B55 Mini Interviews with Jon Hunt, Juliana Spink Mills, Christopher Irvin &Kenneth Schneyer

Jon Hunt

JhuntI illustrate all kinds of games, role playing manuals, book covers, magazines, album covers, and t-shirts. I also do storyboards, concept art and visual development. I have illustrated eleven picturebooks for children and have written four of them. I am a founding contributor for Art Hive Magazine where I write and illustrate the monthly column “Art Drone”.  I worked as the art director and in-house illustrator for Frombie where I helped to design collectible toys, graphic novels, pins, posters and stickers. I also sell collectible pins and comics through my own company called EEPz. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram.

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 raised in the North East and Boskone was the first convention I ever attended. I really enjoy the chill atmosphere of Boskone. Since I am an illustrator, the Art Show is definitely a focal point for me. It is one of the best-run shows I have ever entered work in. I can always count on being humbled by a diverse and inspiring selection of paintings and prints by some of the most talented and influential artists working in the genre. Boskone is also one of the most laid back and conversation-friendly conventions I have ever attended. I look forward to catching up with friends as well as networking with artists, art directors, editors and fans.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Even though I was asked to answer only one question I couldn’t resist bringing up one of my favorite Boskone memories. This was during Boskone 52 (2015)– There was a snow storm that year, (which unfortunately lowered the attendance at the convention and shut down the entire city of Boston, including the airport) but as luck would have it, I was traveling with a group of my students and we made the best of it by playing games, swimming in the hotel pool, sketching while eating the leftover con suite food and all 5 of us camping out in my hotel room. Best flight delay I ever had!

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?

The piece that stands out for me is something that hardly anyone has seen. It is an illustrated treatment/screenplay called Jaz:Rifts. I had hopes of getting it optioned or at least using it as leverage to get work in the entertainment industry, but that will probably never happen. The reason it is important to me is because this was the first time I wrote and visualized a project like this from beginning to end. I wanted to create a story that was action-packed and entertaining while not pandering to the typical “Hollywood” expectations of how male and female characters should behave. It taught me to get into the heads of two very different characters and discover the joy of writing their dialog and exploring how their relationship developed through the course of the plot. It was also a lot of fun to draw Lovecraftian creatures, big guns, a guy in a cape and a bad-ass female African american monster fighter in black leather.

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?

The extreme mediocrity of my life is inconceivable to most people.

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

I am currently working on multiple freelance projects. Each of them offers unique challenges and opportunities. I am currently illustrating a wraparound cover for Book 4 of the Krög The Battle Prince fantasy series. For the past year and a half, I have been involved with the O’Keefe Music Foundation (OMF). My job is to design and illustrate 12″” vinyl album covers. The first project was for a collection of Tool cover songs and the second is a collection of Danzig songs re-imagined by the OMF kids. The Danzig project has been quite a challenge since I not only painted the cover of the album but also the 12″”x 24″” gatefold– which is a group portrait of 17 young musicians! For another exciting ongoing project I am responsible for designing characters who appear in the game Susurrus: Season of Tides. This project is especially challenging and fulfilling since the characters represent a broad range of ethnicities, body types and genders. Side Note: I met my art director, Duncan Eagleson at Boskone!

Juliana Spink Mills

JMillsJuliana Spink Mills was born in England, but grew up in Brazil. Now she lives in Connecticut, and writes science fiction and fantasy. She is the author of Heart Blade and Night Blade, the first two books in the young adult Blade Hunt Chronicles urban fantasy series. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online publications. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator, and as a teen library assistant. She watches way too many TV shows, and loves to get lost in a good book. Her dream is to move to Narnia when she grows up. Or possibly Middle Earth, if she’s allowed a very small dragon of her own. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @JSpinkMills.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

One of my favorite things to do at Boskone is spend my free moments by the hotel lobby bar, catching up with old friends and making new ones. It’s at moments like this that I truly feel like a part of the science fiction and fantasy community.

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 read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was eleven, on a family vacation in Brazil. That book followed me to the beach, to the rocks while my family fished, and even into the ocean on a motor-powered canoe. It was the first big fantasy epic I ever read, and I can still remember that feeling of absolute immersion, where the story seemed more real than the gorgeous scenery around me. I have incredibly special memories of this experience, although I think it would be impossible to replicate that level of enthrallment today.

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

At the moment I’m waiting for edit notes for a short story I wrote; it’s part of an upcoming science fiction anthology called The Last City, which has a shared world premise. This was my first time writing for a shared world, and it was a fun challenge. Trying to stay within the world building guidelines while doing something different from everyone else’s stories took some thought. In the end, though, I was very pleased with my murder-by-flesh-eating-fungus crime 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.

