B55 Mini Interviews with Christopher Paniccia, Heather Albano, Steven Popkes & Roberta Rogow

The Boskone Mini Interview series is going strong with four participants covering science fiction and fantasy through novels, games and even filk (fan folk songs). Read on to find out more!

Christopher Paniccia

cpanicciaChristopher Paniccia was born in Providence, RI. He grew up in East Providence, RI and Rehoboth, MA. For over twenty years he has been an educator at the elementary and college levels in the Boston area. As an author and illustrator his goal continues to be one of inspiring others to follow their dreams. His student’s remain a huge inspiration to him and directly inspired his first book, Gridiron Conspiracy. The Gridiron Conspiracy Trilogy continues to expand its reach to all types and ages of readers. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he was a Combat Medic. He lives with his family in the Boston area. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @CPaniccia15.

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

I spend a great deal of time at conventions selling both my novels and my illustrations. As an author and illustrator, it is extremely important for me to network with others in the business. Attending Boskone allows me the best of both worlds. The multiple-panel platform allows me to spend lots of time talking to fans of fantasy and science-fiction. I love to share what I do with others and hope to inspire others to do what I love to do.

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?

Chris Strong from my first novel, The Gridiron Conspiracy, is my pride and joy. Chris is modeled after my own life and being very autobiographical it is amazing for me to read about him and share with others his story. Although many of Chris’s experiences mirror my own, he continues to grow as his own character and build with each passing book. He really stands out as an unwilling hero who in the end stands up for his beliefs and others.

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

My current project is an epic saga about an ancient alien aivilization right under our noses here on earth. When the two civilizations meet the earth will never be the same. If you are a fan of the Ancient Alien Theory then you will love this terrific series, The Haven Series, Book One being Heavens Gate will have you begging for more. The exciting part of this project is the actual research needed to put the two civilizations together into one believable world. For me the challenges are to expand the original story out into a ten book series. Creating an epic saga that readers will follow for years to come is my focus on this project as I do not want the story to become stale and I want my readers to look forward to each installment.

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.

I would choose Wonder Woman as she always amazes me with her wit, power, and understanding. As a hero she uses all these skills to thwart her enemies. Next I would choose, The Wolverine as he is a no nonsense hero that fights for what is right no matter what without asking for permission. Lastly I would choose Captain America because as a veteran myself he stands for everything I stand for and he will never leave a fallen man behind.

Heather Albano

halbanoHeather Albano is a storyteller and game designer – the author of the steampunk time travel trilogy Keeping Time, the creator of the steampunk Sherlock-Holmes-themed interactive novel A Study In Steampunk, the co-creator of five Choice of Games titles, and a contributing writer to the Amazon Alexa game Codename Cygnus. She’s always looking for new ways to tell stories and is currently excited to bring her live action design experience to augmented reality games. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @heatheralbano.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

In 2013, David Olsen and I attended James Patrick Kelly’s and Steven Popkes’s  singularity panel. David and I walked out of the room arguing over a philosophical point raised by the panel, and continued to argue over lunch in M.J. O’Connor’s, and before the end of the meal, had mapped out a novella-length story contrasting our two viewpoints – and even figured out an ending that did not explicitly endorse either. You know. Like you do. Especially at Boskone. Fascinating scientific panels trigger interesting intellectual ideas that cascade into “I have to write that story.”

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?”

“What is the golden age of science fiction? Age twelve.” It applies to non-science fictiontoo.

When I was eleven, I discovered Sherlock Holmes. By the time I was twelve, I had gone through all of Conan Doyle, every episode of the Jeremy Brett series then available from PBS and A&E (in the days before boxed DVD sets were a thing and you had to wait for the networks to dish them out, then beg your parents to let you stay up late on a school night), and every pastiche available in a three-library radius (in the days before ordering stuff from the internet was a thing either). And then one day over eighth-grade winter vacation, I discovered The Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer – for 99 cents, in a used bookstore that has long since gone out of business.

