As we move into the 4th decade of discovering and publishing new writing talent, we have grown our Writers of the Future family to over 400 published writers in 31 volumes in 31 years. Of those authors, 12 went on to publish 31 New York Times bestselling novels.
Leading up to the trade release of Volume 31 on the 4th of May, we asked the winning writers to give us their inspiration for the stories they wrote and what they think makes their story special. Over the coming weeks we will share their reflections on this blog.
Sharon Joss is the grand prize winner this year. I asked her what inspired her to write her story “Stars that make Dark Heaven Light”. Her reply:
Sharon doing research at the library during the Writers Workshop
“I started writing about hunting for Easter eggs. And then I started thinking about looking for baby tortoises (we had several adults as pets and they laid eggs every year), which hatched after the first rains of fall. And then I wondered what would happen if one of the baby tortoises turned out to be something else—something alien; and the story grew from there.”
I was fascinated by Sharon’s own viewpoint on what makes her story special:
“It was a lot of fun to write. I loved Ettie’s voice and spirit and how she changes and grows through the story. Thematically, I enjoyed exploring the conflict between evolution, and man’s attempts to control evolution through genetic engineering and what might happen. How will we react to the first few people who are more than human? What comes after homo sapiens?”
I understand why the blue panel of judges chose this story as the grand prize winner. I agreed completely on their choice. It got me thinking.
In addition to the Writers Contest, we have 12 artists from the Illustrators of the Future Contest and each of the quarterly winners is given a story to illustrate. Choong Yoon, an artist from South Korea, provided the artwork for “The Stars That Make Dark Heaven Light.”
Artist Choong Yoon at the Illustrator Workshop
I asked Choong what he was trying to capture in the illustration for the story, and he said, “I wanted to challenge myself to capture as many details as possible that are described and suggested in the script. I had a rather simple composition with a single figure in the center so the appearance and the emotion of this character had to be accurate and loyal to the story. The main character, Ettie, had some unusual features that I had to show correctly without being too obvious such as her gills and hands with three fingers. Also with the background, I choose the color palette based on the story and included a second sun in the scene (first sun is implied as a main light source out of the frame) to show that the story takes place in an alien environment.” I have to say Choong’s illustration is a perfect complement to the story!