Guest: Sonja Boschman

Sonja (b. 1988) graduated in 2015 as an Egyptologist, an academic career that she combined with writing adventure novels set in ancient Egypt. But she loves the future as much as she adores the past. In her writings she therefore combines the genres science fiction and historical fiction/fantasy with her experiences as an historian and her love of (extinct) languages. This not only results in stories with an academic twist, but also in more puns than is probably good for anyone.

It will come as no surprise that the majority of her current projects are set in ancient Egypt, or are vaguely related to it – from a novel that builds on traditional ancient Egyptian mythology to a literal mix-up of SF worlds and the court of Amenhotep III, that she is writing with Marleen Oosterbaan. It will be equally unsurprising that her contributions to HSFCon will be about how history can be a rich source of inspiration not only for fantasy, but especially for science fiction. After all: the past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

Guest: Paul van Leeuwenkamp

After Paul van Leeuwenkamp (b. 1955, The Hague) graduated as a biologist and after studying Library and Documentation Science for a while, he ended up in ICT. He worked in this field for nearly forty years, first as a COBOL programmer, later as a designer and information analyst. He has lived for many years in Utrecht, with his wife and two daughters. From an early age he played volleyball (until 2021) and chess (he never learns), and he writes.

Paul became a member of the Dutch SF Society in 1978 and his first story was published in Holland SF in 1979. That was the start of all the rest.

His stories appeared in magazines (SF Terra, Rigel Magzine, Fantastische Vertellingen, Manifesto Bravado, Cerberus, Lava, atmoSFeer, Ator Mondis, Ballustrada, Concept, Wonderwaan) and in collections such as Ganymedes, Ragnarok and more recently Wereldbedenkers (2017), Nieuw-West Side stories (2018) EdgeZero, the best Dutch genre stories 2019/2021 (2020/2022) and Wonderwaan 50 (2020). A number of science fiction stories were collected in Plasmadromen (published by Verschijnsel in 2007), followed by the free e-book De schaal van offerande (2012).

Around the turn of the century he was to be found regularly in the top ten of the Paul Harland Award / Millennium Award / King Kong Award, the oldest short story competition for fantastical fiction in the Netherlands, resulting in a 2nd and a 3rd prize as best achievements.

He was part of the judging team or selection team for this competition four times.

Some of his stories are collaborations with Gust van Brussel, and on one he collaborated with Jos Lexmond.

He won several awards for his poetry, for instance the Poetry Award of the town Sint Truiden (1991). His poetry was collected in Brede gebaren (1992), Als een huis (1996) and Krabbels op de krant (2004). With the Amsterdam writer Meurs A.M. he edited an anthology of poetry by Gust van Brussel, Het onbereikbare licht (Book:light, 2014), an author about whom he wrote a long essay that was published in Gust van Brussel: veelzijdig auteur (2004). His own poems appeared in various magazines (Ballustrada, Concept, Meander, Appel, Lava, De gekooide roos, Begane grond, En er is), occasional publications (Zwolse Courant, Tuinscheurkalender) and in collections such as Een geluk als nieuwe wijn geschonken, the 100 best poems from the Gedichtenwedstrijd 2019.

To literary magazine Ballustrada he mainly contributes prose, but for their poetry section he edited a special edition about town poets (2019).

One of his poems is set in brass and can be seen in a city park in Utrecht.

In 2014 the Fantastische Vertellingen Foundation published Voor de geboorte, a novel consisting of stories and other texts that forms the first part of the Boeken van tijd van leven series. The second part, Corresponderend, appeared in 2022. The work was partly translated in English and German (Rund um die Welt, 2016).

From 1998 onwards Van Leeuwenkamp wrote reviews and short essays for the Flemish Libraries (VLABIN, Bibnet), some of which were published in the magazines Leesidee, De Leeswolf and De Leeswelp, and otherwise found their way to specialised databases and CD Rom. After a while his reviews and essays were also published in magazines such as Concept, Holland SF, Meander, Ballustrada and Fantastische Vertellingen, the latter naming him ‘minister of reviews’ in their colophon these days.

