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.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Jane Yolen, Nik Korpon, Ginjer Buchanan & Bracken MacLeod

Jane Yolen

jyolenThis year (2018) Jane Yolen’s 365th and 366th book will be published so you can (literally) be able to read a Yolen book a day for a year–even if it’s a Leap Year. She has won by the numbers, 2 Nebulas, 3 Mythyopoeic Awards, 1 Caldecott, 2 Christopher Medals, 1 World Fantasy Award, 1 Jewish Book Award, 2 Massachusetts Book Awards (as well as being named a Massachusetts Unsung Heroine and New England Public Radio’s 1st ever writer to be given their Arts & Humanities Award), 2 Charlotte Award, 1 California Children’s Book Award, etc,, etc. and is a SFWA Grand Master, SFPA Grand Master, World Fantasy Grand Master, 6 colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. And Boskone’s Skylark Award set her good coat on fire. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @JaneYolen.

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

I can drive there. I have been going for years so I know a lot of people. (I am actually quite shy.)

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Various birthday events since my birthday is February 11 and is always close (if not right ON) the weekend of the con. Getting to see the latest pictures by artists I admire in the art show. Being on a panel (any pane) with Bruce Coville. Winning the Skylark award. And watching son Adam perform with the music guest of honor, Lojo Russo last 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?

First you have to know my married name is Stemple, not a common name in Massachusetts.

It was 1960. My husband and I had just returned from a year camping in Europe. He got a job at UMass Amherst, we bought our first old house (7 rooms), moved in and had our first baby all within several weeks. But we only owned three pieces of furniture because we’d sold everything else before going on our long camping trip. We had a brass bed, a roll top desk, and a single dresser. It was time to go to homestead auctions where house contents were being sold. At one–new baby in pram–I bid on a bunch of stuff I didn’t get to look at closely since we got there on baby’s schedule–not mine. One was a dresser for our guest room for which I paid $7. When I got it back home and wrestled it out of the VW van, it was too heavy for me to get it into the house alone and up the stairs. Besides, it was UGLY! Probably overpaid. When I checked the drawers, it was filled with the underclothes of the newly-deceased old man who’d owned the house. A bank! Maybe I could recoup some of the money! But it was made of iron and there was no key. When my husband got back from work, he took a chisel and hammer out of the toolbox. (We had a toolbox????) And cracked the bank open. In it were fifteen dollars in one dollar bills and an obituary for someone named Stemple!

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

This past Halloween I wore a tiara. Not exactly cosplay. But every year Holly and Theo Black have a dress-up New Year’s party. The year it was all about high class British folk, my family and I went as marauding Scots in kilts, swords, targes, and blue face paint. Last year when it was a Bad Fairies theme we went as Red Caps.

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

Really working on #Yolen365, since in 2018 my 365th and 366th books will be published so you will be able to read a Yolen book a day for a year–even if it’s a leap year! To be honest, by year’s end I will be up to 375 books as I have (we think) 12 books out next year. They range from picture books, to a fantasy novel in verse, to a Holocaust novel hung on the armature of Hansel & Gretel, to a nonfiction book from National Geographic about birds, to a book of adult poetry. . .you get the picture.

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.

I would choose a writer (Emily Dickinson), a politician (Elizabeth Warren), and a dancer (Misty Copeland) all kick-ass women blazing trails and taking no prisoners along the way. Who needs fantasy figures when we have them? Though we might want to see them dressed as superheroes–my challenge to any illustrator out there. On the sidelines cheering–the Notorious RBG, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and a kick line of suffragettes.

Nik Korpon

nkorponNik Korpon is the author of The Rebellion’s Last Traitor (Angry Robot), Queen of the Struggle, and The Soul Standard, among others. He lives in Baltimore. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @NikKorpon.

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

I’ve been writing crime and mystery stories for a while and have gone to many of those conferences, but I’ve only just started writing science fiction. I’ve heard from a lot of people that Boskone is one of the best science fiction conventions around. Plus, Boston, in mid-February—what’s not to like?

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

This past Halloween. My son and daughter were a jellyfish and a butterfly, and my wife was a flamingo. I wore a gorilla mask and chased all the neighborhood kids around. I looked like a maniac. It was a ton of fun.

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

“I just turned in the final draft of Queen of the Struggle, the second book in Memory Thief series (the first being The Rebellion’s Last Traitor) and thinking about the one. I’m also editing a science fiction thriller that I keep describing as Die Hard meets The Shield but in space.

With Queen of the Struggle, I’ve never written a series before so it’s challenging to keep in mind what’s come before and make sure it informs what’s coming in the future. And the thriller is just an out-and-out thriller, so it’s a challenge to keep one-upping myself. ”

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.

“Sarah Manning (Orphan Black) because she’s a straight-up bad ass and she always finds a way to get out of a situation. Sydney Bristow (Alias) because, well, see Sarah Manning. Tim Bisley (Spaced) because, while he’s pretty worthless at fighting (except that finger-gun shootout), he knows everything about science fiction and fantasy and could help me figure out how to destroy the baddies.”

Ginjer Buchanan

While a student at Carnegie Mellon University, Ginjer Buchanan helped start the Western Pennsylvania Science Fiction Association. In the early 1970s, she moved from Pittsburgh to New York City where she made her living as a social worker, while doing free-lance editorial work. In 1984, she took a job as an editor at Ace Books before becoming an acquisitions editor for Penguin USA, which includes Putnam, Berkley and Ace Books. Ginjer is now retired and will be on of the Guests of Honor at the Dublin 2019 – An Irish Worldcon.

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

When I was working, it was a convention which a lot of my authors attended (It was the one time a year I could reliably expect to see Charlie Stross) Now that I’m retired, I have a lot of fan friends who attend. It’s a great con, with the absolute best art shows!

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

There are a lot of years of memories. From way back when the con was at the Pru Center, getting blizzard-ed in. That may sound odd but it was kinda magical. More recently, being given the Skylark Award. What an honor!

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?”

Hmm– I guess the first Star Wars movie. To recapture the sense of wonder. There are a lot of books I re-read, but I remember how The Stars My Destination. It absolutely blew me away when I first read it. I loved the scope and sweep of the story and the strong female characters, particularly Jisbella McQueen. It would be be great to have that sense of first discovering a kind of sf that really spoke to me.