I read it in a day, in two huge gulps broken only by my mother’s insistence that I come downstairs for dinner. I had never read a re-imagining of a cultural myth before. I had never read an adaptation of *anything* that took a story element latent in the original and teased it into a plot entirely of its own, and one that moreover turned on its head the universe’s original rules of engagement. I didn’t know you could *do* that.

Is that where I learned that stories change their shapes, depending on the perspective they are viewed from? Maybe. I certainly learned that lesson more thoroughly in classrooms, later. Was the seed of A Study In Steampunk planted there? Almost certainly. In The Seven-Percent Solution, the villainous Professor Moriarty is in fact the mild-mannered elderly professor of mathematics he appears to be. In A Study In Steampunk, my heavily-Sherlock-Holmes influenced interactive steampunk novel, heroes and villains change places depending on the perspective of the player. The whole story is painted in shades of gray, appearing differently depending on the path you choose to walk through the world.

I have a degree in English literature; I create stories for a living; I know how stories are put together. And so I’m harder to surprise, these days. It’s been many years since I read something that *broke my brain* the way The Seven-Percent Solution did at age thirteen. I’d definitely relive that feeling if I could.

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

It wasn’t exactly for Halloween, but my favorite costume is the one I put together a few years ago to go to Dawn Metcalf’s steampunk-themed birthday party. Geek that I am, I decided to go as one of my own Keeping Time characters! Katarina Rasmirovna and I both had a wonderful time.

Steven Popkes

StevenPopkesSteve Popkes is best known for his short to medium fiction, much of which has been collected in various “Best ofs”. He has three novels: Caliban Landing, Slow Lightning and Welcome to Witchlandia. He is an embedded systems software engineer, a private pilot and studies judo. He lives in Massachusetts where he enjoys gardening, aquaculture and raising turtles. Visit his website at www.stevenpopkes.com.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

When I managed to convince Tom Easton to buy James Cambias’ story on the dealer floor.

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?”

Firefly. There was an excitement about it. I felt like this had never been done before and I was watching something new unfold.

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?

Bishop 24 from Future Boston “The Egg” and Slow Lightning. He came from an invertebrate evolutionary history and was completely different from human beings in root and branch. But managed to appreciate them over time because of his mistakes.

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

I’m working on House of Birds. It’s the answer to the question: “What does violent child abuse, moral decisions and the terraforming of Venus have in common?” The answer is this novel.

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.

Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller and Leslie Groves. With those three a hydrogen bomb is secure. Who needs super heroes?

Roberta Rogow

RobertaRogow_195Roberta Rogow, writes historical mysteries, although she often twists the history, Her most recent book, Malice in Manatas, continues the adventures of Halvar Danske, the Hireling of the Calif of Al-Andalus, as he chases murderers in an Alternate Colonial Manhattan (think The Last of the Mohicans meets Arabian Nights, with a Spanish accent). Roberta is also known as a filker and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2013.

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

It’s writer- and book-oriented, as opposed to visual media, such as film, anime, etc. And there is really great filking as well. (That’s science fiction folk songs, for those who don’t know.)

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 think my best song is “Fact/Fiction”, which I wrote many years ago, when the Voyager and other space probes were proving that everything we thought we knew about the solar system was wrong! But we loved the books written about swamps on Venus and canals on Mars anyway, because the characters were so compelling and writers like Robert Heinlein and C.L. Moore made the scenes so real. Science fiction was “why we went to space, after all.”

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

I’m writing the sixth book in my Saga of Halvar the Hireling, the mystery series set in an Alternate Colonial Manhattan. I love working out how Manahttan would be if it had been settled by Spanish Moors and how the Moorish influence could have been extended to the Age of Exploration (in actuality, 1492 marked the end of Moorish dominance in Spain, and the beginning of Spanish influence in the New World). It’s world-building, and mystery plotting combined, and I get to play with historical characters… but the Manhattan geography hasn’t changed, so I can still walk where my characters walk. And I get to work in two different genres as well.

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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