Stephanie Osborn, a scientist who worked on the Space Shuttle Program, is also a science fiction mystery author who has agreed to do an interview.
Thank you Ms Osborn for taking the time to share with us (see Steph in Imagicopter FLASH). Is Stephanie Osborn your real name, and what can we call you?
“Yes, that’s my real name. My friends just call me Steph. I don’t use pen names.”
Steph, where are you originally from and where do you currently reside?
“I’m originally from just outside Clarksville, Tennessee. I did my undergrad work there at Austin Peay State University. While I was doing my graduate work, I lived in Nashville, TN and went to school at Vanderbilt University.
Now I live in Huntsville, Alabama, where I worked for 20+ years in the civilian and military space programs.”
When did you first realize you enjoyed writing and when did you first write?
“Oh wow, I can’t remember a time I didn’t enjoy writing, once I came to the understanding of storytelling. I was writing stories in early elementary school. My first play came in 4th grade, and it was good enough that my English teacher let me cast it and put it on for the class.
By late elementary school I was actively writing poetry and short stories. In high school I entered a Sherlock Holmes short story into the school literary magazine. The submissions were blind judged (no author names on the entries), and the high school English lit teacher threw mine out, because she was convinced it was a plagiarism of an actual Conan Doyle story.
I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to understand the concept.”
When did you begin writing professionally? Please, too, tell us a bit about your writing style.
“I had my first novel published in 2009 – it was Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. I started writing it, oh, back in the 90s. [It] took me a long time to write, because it’s about a shuttle disaster, and I was working the shuttle program at the time.
I was writing about exactly what I was working to prevent happening, so it was emotionally draining.
I wrote in fits and spurts and finally got it done – just in time to have the very scenario I wrote occur in real life. The Columbia went down with a friend of mine on board. [The] only real difference was that Columbia was an accident, and my fictional disaster was sabotage.
Now I have ten books, novels and anthologies out there, and more on the way.
As far as genres are concerned, I love science fiction (SF) – (hard SF, military SF, steampunk) and mystery. I often combine SF and mystery in one book. I’m told I tend to throw a good bit of romance in too. I’m a not-so-closet romantic, so that’s ok.”
Steph, do you like to write about the same things you enjoy reading?
“My favorite genres to write are the ones I like to read – science fiction and mystery. I do also read a lot of fantasy. I mostly got into that back when I was working the space program.
Reading hard SF seemed too much like bringing work home with me, so I went the other direction to give my mind a break.”
Do you have family and/or friends who support you with your current career as a writer?
“My husband, Darrell, is my biggest supporter, of course. He’s a graphics artist, and also does my book covers. My parents and my sister are very supportive as well.
Dr. James K. Woosley, a physicist friend, with whom I went to graduate school, is my beta reader (someone who reads your manuscript before you submit it to find out if there are any flaws, how it reads in general, and in my case, if the science holds up to scrutiny)!
Travis S. Taylor, the New York Times’ best-selling author and star of National Geographic’s Rocket City Rednecks, is my writing mentor and one of my best buds. I sometimes call him the brother I never had. He’s never told me to stop calling him that, so I guess he’s ok with it. He’s very supportive, always looking for ways to help promote me, and we’ve written a couple of books together.
One [of the books] is out, Extraction Point!, and the other is being polished up now before going to the publisher. I truly enjoy working with him. Our brains mesh well in that way.”
What is your background in education, other career(s), and did/do they affect you now as an author?
“I have graduate and undergraduate degrees in astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics. I’m a licensed minister, formerly an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified personal trainer, current National Weather Service (NWS) certified storm spotter and former reserve police officer.
That gives me a huge range of background knowledge from which to write. It helps immensely. It also means that if I don’t know something, I know where to go to find out, and I have the ability to understand it.
I have been called both a “modern Renaissance woman” and a polymath. Some of the media have dubbed me “The Interstellar Woman of Mystery.” I love it!”
In addition to authoring books do you write in other areas?
“I blog now and again, usually about scientific matters, and I have written for magazines and ezines in the past. I write poetry, but poetry “doesn’t sell,” so I mostly do that for fun.”
I understand that there are all kinds of conventions, do you participate in any of them?
“Oh yes! I love going to conventions! I attend SF conventions all over the Southeastern US, and occasionally venture farther abroad, such as the Twin Cities or Detroit area. I am a double threat, becoming a triple threat (Burnout is a feature film project, and the current screenplay is my own adaptation), so I usually speak on the literature, science, and film tracks. Not uncommonly I am the Science Guest of Honor or the Mistress of Ceremonies (MC)/Toast Mistress.
In fact my home convention, Con*Stellation here in Huntsville, recently made me their MC in perpetuity. That’s a great honor and a lot of fun. My husband, who is an award-winning professional magician in addition to graphic artist, usually comes along for the ride and entertains everyone with his “Balloons of Doom”!
I’m about to branch out into another realm – the Holmesian gatherings. My new series, the Displaced Detective series, has Sherlock Holmes as one of the protagonists, and I’ve done lots of research on him, and the Victorian timeframe.
In April I’ll be presenting a paper by invitation at the Southern Gathering of Sherlockians in the historic Read Hotel in Chattanooga, TN. A number of us are also discussing ways to create “HolmesCons” that would be analogous to a Star Trek convention or the like. I’m very excited about it all!”
Do you have advice for young or new writers/authors just beginning?
“As a matter of fact, I do. Read.
Read as much as you can, in all genres. And read the good stuff. The classics. Everything from the Bible to Le Morte D’Artur to Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, Dickens, Shelley, Whitman, Twain, Conan Doyle, Burroughs, Wells, Verne, Tolkien, Rand, Joyce, Victor Hugo, Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein…you know, the stuff that lasts.
The stuff that deals with themes that never grow outdated, even when the technology does. Saturate your brain in that “good stuff.” Then, when it comes time to write, you can distill it back out, drop by drop, onto the page – and
you’ll know “good” when you see it.”
Is there anything else, Stephanie Osborn, that you’d like to share?
“For those who might be interested in my writing, it’s available as treebook and ebook, the latter in just about every format known to man. I have purchase links for each book on my website: www.stephanie-osborn.com, as well as a little bit about me and the projects currently in work. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Pop me a friend request!”
For more about Stephanie Osborn’s works and appearance schedule go to Novelist Stephanie Osborn. She’s also been in Imagyro, check out Imagyro Magazine.
Thank you Steph for taking the time for this interview. nextooze.com, its readers and your fans look forward to more novels.
Watch for her at the upcoming convention, ConStellation!
Stephanie Osborn’s published works include:
- Burnout (April, 2009) – To become a major motion picture!
- The Y Factor (w/ Darrell Bain, April, 2009)
- The Cresperian Alliance (w/ Darrell Bain, March, 2010)
- Go to her website to see her additional and latest works…