10 Questions With…Stephanie Osborn
Front Row Lit wanted to see what makes writers tick. Our most recent installment of “10 Questions With…” features published author Stephanie Osborn
- Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs. I’ve worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and I trained astronauts, including my friend Kalpana Chawla, a member of the crew lost in the Columbia disaster.
I have graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and am “fluent” in several more, including Geology and Anatomy. I obtained my various degrees from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
I’m currently retired from space work. Now I happily “pass it forward, ” teaching math and science via numerous media including radio, podcasting, and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on my knowledge, experience, and travels.
- When did you first decide that writing was in your future?
I don’t know that I ever “decided” so much as I just thought I’d try it and see what happened. I’ve always written, since the time I was in elementary school – poetry, plays, and short stories. I didn’t really know I had entire books in me until around fifteen years ago, when they started coming out.
- Describe the process of finding the right publisher for your work.
Well, I’m fortunate in that I have certain publishers already, as well as a literary agent. My writing mentor, Travis S. Taylor, helped me get on with my current main publisher, Twilight Times Books. He kind of served as an agent for my first book. When the publisher likes something, and doesn’t want you to change it into a completely different animal, then you’ve found your publishing home.
- How would you describe your writing style?
Literate and literary, but exciting and fast-paced. For example, my first book, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, was nominated for awards in science fiction, mystery, AND thriller genres.
- What inspires your creativity?
Oh, wow. Lots of stuff. Travel and seeing new places; learning new things; talking to a friend about an interesting subject; just goofing around sometimes. Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet about some idea and I google it and start reading and chasing links, just learning. I can spend hours doing that if I’m not careful. But most times it ends up in a book somewhere.
- How often do you get writer’s block and how do you combat it?
A lot! I combat it by brainstorming, scribbling notes, and just sitting down and starting to write. Eventually it starts to flow and even if I only get a couple hundred words, that’s a couple hundred more than I had, and that builds up. Usually it’s more like a couple thousand, though.
- Along with praise for your art, rejection and negative criticism is inevitable. How does that affect your focus and momentum?
At first it was a real blow. But after awhile you get used to it. It stops being a personal thing, and becomes more of a realization that not everybody is going to like what you write, so why expect a publisher or editor to be any different? They’re people too, jokes to the contrary.
Ad hominem attacks are another matter. Those do happen sometimes, unfortunately.
- If you weren’t writing, what career path would you choose?
Oh, I’ve already spent over 2 decades in the civilian and military space programs. I think I’ve chosen!
- Please tell us a little about your next project.
Seriously, I have four series in work currently, and ideas for one or two more. I have the sequel to Burnout (a mystery about a Shuttle disaster that turns out to have been sabotage) in work; I have the 4th book in the Cresperian Saga (Earth’s first contact with aliens when their starship wrecks in our solar system) in work; there’s book 2 of the Point series (super-secret Dept. of Homeland Security team tasked to protect against terrorism by aliens or time-travelers find an “anomaly”) to write with Travis Taylor; and the next several Displaced Detective (Sherlock Holmes is yanked from an alternate reality into our own and can’t be sent back) books. Then there’s the steampunk novel I’ve promised myself I’ll finish, and another book that Sarah A. Hoyt and I have been discussing co-authoring.
- What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?
That’s easy. Read, read, read, and read some more. Read the good stuff. From Hammurabi, the Bible, Virgil and Homer, to Chaucer, Mallory, Shakespeare; Shelley, Dickens, Wells, Verne, Hugo, Twain; Whitman, Tolkien, Lewis, Joyce, Stevenson, Poe, Stoker, Asimov, Heinlein, McMurtry, King. You get the idea. The classics. The GOOD stuff. Your brain is a little like a sponge. The more you soak it in the good stuff, the more it absorbs. Then, when you get ready to write, you have all that good stuff that you can wring out, that you can distill onto your own page – and you’ll know when it’s good.
To see more on Stephanie, go to www.sff.net/people/steph-osborn/
To order books by Stephanie, go to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=stephanie+osborn
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