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

A couple years ago, at the last company Halloween party. The editors were zombies and I was a zombie hunter, vaguely modeled on Woody Harrelson in Zombieland.

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.

Buffy because–well,she’s Buffy. Wonder Woman, because–well, she’s Wonder Woman. And Wolverine,because–well,he’s Hugh Jackman.

 

Bracken MacLeod

Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a university philosophy instructor, for a children’s non-profit, and as a trial attorney. He is the author of the novels, Mountain Home, Come to Dust, and Stranded for Tor Books which is in active development at Warner Bros. Television. His short fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies including LampLight, ThugLit, and Splatterpunk and has been collected in 13 Views of the Suicide Woods by ChiZine Publications. He lives outside of Boston with his wife and son, where he is at work on his next novel. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @BrackenMacLeod.

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

Boskone has been strongly recommended to me by several friends in the industry for quite a while now. I’m looking forward to my first experience there.

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 wish I could see Alien for the first time again. It wasn’t just seeing Alien, but the fact that I was 10 years old and was sneaking it on late night cable. That movie completely captivated me and I made a note in the cable guide of every time it was going to be on so I could try to watch it as much as possible (we didn’t have a VCR, but we had stolen cable). I’d already been reading scary books, but this was my first experience with several different things that blew my mind as a kid. First, I’d never seen a frightening *space* movie before. Up until then, it was Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Battle Beyond the Stars. I had no idea the two could go together. Also, that was my first look at H.R. Giger’s work and it revolutionized how I thought of both aliens and terrestrial monsters. Even though it was a guy in a suit, it was so convincing and unworldly the age of believing people in monster suits pretty much ended for me right there. Finally, and probably most importantly, I was the only child of a single mother, and seeing Ellen Ripley fight to survive resounded with me considerably. At the end she was protecting a cat, not a kid (like in the sequel), but for 10 year old me without any real strong male figures in my life beyond my grandfather, I really identified with her as a child who relied on a mother. Her as a survivor, but also as an unapologetic and enthusiastic fighter, meant a ton to me. 1979’s Ripley still informs the kind of stories I like to tell. Yeah, I wish I could see Alien again with 11 year old eyes.

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

I dress up every year. This year I went as David S. Pumpkin’s lesser known (but much funnier) twin brother, Bracken (NMI) Pumpkins. David’s got more hair, but I wear the suit better.

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

After two supernatural books in a row (Stranded, a science fiction thriller, and Come to Dust, a straight-up horror novel) I am working on a a “secular horror” thriller more like my first novel, Mountain Home. Closing Costs is a home invasion thriller about a couple who buy a house with stolen money from a man who isn’t ready to give it up. His secrets and theirs collide in a way that could cost all of them everything. It’s about all those little expenses that aren’t part of the asking price, and can sink the deal if you aren’t prepared for them.

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B55 Mini Interviews with William Hayashi, Jen Gunnels, Auston Habershaw & Elaine Isaak (E.C. Ambrose)

 

William Hayashi

whayashiWilliam Hayashi is an author, screen writer and radio personality who hosts the Genesis Science Fiction Radio Show Friday evenings. His Darkside Trilogy tells the story of what happens in the U.S. when it is discovered that African Americans have been secretly living on the backside of the moon since before Neil Armstrong arrived. He is currently preparing a second trilogy in his Darkside Universe, which will culminate with a seventh volume that winds up the whole saga. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @WmHayashi.

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

The program committee makes the event very welcoming and provides a well-run convention.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Meeting so many like-minded attendees.

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?”

My first viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey in the theater was majestic and awe inspiring, nothing else had ever looked like this movie.

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 second installment of my Darkside Trilogy, Conception, is my favorite of the series because it is populated with such extraordinary/ordinary characters.

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 story of how I began in the IT industry, a story I only tell, not commit to paper at this time.

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

I dressed up this last Halloween. I wore my normal street clothes and went as a Serial Killer; they look like everyone else.

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

I am working on the second trilogy in my Darkside Universe. I just completed the second installment and will be starting on the third shortly. I plan to release all three volumes at the same time in late 2018. What excites me most about the second trilogy is extending the scope of my creative universe.

Jen Gunnels

jgunnelsJen Gunnels is an editor at Tor Books, where her authors include L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Richard Baker, Kit Reed, Emily Davenport, and F. Paul Wilson. Before coming to Tor she served as dramatic critic and Theater Editor for the Hugo nominated New York Review of Science Fiction and a contributing editor for performance for the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction online. She contributed book reviews to Foundation and Science Fiction Studies and she has written essays for the collections Practicing Science Fiction and Popular Entertainment in Theater, Film & Television. She has also edited a special edition on performance for the Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts and contributed articles on fandom to the online journal Transformative Works and Cultures. In 2014, she co-edited with Erin Underwood, Geek Theater, a collection of science fiction and fantasy plays. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @jengunnels.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I had a great panel on writing fight scenes moderated by Myke Cole that was honestly one of the best panels I’ve ever been on. The give-and-take with all the panelists was phenomenal, and Myke kept it rolling with a cohesive through-line.

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 actually got to in a very weird way. I remember seeing Star Wars–the first one, the good one, the ORIGINAL one–when I was in 4th grade. Everything changed after that–that good guys can shoot first was HUGE, or that the mentor can sacrifice and die for the pupil, that a princess can rescue herself and shoot. It was just amazing. Then Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. I took my son, who was in 4th grade, and watched him as those opening credits rolled, and had a really emotional experience realizing that my look of excitement and awe must have been similar.

oqBP__127855When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I was Phryne Fisher. With the hair and my usual clothes, I tend to look like her anyway. I had this great cloche hat, a chiffon dress, and stadium-style maryjane high heels. With a long scarf and drop earrings, it looked awesome.

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

I’m working on a translation of a German fantasy novel titled, Drachenjaeger. It’s essentially Moby Dick with dragons. Pretty much awesome in all regards. Working with a translator has been amazing, and we’ve looped in the author as well. The result is a dynamic three-way creation that’s energizing and keeps me excited.

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.

