B55 Mini Interviews with Erin Roberts, Pete Hollmer, Sarah Jean Horwitz, & Kenneth Rogers Jr.

Happy Friday, Boskone friends! We’re only a month away from Boskone 55. The schedule is out for your planning enjoyment. Be sure to read up on today’s Mini Interview participants and catch them on their panels.

Erin Roberts

erobertsErin Roberts is a writer and communications consultant from Washington, DC. Her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Podcastle, Clarkesworld, and The Dark, and her non-fiction has appeared on Tor.com and in People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy, People of Color Take Over FSI, and Cascadia Subduction Zone. She is a Staff Writer for Zombies, Run!, an Associate Editor for Escape Pod, and a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and Stonecoast MFA program. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @nirele.

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

I was very lucky – Boskone was the first writing convention I ever attended, with the help of the amazing organization, Con or Bust, which helps send fans of color to conventions. It was the year that there was a crazy blizzard in Boston, but despite the weather everyone was so welcoming and so friendly, from the conrunners on down. I always say that Boskone helped to shape my writing life, because I got the opportunity to meet with Jeanne Cavelos of the Odyssey Writing Workshops, which led directly to my going there, and I met someone in the audience of a panel who told me about the Stonecoast MFA program, which led directly to me applying and attending. Those reasons are really specific to me, but I think they speak to someone I love about Boskone – people want to talk to you, to hear about you, to support the things you are doing and reading and loving. That’s why Boskone, for me, is a must-do.

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

Two years ago, I dressed up as Carmen Sandiego, my favorite hard-to-find kleptomaniac supervillain. I’d say that 80% of people had no idea who I was until I told them, but once I said Carmen Sandiego, they totally got it. The best part was getting to quote lines from the Carmen Sandiego show theme song and relive part of my childhood. “Well she sneaks around the world, from Kiev to Carolina…”

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

I am working on a couple of novella projects at the moment – as a short story writer, novellas seem impossibly long to me, but I’m enjoying having the chance to sit with my characters for a little longer (and, if I’m being honest, put them through a world of trouble). My favorite project of the bunch is the story of five women (an ex-con, an ex-cop, a reformed grifter, a somewhat-reformed thief, and a fading celebrity/addict) trying to get by in a world where memories can be bought, sold, and traded like any other commodity. I like thinking about the people who get left behind by the world they live in – the ones who fall through the cracks, or are left behind, or are knowingly exploited so that the system runs more smoothly for those in power. The world has failed each of these women in some way, and I am loving writing the story of how they come together to make a difference and create change in spite of that.

Pete Hollmer

PHollmerPete Hollmer is the author of the Togahan series, debuting with A Togahan’s Tale, continuing in A Togahan Returns, and A Togahan’s Chance. He grew up in central New York on a steady diet of fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure and has worked in the tech industry for over twenty years. Pete’s enjoyed designing tabletop and live action games, and spent six wonderfully funny and stressful years writing and producing the steampunk live action role play (LARP) The Calling. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ATogahansScribe.

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 intimate. The setting, format, and variety of forums make for in-depth discussion. The convention covers a slew of topics that interest me, and hosts a lot of familiar names in the field. And I live just outside metropolitan Boston, so it’s easy for me to get to. But most of all, everyone is just really friendly. It’s a very welcoming 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 would relive watching the cinematic release of Fellowship of the Ring. When I saw it in the theater in 2001, I hadn’t read the book in a while, so I had forgotten enough of the minutia where I could just enjoy the story as it unfolded. I noticed how they edited much for pacing (obviously they couldn’t keep everything), but they integrated so much of Tolkien’s rich description into the set and costume design that it was easy to immerse myself in the story. The fight scenes with the cave troll and the Balrog far exceeded my expectations, and they perfectly captured the drama of Galdalf’s fall. I remember turning to my buddy Ron as the credits rolled and saying, “That was…perfect.” It really set the bar for movie storytelling in the twenty-first century.

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 were tons of characters, and I’ve killed off a bunch. Right now, I’d have to say my anti-hero Fenris is one of my favorites to write, and I think it’s because he doesn’t care what others think, or even if they live, frankly. He’s in it for the twists and turns. “Life gets more fun when you stop caring,” he would probably say, and so his interactions with the other characters are fun, and sometimes funny when they’re not deadly serious. I surprise myself the most when I’m writing him. The odd thing is, he wasn’t intended to last beyond the first book, but folks liked him, so I found new ways to weave him into Dante’s (my main character’s) story. And the two have continued to define each other. Fenris was the best accidental hero I could have created.

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

I’m currently writing the fourth novel in the Togahan series (title TBD). The first three books concluded a major plot arc, and this next one launches a whole new scenario with a nice blend of familiar characters and new ones, too. The main characters are fairly well defined, so challenging them in new ways where they grow and change, yet remain true to themselves is what makes it fun. I’m learning about the new characters as I go, and grow to appreciate them more as they reveal themselves. The challenging part now is that with a lot of world building already defined, the risk of contradicting myself increases with every new bit. I try to keep track of it all with spreadsheets and maps, but even then, there’s a fine balance between explaining everything and keeping the action moving. But it’s fun. I love it. It’s the project that I think about, even dream about. It’s the story that I am compelled to tell.

