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February 17-19, 2023 — Westin Boston Seaport District
January 8, 2015

Mini Interviews with Steve Davidson, E.C. Ambrose, and Jeff Hecht

As writers, professionals and fans, we all have a defining moment that shaped who we are today. In today’s Boskone Mini Interviews, three participants share their stories on what influenced them to become science fiction fans, publishers, writers and science journalists.

Steve Davidson

Steve Davidson is the owner, publisher and editor pro-tem of Amazing Stories. Steve is a recovering fan; following a whirlwind career that culminated in managing the 1977 Hugo Awards Banquet, he briefly gafiated for 30 years to become a Top 100 Paintball Player of All Time. He has since come to his senses and returns to the warm and fuzzy folds of Fandom with Amazing Stories. Visit the Amazing Stories website, find them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @amazingstories0.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?
Purchasing a copy of Heinlein’s Starman Jones from the Bookmobile while in fourth grade. I’d been fond of science fiction up till that point (without realizing it was a “thing” – watching shows like Fireball XL 5, The Outer Limits and reading H. G. Wells and Jules Verne), but picking up a true SF novel (one illustrated provocatively by Berkey), and one by Heinlein, opened the door to fandom for me; in searching for “more of the same” I quickly discovered anthologies (Astounding Tales of Space & Time), other authors (like Ursula Le Guin) and the magazines, like Amazing Stories. I became a letter hack and had several published in Ted White’s Amazing Stories; an announcement in Filthy Pierre’s convention listing turned me on to Suncon, which was being managed out of my neighborhood; I signed on to staff and there was no looking back.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?
I’m continuing to publish Amazing Stories as a daily, multi-author blog; we’re increasing out offerings in fiction, we just opened our online store (Frank R. Paul Amazing Stories pulp cover posters, mostly); I’m managing licensing deals with Futures Past Editions books and Open Road Brands, negotiating additional licenses and always – ALWAYS – continually looking for that investor that can help take us to the next level.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?
The tradition. Boskone is a “traditional” convention of the fan-run, fan-attended, fan-interest convention of the type I attended when I first started going to conventions. I love the intimacy – being able to walk up to anyone and start a conversation, starting out with having so much in common that there can be a meaningful conversation. During my first run of doing conventions in the early 70s through the 80s I lived in New Jersey and ended up mostly going south and west to attended cons – philcons, balticons, disclaves, pghlanges – and for some reason, although I tried on numerous occasions, I never made it north of New York City (Lunacons, Bouchercons, etc); moving to New Hampshire changed all of that and I was very happy to discover that Boskone was “just like those other cons I’d been to”. When they say that fandom is one big extended family, they weren’t joking. And it’s so nice to be able to go “home” once every year.

ecambrose bookE. C. Ambrose (aka Elaine Isaak)

E. C. Ambrose writes The Dark Apostle historical fantasy series about medieval surgery, beginning with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013). Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, and won the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction Contest 2012. As Elaine Isaak, she is also the author of The Singer’s Crown and its sequels. Visit her website, friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter at @ecambrose and/or @elaineisaak.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?
Years ago, when I had dropped out of art school and was looking for a way to support myself while finishing my first novel, I shared an apartment with my sister, and ended up getting a job at the same place she was working, a call center for a vendor of equestrian equipment. I knew just enough about horses to get by (and most questions were easily answered by the catalog anyhow). But I became increasingly frustrated with the corporate structure, and the company’s adherence to hierarchy–even when it didn’t make sense. So, when they had pushed a little too hard on an agenda that had nothing to do with my work, and everything to do with making sure I understood I was the Employee, and they were In Charge. I quit. When A fellow employee discovered I didn’t have another job lined up, aside from some freelance costuming, she said, “What are you going to do?” And I said, ‘Whatever I want.” My motto since then has been, I am who I am because I dare. Not because I live by someone else’s arbitrary rules. Only in daring can we learn and grow and become our best selves.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?
Avengers II. Yep, totally. I loved the first one, loved Captain America, and the Iron Man films (mostly), but most of all, I love how they pack so much adventure and character development into a single film. The Marvel films in general give me a great break from the pressures of life, sure, but from the author’s perspective (yeah, I know, outside the purview of the question, but there you go) they also encourage me to think about courage, heroism, and consequences. But, best part, I can have Captain America *and* Iron Man for Mother’s Day.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?
Boskone is my chance to visit with hundreds of friends, fans and fellow authors all in the same place, sharing our intellectual curiosity, artistic enthusiasm, and geekish discoveries. It is a tribal gathering where I can recognize even those I have not yet met. Every time I prowl the con suite I meet an old friend, or I make a new one.

Jeff Hecht

Jeff Hecht is a free-lance science and technology writer and consultant for New Scientist magazine and Laser Focus World, based in Newton, Massachusetts. His short fiction has appeared in Analog, Asimov’s, Interzone, Nature, and Daily Science Fiction. He has written several books on lasers and fiber optics. Visit Jeff’s website or follow him on Twitter @jeffhecht.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?
Answering a tiny little ad in the help wanted section of the Boston Globe 40 years ago. I was getting bored out of my skull writing computer manuals for Honeywell. I had all but finished my project, and was sitting around writing science fiction and sending out resumes. The tiny little ad was from a trade magazine looking for an assistant editor. It turned out to be a laser magazine, and I had worked one summer in a laser lab, and had a degree in electrical engineering. I talked my way into the job. And it was a hell of a lot more fun than computer manuals. It got me launched into a career as a science journalist, something that I hadn’t really thought about very much before. My boss was an old-line journalist who put up with my erratic spelling because I understood more about physics and engineering than he did. He also tutored me in writing. And he turned out to be an old friend of Damon Knight who was not bothered by my side interest in science fiction. I stayed seven years, learned laser geek speak, and quit to become a full-time freelancer and write about more than lasers. That led to more adventures in writing the history of fiber optics, going through the madness of the Bubble, and covering news stories like the Piltdown bird (Archaeoraptor).

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

I write about lasers and dinosaurs. Seriously. I make my living writing about science and technology, and somewhat by happenstance two of the areas I specialize in are optics (lasers, fiber optics, photonics, and so forth) and paleontology (earth science, history of the earth, fossils, and – of course – dinosaurs. I’ve been known to write fiction about them, but mostly I write science fact, for magazines including New Scientist and Laser Focus World.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?
Meeting old and new friends and talking about interesting ideas. Boskone attracts an interesting group of people, and they make for stimulating discussions.