I applied for this year’s version of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop.
Here are the answers to their questions in my application:
I have been appearing in many of the major (and minor) science fiction magazines since the early 90s. I am a frequent contributor in Analog and Asimov’s. My short stories have been reprinted in six collections from Fairwood Press, including a limited edition of THE BEST OF JAMES VAN PELT, which was released in November of last year. Along the way I have been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Nebula finalist, a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a frequent finalist in both the Analog and Asimov’s annual readers’ choice awards. My first collection was included as a “Best Book for Young Adults” by the American Library Association, and I won a Colorado Book Award for my collection, THE RADIO MAGICIAN AND OTHER STORIES. My entire bibliography, including two novels and a smattering of journalism and poetry is viewable at http://www.jamesvanpelt.com/?page_id=21
I am a long-time member of SFWA. I also belong to the Colorado Authors League and the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum. I recently retired from teaching high school and college English, where I was a member of NEA and the National Council of Teachers of English.
My dad was an aeronautical engineer for Martin Marietta in Denver while I was growing up. Copies of SKY AND TELESCOPE were on every flat surface in the house. His interest in astronomy was so profound that he ground his own mirror for a telescope that he mounted permanently in our backyard. Through that he showed me Saturn’s rings and Venus’s moon-like phases, and Jupiter’s moons. He invited local elementary school classes to our house for hot chocolate and an evening of stargazing. He also loved science fiction, and his interests started me on a path to becoming a science fiction writer. Some of my writing requires a knowledge of astronomy, but my background is spotty and over-dependent on Google. Relying on a Sky Guide app on my phone is unsatisfying (although fun when I’m hanging out in my yard at night). I believe that a deeper dive into studying astronomy will not only improve the accuracy of what I write but also provide me with story ideas I couldn’t come up with otherwise.
I’m a frequent workshop leader for fledgling writers and young writer’s groups. One of my recurring themes is the importance of research, real-world information. Not having spent more time myself in a dedicated astronomy environment seems a sad hole in this science fiction writer’s resume. I would love to address that by attending Launch Pad. Like Whitman I have “Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars,” but I think I can’t just do that. I too need to spend time with “the learn’d astronomer.”