To start with, I’ll take Kaladin from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, a great warrior and an honorable man who cares deeply about his friends and teammates. For magical back-up, as well as that rogue’s touch that can come in handy when other paths fail, I choose Delilah ‘Lila’ Bard, from V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy. Finally, every team of heroes needs a tech genius to guide them: my pick is Pidge (aka Katie Holt) from Voltron Legendary Defender, who not only is a genius supreme, but a great fighter and pilot.

Christopher Irvin

cirvinChristopher Irvin is the author of Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All. His debut collection, Safe Inside the Violence, was a finalist for the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Anthology or Collection. He lives in Boston, MA with his wife and two sons. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @chrislirvin.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I attended Boskone for the first time two years ago and had a blast running Noir at the Bar with Errick Nunnally. I was a little anxious as the convention is huge and crammed with excellent programming, but everyone was so welcoming and a ton of people came out for our late night event (didn’t hurt to have a bar and dessert table close by as well!) It was great to meet John Langan and Sarah Langan (no relation) for the first time in person, and overall it was just a wonderful weekend. Looking forward to doing it again this year!

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?

My grandparents own a summer house in Michigan that’s around 125 years old and sits on the edge of a bluff looking out onto the lake. It was added onto several times over the course of history, turning it into lovely (but also kind of creepy) hodge-podge of a cottage. My grandparents bought the house in the early 1980’s after the previous owner, a woman, died in the house of old age. Several people in my family say they have seen her ghost in the house…but the story that really gets me – about fifteen years ago or so a crew of painters were working on the exterior of the house. My grandparents drove up from Chicago to see family in Grand Rapids before heading over to the summer house. When they arrived the men were taking a lunch break on the deck. The foreman greeted my grandparents and told them that my grandfather’s mother will be excited to see them. When my grandparents acted confused, the men said they’d seen an older woman walking around the inside of the house. My great grandmother (grand father’s mother) was in a retirement home outside of Chicago at the time. No one was in the summer house…

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

I’m working on two projects to follow my novel, Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All. I had so much fun writing anthropomorphic characters that I’m going to keep at it. Figg is a novella that takes place in the spring following the events of Ragged, centering on Figg, a mustachioed, former bare-knuckled boxing, toad and his cranberry bog/distillery. The second is an untitled novel that takes a character from Ragged into a Regency era-esque London. The book requires a lot of research, but I’m thrilled to be working on it.

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.

Oh, man! The choices! I’ll go with Saitama (One-Punch Man) because he can stop anything. Hulk – who doesn’t like a good HULK SMASH!? And…Hellboy, as he’s one of my all-time favorites. Between the three, we’ll get a lot of angry fists flying, and a serious dose of dry, disgruntled comedy that we all need.

Kenneth Schneyer

KenSchneyerKenneth Schneyer’s most recent story, “Keepsakes”, appeared in the November/December issue of Analog. A finalist for both the Nebula and Sturgeon Awards, he has published over 30 stories in such venues as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clockwork Phoenix 3 & 4, the Escape Artists podcasts, and elsewhere. His first collection, The Law & the Heart came out in 2014. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ken_schneyer.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I’m sentimentally attached to the Boskone 53 panel “What Are Kids Really Reading,” which featured my son, along with the daughters of Kate Baker, Dora Goss, and Fran Wilde, in a discussion moderated by Emma Caywood. I was the beaming, proud parent during the whole thing.

I loved my first Boskone (2010), in which I got to meet some of my science fiction heroes, such as Alex Jablokov, Jim Kelly, Alastair Reyholds, and Michael Swanwick.

I shall always be devoted to the desserts on gallery night. 🙂

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 think I want to re-live individual moments in books or films, moments where either I’m hit in the head with a shattering reveal or where something deep in my own history is twanged.

I’ve never had a more intense “Holy sh*t!” moment than the reveal near the ending of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours; the film didn’t hit me nearly so hard, because I’d already read the novel. (I suppose I would have had a similar moment with the reveal in The Sixth Sense except that a buddy had already (with my permission) given me a spoiler for it.)

As for the “twang” moments, I remember sitting in the movie theater in 1978/79 when the first Superman movie came out, and the first fanfare in the overture was timed with the appearance of the “S” emblem on the screen. Every hair on my body stood on end.

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 that “Hear the Enemy, My Daughter” (Strange Horizons May, 2013) comes closest to saying something important, on two different levels — first the dilemma of child soldiers, and second the fundamental alienness of children; it also says something about grief and what it means to be a parent.

I’m also proud of my most recent novelette “Keepsakes” (Analog Nov/Dec 2017), because I think it begins to say something important about memory and age.

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

I’m working on a second draft of a story about the nature of texts; it’s fun and brand new.

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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