B55 Mini Interviews with Christian Baines, Joshua Bilmes, Fran Wilde, & Laurence Raphael Brothers

At Boskone, science fiction and fantasy writers, aspiring writers and fans come together. Today’s mini interview participants write about gay paranormal, flight fantasy and near-future AI romance or represent some of today’s best writers. They also share fond memories of Boskone Kaffeeklatsches (small group / informal round-table discussions).  If you’re new to Boskone or haven’t yet tried a Kaffeeklatsch, be sure to sign up at the convention!

Christian Baines

CbainesChristian Baines is an awkward Australian nerd turned slightly less awkward author of dark fantasy, horror, and weird fiction. His novels include gay paranormal series The Arcadia Trust, and Puppet Boy, a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. His first novella, “Skin”, was released as an e-book in 2017. He now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on those odd occasions he can’t find his passport. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @XtianBaines.

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

I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, and growing up in a religious household, horror was always forbidden fruit, so of course, I stuffed myself with as much of it as I could as soon as I could. More than that though, I love taking these elements and using them in stories to explore a diverse range of characters and ideas and needs that are very human, but often not given a voice. I’m looking forward to Boskone because it explores and welcomes such a wide range of ideas and topics and arts on that imaginative canvas.

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?”

This is a weird question for me because I often have to watch my favorite movies more than once to understand them, or at least form my own theories about them. There are two TV shows I’d love to ‘discover’ for the first time again. Carnivale because that was the first time I felt totally immersed in a long-form, TV story that didn’t care if I understood everything, and wasn’t trying to explain its mythology. You had to pay attention, extrapolate, and fill in the gaps for yourself (I didn’t discover Twin Peaks until a few years later). The other was Penny Dreadful which was the first time I’d seen the classic Victorian horror stories brought together as an effective whole, played completely straight, in a context where I could take them seriously. It’s achingly beautiful, sincere, and even scary, and I felt utterly transported.

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?

My favorite character of my own is probably Eric in Puppet Boy, which is more of a psych thriller. He’s probably the most personal character I’ve written. He’s born to a lot of privilege and yet he rejects it in so many ways, or at least he thinks he does. All he really wants to do is tell stories, but he’s so independent and self-reliant, he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to reach that goal, including keeping a burglar captive and tied up in his basement. I don’t think of him as moral or amoral, just determined. Yet he’s also conflicted because of course he is, he’s 17. I’d worry about him, but I also understand him and, maybe envy, his determination a bit. I wish I’d had that at 17. I just hope I’d manifest it in healthier ways.

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

I’m currently working on the third book in The Arcadia Trust series, which is called Sins of the Son. It’s a challenge keeping the various subplots straight, and also not overloading the reader with them, because whenever you’re writing a new book in a continuing series, you can’t assume everyone’s read, or remembers everything from the previous books. So it’s a balance of building a self-contained story that’s exciting and satisfying and continuing the broader story to satisfy returning readers. I’m really excited that this one lets me expand a lot on the mythology of the series. It’s been kept very much in the dark up until now. It also brings in a character I’ve been wanting to include for years. Now’s finally the time.

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 Jean-Luc Picard to take care of the Emperor because that should settle that debate once and for all. Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat universe to deal with The Night King, since he has experience with that sort of thing. As for Missy… Wait, why wouldn’t you let Missy take over everything?

Joshua Bilmes

JoshuaBilmes_6Joshua Bilmes is President of JABberwocky Literary Agency, which he founded in 1994, and has been a leading literary agent for science fiction and fantasy for over 35 years. The agency’s clients include #1 The New York Times bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson and Charlaine Harris, and other notable best-selling and award-winning authors such as Peter V. Brett, Jack Campbell, Elizabeth Moon, Tanya Huff, Simon R. Green, Daniel José Older, Walter Jon Williams and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Dan Moren, Greg Katsoulis, and Auston Habershaw are among the agency clients in the Boston area. Bilmes is an avid moviegoer and tennis fan. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @jabbermaster.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for accidentally finding myself at the Boskone hotel in 1979. We were allowed into the Dealer’s Room without having a paid membership, which makes me very glad of Boskone’s current Friday Free Hours that can give people the same opportunity today that I had back then. There were free sample issues, of the then very new, OMNI magazine, which was what gave me an introduction to and very quickly got me hooked on science fiction and fantasy as something other than just having read Tolkien.

