B56 Mini Interviews with Joshua Bilmes, Nicholas Kaufmann & Christine Taylor-Butler

Happy Monday! Welcome back to the Boskone 56 Mini Interview series! What better to start off the week than to hear some great reasons, from some great people, about why they love Boskone! Sit down. Grab that cup of coffee. And enjoy our chat with Joshua Bilmes, Nicholas Kaufmann, and Christine Taylor-Butler!

Joshua Bilmes

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Joshua Bilmes founded JABberwocky Literary Agency in 1994, and the first stepping stone on that path was the 1979 Boskone, making this 40th anniversary year a very special one. His clients include top bestselling authors like Brandon Sanderson, Charlaine Harris, Jack Campbell and Peter V. Brett, and many other award-winning and long-running authors including Elizabeth Moon, Simon R. Green, Tanya Huff and Myke Cole. We’re just weeks away from the publication of FINDER, the debut novel from Hugo Award winning author and Massachusets’ own Suzanne Palmer, and Dan Moren, Greg Katsoulis and Auston Habershaw are other Boston area authors. Joshua first met Nick Martell at Boskone 56, and less than a year later had a personal best debut author sale for Nick’s first novel. Comics, movies and tennis are the things Joshua does when he isn’t doing the work thing.

Visit Joshua on his Twitter(1), Twitter(2), and Website!

With many conventions to choose from and limited time in your schedule, what attracts you to Boskone?

Tier #1: I’ve dreamt of going to WorldCon from my earliest days as a fan, so that’s one I go to pretty much every year, and then there’s London Book Fair which is an important business conference for selling foreign rights, and — London!

Tier #2: Boskone and Balticon. I’m a fan at heart; still the teenage boy who fell in love with sf and fantasy almost forty years ago. Both of these conventions are fan-based and within the Northeast Corridor for easy train travel to and from, and at venues that are easily reachable by mass transit within their host towns. For Boskone, a special attraction is that my road to where I am now starts from staying at the same hotel as Boskone in 1979! And while it’s smaller than Balticon, it’s very business-y for its size with a lot of authors and NY publishing people that come regularly. And partly as a result of going to Boskone consistently I have lots of clients in the area that I get to catch up with.

Tier #3: World Fantasy, Bouchercon, Nebulas, Malice Domestic. Two mystery conventions and two sf conventions that I often but not always go to. I pay more attention to where they’re being held, which and how many agency clients might be attending, and whether we have authors up for awards. This year I chose Bouchercon over World Fantasy because a client of ours is a Special Guest at Bouchercon, and since they’re the same weekend I had to choose. Nebulas doubles as an excuse to go out to LA and catch up with film people in the days before or after.

I can only travel so many weekends, so even though I often think about and going to other conventions and gaze longingly at their flyers, I don’t often add in more, but there are some like PhilCon, Capclave, some in the Pacific NW, that I’m always thinking hard on.

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 still associate an entire season of my life with my first reading of Elizabeth Moon’s Deed of Paksenarrion. It was something I was reading in my earliest months as agent, within eight months of having started out. It wasn’t what I was expecting; I’d reached out to Elizabeth because of her short fiction in Analog magazine, and instead of getting a science fiction novel I got an epic fantasy trilogy. It was during my earliest months living in New York City. So when I walk past the Burger King on Queens Blvd. it isn’t just the Burger King on Queens Blvd. but the one where I’d go and read a bit of the manuscript while eating the Buy 1 – Get 1 with the coupon sandwiches. That one place in the park isn’t just a nice place, but it’s the place where I’d sit down on a crisp fall afternoon and read about Paksenarrion while people were walking by with this NY Mets novelty song playing on their boom boxes. So it’s not just a great novel that’s endured for three decades and never gone out of print and always sold in the thousands of copies every year, but it’s kind of like a soundtrack for a special place and time in my life.

What is your favorite memory of a fan interaction at a convention? It could be you as a pro interacting with one of your fans or you as a fan meeting someone you admire.

This is an easy one! In 2017, I met up with a fan/aspiring author Nick Martell at Boskone. We got to talking, and after the convention he sent me a portion and outline. A few months later Nick and I were both doing Balticon. I was feeling guilty I hadn’t yet looked at the material he sent in February, so while we were sitting down together by the elevators on the conference level, I dug into my iPad, found his submission, and decided to take a quick look. It took me around two sentences to know that I wanted to represent his book! Now, my meetings with Nick no longer count as fan interaction. Around eight months and a few more drafts of the manuscript after the second of those meetings, I’d sold his novel to Saga Press, Gollancz, and in audio, Poland and Germany. Publishing timetables what they are, you’ll get to discover the book for yourselves in early 2020.

Who is your favorite literary character of all time? What is it about this character that you admire?

 

I have a really hard time choosing between Frank Hardy and Joe Hardy. A really, really, really, really hard time. And when when I try and punt the ball and say “well, I can’t choose between Frank and Joe, so maybe it should be a supporting character,” how do you choose between Biff and Chet?

Nicholas Kaufmann

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Nicholas Kaufmann is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated, Thriller Award-nominated, and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of two collections and six novels, the most recent of which is the horror novel 100 Fathoms Below (2018, Blackstone Publishing). His short fiction has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Black Static, Nightmare Magazine, Dark Discoveries, and others. In addition to his own original work, he has written for such properties as Zombies vs. Robots and The Rocketeer. He and his wife live in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit Nicholas on his Facebook, Twitter, and Website!

