B55 Mini Interviews with Elaine Cunningham, Kevin McLaughlin, Gillian Daniels & Tom Easton

Elaine Cunningham

ecunninghamElaine Cunningham is a New York Times best-selling fantasy author whose publications include 20 novels, four dozen short stories, and a graphic novel. She is best known for her work in licensed settings such as the Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, EverQuest, and Pathfinder Tales. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @e_cunningham.

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

I have lived in Rhode Island for nearly twenty years but have never attended Boskone. It’s long overdue! And speaking of overdue, I have been writing fantasy for over 25 years but have never explored the filk aspect of fandom. As a former music teacher–a mezzo-soprano who plays several instruments–I’ve often thought about getting involved with filk. So I’m looking forward to observing my first sessions with an eye toward participating next year. I’m not a dancer, but the Regency Dance on Friday evening sounds like great fun, if only to observe!

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?

Danilo Thann, a bard who appears in several of my Forgotten Realms books and short stories. He was inspired by two favorites from my adolescence: The Scarlet Pimpernel and everything written by Oscar Wilde. As you probably gathered from that description, he is much more than he appears to be. His foppish persona amuses me, as does his fondness for swords that belt out bawdy songs during combat.

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

I’m working on a novel set in a fantasy version of Elizabethan England. It spans about a year, from midsummer of 1566 until May 26, 1567. The end date was the revival of the Eisteddfod, an ancient Welsh bard competition. According to history, its purpose was to grant licenses to qualified bards, making traveling musicians dependant upon royal favor, and, theoretically, less likely to spread rumors. This theme–the political and social impact of disinformation–is one of the challenges of this story, as it hits a little too close to home. But the story has many of my favorite things: music, history, intrigue, betrayal, mythology, folklore, and properly malicious faeries.

Kevin McLaughlin

kmclaughlinKevin McLaughlin is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty science fiction and fantasy novels and more short fiction than he can easily count. He owns Role of the Hero Publishing, and produces the monthly science fiction and fantasy magazine by the same name. Kevin began writing at age seven on an old manual typewriter. That first short story was enough to give him the bug, and he’s been at it ever since in one form or another. A professional member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and the Romance Writers of America, Kevin likes to pass along the help he once received, so that newer writers can achieve their dreams, too. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @KOMcLaughlin.

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

With Boskone, it’s a home town advantage thing, since I live in downtown Boston! Plus, when I moved here back in 2012, the New England Science Fiction Association folks were some of the nicest, most welcoming people I met shortly after arrival. Glad to be a part of this convention. This will actually be my first Boskone, though! Until last May I was working as a nurse, and Boskone has always landed on a work weekend for me. Now that I write full time, I can finally take the weekend off and come to this event – at last!

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 an easy question. My mother took me to New York City to view a special premier opening for the first Star Trek film. I was six years old at the time. I’d never been in the middle of a group of people with such excited, positive energy before. There was a full-theater standing ovation when the credits opened, when the Enterprise first appeared on screen, and at the end. It was one of those experiences you NEVER forget!

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?

Interestingly for a novelist, it was an essay, not a story. When I was in college, I had an English teacher named Professor Kloeckner. We had to write an essay on Catch-22” I wrote mine quickly, spun it out with little care, and turned it in knowing it would get an A like every other paper I wrote. But it didn’t; I was given a D. I was furious, since I knew the paper was better than most of the class, and some people had As and Bs. I asked why. He told me I could write better than that, and he wasn’t putting up with me giving him half efforts. If I wanted a better grade, I was welcome to rewrite it and turn it in again.

No one had ever challenged me like that before. English had always been an easy A. So I rewrote the paper and got a C. Still frustrated, I did it again, revising my thesis, re-reading the book, looking deeper into other analysis which had been done of the work. In short, I worked my tail off through multiple deep revisions of that stupid little essay. I finally got an A-.

I still have a printout of that paper in a box of my old writing.