So John Wyk. Because. John. Wyck. Is he a superhero? Maybe not, but I need a guy who gets it right the first time with no need to double tap. River Tam because she can kill you with her brain. My final pick would be John Constantine from Hellblazer. It’s like getting a competent version of the Winchesters, but in one body. I retain the rights to any film or tv or fanfic that comes of this.

 

Auston Habershaw

ahavershawOn the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or science fiction and fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest and has published short stories in F&SF, Analog, and Galaxy’s Edge among other places. His fantasy series, The Saga of the Redeemed, is published through Harper Voyager–Book 3, Dead But Once, will be released in March of 2018. He lives and works in Boston, MA. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @AustonHab.

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

Well, the obvious answer is that it is held in Boston and I live in Boston–it’s convenient that way. Beyond that, however, is the fact that Boskone, despite being a fairly small convention, attracts some of the best talent and biggest names to it, most notably from England and Europe. Every time I’ve been to Boskone, I’ve been very impressed with the kind of people they get to do panels and participate in Kaffeeklatsches and so on. It’s some of the best bang for your buck!

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?”

Seeing the Return of the Jedi in the theater for the first time was a seminal experience for me. It really opened my mind to the limitless scope of the human imagination. There was something about how Lucas build the aesthetics of the movie that has stuck with me to this day–the set pieces, the size of the world, the variety of its inhabitants. I loved it, and even now–for all Jedi’s flaws–it still inspires. It’s that kind of storytelling experience I want to duplicate in my own work, because I want to crack open the imaginations of people just like me.

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 have a special place in my heart for all of my work, of course, but if I had to pick one, I’d pick “The Masochist’s Apprentice”–a novelette I published in F&SF in the July/August 2017 issue. It’s one of those stories that just felt right the whole time I wrote it–I felt like I was doing something kind of new, kind of a special blend of humor and very serious discussions about cultural divides. That is currently reigning as my favorite. That’s subject to change, of course.

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 used to work for a person who used profanity in its truest sense–to be truly profane. Everybody swears, but when he used all the f-bombs, there was a real venom to it that I don’t think I can wholly describe. He made you feel dirty by listening to him, and I don’t know that I could make that believable in a story. It was too nuanced–something in his tone, something in his posture–that made you realize how much hate he had for the world around him.

As you can well imagine, it was *not* a good job.

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

I’m currently working on the fourth and final book in my epic fantasy series The Saga of the Redeemed. It’s very exciting coming to the end of a long story arc like this, and seeing these characters I love off in grand fashion, but there are real challenges in that, too. I’m worried that I’m not doing them justice, that I’m not reaching that emotional payoff I’ve always imagined would be there when I got this far. Am I going to convey that same sense of epic wonder that encompasses the end of Return of the Jedi, or is it going to read like The Matrix: Revolutions, you know? I’m on a tight deadline, the pressure’s on, so I’m hoping it works out. I think this is a common feeling for all authors, but as this is my last book in the series, it’s especially potent.

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.

I feel that Gandalf would settle The Night King in fairly short order and, while not perfectly in-tune with the Doctor Who universe, I’m betting Thor could take care of the Master pretty easily. The Emperor Palpatine is a harder nut to crack–he does have a galaxy-spanning empire to back him up. For that heady task, I’m going to go with Baru Cormorant (from Seth Dickinson’s novel)–if anyone could out-plot a Sith Lord, it would be her.

Elaine Isaak (E.C. Ambrose)

EIsaakE. C. Ambrose writes adventure-based historical fantasy series the Dark Apostle, about medieval surgery, from DAW Books, which began with Elisha Barber, and concludes with volume 5, Elisha Daemon in 2018. Her most recent release was international thriller novel Bone Guard One: The Mongol’s Coffin. As Elaine Isaak, she also wrote The Singer’s Crown and its sequels. In the process of researching her books, Elaine learned how to hunt with a falcon, clear a building of possible assailants, pull traction on a broken limb, and fire an AR-15. The author is a graduate of and an instructor for the Odyssey Writing workshop. In addition to writing, Elaine works as a guide, teaching rock climbing and leading outdoor adventure camps. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @ecambrose.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

This amazing late-night conversation I had in the consuite with Ian Randall Strock and Allen Steele. . .I don’t know if I’m allowed to say what we talked about. But that kind of conversation is one of the reasons I keep coming back!

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 have an inordinate fondness for Wolfram, the protagonist of my second novel, The Eunuch’s Heir. He’s so misunderstood and beaten down, yet he keeps trying to find his moral compass and redeem himself. He’s so resourceful he was a blast to write about–especially because he doesn’t care what anybody thinks!

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

About three years ago, we hosted a Halloween party for my teenager’s friends. In order to direct them to the house, I dressed as the fairy of dark and light, wearing my wedding gown, and a pair of gorgeous black wings I bought at the Goodwill store. I waited at the end of the driveway and was illuminated by each vehicle as it arrived.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Dana Cameron, Richard Shealy, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert & H. Paul Shuch

With snow in this week’s forecast, what better way to prepare for Boskone by relaxing with our latest set of mini interviews!

Dana Cameron

DanaCameron_7Dana Cameron writes across many genres, but mostly crime fiction and urban fantasy in every possible form. Dana’s work has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the Edgar Award. Her six Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries were optioned by Muse Entertainment, and the first, Site Unseen, was made into a movie for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Dana will be one of the Writer Guests of Honor at Necon this July, and when she’s not traveling or visiting museums, she’s usually yelling at the TV about historical inaccuracies. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @danacmrn.

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

Boskone is local for me, but more importantly, it covers a wide range of genres (from mystery to science fiction and fantasy to horror), and topics (panels on writing, world-building, etc.). It’s so well organized, and the Boskone folks work really hard to make an interesting convention set in a comfortable environment.

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’m going to say Star Wars. It wasn’t my introduction to science fiction, but it was the first science fiction movie experience that blew my impressionable young mind. I couldn’t stop talking about it for months after, much to the dismay of all around me. It was also the first time I found novelizations of a ‘verse, starting with the movie novelization by “George Lucas” (really Alan Dean foster). I was totally unsubtle when I saw a kid reading A Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (Alan Dean Foster) in science class: I all but grabbed the book out of his hand while yelling “where did you get that?” Slick, that. It was also the first time realized that I was part of a fan community.