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.

Yikes. Talk about a genre mashup. Shooting from the hip, I’d pick Gandalf, Spock, and Agatha Heterodyne. Do I have to explain why? Yes? Uh, well, Gandalf’s a 3000 year old Maiar wizard, and came back from the dead more powerful. Spock can fly a federation starship, knows time travel, and is a superb logician—and also came back from the dead. Agatha is brilliant, lucky, and inspires loyalty like no other character I’ve ever seen. And I’d have to reread 10 years of comics, but I’m pretty sure she came back from the dead too. Apparently I’ve assembled the zombie team.

Sarah Jean Horwitz

shorwitzSarah Jean Horwitz was raised in suburban New Jersey, where her love of storytelling grew from listening to her mother’s original “fractured fairy tales,” a childhood spent in community theater, and heaping dose of Harry Potter fan fiction. Sarah was a film production student at Emerson College when she took her first screenwriting class and realized that making up a movie’s story was a lot more fun than actually making it happen. She graduated with a concentration in writing for film and TV in 2012. Naturally, the first project she decided to write after graduating film school was a book. A few years and many odd jobs later, that book became The Wingsnatchers, the first book in the Carmer and Grit series. The Wingsnatchers was a Spring 2017 Kids’ Indie Next Pick and Junior Library Guild Selection. The second Carmer and Grit book, The Crooked Castle, hits stores in April 2018. Sarah’s other passions include feminism, circus arts, extensive thematic playlists, and making people eat their vegetables. She lives with her partner near Cambridge, MA. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter  @sunshineJHwitz.

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

This is the first convention I’ve ever been invited to as a published author. So that’s exciting! Thanks, Boskone.

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?

I once went into anaphylactic shock after a dinner date with my (then relatively new) partner. (Talk about a romance killer! Surprisingly, he stuck around.) I later discovered it was an unusually severe reaction to a condition called “oral allergy syndrome.” Basically, your body sometimes has a wacko reaction to certain proteins and leftover pollen in uncooked vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts, and goes, “Hey, I’m allergic to pollen! GTFO.” I was instructed to avoid most uncooked fruits and vegetables, to which I replied, “Um, I’m a vegetarian.” I am still a vegetarian. I carry an EpiPen, and I’ve never had a severe reaction since that day, but I fully admit to living life on the edge and indulging in all the raw fruits and veggies my heart desires. I was born a rebel, obviously.

v0MR__129497When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

In 2013, I dressed up like Daenerys Targaryen circa season one, complete with baby dragon. I was not as much of a hit in the Barnes & Noble College where I worked as you might have expected.

Kenneth Rogers Jr.

krogersjrKenneth has been living and teaching in Baltimore City since 2010 with his wife, Sarah, and two daughters, Mirus and Amare. In that time he has taught 6-10th grade English in Baltimore, Maryland. Kenneth has earned a masters degree in education from Johns Hopkins School of Education, the number one ranked school of education in the country. Since growing up and moving from Peoria, Illinois he graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio in 2008 with a dual degree in Political Science and English, he has written and published five novels. Those six novels are: Thoughts in Italics, a book of short stories that range from speculative to science fiction; Writing in the Margins, a novel that intertwines the characters of Jack Mueller and John Rubaker that makes the reader question what is reality and fiction; Sequence, a dystopian science fiction novel telling the story of Andrea Remus and Thomas Charon through each memory they are forced to relive as they are downloaded in a computer known as the Pandora Complex to save the human race; The Diary of Oliver Lee, the first in a young adult trilogy that tells the story of Oliver Lee, his ability to “stream” stories from the minds of those around him, and his search for the first couple he ever “streamed”; Love and Fear, book two in the Liturian trilogy which tells the story of Kevin and his continued search for Oliver Lee and answers to his possible future and fate; Raped Black Male: A Memoir which tells Kenneth’s story of what it means to be a male rape survivor, overcoming stereotypes of what it means to be black, and male, and that men can’t be raped; Heroes, Villains, and Healing: A Guide for Male Survivors Using DC Superheroes and Villains which uses comic books and back research to help male survivors of child sexual abuse understand and heal from their childhood sexual trauma. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @liturian.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

My favorite Boskone memory is being invited out to dinner with a group of other black science fiction authors and feeling welcome.

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 piece of work is my science fiction novel, Sequence. It stands out the most because it blends together the most from so many different worlds. While incorporating mythology, astronomy, and orbital equations I experimented with memories and being able to transition from one thought to the other in a way that may the reader question their reality. It also won two book awards, so I guess there’s that as well.

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

I am currently working on third book to my young adult trilogy The Chronicles of the Last Liturian. I am also doing a lot of research on trauma, the brain, and Marvel characters for my next self-help book that uses Marvel superheroes and villains to help heal male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Finally, I am outlining a science fiction novel that tells the story of character who can travel at different points throughout his life, but only when he drowns. All my projects excite me because they are issues I care about and believe the world should have more information on.

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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