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

I’m writing the fourth book in a series about what it means to be alive in a blended science fiction and fantasy setting. If a human consciousness is uploaded to a game world as the body dies, and that person’s memories and thoughts are intact inside a game world but they can never again impact the outside world, are they still alive? Does life matter, if the only thing you can impact are the lives of the other people locked into the virtual afterlife with you? When does human consciousness and AI blur? That’s the underlying premise of the Valhalla Online series, the fourth book of which is my current project.

But that will be released long before Boskone. By then I expect I will be working in a shared world with other authors, contributing my books to expand that universe. Which will be *really* fascinating, since I’ve never done that before. The opportunity to work closely with other writers in such a universe will be interesting and fun.

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.

Galactus.

Just him.

Really don’t need anyone else. One burp, and the problems are largely solved. To borrow Ripley’s line from Aliens – “nuke the site from orbit; only way to be sure.” Or eat the planet. Either way works.

Gillian Daniels

jdanielsGillian Daniels writes, works, and haunts the streets in Boston, MA. Since attending the 2011 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Flash Fiction Online, among others. She currently reviews for The New England Theatre Geek. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @gilldaniels.

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

I live in Boston and enjoy connecting with local fans, authors, and readers. It makes me feel more a part of the community.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

During my first Boskone, bonding with Clarkesworld narrator Kate Baker over Doctor Who was enormously fun and a very sweet experience.

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 would want to read the The Princess Bride without seeing the film, first. They’re very similar, but I think my experience of the movie colored too much of my thoughts on the book. I would want to read it again without preconceptions.

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 short story “The Oracle Sings a Torch Song” in Not One of Us, April 2016. It was my favorite story I wrote at Clarion UCSD when I attended in 2011. It proved to me that I could ascend to new levels of fiction writing and didn’t have to stay confined to one writing style or set of themes. It was a story that genuinely surprised me while I wrote it. On some level, I feel the same way about my story, “His Wife and Serpent Mistress” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, October 2017. I don’t know where it came from; it just came out when I sat down to write.

oBVm__126945When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

2017, I was female Captain America. I want to dress up for as many years as I can.

 

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

I’m currently editing/revising my first official space opera short story/potential novella. It’s been something I’ve wanted to write for a very long time. I didn’t realize how much I loved the genre.

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.

Iron Man, because he’s a gifted engineer apart from the billions of dollars and selfishness; Miles Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold’s books, because he’s deeply clever, endlessly energetic, and has impressive knowledge of future technology; the elf warrior, Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, from Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands, a young female warrior from a matriarchal society who believes men are gentle souls who must be protected. They’re all fantastic characters at tactics in their own way, which would be needed to fight these antagonists. Also, I would love to see their banter together.

Tom Easton

teastonTom Easton is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a well-known science fiction critic (he wrote the science fiction magazine, Analog‘s,  book review column for 30 years), and a retired college professor. He holds a doctorate in theoretical biology from the University of Chicago. He writes textbooks for McGraw-Hill on Science, Technology, & Society and Environmental Science. Over the years he has published about fifty science fiction and fantasy short stories, ten science fiction novels, and several anthologies, of which the latest two, co-edited with Judith K. Dial, are Conspiracy! (NESFA Press, 2016) and Science Fiction for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads (Fantastic Books, 2017).

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Scaring a roomful of fans with a presentation on violet wands. (I love antique technology!)

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?

For over a decade, I was a “source” for the National Enquirer. They would call when they wanted thoughts on futuristic topics (they paid too). I’m not sure people would never believe it, though, since I have given talks on the experience–at Boskone, of course!

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

Jeff Hecht and I had lunch recently, and we realized that when security agencies start building databases of voice samples taken from cell phone conversations and home assistant intercepts, there will be serious privacy issues. When I got home, I found that China is already doing this. So we’re working on a story.

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.

Granny Weatherwax, Cohen the Barbarian, and Tiffany Aching. Because Terry Pratchett.

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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