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?

This is tough–I’m proud of all of my “firsts” (mystery novel, UF novel, short story, etc.), but for me it’s “Femme Sole,” which appeared in BOSTON NOIR (ed. Dennis Lehane). It was the first time I really understood about how to make my emotions work for me as I was writing the story: I had a very short time to write it and a lot was on the line, at least in my mind. I was taking a chance on writing 18th-century noir and I got so caught up in my own nerves about writing this story that it wasn’t for some time after that I realized my protagonist, Anna Hoyt, was…let’s just say, she isn’t entirely a well person.

2W9R__132151When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

I try to do something every year for when I dole out candy. The trick, for me, is to find a costume that won’t freak out the little ones, but will be interesting enough to older kids and adults. A vampire bite tattoo on my neck with an apron and a “Merlotte’s Bar and Grill” shirt; Tank Girl was a lot of fun; my academic robes, a wand, and my Hogwarts mug; a long-sleeved shirt with werewolf arms and claws. This year, I dressed up all black, added some lipstick–basically what I’d wear for a night out–and then put on some horns for your basic demon. Some kids took a beat to notice the horns, and asked what they were; I pretended I had no idea how they got there. The kids got all wide-eyed and then we all laughed like hell.

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

I’m working on a couple of short stories, both horror and speculative fiction. I’m excited about this because I have some very interesting images I’d like to be able to use–and it’s challenging (like most projects) because I need to remember that the plot, the theme, and the atmosphere don’t necessarily all happen at once in the writing process. Get the story, then figure out the theme, then work the atmosphere in.

Richard Shealy

RichardShealy_192Richard Shealy is a freelance copyeditor specializing in science fiction and fantasy work from short stories to novels but has worked in broader genre as well. He works with both traditional publishing houses and self-publishing authors. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SFFCopyediting.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Sitting in the lobby bar with friends off and on at the same table for over twelve hours (with breaks for panels and such; there was always going to be someone still at the table when the break-taker returned). Friends, acquaintances, colleagues and new people joined and left all through that time. This is the core of the con experience: being able to interact in a relaxed way with other con-goers for however long one wishes.

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?”

Good Omens. The book was a constant joy of discovery.

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?

(As I’m a copyeditor, this technically doesn’t apply to me, but I’m taking it anyway!) I have had so many excellent, joyous, moving, etc. experiences throughout my career, but I suppose the one that stands out the most was copyediting Seanan McGuire’s Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day. I was genuinely moved to tears at more than one point. NB: I am constantly finding things to love about projects at hand, so this is a far harder question than it might be otherwise. I am regularly finding myself muttering at characters, cheering a victory and so on!

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

An indie author’s novel. It’s still too early in the project to answer those questions in any specific way, but I’ll give the answer I would give about any of my projects: discerning this particular author’s voice and determining how best to support it.

Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

SreynoldsalpertSuzanne Reynolds-Alpert writes science fiction, horror, dark fantasy, and the occasional poem. Her short fiction had been published in the anthologies Killing It Softly and The Deep Dark Woods. Her poetry has appeared in places such as the anthology Wicked Witches, Tales of the Zombie War, The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature and Eternal Haunted Summer. Suzanne is a professional editor, holds down a job in marketing, and has degrees in Communication and Sociology. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @SuzsMuses.

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

I attended my first Boskone years ago, as a day-only attendee. I was impressed with the programming, guests, and the serious focus on genre topics. I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to attend as a program participant.

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 collective experience of reading Animal Farm, 1984, and Brave New World as a pre-adolescent had a profound effect on me. My reaction to these was, “Oh my God, humans will manipulate the truth and facts in order to control other humans?” I literally felt my mind being blown, which was disturbing and exhilarating all at the same time. Thus began my love affair with dystopias, which continues to this day.

Bonus answer: as an adult, reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, the first book of hers I’d read, gave me an adult-version mind-blowing similar to the above. She went on to become my favorite author, and I sobbed the day she died.

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

I’m simultaneously, slowly, working on several projects. I wrote very little the past year, due to a combination of health issues, a new job, and Imposter Syndrome. I’ve had a horror, young adult novella in progress for over a year. This has been challenging for me, because I don’t “naturally” write for younger audiences.

I also have a novelette I’ve been writing off and on for over three years. This one is also horror, has a lot of body horror involved. As it’s currently written, there is an attempted rape scene, and I’m rethinking this because of the past several years’ pushback against using rape capriciously as a plot device. I’m trying to decide if there are other ways to get one of my themes across without this scene. So this story has been challenging as well.

H. Paul Shuch

Dr. SETI is the stage name of the blatant exhibitionist who inhabits the body of noted author and educator Dr. H. Paul Shuch (rhymes with luck). A cross between Tom Lehrer and Carl Sagan, it is said that Dr. SETI sings like Sagan and lectures like Lehrer. Armed with a laptop computer and an acoustical guitar, Dr. SETI travels the world making the search for life in space accessible to audiences as diverse as humanity itself. At college campuses, science centers, public lecture halls, and on television and radio, Dr. SETI’s unique mix of science and song seeks to educate as well as entertain. He compels the listener to contemplate a fundamental question, which has haunted humankind since first we realized that the points of light in the night sky are other suns: Are We Alone? Visit his website or find him on Facebook.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

BlizzardCon 2015! My wife and I (along with hundreds of our best friends) were snowed in there for a couple of extra days, over Valentines Day weekend. It was like a second honeymoon.

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?

Although I’m probably better known for my science filks, I think my anti-war song “And The Band Played The Star Spangled Banner” is probably my best work. Inspired by Eric Bogle’s “Galipoli” (aka “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”), it draws on my experiences during the Vietnam War and afterward – and took me 29 years to complete.

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?

Experiencing Arthur Clarke’s incredible hospitality at 25 Barnes Place, Colombo, in early 2000. His warmth, generosity, and humility will never be forgotten. I wrote him a song for the occasion (“Extraterrestrial Relays”), and after I had sung it for him and his brother Fred, Arthur called in all his household staff and bade me sing it again. Afterward, I gifted him the original draft (autographed to “Arthur Charles Clarke, the world’s second-greatest communications engineer”), which he immediately framed and hung up on the wall of his Ego Chamber.

