Few can claim the varied background of award-winning author Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery.
A veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons effects.
Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is "fluent" in several more, including geology and anatomy.
In addition, she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.
Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.
Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to over 35 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the Cresperian Saga book series and has written the critically acclaimed Displaced Detective Series, described as "Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files," and its pulp-bestselling prequel series, Gentleman Aegis, the very first book of which won a Silver Falchion award. She has dabbled in paranormal/horror as well, releasing the ebook novella El Vengador, based on a true story. Her recent popular science book, Rock and Roll, a discussion of the New Madrid fault and its historic quakes, was a multiple-genre bestseller! Currently she's launching into the unknown with the Division One series, her take on the urban legend of the people who show up at UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc. to make things...disappear.
In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily "pays it forward," teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.
Tell us a bit about your latest work.
My current work is the Division One series. It's a whole series where I envision my take on that urban legend of the guys in the dark suits who show up after UFO encounters, alien abductions, and the like, and make the evidence disappear. It's been used a lot in fiction, especially by Hollywood (the eponymous MIB films, the Matrix films, the X-Files, Outer Limits, etc.), but I'm going in a slightly different direction with it. The organization, in my version, is part of a much larger bureaucracy, the Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration (PGLEIA), the law enforcement arm of the galactic government. The precinct in which Earth falls is Division One, hence the title of the series.
What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?
Oh, I don't know that I have themes that run through everything I write. Some series use parallelism, others use friendship/family/clan/tribe, etc. If there's a subject or theme that is in most of my books, I think it's probably something along the lines of, "serendipity isn't."
What would be your dream project?
I have two. One is an epic series about Atlantis as a worldwide culture as well as a place, and its ultimate downfall in an asteroid impact. It'd be somewhere between fantasy and hard SF, actually. The other would be a life of Christ with emphasis on the essential Jewishness of His life and world; too many Gentile Christians have lost sight of that and lost some lovely symbolism in His actions and teachings as a result.
The problem I'm having with both projects is the incredibly large scope. I don't know where to start. The fact that I'm not myself Jewish doesn't help me on the second project, either. I have to learn it before I can write about it, and I'm not sure what I need to know.
If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?
My first book, Burnout. I've learned so much and grown so much as a writer, I just would like to go back and rewrite it and let it reflect that growth.
What inspires you to write?
Ideas. Characters. Situations. There is no one thing. If I get an idea for a story, or a character, I run with it.
What writers have influenced your style and technique?
Wow. That list would almost be an article in itself, I think. But the principal ones would have to be, lessee:
Arthur Conan Doyle
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Lois McMaster Bujold
And those are just for starters.
Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?
Right about halfway, at least the way I write. Because I spend probably at least as much time researching as I do writing. And I use the same research techniques that I did when I was doing active science and technology for NASA & DoD for a living.
Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?
I'm releasing a new Division One book roughly once per quarter, and there's already four books out. So the new books are coming quick, in every sense of the phrase!
Alpha and Omega
A Small Medium At Large
A Very UnCONventional Christmas
Tour de Force
Trojan Horse (Jan 2018)
Texas Rangers (May 2018)
Definition and Alignment (July 2018)
and more past that!
What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?
I've never NOT been a writer. I was writing poetry in elementary school, and short stories by junior high. But when I started getting ideas for entire novels, probably, oh, 25 years ago, I realized I might be able to do this as a professional author sort. It took a long time to get my first book published (which was NOT the first book I wrote, but hey), and then things took off. I'm still not making a living at it, but I have hopes as the royalties numbers start to increase.
What are the books that made you want to be a writer? What are the reasons they "got" you like they did?
No one particular book that I can recall. I've read far too many for that. It was rather the overall effect, rather like a storm surge from a hurricane -- there's no one particular wave that causes the flooding; rather, the water just keeps coming up, and up, and up...
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Being unable to "see" the events about which I'm trying to write. I'm very visual when writing -- my writing has been described as "cinematic," which is a legitimate adjective to apply, because it's like I'm watching a movie play in my head and then writing down what I'm seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, etc. So if I know what comes next, but I'm literally not seeing it, I can't write it.
How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?
It depends on the writer! LOL No, some of them really do help -- by teaching me things about the craft of writing (e.g. head-jumping, how to structure dialogue, etc. are all things that other writers have taught me about -- Travis Taylor was my writing mentor for many years, and not only did he help me get started, he taught me a lot about that sort of stuff). Others teach me about the marketing and promotion aspects. Others...seem to actively discourage other authors. I'm not sure why.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Filling in the gaps. I write cinematically -- which not only means I visualize it first, it means I do NOT write sequentially! I write as the scenes come to me, then splice it all together and connect the dots. Sometimes I'm temporarily stuck figuring out how to get from point A to point B.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success to me is having a regular schedule of book releases and making enough money from royalties to pay all the bills and still be able to bank some for a rainy day. REAL success would be a NYT best-seller that enabled me to buy a bigger house! LOL
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book or story?
I have several series; I tend to enjoy writing them. If I get hold of one or more characters that I love, they become like friends and I don't want to go off and leave them, so I write more books in their universe.
But I also have some stand-alone books, too. It all depends on what the story demands.
Which famous writer (dead or alive) would like like to have coffee (or tea, no coffee snobs here) with, and what would you want to talk about with him or her?
Aw! I only get to choose ONE? Decisions, decisions. I'd probably go with somebody dead, because I've already met so many wonderful living writers and had coffee, tea, lemonade, whisky or entire meals with them!
I think, if I had to settle for just one, it might be Arthur Conan Doyle over high tea, because I love Victorian gentlemen and I love his characters -- Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger, etc. I'd enjoy picking his brain about where his ideas came from, both for the characters and for the stories. Not to mention a comparison of forensics, then and now, could prove interesting.
For more information about Stephanie and her work, visit:
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Osborn/e/B0026DM46M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1429811278&sr=8-1
Alpha and Omega: https://www.amazon.com/Alpha-Omega-Division-Stephanie-Osborn-ebook/dp/B01MXNQTFJ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8