An interview with author Brandon Lawson (Will Sci-fi) – The Hilltop
The Hilltop had the pleasure of sitting down with author Brandon Lawson, who uses the pen name Will Sci-fi. Lawson, to discuss his new book “Nova’s Blade”. The 24-year-old author is from Antioch, Calif., which is located in the Bay Area and about 45 minutes from San Francisco.
Currently, Lawson works as an English teacher at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, CA, and an MBA student at California State University – East Bay. Lawson recently released “Nova’s Blade,” a dystopian novel for young adults that leaves readers on the edge of their seats flipping through the pages.
Set in the distant future, in a post-war society, “Nova’s Blade” tells the story of Nova, who comes from a poor family and community. Nova is chosen to enter a popular TV show, “The Last Valkyrie”, an annual 32-woman contest that rewards the winner with a fortune, but has deadly consequences for the remaining contestants.
The novel has many elements of a science fiction book, but also many real-life similarities and some amazing life lessons. The Hilltop was interested in discussing Lawson’s early career and advice for young writers. Lawson talked about his thoughts on writing in a time of advanced technological development, how he became an author, as well as “Nova’s Blade.”
The Hilltop: Thanks for speaking with The Hilltop. First, we want to know what inspired you to become a writer?
Lawson: When I was seven or eight, my mom helped me write things like “I’m by the waterfall” and “I feel like this.” In middle school, my friend had a studio and I started writing nursery rhymes, which was my first time writing outside of school. During my senior year, I found this website where I started writing poetry, and later that year I won third place in a high school poetry contest.
I had a math problem, so I took an elective in creative writing and they made us write short stories, which I thought was fun. I’ve always had ideas about what movies someone should make, and after talking to my dad about a movie, he said, “You should write that because a lot of movies come from books.” I had no idea how to write a book, but after continuously writing over time, I started creating my website and posting news like I did in high school, but on social media.
The Hilltop: In modern society, technology has a great influence on people. We use technology for almost everything and sometimes act like robots ourselves. How do you feel about being an author in this phase of the 21st century?
Lawson: I think his influence, and writers and comedians are basically modern-day philosophers. Writing can be used now or in the future to create discussions where people can question aspects of society and ask, “how does this correlate to real life?” Especially with so much social media, people don’t have much of a chance to analyze what we see for ourselves. I like to use fiction to raise awareness of reality.
The Hilltop: Your website says you’ve seen over 500 movies in the last decade. What is your favorite genre of movies and books?
Lawson: From 2015 to 2019 I spent the summer watching a lot of movies, and my favorites are superhero movies and the sci-fi genre, where it’s like next century or something . Not just apocalyptic stuff, but settings where everything is advanced. I also really like science fiction books.
The Hilltop: Nova’s Blade is considered dystopian fiction for young adults, but the story can resonate with people of all ages. What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Lawson: I love having readers tell me their main takeaways, but probably the idea that you can rise above your circumstances no matter what. As for the lessons, I was trying to explain human nature and why it is important to have discipline and boundaries even when free. From corporate and personal desires to acquire more, to the need to survive difficult life situations, readers can see how wanting more is relative and can be good or bad.
Top of the Hill: “The Blade of Nova” has many similarities to society, such as corporate greed, an unknown native population that has been the victim of political violence, widespread use of virtual reality and e-dope, a digital version of narcotics, and takes place in the Corporate states in America where citizens need subscriptions to receive protection from law and law enforcement, and treatment in hospitals and other public services. What was the motivation behind this?
Lawson: Years ago, I imagined what would happen if everything was private, like the private police. I started writing the book in 2020, during the pandemic, the election cycle, and the public reaction to George Floyd. In my opinion, I have seen that it is thought that the government would save people, but it is rather an absence. The government is there like a traffic sign, but people behind the scenes direct the operations on the street, to the point where the government is almost non-existent. I have taken this to an extreme level where there is literally no public service and people are at the mercy of corporations. So you have to pay the police department, but people don’t rebel because they’re too focused on mass media-produced entertainment and everything you can watch.
The Hilltop: Thanks to technology, readers can read in more ways than ever before – ebooks, audiobooks and other platforms – and writers can write in new ways with audio recorders and the like. Do you have any advice for young writers or people who have ideas or dreams of writing?
Lawson: If you’re under 18, the world is your canvas and write what you want how you want to write it. Even if you think it’s bad, keep writing no matter what. Everyone has their own writing style, so do what works for you. If you are over 18, always write whatever you want, but you must have some idea of why you are writing. Identify if you want to have fun, earn passive income, or have a publisher or be independent because it’s different in terms of marketing. If you feel bad when you stop writing, that’s a good sign.
The Hilltop: What’s next for Will Sci-Fi?
Lawson: My focus is on grad school and marketing Nova’s Blade. It’s in a few bookstores and I’m also planning to take part in virtual book tours. I also plan to write a sequel at the end of this year or in 2023. I was recently hired as an English teacher, and I believe that as an author and teacher, this allows me to have a greatest impact on young people in our society.
Copy edited by: Jasper Smith