1) Tell us about your current or last science fiction story. What is it about and how did you come up with the concept?

I recently had my science fiction story “Elevator Man” win an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. I was inspired by another contest seeking positive spins on space or space exploration, and wondered what would happen if authorities rushed a space elevator into production without worrying about safety features. What would the human cost be, and would people be willing to pay it? In the end it takes a heroic sacrifice in order to defeat the bureaucracy of non-disclosure agreements and bring the problem to light. It certainly didn’t win the contest that wanted positive stories!

2) How did you get started writing science fiction?

I’ve always been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy above all other genres, so naturally, when I began writing, I favored those genres. As for writing, I always had stories inside of me that I yearned to tell, but typewriters defeated my patience in my youth. When I got my first computer, I sat down to bang out yarns on the modern generations’ typewriter, and haven’t stopped.

3) What specific sub-genres within science fiction do you write in and why?

I’ve favored soft sci-fi because, frankly, I don’t have the science or the research capabilities to write hard sci-fi. Of the sci-fi stories I’ve had published, the sub-genres have included grimdark, dystopian, space opera, comedy, and even supernatural. Other sub-genres I’ve played with in sci-fi include noir, adventure, political, LGBTQ-focused, and time travel. I enjoy exploring these sub-genres because short fiction lends itself to variety in topic, plot, and characters, and I cannot contain my voice to just one style or type.

4) What tropes do you think are important for that sub-genre?

The thing about tropes is that they’re tired and overdone. The other thing about tropes is that they’re absolutely essential. I think what we need to realize about tropes is to analyze when one is being overused and do our best to avoid throwing fuel onto that fire. For instance, I haven’t written anything with the “how we got here” trope in a long time, because I’m so sick and tired of reading, hearing, and watching it. Every show, book, and story seems to use it these days, and it’s absolutely ruined the trope for me. Still and all, tropes are an essential part of writing fiction, because nearly everything is a trope any longer. Show me a writer who is snobby enough to claim they don’t use tropes, and you’ll be showing me a writer who is lying.

5) Do you prefer to write in first or third person and past or present tense?

That’s both a difficult and an easy question to answer, this two-parter. I write almost exclusively in past tense. Some few stories have made sense for me to use present tense, but past tense is as comfortable to me as an old pair of boots. As for the point of view part of the question, it really depends on the story and the characters. My book following the exploits of an intersex swordfighter just naturally came out in first person, while “Elevator Man” made sense as a third-person omniscient point of view. Another book of mine with four main characters has three third-person omni POVs and one first-person, so it can be a mix-and-match outcome as well.

6) What is your favorite part about being a writer?

My favorite part is the fact that I get to create everything from scratch and use those materials–worlds, characters, settings, everything–to construct whatever story I wish to tell.

7) What is the hardest part about being a writer?

Writing! Although it’s fun, writing is long, hard, difficult work. Anyone who tells you it’s easy to write, and especially to become a published writer, is either lying or selling something.

8) What stories or authors influence your writing?

Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, and many, many others.

10) Anything else about you that you would like us to know?

I am a social worker and therapist, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and I don’t like Spam!

11) What’s the best way to find you online?

My website is www.brandonketchum.com, and you can find me on Instagram (ketchum_brandon), Twitter (@BrandonTKetchum), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/brandon.ketchum.5)