Today I would like to introduce , Stephanie Osborn, fiction writer, and former rocket scientist. I kid you not Stephanie is 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. She has also worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights, the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resume.
Stephanie is currently retired from space work. She now happily “passes 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 her knowledge, experience, and travels.
Her Sherlock series is the Displaced Detective. It is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities; often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt.
Interview with Author Stephanie Osborn author of the Displaced Detective Series 4/03/2013
Lisa M. Collins: Stephanie, I love Sherlock Holmes and the series is fantastic! I was wondering where you get your ideas?
Stephanie Osborn: You know, that’s a really good question. I honestly don’t know. They just sort of crop up, and once I have the characters, the main event, and the title, I sort of “know” where it’s going.
Lisa M. Collins: Is that the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Stephanie Osborn: I’m mostly a pantser, I think. I write like movies are filmed – out of sequence. Usually I’ll get the climactic scene, then the end, then another important scene before the climax, and then I piece them together. Occasionally once I get into it, I’ll discover I need to set down some sort of outline to get from B to A.
Lisa M. Collins: Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
Stephanie Osborn: World-building exercises? Oh heavens no! If the idea is there then I’m wasting energy on the exercises. I do find that I may have to lay things out. For instance, I eventually sat down and created a layout of Skye Chadwick’s house for the Displaced Detective series, just to ensure I kept everything consistent. But that – and character lists – are about the extent of it.
Lisa M. Collins: Can you think of a well-known writer whose style is similar to your own, and if so can you recommend a book by that author?
Stephanie Osborn: For myself, no. I’m not objective enough with my own writing to be able to do that. Also, my style can change depending on what I’m writing.
Well, I take that back. Travis S. Taylor is my writing mentor and occasional co-author, and we write enough alike that we sometimes can’t remember who wrote what. He’s the author of Warp Speed, One Day On Mars, The Tau Ceti Agenda, and co-authors the Looking Glass series with John Ringo.
I’ve been compared by other people to E.E. “Doc” Smith and Robert Heinlein, most notably Skylark of Space and Lifeline.
Lisa M. Collins: What is your daily writing like?
Stephanie Osborn: I’m a night owl, so I’m usually eating breakfast around most people’s lunchtime. Then I do some publicity and marketing stuff, which may include social media posting or blogging or something like that. Depending on how hot onto a story I am, I’ll sit down to writing mid-afternoon to as late as dinnertime, and keep writing until midnight or later. I have been known to get lost in writing and end up going until 4am.
Lisa M. Collins: Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision?
Stephanie Osborn: I’m pretty much full time these days. I got out of the office job thing a few years ago – before my first novel sales – because a) I lost a friend aboard the Columbia disaster and sort of needed a break, b) I just really needed to be able to concentrate on it full time. The amount of energy that was left to me at the end of an office day was entirely too paltry to be able to create properly.
Lisa M. Collins: Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher?
Stephanie Osborn: My main publisher at the current time is Twilight Times Books. They are one of the largest of the small press and have been listed in Publisher’s Weekly’s annual list of Top Writer’s Markets. Lida Quillen is the publisher and is an absolute gem. She put up with all of my newbie questions and fears and worries when I was just getting started and taught me the business.
I also work with Chromosphere Press, Kerlak Publishing, and even have a couple things out through the powerhouse, Baen Books.
Lisa M. Collins: Can you tell us about some of your other writing and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
Stephanie Osborn: Well, I tend to write science fiction mysteries. Good SF, in my opinion, has an element of mystery to it anyway, just like any exploration of the unknown does. So I go whole hog and throw some sort of real, deliberate mystery into the mix and come up with things like Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281 (a Space Shuttle disaster turns out to have been no accident), and the Displaced Detective series (Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files, as it’s been described). I also do popular science, such as A New American Space Plan (co-authored with Travis S. Taylor) and Sherlock, Sheilas and the Seven-Percent Solution (about Victorian drug addiction and how Sherlock Holmes might have made use of it, all arising out of my research for the Displaced Detective series). All told I have 20 books out right now.
This weekend I’ll be appearing at the Annual Gathering of Southern Sherlockians in Chattanooga, TN; next weekend I’ll be a special guest at 221bCon in Atlanta, GA; the last weekend of April I’ll be giving talks on the research I did for the Displaced Detective series at the Bailey Cove and Main branches of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. This is “It’s Elementary!” Month for me.
Next month I’ll be a guest at the Alabama Phoenix Festival, a SF festival in Birmingham, AL; in June I’ll be at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN.
Lisa M. Collins: In closing Stephanie, I want to thank you for sharing about your writing. As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
Stephanie Osborn: Read. Read, read, read, and then read some more. Reading is never a waste of time for a writer. And read the good stuff – Chaucer, Homer, Plato, Virgil, Sophocles, Mallory, Shakespeare, Dickens, Shelley, Hugo, Whitman, Wells, Verne, Conan Doyle, Joyce, etc. See, when you read this stuff, you learn what the “good stuff” really is. You let it seep down deep in your mind and consciousness. Then, when you sit down to write, you’re much more apt to distill that “good stuff” back out, drop by drop, into your own work. It really does help, I promise.
Lisa M. Collins: Thank you Stephanie!
If you would like more information about Stephanie Osborn you can find her books on Amazon, and updates about her writing on Twitter, Facebook and on her blog.