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B55 Mini Interviews with James Moore, Darlene Marshall, John P. Murphy & Vincent O’Neil

James Moore

jmooreJames A. Moore is the author of over forty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Blood Harvest, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) Cherry Hill, Alien: Sea of Sorrows and the Seven Forges series of novels. He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President. Never one to stay in one genre for too long, James has recently written epic fantasy novels in the series Seven Forges (Seven Forges, The Blasted Lands, City of Wonders and The Silent Army), and the third of his urban fantasy-crime novels in the Griffin & Price series co-authored with Charles R. Rutledge, A Hell Within was released last October. He is working on a new series called The Tides Of War. The first book The Last Sacrifice, came out last year and the sequel, Fallen Gods, in January in 2018. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @JamesAMoore.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

There is a place where people cram bring books for exchange. No cost is accrued, but a great number of books change hands. I had a friend of mine bring over a copy of my first ever published novel House of Secrets and I was so amused that I asked him here he got it. He looked at me and said, “Right there, It was free.” He looked like a kid at Christmas. I was thoroughly flattered.

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?”

Bladerunner. The sumptuous visuals and deeply engaging plot line made that one of my favorite ever first run movies.

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 did a short story called “Spirits” under a very, very tight deadline (24 hours) and had absolutely no time to think about or reflect on what I was writing, the end result was so much better than I expected and I can’t say that happens all that often.

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?

Almost getting into a fist fight with actor James Doohan. I call it a near-death experience, because it was a Star Trek convention and I’m pretty sure the people thee would have killed me for decking Scotty.

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

I was seven the first time I got to decide what I was going to wear for Halloween. I was the Gillman from the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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

I am finishing up the third and final book in the Tides of War series. I’ve never actually written a fantasy series that wasn’t deliberately open ended. This is apocalyptic. I’m not even sure at this moment if there will be a world left by the time I’m done. It’s invigorating and at the same time is helping me finish my science fiction apocalyptic novel, Spores. In all honestly I was hesitant to be that mean, but I’m feeling better about it now. 🙂

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.

Batman (He’s just plain meaner and better at working out the details than the bad guys are.) Doctor Strange (Sorcerer Supreme. he’s got the Emperor’s Force powers whupped, and can probably cure the Night King.) and finally Superman (who can clean up almost any issue faster than the bad guys can realize there’s a problem.)

 

Darlene Marshall

DarleneMarshall_37Darlene Marshall writes award-winning historical romance featuring pirates, privateers, smugglers, and the occasional possum. She loves working at a job where business attire is shorts and a shirt festooned with pink flamingos and palm trees. Marshall lives in North Central Florida, a convenient location for putting the convertible top down and researching sites of great historical significance, which also happen to be at the beach and serve mojitos. Marshall’s day job is writing romance, but her hobby is science fiction fandom. She’s been a broadcast and print journalist, news anchor, radio station owner and obituary writer. She’s a regular blogger at the Heroes & Heartbreakers website (owned by Macmillan Publishing), and is the section leader for Erotic Writing at Compuserve’s Books and Writers Community. Her novels, available in ebook and print from the usual suspects, include Sea Change, The Bride and the Buccaneer, Castaway Dreams, and Smuggler’s Bride. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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

Who doesn’t want to leave Florida for Boston in February??? Clearly, there’s a strong attraction to Boskone and over the years I’ve found it a perfect balance of programming and entertainment in a quality venue. I always come away from Boskone with fresh knowledge on the craft of writing and quality time spent with friends and fans both old and new.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

Snowcon! My very first Boskone (2003) we were snowed in, trapped in a luxury hotel (with our party supplies) adjacent to a mall with a huge food court. All things considered, there are worse places to ride out a record setting blizzard.

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 wish I could always recapture the “sense of wonder” I felt when I read The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. It opened my eyes to what science fiction could be and while it wasn’t the first science fiction book I read, it may have been the first one that made me want to grab people and say, “Read this!”

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’m fond of all my characters, even when they’re driving me nuts because they won’t do what I want them to do. I have a special fondness for Daphne, the heroine of Castaway Dreams. I’m a big fan of the film Born Yesterday, and Daphne reminded me of Judy Holliday in that classic take on politics, education, cynicism and love.

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

Just this year, and I was a pirate captain, of course.

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

I’m working on a story that may feature the son of the pirate hero from The Pirate’s Secret Baby. It’s slow going though–I always find it more difficult to write “nice guys” than pirates. Go figure.

John P. Murphy

John P. Murphy is an engineer and Nebula-nominated writer living in the greater Boston area. In his day job he works in network security; in his fiction he’s interested in mysteries in science fiction and fantasy. His fiction has appeared in venues including F&SF, Daily Science Fiction, and Nature Magazine. He’s originally from West Virginia and has a hobby roasting coffee. Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @dolohov.

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

You wouldn’t think I’d look forward to Boston in February, would you? And I don’t. BUT it’s the perfect time for a whole lot of my favorite people to start getting grumpy about winter and want to go spend a weekend together and talk about all the stuff we’ve been thinking about and reading over the long winter months. Although I’ve been repeatedly told we’re not allowed to set fires, it’s the old “huddle round the big fireplace” dynamic at work. By February it’s been too cold and too dark for too long, and Boskone always attracts so many people I particularly want to talk to and listen to. By the time the weekend’s over, I’m full of ideas and fired up for new projects.

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?”

Cowboy Bebop, the anime series directed Shinichiro Watanabe. There’s just something about that first blast of music that made me sit back and say “whoa.” I knew I was in for something special, but didn’t quite know what. Getting to know the characters in all their colorful glory, coming to understand who they really were a bit at a time, and the slow realization that Watanabe wouldn’t go easy on them. I remember being stunned by that ending, simultaneously believing it couldn’t be possible and knowing it was inevitable.

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

I’m working on kind of a cross between a space opera and a samurai flick, going by the tentative title Red Noise. It’s a bit outside my wheelhouse, since I don’t usually write much action, but it’s letting me draw on a whole different set of inspirations and old favorites, to try to capture the feel of some of my favorite old stories and movies in a fresh setting.

