A Near Death Experience Brings New Perspective and Sensitivity to Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author Stephanie Hansen
I’m so delighted to feature Stephanie Hansen on my blog today. Not only do we share the same publisher, Fire and Ice/Melange Books, but we also have a fascination with the creation of intentional family as part of the journey to adulthood.
Below are Stephanie’s responses to my questions, followed by her bio and contact/buy links.
First off, congratulations on your newly released novel, Omitted Pieces, the second book in your Transformed Nexus Duology series which follows Replaced Parts. Can you tell us about your new novel, the series, and what inspired you to write them?
Thank you for your kind words. While a teenage girl travels to another planet to save her dad in book one, Replaced Parts, her mission is to save her mom in book two, Omitted Pieces. Replaced Parts is a quirky, YA sci-fi mixed with a dash of thriller and a pinch of romance about a girl on a rescue mission. However, she learns that the last thing she wants to do is go it alone. The theme in Omitted Pieces that I’d love readers to connect to is: “Home is where you make it. Family is chosen. You are valuable.” So many things inspired me to write this series, Transformed Nexus. Writing about fictional medical procedures was a cathartic process after the health issues I’ve experienced. Much of the science was inspired from my Science Olympiad days years ago. I’ve incorporated sign language because I’m unilaterally deaf.
What drew you to writing science fiction?
Even when I try to write contemporary fiction, science fiction and fantasy elements seem to find their way into each story. In my dreams I develop powers to overcome evil so even asleep my imagination pulls in supernatural and futuristic elements. I also attended Space Camp as a child. Studying space and science has been a lifelong passion.
You and I share the same publisher, Fire and Ice, the YA imprint of Melange Books. What drew you to writing for young adults?
I’m drawn to reading young adult fiction so I think my writing followed the genre organically. While hopefully we all grow continuously throughout our lives there’s something innocent and heartwarming about the teenage story of coming into one’s own.
What advice would you give to aspiring young adult writers?
Believe in yourself and let others lift you up. I think the best place for writers to begin is to read a lot, especially in the genre the plan to write. Writing takes time and practice. Depending on your style, it might be a good idea to take a course on how to plot and structure a story. There are quite a few available online for free. Be sure to review the person or group offering the course. Or, perhaps your writing will grow better simply by practicing on your own. After you have a manuscript complete, you will need to have it reviewed. The key is to find qualified people who will give constructive feedback that lifts you up but doesn’t allow errors to not be corrected. SCBWI offers critique groups; good beta readers can be beneficial, and a full edit is essential.
In writing your novels, do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in-between?
I think I’m somewhere in-between a plotter and a pantser. I like to have working outlines but they always change once I get to writing because my characters decide to do something different or along the way I see better paths.
What’s next for you writing-wise? What are you currently working on?
I’m currently writing a story called GHOSTLY HOWLS. It’s urban fantasy like my debut novella series, Altered Helix, but it’s more new adult to adult than young adult. Here’s my working blurb for GHOSTLY HOWLS: Irish Folklore meets Small Town USA – a heartbroken half banshee, a cockle selling spirit possessor, and a town haunted by mysteries…if they don’t find the killer, Orla and Molly might die before finding love.
You mention that you had a “brush with death” as a young person that strengthened your passion for writing. Are you comfortable sharing what happened? Is your life-threatening experience connected with your becoming unilaterally deaf?
Of course. I survived a very rare form of bacterial meningitis in my twenties. Luckily, streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis is not very contagious (they’re not even sure how I caught it) because I had a one & two- year- old at the time. When I woke up in ICU I was forever changed. I’m now severely deaf in my left ear. When they test that ear the headset vibrates before I hear sound. This has left 90 dB of constant 24/7/365 ringing in my head which is a pain but also a blessing. Every day I have a reminder that I survived. When I consider something I used to fear, like putting my work out there, now I compare it to what I felt like in ICU and it doesn’t seem that scary.
How has being a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community informed your writing?
My struggles to hear people in certain settings, not being able to tell the direction of sound, and teaching a one-year-old to speak when I was struggling to hear allowed me to become even more empathetic than I’d been before. Ever since day one, I have always felt welcome in the deaf and hard of hearing community. I’ve discovered a new art in learning sign language. It’s truly beautiful and I love incorporating it into my writing in any way that I can.
As you know, March is Deaf History Month. What would you like folks to know about the experience of being part of the deaf and hard of hearing community, and how hearing folks can support the community?
Deaf and hard of hearing people can bring another layer to writing because their other senses are heightened. We’re used to relying on non-verbal communication to assist in our hearing so, if we edit your book, we might be able to help increase the subtle movements a character might make when they’re experiencing a certain emotion.
Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?
Readers are the best. Writers, believe in yourselves. We continue to grow throughout our career. Thank you, Lynn, for this interview.
And thank you for visiting today, Stephanie!
Stephanie Hansen is a PenCraft and Global Book Award Winning Author. Her short story, Break Time, and poetry has been featured in Mind’s Eye literary magazine. The Kansas Writers Association published her short story, Existing Forces, appointing her as a noted author. She has held a deep passion for writing since early childhood, but a brush with death caused her to allow it to grow. She’s part of an SCBWI critique group in Lawrence, KS and two local book clubs. She attends many writers’ conferences including the Writing Day Workshops, New York Pitch, Penned Con, New Letters, All Write Now, Show Me Writers Master Class, BEA, and Nebraska Writers Guild conference as well as Book Fairs and Comic-Cons. She is a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community. https://www.authorstephaniehansen.com/
Omitted Pieces (Transformed Nexus 2)
Replaced Parts (Transformed Nexus 1)
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