Author Stephanie Osborn writes science fiction/mystery and popular science. Today she sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn’t think I had an entire book in me. Then I got inspired by an idea I saw in media, back in the 90s, and I started writing some seriously long stories — novella-length stuff — and I realized I DID have entire books in me. It took a while to get my first true novel completed, but after that, the ideas started to flow, and the words to pour out, and now it’s not uncommon for me to turn out a 120,000-word book in a couple of months. It depends partly on the amount of research required for the given book. The more research, the more detailed the book, and the longer it takes to write it. But if I’m writing what I call “a romp,” I can write it pretty quickly.
So I guess I realized I could write a novel — and wanted to — around, oh, 20 years ago.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Ha! That took a while longer. My first novel was published in 2009, so only 8 years ago!
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Hybrid. I started out traditionally published and soaked up all I could learn about the industry. Then, when I started getting ideas for stuff that I couldn’t put out through a traditional publisher (poetry, short stories I’d thought of that weren’t associated with any particular anthology or magazine — not that there are many mags left out there, really, in my genres — novellas, etc.), I started putting up the odd story here and there as an indie author. Now I do a little of both.
Where do you write?
In my den, in the recliner on a laptop. I usually have a lap desk underneath it, because I have bad knees (I’m handicapped) and the hard laptop starts to hurt after a while. Sometimes I have a cat on my feet; sometimes not.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Music is always good — not essential, but good — but it has to be instrumental, and it has to be something that never had lyrics. Otherwise the verbal center of my brain tends to get wrapped around remembering the lyrics and singing along, rather than writing. Something soothing seems to work best. Classical, jazz, or new age are my preferences.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Oh, it varies, depending on the character. I often draw from my own personality in developing a foundation for a given character, even the bad guys. I look for some facet of my personality that is suitable to the character, then start layering on top of that — things I imagine, things I’ve seen in real life, this or that aspect of a friend — until I have a character as fully-fleshed as needed for the given book.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I have two methods, usually based on the given name and the surname. For the given name, I look at the ethnicity of the character, and do a baby-name search based on that ethnicity. I like to try to pick a name whose meaning is symbolic of the character or situation. The surname can work the same way, but for main characters, if they happen to have any of the ethnicities that I have in my own ancestry, I’ll sometimes pluck a surname from my family tree. If the character isn’t any of the ethnicities in me, then I do a surname search for that ethnicity. Again, I like to look at the meaning of the name, and try to pick something appropriate.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Usually real settings, though I sometimes change the names. Then again, some real place names are just hilariously perfect for my purposes.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
I don’t know that I give my characters too-weird quirks. I think if you make them too ‘out there,’ people maybe can’t relate to ‘em as well. I think maybe the most ‘out there’ I’ve gotten, for character identifying properties, is the female protagonist who was kidnapped as a child by an alien criminal, then restructured and genetically modified to enhance her abilities and suit the criminal’s purposes, before being telepathically brainwashed...to assassinate the male protagonist. When the whole thing comes to light, it seriously messes with her head, particularly with regard to self-esteem and self-confidence. I don’t know if that would be considered a “quirk,” though, as much as a natural reaction to what was done to her.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I dunno. Maybe some of the foods I like to eat. Or the way I like to eat ‘em. I tend to put together weird combos of foods.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
In general, I tend not to think about things like that; I find it tends to lead to discontent with what I have. But given the current states of health of myself and my husband, and knowing what I know now, I think I might have made some modifications to our diet and nutritional supplementation, to try to offset some of the medical conditions. We thought we were eating healthily at the time, but hey.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Right now, it’s the lawn-care people who show up every Wednesday, bright and early, and insist on starting up the lawnmowers, weed eaters, and leaf blowers, ALL right outside my bedroom window...when I tend to write until 3-4am because that’s when it’s quiet and I can concentrate. This often means I’ve only had 3, maybe 4, hours of sleep when they fire up their equipment. We have a HOA in my neighborhood, so those guys are doing everyone’s lawns at once, but I’m smack in the middle of the neighborhood and I have been unable to convince ‘em to start at one end and work across. They simply MUST start in the middle, with my house, and work out from there. Never mind that there’s been a drought and the grass isn’t growing, or that it’s the hottest part of the year and the grass isn’t growing, or whatever — they gotta come mow that grass! Yeah, it annoys me immensely, because I’ve always been prone to insomnia, and having that trait reinforced doesn’t help matters. (And yes, it’s Wednesday as I write this, I’ve had maybe 4 hours’ sleep, and I’m grumpy as [expletive redacted] about it.)
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Food, water, and shelter. I’m pretty practical where things like that are concerned. If I managed to get the essentials taken care of, then I’d consider some things like writing implements, so I could keep writing stories.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
None of them have been horrible. I’ve run into good things and bad things in all of them. But I think the college teaching job at the ultra-conservative school, where I was expected to START CLASS at 7am (when I’m a night owl), and was required to wear skirts in winter despite having a joint condition where the doctors preferred I wear trousers to keep my joints warm and functional, was probably the most uncomfortable for me.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I have to choose just one? Wow. That’s hard. I like so many authors, so many series, so many genres! Fantasy? Science fiction? Mystery? Romance? Popular science? Biography? See what I mean?
Ocean or mountains?
Ocean, because I love to feel, hear, and watch the surf. I do like mountains too, though.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Country girl. Spent all my formative years in rural Tennessee.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Keepin’ on keepin’ on! I do plan to enter the audiobook market sometime in the next year or so.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
In the 8 years I’ve been a published author, I’ve been prolific. I’ve got well over 30 titles out there that I’ve authored, co-authored, or to which I’ve contributed (anthologies of various sorts). I’ve been a finalist or a winner of several literary awards, and I really enjoy writing. I’d love for your readers to check out my books!
Tour de Force, book 4 of the Division One series.
Alpha One is participating in Omega’s very first First Contact diplomatic operation. Unfortunately, it’s going to split up the team—the Cortians, a race from the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, have stringent requirements, and that narrows down the list of “candidate exchange students” to...Echo. ONLY Echo. The Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Administration’s top Division One Agent, the man being groomed to be the next Director...and Omega’s partner. A plum assignment, for the pick of the crop.
But Omega doesn’t see it that way, though she can't—or won't—explain why. She is determined to stop the mission from going forward. At any cost.
Why is Omega trying to scuttle a diplomatic mission? What is she seeing that more experienced Agents aren’t? Why won’t the others listen? Is something bigger, more menacing, happening to her—to them? Will—CAN—Alpha One survive?