With many conventions to choose from and limited time in your schedule, what attracts you to Boskone?

There are several factors that came into play when I decided to attend Boskone this year. First, many of my New England-based friends have been attending Boskone for years and have told me over and over again how great it is. I did attend the convention once before on their recommendation, many years ago, but that was only for a day and not as part of the programming, so I can’t call myself a total newbie. However, I look forward to experiencing Boskone from a more in-depth perspective this time around. Which brings me to the second factor, which is that the program committee very kindly invited me to take part this year, so don’t let anyone tell you flattery doesn’t work! And lastly, Boston holds a special place in my and my wife’s hearts because it used to be a frequent vacation destination for us, but we haven’t had the chance to come back for any extended amount of time in quite a while. Boskone is a great reason to return to one of our favorite cities!

What is your favorite memory of a fan interaction at a convention? It could be you as a pro interacting with one of your fans or you as a fan meeting someone you admire.

My favorite fan interaction at a convention actually puts me in the role of the fan. For years, I had been too starstruck to speak to the author Peter Straub. With both of us being from New York City and attending many of the same conventions, from the Bram Stoker Award Weekend to World Horror, World Fantasy, and Necon, our paths crossed often, but I was always too shy and overwhelmed to approach him. Back when we were both smokers, I remember standing outside some convention hotel having a smoke when he walked up and lit a cigarette as well. You’d think it would have been the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation, but I absolutely clammed up! Anyway, it wasn’t until the Bram Stoker Award weekend in 2006, I think, that I finally managed to find my voice around him. I’m happy to say we’ve been friendly ever since!

Do you have a favorite photo from a book event or literary convention? If so, when and where was it taken? What do you enjoy most about this photo?

My favorite photo from a convention is this photo taken at the World Horror Convention in 2008, right before the Bram Stoker Awards. The four of us pictured here — Gary Braunbeck, Lee Thomas, me, and Scott Edelman — were all nominees in the Long Fiction category that year, and we decided the trophy should go to to whoever won a four-way brawl. It was all in good fun, of course, and the brawl was merely posed for the camera, but the ironic thing is that Gary Braunbeck is the only one in the photograph not throwing a punch and he ended up winning the award!

Christine Taylor-Butler

Christine is the author of more than 80 books for children and young adults. A graduate of MIT, she chucked a career in engineering to become a full-time author. She lives in Kansas City with fellow nerd/author Ken, a tank of fish, and cats who consider her both head of their pride and occasional servant. In her free time she ballroom dances, badly, and works on the sequels for her middle-grade/YA series “The Lost Tribes.”

Visit Christine on her Facebook, Twitter, and Website!

With many conventions to choose from and limited time in your schedule, what attracts you to Boskone?

What I love about Boskone is the intimacy even among crowds of people, and the camaraderie. My first time at Boskone I felt instantly swept up into a family – from the people who invited me to sit at a table and play games in the consuite, to the loving way I was “schooled” that I was playing the “Guess the magical creature” game incorrectly as a panelist (I kept guessing space creatures, not earthbound magical ones). I learn a lot from the panels and enjoy the variety of topics. But most of all, I have really enjoyed the respectful way debate happens on panels when guests disagree. There is active listening, acknowledgement, and civility. This is one of my favorite conventions each year. It gives me a chance to connect with old friends and meet new ones.

In 10 words or less, how would you recommend Boskone to a friend or fan?

The best time you can have in a freezing city.

They say you can find hints of creators in their work. Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. most closely resembles you? Why?

This is such a terrible question to ask because you’ll want an honest answer (cough, cough). In my series, The Lost Tribes, I imagine myself as Aurelia, the elite leader of the military team. She’s smart, hard to rattle, virtually unstoppable in battle, but kind beneath it all. Plus, as the tribe’s Shaman, her team has a zero percent casualty rate. She is who I aspire to be. But I must confess I’m either more like Ben, the main character, who is a bit clueless, a dreamer, and impulsive in ways that are both good and not so good. He is definitely the “ring leader” in a lot of the character’s misadventures. Or maybe his uncle, Henry, who has “issues” beneath the surface. Comes off as tough, but lord that man is carrying a lot of baggage. I’d like to believe there is no “Henry” in me. But…well… (Experts say write what you know, don’t they?)

Do you have a favorite photo from a book event or literary convention? If so, when and where was it taken? What do you enjoy most about this photo?

One of my favorite photos – one that keeps coming to mind every time I think of this question, took place in Los Angeles at a literary festival in the Baldwin HIlls/Crenshaw area. A young lady came by to chat and ask about the series. Turns out her own brilliant poetry was published in an anthology of young authors. She bought a copy of my series. I bought two copies of her anthology and asked for her autograph. She asked if she could take a selfie and the exuberance in her smile said everything. Authors often wonder if their work has reached their intended audience. She was as excited about my book as I was about hers, but more excited to have the selfie to put on social media. That made my day. 

Who is your favorite literary character of all time? What is it about this character that you admire?

 

Citra.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Simon and Shuster).

Citra is a classic reluctant hero thrust in a mentorship she doesn’t want. She emerges as one of the strongest voices on morality in the story. At the end of the book there is a scene involving a choice she has to make and it’s harrowing. It was foreshadowed but i still didn’t see it coming. I don’t like perfect characters who make perfect decisions. I like strong characters who face difficult situations, make horrific calculations and come out the other side altered.


Register for Boskone 56 today!

About DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

DJ is a year 2 medical student, who in his spare time, loves to interview authors about all the books that he has no time to read :)
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