Capricon 2016 – The Friday Interviews
Capricon 2016 – The Friday Interviews are now available to download. Check them out here. Jen Usellis-Mackay, the Klingon Pop Warrior, attended Capricon on behalf of the G & T Show and secured interviews with Eric Wilkerson, Mae The Bellydancer, and author Scott Lynch. All three of these interviews have been consolidated here for your listening pleasure. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fun conversations Jen enjoyed with the guests of Honor that attended Capricon 2016. Jen has posted a blog about her convention experiences on the G & T Show website. To read the full post, check out Capricon 2016 – A Chicagoland fan con for everyone!
Jen’s first interview was with Eric Wilkerson. Eric is a free-lance illustrator, concept artist, and teacher working in the entertainment industry for the last ten years and has worked with a number of notable companies, including Blue Man Group, Nickelodeon, and Fantasy Flight games.
They discuss his work for the Blue Man Group and the costumes he made for a new show they were going to produce. It’s unknown if the project will ever come to fruition. They also discuss his work for Weta and their work on Lord of the Rings and how it impacted on the Blue Man Group project.
They talk about Eric’s panels at the convention. He did the How To Create A Book Cover, Alien Architecture on Earth, and The Art of Eric Wilkerson panels. She asks him about the Rockin’ Rio USA and the 9 foot robot. It’s going to be part of the Art of Eric Wilkerson panel. The giant robot was inspired by the work he did for Blue Man Group. He talks about how the project came about and what he had done for them in the development of the robot. One of the challenges of being a concept artist is that you are not able to show your work until after the project has been completed, which in some cases can be years later.
They talk about his sculpting. He’s been sculpting maquettes since before college. He had designed his own Ninja Turtle van and sewer layer before they were created for the toy line. In college, he learned how shadows and light can help an artist create better images.
Jen points out that he’s a Star Trek fan and offers him G & T’s Lipton Questions. His favorite Trek show is DS9. His favorite episode or story arc was Far Beyond the Stars with Sisko as a science fiction writer. If he could be any Trek species, he’d be a Ferengi. He would have wanted to serve on the Equinox from Voyager, but he couldn’t decide on a name for his own starship.
You can find Eric’s work on his website and on Instagram. He’s working on an original IP project involving aliens. He’s also been working on some casino work. That winds down the interview with Eric. You can find Eric’s links below.
Next, Jen sat down with Mae the Bellydancer. She specializes in tribal fusion bellydancing. She’s a performance artist and teacher in Chicago and has been producing a tribal and tribal fusion event called the Glint, and is the director of the troupes of Black Silk Road and Down Hips Down.
Jen starts off by asking about the Glint event. Mae started off in folk dance at the age of seven and at age 13 she began studying bellydancing. Her instructors were old school and required her to do a fifteen minute set before she was allowed to improvise. In Chicago, she discovered that she was allowed to do so much more. Her philosophy for the The Glint is that a dance should have a beginning, middle, and end. It’s a long form dance performance with all acts lasting 8 to 16 minutes in length, allowing the performers to tell a story through their motions. They have a Glint every couple of months and they have a different theme for each event. The next event will be in March and its theme is Steampunk. With one of her students, she’ll be performing a duet called Aris that is about a snake oil salesman.
Down Hips Down is her second dance troupe and its where mayhem happens. Black Silk Road is a Gothic Bellydance troupe. Their goal was to scare children while wearing lots of layers of black. Down Hips Down’s last performance was for a zodiac themed event and they represented Leo. They were the kittens that found their courage by going through a quest through dance. Mae talks about the performance and how much fun it was.
Mae talks about her childhood and as an adult studying dance. And how people have to be ok with their bodies. Jen compares her brief bellydancing experience to a figure drawing experience she had where she posed in her full Klingon make-up. It was terrifying because she was putting herself out there for everyone to see and that more women need to become more comfortable just living within their own bodies.
With Jen’s background in theater, she thinks she understands the term “performing out” but asks Mae to clarify. Mae explains that people learning about bellydancing may watch videos on youtube, which emphasizes small movements since they are playing to a camera. When people perform in front of a live audience, people sitting in the back have to be able to see what it is. It’s about about projecting their movements. Mae shares a story about the first time she encountered a large audience. Through their actions they need to convey the story through their movements regardless of the size of the audience.
