B55 Mini Interviews with Allen M. Steele, J. Kathleen Cheney, Adam Stemple & Michael Swanwick

Allen M. Steele

Allen Mulherin Steele, Jr. became a full-time science fiction writer in 1988, following publication of his first short story, “Live From The Mars Hotel” (Asimov’s, mid-Dec. `88). Since then he has become a prolific author of novels, short stories, and essays, with his work translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Way back in 1987, more than a year before my first story was published in Asimov’s, I had my first novel, Orbital Decay, in submission to Ace. At Boskone that year, I happened to run into the editor who’d contacted me some time earlier, Ginjer Buchanan. We went off to have coffee together, and it was then that Ginjer told me that Ace wanted to buy my novel … my first fiction sale, after many years of rejection. I managed to take the news calmly, as a professional should; it wasn’t until I got back to my room that I began screaming and jumping up and down on the bed. Don’t tell me a science fiction convention can’t change your life.

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?”

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, opening weekend, Thanksgiving 1977, at the Zeigfield in Manhattan. One of the biggest and best movie theaters I’ve ever been to, with an enormous screen and an amazing sound system. I stood in a block-long line, in a cold downpour, for an hour or more to get in, and it was worth it. When the alien mothership descends on Devil’s Tower, the speakers were cranked up to full volume and the theater walls themselves seemed to shake. No movie has impressed me on such a visceral level, before or since.

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?

Being knocked down twice by Secret Service agents. Both incidents happened back when I was a reporter. The first time was by the agents escorting Chip Carter, President Carter’s son, during a campaign stop in New Hampshire, February 1980. I stepped in front of Chip to get his picture for the college paper for which I was covering the New Hampshire primary, and his security detail knocked me on my back and broke my camera. The second time happened five years later, while I was working in D.C. as a Capitol Hill correspondent. I was in a hallway on the House side of the Capitol, on my way to a hearing, when Casper Weinberger, President Reagan’s defense secretary, unexpectedly came around the corner with his security detail. I tried to step out of their way, but once again, I was knocked off my feet by Secret Service agents. Weinberger thought it was funny, the bastard. No one ever believes me when I tell them this — how could the same thing happened twice? — but it’s true.

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.

Doc Savage, The Shadow, and Captain Future. And if you have to ask who these people are … well, then ask me.

J. Kathleen Cheney

jcheneyJ. Kathleen Cheney taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, but gave it all up for a chance to write stories. Her novella Iron Shoes was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). Dreaming Death (Feb 2016) was the first in a new world, with the related books of The Horn coming out in 2017 and the first sequel to Dreaming Death, In Dreaming Bound, debuting in 2018.  Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @jkcheney.

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 invited to come in 2018 and I jumped at the chance to meet new writers and fans from outside my usual region. (Plus, I’ve never seen Boston before!)

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?”

Ah, Star Wars, my old friend. When this first came out in ’78, I fell in love with this movie with the passion of…well, a junior high student. I scrimped and saved my chore money and managed to see the movie 26 times in the theater that summer. No one in my family was a fan of speculative fiction, so I was wandering into a new world, unlike anything I’d ever seen. I loved the characters, the set, the music, the whole thing!

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 wrote a short story called “Whatever Else” that I have inordinate affection for. It was one that editors either held for a long time…or instantly rejected. Mostly because the main character isn’t perceived as doing ‘protagonist’ things. She’s a young woman in a very patriarchal world, though, and even considering some of the things she does is a huge step for her, so despite being told to change it (and her), I doggedly stuck with the story I had.

Adam Stemple

Photo credit Lisa Jaster

Adam Stemple grew up in western Massachusetts but emigrated to the frozen wastelands of Minnesota in the late 80’s. He writes mostly fantasy, but has had historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry published, as well. His most recent works are a novel, The Seelie King’s War, third in the Seelie Wars trilogy (Viking), a graphic novel, Stone Cold (Graphic Universe), and a collection of animal stories written with his entire family, Animal Stories (National Geographic). Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @hatfield13.

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

I grew up in western Massachusetts and Boskone was my very first convention. I moved to the midwest in 1987, but I love coming back for this 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?”

The end of Lloyd Alexander’s The First Two Lives of Lucas Kasha and the midpoint of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Alexander’s was just pure emotion, and Hitchhiker’s revelation about the Improbability Drive made me put down the book and say, “Wow.”

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 believe my song, “One Night in Boston” is the best song I’ve ever written. Deceptively simple, words that seem to resonate with people.

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

I just finished a new novel that is currently on submission. It’s a real departure for me, tech thriller/zombie novel rather than fantasy. It was very fun to write, with three viewpoint characters, and a hero who is a very bad person.

Michael Swanwick

mswanwickMichael Swanwick has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and has the pleasant distinction of having been nominated for and lost more of these same awards than any other writer. He has written ten novels, over a hundred and fifty short stories, and countless works of flash fiction. His latest novel The Iron Dragon’s Mother, the capstone of an accidental trillogy, is forthcoming from Tor Books. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Marianne Porter. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @MichaelSwanwick.

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

The strong possibility of getting snowed in. I grew up in Vermont but now live in Philadelphia and I miss blizzards terribly.

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?”

Reading The Fellowship of the Ring. I was sixteen and a junior in high school, when I picked it up out of a box of books my sister Patty had sent home from college. It was eleven o’clock at night and I’d just finished my homework, so I thought I’d read a chapter or two before bed. I stayed up all night, reading. I read through breakfast. I read all the mile-long walk to school, and I finished the book just as the home bell rang.

I’ve said this before, but it’s true. That book rang me like a bell. Overnight, it made me determined to become a writer. It’s the reason I’m taking part in this mini-interview right now.

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

A friend has a themed costume party, where everyone has to dress up as something beginning with that year’s letter. It was T this year, so I went as Tom Terrific. It’s an easy costume to put together once you locate an enormous white funnel for his Thinking Cap.
On reflection, I probably went as grown-up Tom Terrific. Young Tom didn’t have a beard.

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.
This entry was posted in Boskone 55, Mini Interviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s