Vincent O’Neil

voneilVincent H. O’Neil is the Malice Award-winning author of the Frank Cole mysteries (Murder in Exile, Reduced Circumstances, Exile Trust, and Contest of Wills) as well as the theater-themed mystery Death Troupe. Writing under the name Henry V. O’Neil, he recently finished his five-novel military science fiction Sim War series with HarperCollins. Those books are Glory Main, Orphan Brigade, Dire Steps, CHOP Line, and Live Echoes. A graduate of West Point, Vincent is originally from Massachusetts and now resides in Cranston, Rhode Island. Visit his website or find him on Facebook.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

My favorite experience was at my very first Boskone. George R.R. Martin was there, and one afternoon he read from one of the books in his Song of Ice and Fire series. It was a tremendous experience, and Standing Room Only. On a related note, I attend a wide range of conventions, and some of them have lots of cosplayers and celebrity impersonators. When I was checking in at Boskone for the first time, George R.R. Martin was in the lobby speaking with some people. I saw him, and for some bizarre reason my brain said, “Oh look, a George R.R. Martin impersonator.” I blame lack of caffeine for that one.

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 really like this question. My favorite book is also my favorite film –The Godfather. Although I read the novel before seeing the movie, I still remember the excitement of watching certain key scenes play out on the screen. WARNING: SPOILERS. The scene where Michael Corleone is in the restaurant with the gangster Sollozzo and the crooked police Captain McCluskey really carried me away the first time I saw it, even though I already knew how it ended. When Michael excuses himself to go the bathroom (where a gun has been hidden for him) my pulse was already elevated. In the movie, he reaches up where the weapon is supposed to be waiting, and at first he can’t find it. For a second or two I actually wondered if the gun had been misplaced, even though I knew it was there. Then, when he comes back out and sits down with the weapon under his jacket, I felt like I was actually sitting there with him. Sollozzo begins speaking again, but Michael’s too worked up to catch much of it. Al Pacino’s eyes start darting around just as you hear the screech of a street car, and my heart was actually racing for the long moments before he stands up and guns the two men down. I’ve seen that sequence many times since then, but it’s never been the same. I think I was identifying so powerfully with Michael’s motivation to protect his father and his family from this deadly pair that I was basically in his shoes. That’s the film experience I’d like to relive.

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

I recently completed the fifth and final novel in my military science fiction Sim War series (published by HarperCollins under the name Henry V. O’Neil) and decided to write short stories for a bit. Over the years I’ve switched back and forth across full-length novels, screenplays, and short stories because each type requires a different kind of writing and I think it’s good discipline. It’s also fun. My most recent short story is a fantasy tale, more sword than sorcery but definitely containing magic, and the inspiration came to me under unusual circumstances. A little over a year ago I was hospitalized with an emergency appendectomy, and was reading a history of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy while I recovered. The author of that book could really paint pictures with words, and before I knew it I had an idea about a banished soldier of fortune returning to the city of his birth on the one night that exiles are allowed to come home–and no dueling challenge can be refused. I took my time writing that one, and feel it turned out quite well. It’s called Prodigals’ Night.

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Black Science Fiction at Boskone

This year Boskone features a program with a strong selection of panels and discussions dedicated to black science fiction authors, publishers, and fans. Our program includes everything from black publishers and Afrofuturism to works by authors such as Octavia Butler, science panels that include the future of medicine, writing discussions that tackle young adult fiction, and much, much more!

Here’s a quick list of some of our program items with an emphasis on black science fiction and the authors who will be joining us from across the country. For the full set of program items, view the Boskone 55 program.

Black Publishers in SF/F
Science fiction and fantasy work by black writers is thriving. The environment is slowly (but finally) changing, as more publishers, editors, and artists enter the market every day. Our panelists discuss the lay of the land, the challenges of publishing black-themed content, getting shelf space at large and/or independent bookstores, and more.

Beyond Afrofuturism
Afrofuturism started as by definition an outsider movement. But like many subgenres of speculative fiction, it has had a direct impact on the development of the larger field. Where is Afrofuturism going? Which authors should we be watching as they branch out into other subgenres? Are Afrofuturistic stories now becoming seen simply as science fiction, fantasy, or horror?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler’s prescient dystopian novel Parable of the Sower was written 25 years ago. Set in the 2020s, it presents a society beset by climate change, social and economic collapse, corporate greed, wealth inequality … need we go on? What did Butler’s masterpiece get right — and wrong? How do her beleaguered characters cope? And what can the novel teach us today?

Afrofuturism Group Reading
Boskone’s Afrofuturism Reading features a wide selection of authors who come together for this special group reading.

Meet Up: The State of Black Science Fiction Facebook Group
Join Gerald Coleman for a discussion focused on the popular Facebook group The State of Black Science Fiction and visit the group online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/blackscifi/

Program Participants

E. Ardell
Award-winning author E. Ardell spent her childhood in Houston, Texas obsessed with anything science fiction, fantastic, paranormal or just plain weird. She loves to write stories that feature young people with extraordinary talents thrown into strange and dangerous situations. She took her obsession to the next level, earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine where she specialized in young adult genre fiction. She’s a big kid at heart and loves her job as a teen librarian at Monterey Public Library in Monterey, California, where she voluntarily shuts herself in rooms with hungry hordes of teenagers and runs crazy after-school programs for them. When she’s not working, she’s reading, writing, running writers critique groups, trying to keep up with a blog, and even writing fan fiction as her guilty pleasure. Her first YA science fiction novel, The Fourth Piece, was released by 48fourteen Publishing in July of 2016.

Jeff Carroll
Jeff Carroll is pioneering what he calls hip hop horror, science fiction, and Fantasy. His stories always have lots of action and a social edge. He has written and produced 3 films and has written over 5 science fiction and nonfiction books. His short stories have appeared in The Black Science Fiction Society’s anthology and their magazine as well as other anthologies. Jeff produces The Monster Panel a traveling sci-fi panel which features writers of color in a lively discussion of comic books, movies and science fiction.

