Meet the Winners – Sharon Joss
Scifi for the WIN!
Starting the new week, say hello to Writers of the Future winner, Sharon Joss!
Stuart: Hi Sharon, and congratulations! Tell us who about yourself.
Sharon: I started out in the aerospace industry as an operating systems programmer, working on real-time systems for the space shuttle Columbia. Over the years I gradually moved into the high tech industry as a Technical Program Manager, integrating hardware and software for digital presses in the publishing industry. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but never felt like it was a ‘real’ job. All that changed in 2009, when I got laid off and decided to pursue writing as my full-time career.
Stuart: Wow! I love the eclectic career path. As you’ll earn in April, L Ron Hubbard used to take jobs just for the experience so he could write about them—at least, that’s what he claimed. So you always wanted to write; where’d that drive come from?
Sharon: My dad used to read to us kids at the dinner table after the dishes were cleared on Sunday nights– Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. For years, I thought my dad had actually written those stories, and I wanted to be a storyteller, just like him (he was actually a college biology professor). I also loved Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang. Then I discovered Lloyd Alexander, Ray Bradbury and Andre Norton, and I was forever hooked on adventure and speculative fiction.
Stuart: Awesome! I’ve always said my mom’s stories reminded me of Steinbeck, except her stories were real life and it was the other way around. So now that you’re wriiting, what’s your “writer’s cave?”
Sharon: I’ve got my writing desk set up at the top of the stairs. The landing is relatively spacious, and there’s a big window and great light, but nothing in the view that will distract me from writing. My desk is basically a door laid across two file cabinets, but I’m surrounded by bookcases, and there’s a really nice chair that the dog sleeps in while I’m working. I’ve got a couple of nice framed posters on the wall (one with a phoenix, the other a dragon), and post its on nearly every surface. My sister calls it ‘the command center’, and I suppose it is.
Stuart: Nice. I especially like the repurposed door. When I was a kid, my dad had this huge, really heavy duty workbench in his shop which was like no other. It wasn’t until I was grown that I realized it was just two by eights nailed across two chests of drawers. It was super solid and did the job. Do you have any unusual talents or hobbies?
Sharon: I’ve trained dogs for years; and competed with my Australian Shepherds in obedience, agility, and rally events. I also owned a sailboat for several years when I lived in California, and have sailed to Catalina many times.
Stuart: Sweet! I has a mini-Aussie, and though I don’t put the time in that I should, I’ve found training her is the secret to keeping her happy. Working dogs gotta work, writers gotta write, eh?
How long have you been entering WotF/ is this your first contest win?
Sharon: I submitted my first entry to WOTF in December 2012, after hearing about the contest in a Dave Farland editing class. Before my winning story, I’d submitted five stories, two of which earned Honorable Mentions. I’ve never won a writing contest before.
Stuart: Very nice! So are you a pantser or a plotter?
Sharon: I’m a major (and highly detailed) plotter for long fiction, although my short fiction outline is basically just a few sentences.
Stuart: Yeah, that’s as me. I find it’s at that outlining stage that the short story ideas sort themselves out from the novel ideas. So, if you had a superpower, what would it be?
Sharon: The ability to communicate with animals (and other non-humans). Or flying–flying would be cool.
Stuart: Flying would be awesome. I think I can already read my dog’s minds though. Especially the terrier. He’s pretty assertive. 😉
When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy?
Sharon: Although I think they’s pretty creepy now, when I was a kid, I loved hand puppets and marionettes. And Mr. Potato Head.
Stuart: Hand puppets? Creepy? You should search YouTube for the Scottish Sock Puppet theater. That’ll either cure or confirm that view.
Thanks Sharon! It’s been great, and I can’t wait to see you walking across the stage!
Follow Sharon at www.sharonjoss.com or on Twitter at @josswrites