures that share the universe with humanity. In the first book he begins to learn the basics of the kinds of magic that lift him past anyone his own age. In the second book, he will grow into his power as an adult, as well as be forced to make choices about his future, about his work, about what he stands for, and what constitute loyalty and betrayal. No stress.

Robert B. Finegold M.D.

Robert B Finegold, M.D. is a radiologist (recently retired) living in Maine. He has an undergraduate degree in English (Creative Writing and British Literature), has been a university newspaper cartoonist, and served as a Major in the U.S. Army during the first Gulf War. His stories have appeared in Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, GigaNotosaurus, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, and numerous anthologies — most recently Neil Clarke’s “More Human Than Human” (NOV 2017). He is the assistant editor for stories of “Myth Legends, and Fairy Tales” at CRES and the editor of the 3rd and Starlight anthology (NOV 2017). Visit Robert on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @DocHistory.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Boskone 2017 was my first Boskone. As an old(er) doc and a new author, I humbly offered to the Program Committee that I was willing to join a panel or two . . . and was assigned five! And I was selected to moderate a panel as well. This was my first experience — well, non-medical experience — to serve as moderator. I’ve served in the military, and I’ve lectured and debated concerning my field of radiology before groups of three to three thousand, but to present and interact with science fiction and fantasy fans, and to sit among authors and editors so much more accomplished than me . . . THIS gave me pause.

“Shpilkes,” actually. That’s a Yiddish word. You have a phone or computer. Look it up. 🙂

But the Boskone organizers and my fellow panelists (and fellow fans-attendees in the audience all made me feel welcome. More than welcome. I felt like family. The shared enthusiasm and joy of being among fellow SF&F lovers who “get it” was infectious – but a good kind. There were no strangers. An eighty-year-old would stop and talk with me about Golden Age authors like Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, Bester, and Bradbury. A 22-year old college student would stop me and say that she wished to both be a physician and a writer, and “How did you do it?” [Note: I didn’t, for the most part; only returning to my love of writing when tapering my career as a doc]. One attendee actually had a copy of Galaxy’s Edge #19 with a story of mine for me to autograph. All had these amazing joyous smiles in just being at Boskone. A shtik naches! Okay. Yiddish, again; but this time I’ll help: A great joy!

I came knowing no one. I left with many new friends. Nu? This is why I want to return – even if, unfortunately, this year, I can only do so for Friday and Saturday morning.”

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I loved talking and listening to my fellow fans. I nearly plotzed when I got to sit beside editor Neil Clarke of Clarkesword on a panel and later kibbitz with him (and now FINALLY sell him a story for his More Human Than Human SF anthology, which was just released by Night Shade books. Oy! What a TOC! Elizabeth Bear, Ian McDonald, Rachel Swirsky, Alastair Reynolds, Catherynne M. Valente … I cannot but kvell. But I digress. My apologies.

I’d say my favorite moment was during the Q&A at the end of my final panel of Boskone 2017, “Cutting-Edge Medical Advances.” This was my last few minutes of the convention and, I admit, I was feeling relaxed, even a bit giddy and plucky with how much fun I was having. Our gifted moderator asked for one last question. From the back of the room came, “What do you know about dental stem cell regeneration?” With my forearms resting on the table, I glanced at my two fine fellow panelists and saw them paused for thought. In the anticipatory silence, I turned back to our audience, leaned forward and said into the mic, “Damn it, Jim. I’m a doctor not a dentist!”
The shared amusement was gratifying. I’d NEVER make a Star Trek quip at a medical convention. 🙂

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

I doubt I am original here. As for books, It was my first complete reading of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

As a foolish pre-teen, I’d initially scoffed at the lauding of The Hobbit as a “modern fairy tale” when only hard science fiction was worthy of my time; and when I picked up my cousin’s copy of The Return of the King and flipped to the last words of the book: “Well, I’m back,” I tossed it back on the coffee table and thought, “Well, I’m back?’ How stupid.”

But then, unable to ignore all the acclaim the books were receiving, I read them. And I read them yearly for a decade. The sheer imaginative scope and depth of invented history and language, of struggle and loss and of gains at great cost and personal sacrifice, swept me up and awoke a love of fantasy – and what fantasy is capable of evoking in the hearts and minds (and souls) of the reader.

As for television and film, I’d say Joss Whedon’s Firefly (and later Serenity) have been the only other creative works to evoke similar passion – to thrill me and make me care about the characters, their struggles, and their ‘Verse.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

“That’s tough. Most of my characters are tortured by something, often the loss of a loved one (Astolpho the Master Artificer of Lirazel’s Heart; the augmented implant industrialist Nick Montgomery of Of Thine Impenetrable Spirit), loss of loved ones with guilt (the avatar of Gevurah in Shattered Vessels), such loss and guilt mixed with doubt in G-d (Rabbi Makal of And The Ends of the Earth For Thy Possession) — and all of them racked by their recognition of their sins of pride and arrogance.

Therefore, I’d say my favorite character is the near-blind crippled tailor of Laila Tov (Good Night) [free-to-read at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores] who is kind, blind to hatred and bigotry, and never says an unkind word about anyone. His only desire is to love and be loved – and when he wins love, he cherishes his beloved every day, every moment. The belief that, above all our faults, we are capable of such goodness and love and that such love is lasting is a belief I must hold … somewhere … in some deep cobwebbed recess of my being. I like knowing I can take this little pearl of faith out and confirm it every once in a while between my tales of tortured souls. 🙂


Register for Boskone 55 today!

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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