Mae had a storytelling through dance panel later in the day. It was her first panel. Dance is some of the oldest forms of storytelling that often predates written or even oral storytelling. Folk dancing is an extension of that and some folk dances are hundreds if not thousands of years old. When her mother convinced her to take up folk dance, she learned a lot about storytelling. She uses the Hula dance as an example of a folk dance conveying an ancient history.
Jen offers Mae the Lipton questions. Mae’s favorite Trek series is Deep Space Nine, but she’s rewatching TNG with her wife and is really enjoying it. If she could be any other species in Trek, Mae would be a Betazoid. They share a moment talking about Lwaxana Troi. The style of dance that Mae hasn’t tackled yet but would like to try is Japanese Court Dance. Mae explains what it is. It’s a folk dance about Japanese gods.
The Glint is all year. January, March, May, August, and October. The August show will be put on by CoreDemo, a podcast that is putting on an anti-cancer fundraiser. You can find more information about Mae and her events through the links below. That concludes Jen’s interview with Mae The Bellydancer.
Scott Lynch is up next. He’s the author of the Gentleman Bastard series. In preparation of her interview with him, she had read The Lies of Locke Lamora and enjoyed the book. Scott is a geek of all trades and collects choose your own adventure books. Scott is feeling a bit under the weather.
Jen starts with his panels. She sat in on the Heists, Capers, and Jobs panel. He also had When the Good Guys are Bad Guys panel that talks about bent heroes, anti-heroes, and crooked heroes. She talks about his first panel. Another panel that he’s doing is about Depression and Fandom. Jen talks about the loss of Robin Williams and others to depression. Scott talks about some of the things he was looking forward to discussing during the panel. Denial and internalization turns depression dangerous and possibly deadly. Unhealthy attitudes towards it makes it difficult for people suffering with it to get the help they need. Talking about it helps people deal with it, but it won’t make it go away. Robin Williams was only the tip of the iceberg. There are many people that suffer from it. It is something that we have had for a long time but its name is relatively a new thing. Scott talks about his own experiences with it during an interview in London for his publishers.
Scott has been a champion for diversity and inclusivity in his books. She had read Sad Puppy about the Patrick Neilson. He had written it because a “crazy dude” stated that Tor Books has been masterminding the corruption of the Hugo Awards for the last 20 years. This was a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory that was completed fabricated. He talks about the Hugo Awards and the methods they use in their decision making process that changes from year to year based on where World Con is being held that year. There is no objective measure to judge these artistic endeavors or for the tastes of the voting public. They are essentially popularity contests. He goes on to say that he’s been nominated for awards but hasn’t won them. Even best sellers haven’t won Hugo awards.
Jen moves on to our Lipton questions. Jen starts with his favorite Trek series. He shares a story from his childhood watching TNG in first run and TOS in reruns. He appreciates the middle five seasons of DS9. Leonard McCoy is his favorite character. The species he would like to be is a Vulcan. He also considers logic to be an opt-in philosphy, since the alternative for Vulcan would be a Romulan. He wouldn’t mind to be a Q as well, but decides on Vulcan. The open-ended series on an existing character in Trek would be McCoy. He mentions the Romulan Senate filabuster McCoy did in one of the novels from the 80s. He would write McCoy in a court room drama, medical crisis, and other scenarios. The authors he runs out to get their books were Raymond E. Feist, Matthew Woodring Stover, Tim Powers, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, and Jack Vance. The genre he’s never written for yet but would love to try is espionage. Techno Thrillers would also be a guilty pleasure for him. He would also try something in the space opera genre. The name of his starship is the USS Star-Tomato. He will also eventually name one EternalSun. His favorite adjective or the one he over uses or the word he can’t stand is the word “almost”. It’s a weasel of a word. He’s been teaching at a wordshop in order to confront and analyze his thoughts on his own work. He talks about being nice to his minions if he were an evil warlord. He had to scrub his habits in order to make his characters better. He head remove himself from them. If was given a green light to kill off a Star Trek canon character, Jen mentions that she would have killed McCoy, which surprised Scott. When she explained her reasoning, he got a better idea of what it would mean for everyone else if McCoy were killed. He jokes about killing Neelix. He would have to think about it before answering and decides to dodge the question.
His website is currently being revamped. There will be a big formal announcement coming out for The Thorn of Emberlain. He’s got some short stories coming up and some side projects that he can’t talk about yet, including some Lamora stories. He’s hoping to get things back on track this year. His anxiety issues have been holding him back in recent years but has been making progress on that front. They wind up the interview.
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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