Gerald L. Coleman
Gerald L. Coleman is a philosopher, theologian, poet, and author residing in Atlanta. Born in Lexington, he did his undergraduate work in Philosophy and English at the University of Kentucky. He followed that by completing a degree in Religious Studies and concluding with a Master’s degree in Theology at Trevecca Nazarene University. He is the author of the epic fantasy novel saga The Three Gifts, which currently includes When Night Falls (Book One) and A Plague of Shadows (Book Two). He has appeared on panels at DragonCon, SOBSFCon, Atlanta Science Fiction & Fantasy Expo, the Outer Dark Symposium, and has been a Guest Author and panelist at JordonCon and Imaginarium. He is a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets and has recently released three collections of poetry entitled the road is long, falling to earth, and microphone check. You can find him at geraldlcoleman.co.

Gabriel Erkard
Gabriel began his career as a graduate from Berklee College of Music with an entertainment business degree. Through his seven-year career span in corporate America, he’s merged his business-minded skill sets with his creativity. In addition to being an author, he is a pianist, singer, and composer. Currently, he does finance for a media company in Brooklyn, NY. However, his crowning achievement has been The Hidden Eternity Series, a soon-to-be seven-book fantasy tale where the deceased are sorted into one of seven castles based on the crimes of their last life. There, they must go through a maze of their past lives before they can get to their next life. Since publication in early Feb 2017, he has been featured on television and radio several times! His growing fan base is calling “The Hidden Eternity Series” the next “Harry Potter”! He thanks you for your time and would love to see you at the 2018 Boskone Convention.

William Hayashi
William Hayashi is an author, screenwriter and radio personality who hosts the Genesis Science Fiction Radio Show on Friday evenings. His Darkside Trilogy tells the story of what happens in the U.S. when it is discovered that African Americans have been secretly living on the backside of the moon since before Neil Armstrong arrived. He is currently preparing a second trilogy in his Darkside Universe, which will culminate with a seventh volume that winds up the whole saga.

Justin Key
Justin C. Key is a resident physician living in Manhattan with his lovely wife and two sons. His short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, and KYSO Flash, as well as in the revolutionary children’s iPad application, FarFaria. He held a writing advice blog for several years at Scribophile.com and worked as a professional health blogger and content editor at WellnessFX while applying to medical school. Justin’s medical training richly informs his writing, and the power of story and narrative allows him to connect with patients on a deeper level. Even as a full-time psychiatry resident, he finds ample time to write. Just don’t ask him how he does it; he wouldn’t be able to tell you.

Errick Nunnally
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Errick Nunnally served one tour in the Marine Corps before deciding art school would be a safer—and more natural—pursuit. He strives to develop his strengths in storytelling and remains permanently distracted by art, comics, science fiction, history, and horror. Trained as a graphic designer, he has earned a black belt in Krav Maga with Muay Thai kickboxing after dark. Errick’s successes include: the novel, Blood For The Sun; an upcoming novel with ChiZine Publications; a comic strip collection, Lost in Transition; and first prize in one hamburger contest. The following are short stories and their respective anthologies: Welcome to the D.I.V. (Wicked Witches); Harold At The Halfcourt (Inner Demons Out); The Last Apology (A Dark World of Spirits and The Fey); You Call This An Apocalypse? (After The Fall); Recovery (Winter Animals: stories to benefit PROTECT.ORG); A Hundred Pearls: PROTECTORS 2 (stories to benefit PROTECT.ORG) and The Elevation of Oliver Black (Distant Dying Ember). He also has two lovely children and one beautiful wife.

Erin Roberts
Erin 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.

Kenneth Rogers Jr.
Kenneth 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, MD. 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, IL he graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH in 2008 with a dual degree in Political Science and English, he has written and published six 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.

Christine Taylor-Butler
Christine Taylor-Butler is the author of more than 80 commercially published books for children, including titles in the “True Book” nonfiction series at Scholastic. A graduate of MIT, she holds degrees in both Civil Engineering as well as Art & Design. Her speculative series: The Lost Tribes, debuted in 2015 followed by the sequel Safe Harbor. Book three, entitled Trials, debuts in Fall 2018. Kirkus Reviews said, “…the solid character development, strong writing, and action will appeal to sci-fi and adventure-story readers alike…..A great choice for fans of Rick Riordan and the Artemis Fowl books” She lives in Kansas City.

Kenesha Williams
Kenesha Williams is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Black Girl Magic Lit Mag. She took to heart the advice, “If you don’t see a clear path for what you want, sometimes you have to make it yourself,” and created a Speculative Fiction Literary Magazine featuring characters that were representative of herself and other women she identified with. Kenesha has always had a love for the weird and the macabre which she has happily parlayed into Black Girl Magic Literary Magazine, finding the best in undiscovered talent in speculative fiction.

Clarence Young
Zig Zag Claybourne wishes he’d grown up with the powers of either Gary Mitchell or Charlie X but without the Kirk confrontations. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Vex Mosaic, Alt History 101, Stupefying Stories, The City: A Cyberfunk Anthology, UnCommon Origins, and others. His latest novel is The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan. Visit him at www.WriteonRighton.com.

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B55 Mini Interviews with Mary Robinette Kowal, R.W.W. Greene, Marianna Martin PhD & Craig Miller

Mary Robinette Kowal

mrobinettekowalMary Robinette Kowal is the author of historical fantasy novels: The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers. She has received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel, and has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. Stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, several Year’s Best anthologies and her collections Word Puppets and Scenting the Dark and Other Stories. As a professional puppeteer and voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), Mary has performed for LazyTown (CBS), the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures, and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs have garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award an American puppeteer can achieve. She records fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. Mary lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @MaryRobinette.

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

This will be my first Boskone, but I’ve been hearing about it for years. What I hear is that it’s got a strong literary track and a ton of really smart fans. That’s enough, in and of itself, to get me excited. Plus, honestly, Boston is where the Puppet Showplace is, so when you have one of the best cons in the US in the same city as a venerable puppetry institution, it’s kinda like a giant neon sign saying “Come to me…”

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?

Golly… sometimes, I feel like just my resume would make people roll their eyes. “Your MC is a puppeteer AND a writer AND a voice actor. What else, does she play violin, too?” Well… yes. Actually. For seventeen years.

