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February 17-19, 2023 — Westin Boston Seaport District
January 19, 2015

Mini Interviews Heather Albano, Stephen Kelner, Julia Rios, and Daniel Kimmel

At Boskone, you’ll find folks working on a wide variety of projects in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. Today’s mini inteviews feature interactive text based games, motivating your writing, 2014’s Best  YA speculative fiction and more!

Heather Albano

Heather Albano is a storyteller. Sometimes she writes traditional fiction and sometimes she makes games, and she finds the line between the two growing fuzzier all the time. If you like steampunk time travel, check out her novels Timepiece and Timekeeper; if you like Napoleonic naval battles, fantasy medieval court intrigues, or zombie apocalypses, check out her Choice of Games titles; if you like James-Bond-style spycraft and/or interactive radio dramas, check out Codename Cygnus. If you want to know what she’s doing next, or just follow the random thoughts that wander through her head, check out Like Heather on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @heatheralbano.

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

I am sooooo close to done with my sixth Choice of Games title. It’s terrifyingly behind schedule and hugely beyond initial scope, but now that it’s almost there, I’m so proud of it. Choice of Games produces multiple choice, text-based choose-your-path-style games – or interactive novels, if you prefer. My current work-in-progress, and my first solo endeavor, is tentatively titled Choice by Gaslight. It follows the adventures of an Army-surgeon-turned-government-spy in a Victorian-era secondary world that runs on steampunk tech but is threatened by ancient magic. Four distinct character arcs are possible for the protagonist (as well as variants within each) – save your empire, join the rebellion against it, learn to train your inborn magical talent, or give in to your inner darkness. The biggest challenge has been in getting all the clockwork to interact correctly in the background, so that each individual scene can function simultaneously as different points (or different “beats”) in different storylines. This was a somewhat over-the-top endeavor – the thing is somewhere around 250K words – much more ambitious than my previous games with Choice Of. Bluntly, I wanted to know if I could do it. The answer turns out to be, “Yes,” but that was not at all clear at certain points over the last two years. 🙂 Without my fabulous editor Rebecca Slitt and my equally fabulous, patient, and supportive husband Richard Jackson, I would have lost my nerve months ago.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?

I was delighted (read: bouncing up and down with excitement) to learn that Ellen Kushner has another Riverside novel in the works – this one about the young adulthood of Jessica Campion, set between _The Privilege of the Sword_ and “The Man With The Knives,” and featuring at least in passing Alec and Richard. If you do not know the series of which I speak, _run don’t walk_ to your nearest bookseller and acquire yourself a copy of Swordspoint.You will not be sorry.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

I’m very excited about the possibility of meeting guest of honor Steven Brust. Freedom and Necessity (a epistolary work co-authored with Emma Bull, set in 1849) absolutely blew my mind, and I’d love to ask him to autograph my copy.

Stephen Kelner

Dr. Steve Kelner is an authority on measuring and developing leadership and motivation; he applied his background in motivational theory to research and write the book Motivate Your Writing! He develops and applies executive assessment methodologies globally for a leading executive search firm and often speaks to writers groups. Visit Stephen’s website or like him on Facebook.

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

Besides my fiction, I am developing content for an update of my book Motivate Your Writing! Reviewers had noted a few areas I could add (such as more information on having multiple motives, or how thriller writers are motivated), and some areas that had gone out of date (on the writing business as it was versus the opportunities today). I have a Facebook page for the book where I am gathering questions and posting new content. I am also expanding the circle somewhat to other forms of creativity, such as visual arts, thanks to some help and input from my daughter who is studying animation (and will also be at Boskone!). Seeing how people have responded to my book and how it energized them and improved their productivity, I get excited by how I can help people with some relatively simple insights that just aren’t widely enough known — yet.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?

One of the first times I consulted to a senior manager on (among other things) his implicit (emotional) motivation. He was known as an outstanding manager of people, who had moved from an engineering position up the management ranks, learning how to empower, manage, and align his team and, eventually, a whole organization of hundreds of people. But his actual implicit motive pattern — what really moved him — was to make things better as an individual contributor, perhaps as the engineer he was trained to be, or as an entrepreneur. All his skill in managing people came not from a personal enjoyment of influence, but from a conscious effort. He had been so successful that he had been promoted to a role that wore him down, where he had to force himself to do the right thing for the job. Sadly, he had not realized how his own drives had made that happen. The conflict had taken its toll, making him cynical and ready for early retirement. After our conversation, where all I did was help him understand this in himself, he came back the next day completely revitalized and energized. He thanked me sincerely and told me, “I blamed the company, but the truth was I hated my job because it didn’t suit me. I’ve decided that if they don’t let me retire, I have to quit: I can’t live like this anymore.” It was shocking to me that someone could get to their fifties and not realize they were unhappy simply because they had not known their own motives. I knew intellectually that implicit motives are not conscious in nature, but here I saw the personal cost of that fact, and how someone could transform with the right personal understanding. Ever since, I have tried to think about how people can learn and tap into their own motivation, and be happy and satisfied at what they do. I applied that to writing as I do to many other jobs!

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

Returning to my homeworld!

Julia Rios

Julia Rios writes all sorts of things, hosts the Outer Alliance Podcast (celebrating QUILTBAG speculative fiction), and is one of the three fiction editors at Strange Horizons. Her fiction, articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Queers Dig Time Lords, Jabberwocky, and several other places. Visit Julia’s website or follow her on Twitter @omgjulia.

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

Right now I’m working on The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2014 for Twelfth Planet Press. This is extremely exciting and challenging because it basically means I’m reading all the short fiction I can get my hands on from 2014, and finding the best stories featuring teen protagonists. It’s challenging because, my, there is a lot of short fiction out there! But it’s absolutely wonderful when I find a new favorite author.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?

I’m really looking forward to The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. I love his short fiction, so I’m very excited to read his first novel.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

I think my favorite thing about Boskone is the art show. There are always so many fabulous pieces of art there, and walking through is a delight. I often end up with a little something new for myself from jewelry to paintings. It’s also great to get the chance to meet the artists personally. One of my favorite jewelry makers, K. M. Kotulak of Studio Hibernacula ( has sold me multiple pieces at Boskone in the past. If you see me wearing a really cool necklace, chances are it’s one of hers.

Daniel M. Kimmel

Daniel M. Kimmel is a film critic. He was nominated for a Hugo Award for Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and other observations about science fiction movies. His latest book is his first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide. Both are available from Fantastic Books. Visit Daniel’s website, friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @dkimmel.

How would you describe your work to people who might be unfamiliar with you?

I take film — SF or not — seriously, but I don’t take my own opinions as the final word. They’re MY opinions, and if I express them strongly it’s because I’m hoping you’ll agree or disagree and the conversation can continue. Humor is also an important part of my writing, as with my first novel, “Shh! It’s a Secret.” It plays a role in my new novel — currently seeking a home — which is a time travel comedy.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?

As someone known in the fan community as a professional film critic it would probably be seeing “2001: A Space Odyssey” for the first time at the tender age of 13 and realizing that science fiction films were worth exploring and discussing. It led many years later to my first published piece for an SF audience on the film for the late, lamented Artemis magazine which, in turn, led to my then editor, Ian Randal Strock, to eventually publish my book on SF film, “Jar Jar Binks Must Die.”

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

No question: it’s the conversations whether on panels, in the consuite, or in the hallways. Some of it is about science fiction and some of it is about our lives, as I catch up with people I may not have seen in a while.