Interview with Author Stephanie Osborn
It is a pleasure to welcome Stephanie Osborn author of the Division One series.
Welcome Stephanie to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to help us get to know you and your stories better.
What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?
Division One is a series based on my take of the urban legend about the covert group of men and women who show up at UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc. and make the evidence… disappear. They are, in reality, a branch of the Pan-Galactic Law Enforcement and Immigration Agency, or PGLEIA. This galaxy-wide organization reports to the Galactic Council, and is broken into the equivalent of precincts, or divisions, for the sake of structural hierarchy, and Earth is the Headquarters for Galactic Division One.
The first book, Alpha and Omega, chronicles the inadvertent induction of Agent Omega into Division One’s brand-new department, Alpha Line. Alpha Line is the equivalent to a SWAT team, or perhaps the Texas Rangers – one situation, one team.
She is partnered with the new department’s chief, Agent Echo, the top field agent in the entire Division, and second in line for the Directorship. Together, they are designated as Alpha One, the premier team in Alpha Line. They work under Agent Fox, a human with considerable galactic experience and a fascinating – and unusually long – back story; he was a teenager in the Nazi concentration camps, yet he appears to be only around 50 years of age, if that.
The first two books of the series, Alpha and Omega, and A Small Medium At Large, came out earlier this year, in print and ebook formats. Book 3, A Very UnCONventional Christmas, just came out, and book 4, Tour de Force, comes out in October. The series will continue next year with several new books.
Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…
Special significance? Not really, though the “real” surnames of the two main characters were pulled from my own genealogy – a little trick I sometimes use just to help me quickly build the characters, since it means I know a bit about about the family background. I do usually try to pick character names that are reflective of the character, if possible, though not always.
For instance, Agent Echo’s name (on his birth certificate) was Alexander Ian Bryant. Bryant is loosely Celtic in origin (and in my family tree), hence I used variants of Celtic given names. Except Echo’s mother was Lipan Apache, and his middle name was SUPPOSED to be Elan, which is Apache for “friendly.” Only the registrar misheard and followed the Celtic flow of the rest of his name, making his middle name officially Ian on his birth certificate. (Strictly speaking, the Celtic equivalent of Alexander is Alistair, but I liked the sound of Alexander Ian better; Alistair sounds too pompous for that character.) “Friendly” as a name for him evokes an interesting dichotomy in my mind, since he is fierce in battle, and anything BUT friendly to an alien perp. He is also a reserved, “still waters run deep” kind of man, but he cares deeply about the people around him, those with whom he’s close. He doesn’t exactly show it a lot to said people, but it’s there. And over the course of the first book, we find that Omega becomes one of those people.
And since Echo is from Texas, and Bryants figured prominently in Texas history, I tied it in, just a bit, as being a branch of the family who founded Bryant Station, etc.
What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?
Oh, SF was always my favorite genre, growing up. I read ‘most every science fiction book I could get my hands on. I wanted to work in the space program (which I eventually wound up doing), and it fired my imagination and made me excited for the future. My second favorite genre to read was mystery, and I always liked action-adventure, a bit of thriller, and a soupcon of romance. Which probably explains why that is the recipe for most of the books that I write!
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?
I try to be disciplined about it, meaning that I write almost every day – it’s a job, after all. I can become a real workaholic if I’m not careful, though, and I’m handicapped, so – well, if you are familiar with the ‘spoons’ analogy of chronic illness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory ), I just don’t have as many spoons as I used to have. So sometimes I have to just MAKE myself take a break. Otherwise…I’ve ended up quite sick as a result of pushing past my limits. And that can set me back for months, as I try to recover. Because let’s face it, creativity requires significant amounts of energy. And if all your energy is being funneled into getting well, there isn’t anything left for creation.
And yeah, I do find that several of my characters wind up being a lot like that. If you really enjoy what you’re doing, then in a fashion it stops becoming work, and you don’t WANT to stop.
What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?
Well, for this set of books, I had, and have, to do a lot of research regarding the Milky Way Galaxy and its structure. My graduate work was in astronomy and astrophysics, so I consider it a lot of fun, but what I have to do is to figure out where things are in the galaxy with respect to each other; what areas are potentially inhabitable, and what are not. Even just relative orientations! For instance, I’m currently writing book 5, Trojan Horse, and I had to ascertain where the Orion Nebula was with respect to Earth, and what was visible from the location of the nebula when looking back TOWARD Earth. So…kind of a galactic map, if you will.
What makes you laugh?
A well-constructed pun; a good joke with an unexpected punchline; my husband’s excellent one-liners. I love my husband’s sense of humor, and one of the things I have always adored about him is his ability to find a way to make me laugh, no matter how down or upset I may be about a situation.
One of the funniest things I can recall in recent years was when I discovered a webcomic called Vexxarr. The eponymous alien is an outcast from his kind, a space traveler who has collected a hodgepodge crew about himself, and who is constantly getting into all kinds of scrapes and getting out on his wits.
So in this one particular sequence of strips, Vexxarr gets nearly eaten by a large alien kaiju kind of monster, and is rescued before he can go down the creature’s gullet. Upon being returned to his ship, he is in severe shock and is monosyllabic for a bit, as his crew tries to find out exactly what happened. Finally the story gets pieced together and as one of them recounts it in toto, he makes this vivid, horrible description of Vexxarr entering the maw of the beast, with its slavering jaws, huge, razor-sharp teeth, ravening tongue…
And suddenly Vexxarr pipes up with the only polysyllabic word he’s said since the whole horrid event started.
“UVULA!” he yells at the top of his lungs.
I howled laughing. I laughed until tears just ran down my cheeks. I laughed until I was out of breath, but I couldn’t stop. I laughed hysterically for probably ten minutes, until I was gasping for air. And it was probably half an hour or better before the very thought of the strip didn’t send me off into fresh gales of laughter.
For quite a while that was the rallying cry on the Vexxarr message board…
I got to meet and get to know the webcomic’s creator a few years ago, and he’s as fun and funny as his strip. I have hopes that one of these days he’ll let me coauthor a short story arc in the strip with him. I’d love to see him bring our ideas to a kind of life like that.
What makes you cry?
Watching a hero/heroine sacrifice him/herself for the sake of someone or something s/he loves. Seeing a baby anything die or be killed. Bittersweet endings. Seeing misunderstood creatures or people be mistreated.
I watched the Japanese kaiju film, Rodan, the other day and was SO sad when the creatures died at the end, because in the end, one fell into the lava, and the other chose to dive in after it, preferring to die at its side than live without it…and there was something so loving, so touching, about it that it kind of ‘humanized’ them even though they had killed people.
What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?
I’m a big film buff, particularly of science fiction and fantasy movies, but also the related genre of comic-book movies. My writing has been described as very cinematic in style, so that when someone reads it, it creates the effect of a movie playing in his/her head. And that’s pretty much correct, because when I write, it’s like watching a movie in my head and just transcribing it.
I think the funny banter found in most of the comic-type movies also comes out in my writing, too, as I find my characters have a tendency to do the same kind of banter.
Thanks Stephanie for taking time to let us get to know about the Division One series and yourself better!
Division One series, published by Chromosphere Press is available through Amazon:
About Stephanie Osborn
Few can claim the varied background of award-winning author Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery.
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 almost 30 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. 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.
The Mystery continues.
You can learn more about Stephanie and the Division One series via her webite, http://www.stephanie-osborn.com/