I’d also have sworn to you that there was a table promoting The Swarm. But, no. The Swarm came out in 1978, so it couldn’t have been. Further research suggests the table was for Meteor, a movie from the director of The Poseidon Adventure which sunk so completely that I swapped in my mind for a movie of similar vintage and slightly more renown from the producer of The Poseidon Adventure.

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?”

Altered States. December 1980. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a movie in 70mm, not even the first time I’d seen a movie in 70mm on a really large screen. This would have been not too many months after I’d experienced Empire Strikes Back in 70mm. The use of sound in Altered States was a lot different than in the general special effects spectacular. The great sound was so integral to the jolts of Altered States. The totality of it blew me away like no other audio visual experience at a movie had done before.

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?

I’m not a writer myself, and I’ve been honored to represent as a literary agent many hundreds of really good books. But I’ll say that I’m proudest of The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. It’s probably the only book I’ve represented that pretty much everyone in my immediate family has read, including both my parents.

Fran Wilde

fwildeFran Wilde’s trilogy, The Bone Universe Series, comes to a close this fall with Horizon joining the award-winning debut novel, Updraft (Tor 2015) and Cloudbound (2016). Her novels and short stories have been nominated for two Nebula awards and a Hugo, and appear in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. She writes for publications including The Washington Post, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, iO9.com, and GeekMom.com. You can find her on Twitter @fran_wilde, Facebook, and at franwilde.net.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I think my favorite memory is the Kaffeeklatsch (I never know how to spell that) where a table-full of readers and Cooking the Books fans helped me test-play a new gameshow called “Your Character Ate WHAT?” We had bonus edible crickets!

Generally, though, my favorite experience at Boskone is sitting — in the bar, in the halls, in panels — and discussing great things to read.

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?

Updraft, and Kirit, because it was the first book of mine I held in my hands while I gave a reading, and Kirit’s words were the ones I read. That was a really great feeling.

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

A Halloween 5K years ago. I went as Chell.

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

I just finished a middle grade novel that means the world to me. I hope it will mean a lot to others as well.

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.

River Song. Because, given her own full-time TARDIS and sonic screwdriver, I think she’d save the world a lot, with or without help.

Laurence Raphael Brothers

lbrothersLaurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and technologist. He has worked in R&D at such firms as Bell Communications Research and Google, and he has five patents along with numerous industry publications. His areas of expertise include artificial intelligence and machine learning, Internet and cloud-based applications, telecom applications, and online games. Over the last three years he has published over a dozen short science fiction and fantasy stories in such markets as Nature Magazine, The Sockdolager, and PodCastle. He is seeking representation for two fantasy novels and has just completed a science fiction novel, Evolutionary Intelligence Enkidu, a near-future, alien-invasion, military aviation, AI romance. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @lbrothers.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I especially enjoy writer and editor Kaffeeklatsches and have attended quite a number of memorable ones at Boskone. At the snowed-in con a couple of years ago I went to Michael Swanwick’s and, at first, I was the only attendee, so we just chatted for a while until someone else showed up. A delightfully pleasant, easy way to be introduced to a writer I respect and admire.

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?”

Probably Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, but possibly the first book in his Amber series. I picked these books up as a young teenager at the ideal impressionable age, and both clicked perfectly. His style resonates so strongly with me I barely have any critical discernment when I read Zelazny’s stuff. The lush and poetic rhythms of Lord of Light‘s prose combined with its paean to the spirit of rebellion naturally inspired young me. While in Nine Princes in Amber, the dawning realization of who and what Corwin really was over the first part of the book was executed so skillfully, transitioning from a noir opening to a psychedelic portal fantasy, that it could hardly fail to move me. In both books it’s the combination of masterful technical execution with an awesome, almost explosive sense of wonder experienced for the first time.

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

I’m completing revision on a novel called Evolutionary Intelligence Enkidu. This is a near-future military-aviation alien-invasion AI romance. I like the idea of a meeting of hearts and minds and even bodies (via neural link rapport in the novel) that doesn’t necessarily include a conventional sexual relationship. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of artificial general intelligence, and so in this novel I’ve combined both these subjects. I want to give impressions of the first, early days of a line of evolutionary development that could eventually result in something like the great AI Minds described by Iain Banks. The challenges and difficulties experienced by a “first of his kind” AI personality (meant to pilot a plane in alien skies) and his somewhat fraught but profoundly affectionate relationship with his human copilot are at the center of the story. There’s some obvious inspiration here from Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, but also some influence from Chōhei Kambayashi’s novel, Battle Fairy Yukikaze, which was developed into a fun anime series.

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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