He was part of the editorial team on Schreef and Holland SF and is still a regular editor on Ballustrada.
Since 2013 he has been one of the editors – along with Remco Meisner – of the yearly publication Ganymedes, a collection of fantastical stories and poetry in which pretty much all Dutch-language authors can be found.

Guest: Anna Mattaar

Anna Mattaar developed her writing skills as a teenager on writers’ forums and organised writing competitions and other activities through her own forum ‘Het Leesbeest’. She studied ‘something to do with games and theatre’, but the written word was never far from her mind, so she took what she learned from the other types of storytelling back to her writing. Since 2021 she has been active under the name of Fictera Writers’ Coaching, helping other writers find their own unique writing process and make their stories on the page match the vision inside their heads. She does this by means of articles on writing, personal coaching and giving feedback on stories.

In 2015 a story by her appeared in the English-language collection In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett, and in 2022 her story Rot(s)profetie was given an honourable mention in a Fantasize competition. However, she spends most of her energy as a writer on the stories and novels set in the country Mennistriam. The novella Winterwaker, which appeared in the collection Werelden ontwaken in late 2022, was the first of these to be published.

Anna’s stories are characterised by immersive world building and a focus on the personal struggles of characters who often don’t fit in the existing patterns. She loves to talk about such topics as how to structure a thrilling story, character development, and all kinds of writing techniques to take your readers on the best possible trip through your imagination.

Guest: George van Hal

George van Hal (b. 1980) studied astronomy and now works as a science editor for Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, in which capacity he mostly writes about astronomy, physics and space exploration. He has published seven books in the popular science genre on the same subjects.

Apart from writing about scientific breakthroughs – anything from elementary particles to the deep mysteries of the outer cosmos – he also regularly dives into the real science behind science fiction stories. After all, be it time travel, the development of intelligent robots, the search for alien life forms or even superheroes and zombies, a lot of concepts from science fiction books and Hollywood movies have their roots in fascinating real-world science.

On this same subject he wrote a regular column for the newspaper for over a year and made several video columns for the popular science show Atlas on national television. He also wrote two books about it: Robots, aliens en popcorn (Atlas Contact, 2015) and Van lightsaber tot tijdmachine, due out in May with Nieuwezijds Publishers. Finally, he regularly gives public lectures on science and science fiction throughout the Netherlands and Flanders, at venues ranging from science festivals and major theatres to local community centres.

Guest: Nicole Leclercq

Lovers of steamy urban fantasy will feel right at home with Nicole Leclercq’s English-language book series. Her trilogy centres on Erin, a young woman who mysteriously survived a ritual as a child. This ritual gave her the powers of the creatures who at one time did not survive, and their spirits will not leave her be.

In Nicole’s first book ‘Touched by Madness’ Erin want to rid herself of the spirits so badly that she returns to her birthplace in search of answers. But the problem is that in doing so, she attracts the attention of a sexy vampire who may want to kiss her or suck her dry. She soon realises that she’d better keep him at arm’s length…

‘Touched by Madness’ was voted ‘best paranormal’ by the readers of ManyBooks in December 2019. Nicole’s books are not unlike those by Charlaine Harris (best known for the True Blood TV series) and Kim Harrison.

To readers who sign up for her newsletter Nicole offers a free copy of ‘Touched by Fear’, a novella about the time Erin spent in a psychiatric hospital, where she was forced to confront the evil doctor stalking her, as well as the seductive spirit of a warlock who keeps trying to tempt her to give in to his demands. You can sign up here:

Besides the Erin Holland series Nicole also wrote the novella ‘Hunted’ in 2021, in which Alana finds out she was descended from fairies. Fairies who will go pretty far to lure her into their world…

In May 2022 Nicole started work as a Business Developer Geothermal heat for the Dutch state-owned energy company. She also minds the cats (and hamsters) in her neighbourhood.