2APz__128031When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

This Halloween! We live on the second floor and it’s a little bit of a pain to run down the stairs so… since we have a balcony, I levitated down a basket of goodies while dressed as a witch. It’s great fun and I get to deploy my evil cackle, too.

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.

Eleven from Stranger Things, because she’s got the mental powers to give the Emperor a run for his money. Mary Poppins, because she’s clearly a time lord and thus equipped to deal with the Master. My mom, because she would Bless Their Hearts into shame and surrender.

 

R.W.W. Greene

20170810_094602R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire writer with an MFA that he likes to exorcise in dive bars and dark coffee shops. His work has seen daylight in Daily Science Fiction, the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, and The New Republic, among other places. He keeps typewriters, collects bees, and Tweets about it all @rwwgreene. Visit his website or find him on Facebook.

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

I’ve filled a couple of those Moleskin notebooks with tips, quotes, and ideas that I’ve gleaned from Boskone over the years. I never fail to come away inspired by something I have seen or heard. Just being in the uni-mind generated by so many bright, talented people improves my mental health. Boskone is a living history of where speculative fiction has been and where it’s going.

What is your favorite Boskone memory or experience?

I had dinner in the faux Irish pub with James Patrick Kelly, Brendan Dubois, and Jeffrey A. Carver at the last Boskone. We talked about writing, and I felt like I’d been allowed to sit at the big-kids table.

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 have a character in as-yet unpublished, unfinished novel named “Brooklyn Lamontagne.” He’s a Queens kid, a street hustler, living in a 1970s America wherein the search for extraterrestrial life has been violently justified and taxi-cabs can be programmed with punch cards and 8-track tapes. I’m sort of enamored with Brooklyn–his all-American, gritty, can-do, to hell with the system–and I hope to join him on many adventures.

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?

People are always shocked — and I often use that to my advantage — that my first “real” job was working in a veterinary hospital’s crematory. At 15, I made $3.65 an hour to reduce beloved pets — dogs, cats, litters of young — to ashes. Often, I was recruited to help “put them to sleep” as well.

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

I’m writing the back half of a novel about a slow apocalypse. The main character is a 20-something-year-old woman looking for a reason to live in a world that doesn’t offer much of a future for people her age. It’s kind of a modern-day Millennial’s tale made speculative. I love the idea and the characters. The challenge, as always, is finding more than quarter hours in which to write.

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.

If ever a non-Who character had a chance to match the intellect of Missy, it would be Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. (It would also give Missy a chance to drop some classic and cool innuendos.) The Night King can, what, raise the dead? Break steel weapons? Resist fire? I guess I’d recruit The Mighty Dragon from Peter Clines’ Ex-Heroes series. The Mighty Dragon has super zombie-pulping strength, can fly, is invulnerable, and breathes fire (good enough for the average wraith). The Emperor seems tough enough, with his TK, Force lightning, and precognition, but he was easily grabbed from behind and tossed down a Death Star shaft. I’m going to save some money on this one and hire Quasimodo, who has no fear of heights and has a history of throwing villains off tall buildings.

Marianna Martin PhD

mmartinA PhD in Cinema and Media Studies and founder of Genretastic.com, Marianna Martin got her start as a hopeless Star Trek nerd in suburban Boston. Her lifelong fascination with the structures of genre storytelling led to an abiding love of everything pertaining to the Marvel Universe–and a dissertation on the same. After an interlude working in Development in the US film and television industry, she decided that while helping other writers bring their stories to life was rewarding, finally writing her own would be even more so, and she now splits her time between her editorial duties at Genretastic.com and completing her debut SF YA novel. Visit her website, find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @genretastic.

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 my first Boskone, and I’m quite excited. It has such positive word-of-mouth as an attendee experience, and I can’t wait to see for myself.

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

This year, actually! I hadn’t in a long time, but the right party/costume came together, and I went as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. I’m trying to get up the courage to cosplay her at a future con, because it was a lot of fun.

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

I’m currently splitting my time between my writing/editorial duties at genretastic.com (the inclusive genre fandom site I founded) and getting my Young Adult science fiction novel to final draft. I’m really excited about the characters and world in the story I’m telling, but it’s hard to find the long stretches of time to settle in and write the way I prefer to work.

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.

Carol Danvers (Marvel)–she’s a total badass and knows her Star Wars trivia, Jessica Jones (Marvel), because she knows how to hero and hates time travel, and Garnet (Steven Universe) because she’s totally unflappable.

Craig Miller

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

While I don’t often travel out of Southern California for conventions any more, I used to attend a lot. And Boskones, which I’ve attended many of, were always filled with intelligent, interesting fans and I enjoyed the camaraderie, the broad scope of the program, and the general affability of everyone involved. Though not the Boston-in-February weather. (In fact, a 1980s Boskone was this L.A.-boy’s first experience with snow.) However, compared to last February, when I was on a glacier in Norway where Shakelton and other polar explorers trained, I expect Boskone’s weather to be favorable.

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?”

Star Wars, of course, is near and dear to my heart for all kinds of reasons. I grew up a science fiction geek, loving science fiction in books and movies. Seeing Star Wars for the first time, a few weeks before the film opened in theaters, was magical. As with so many people, when the Star Destroyer cruised overhead in the opening sequence, coming and coming and coming onto the screen, it was the culmination of everything I wanted to see in a science fiction film. They had me.

There are two. For quite different reasons.

The Empire Strikes Back was the first movie I worked on from start to finish. I didn’t write it or direct it, of course, but everyone who works on a film feels a proprietary interest. And my role in things included spending weeks at the studio at various times, spending time with all of the principals in order to do my job, coming up with ideas to promote the film and writing all kinds of pieces about it. It also included operating R2-D2 for outside things like Sesame Street and commercials and award shows. And it led to my meeting and dating and eventually marrying my wife.

The other work that stands out is a show I co-created, co-produced, and wrote a couple dozen episodes of. An animated series titled Pocket Dragon Adventures, based on a character created by artist Real Musgrave. We did 104 episodes which aired all over the world, including running on the BBC seven days a week for six years.

vDgX__127681When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

This year. I went as Po, the main character from Kung Fu Panda, to Larry & Fuzzy Niven’s annual Halloween party.

 

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