Stephen Lawson served on three deployments with the US Navy and is currently a helicopter pilot and commissioned officer in the Kentucky National Guard. He earned a Masters of Business Administration from Indiana University Southeast in 2018, and currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife. Stephen’s writing has appeared in Writers of the Future Volume 33, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, Daily Science Fiction, and at Baen.com. He’s written two episodes of The Post-Apocalyptic Tourist’s Guide, which he also edits. His blog can be found at stephenlawsonstories.wordpress.com.
His story, “No Plan Survives First Contact”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
I live in Louisville, KY now but I’ve been all over. I grew up in small towns in Ohio as a Methodist preacher’s kid, joined the Navy at 18, got out five years and three deployments later, and enrolled at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. After college I joined the National Guard, went to flight school, and started writing amidst active duty work and getting an MBA from Indiana University Southeast. I fly helicopters and I do commissioned officer stuff when I’m not writing. Sean (the editor) and I were in volume 33 of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future, and attended the Dave Farland/Tim Powers workshop together. Sean’s been a good friend ever since.
Which of your short stories is your favorite? Why?
They’re all special to me–even a few that I haven’t found a market for. Those are my weird little children and I love them. The story that’s done the best is “Homunculus.” It’s a hard science fiction story about a fledgling colony on Titan, and I did a lot of research for it. It won the 2018 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award, and was selected for volume 5 of The Year’s Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction edited by David Afsharirad. Maybe that’s my favorite? Ask tomorrow and I’ll tell you something different.
What author has had the greatest influence on your writing? Why?
In short: C.S. Lewis, Robert Heinlein, Michael Crichton, and team writers Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I love Lewis’s casual and accessible theology woven into adventure stories. “Out of the Silent Planet” is in a genre all its own, but it’s one I’m attempting to expand. Robert Heinlein is the master of adventure SF, and Michael Crichton the master of making you feel quite a bit smarter after you’ve read his work. I’ve been a huge fan of Preston & Child’s Pendergast series for several years, and I strive to create characters and places the way they do, especially in “Relic” and “Reliquary.”
Tell me about a time you almost died.
There have been a few. One that sticks out is the first and only time I went skydiving, when I was maybe 19. I saw this guy come in for a graceful deceleration and landing on the drop before my group. I decided I wanted to tip-toe onto the earth like a butterfly also, so when I was about a hundred feet from the ground, I pulled on both of the steering toggles at the same time to brake the chute. It did, in fact, slow down, but in shutting off the airflow through the chute’s cells, I collapsed the chute and went back into freefall. The guy on the little radio they gave me instructed me to, “Let go. Right now,” which I did. My chute reopened, but I hit the ground pretty hard—NOT like a delicate butterfly–and forward-rolled before landing in a heap. I did not break any bones, thankfully, but I decided not to try to be a pro on the first attempt at anything ever again.
Tell us something about you that very few people know.
I have a pet rabbit. I got him for my wife, but he’s my writing assistant most of the time. He basically litter-trained himself and is fairly low maintenance. A lot of writers seem to have cats. Rabbits do not jump on your keyboard while you’re writing. They just bug you for snacks and occasional cheek rubs. Rabbits are the perfect writer’s pet that the world doesn’t know about.
Each of the stories in this volume evoked certain themes and emotions that can sometimes be approximated with music. The below video is the editor’s best interpretation of the feelings and themes that this author’s story evoked. Please note that this is only the editor’s interpretation. The author did not know this portion of the blog post existed until the editor published it.
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