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, California, which is located in the Bay area and about 45 minutes away 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 young adult dystopian novel that leaves readers on the edge of their seats and 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 an impoverished family and community. Nova is chosen to participate in a popular television show, “The Last Valkyrie,” an annual competition of 32 women that awards the winner a fortune, yet has deadly consequences for the remaining contestants.
The novel has many elements of a sci-fi book, but also many similarities with real life and amazing life lessons. The Hilltop was interested in discussing Lawson’s early career and advice for young writers. Lawson discussed his thoughts about him about writing in an age of advanced technological development, how he became an author, as well as “Nova’s Blade.”
The Hilltop: Thank you 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 this way.’ In middle school, my friend had a studio and I started writing 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 was struggling in calculus, so I picked up a creative writing elective class and they had us write short stories, which I considered fun. I always had ideas about movies that someone should make, and after talking to my dad about a movie he told me, ‘You should write that because a lot of movies came from books’. I had no idea how to write a book but after continually writing over time, I started making my website and posting short stories, like I did in high school, but on social media.
The Hilltop: In modern day society, technology has a high level of influence on people. We use technology for almost everything and sometimes act like robots ourselves. What do you think about being an author during this phase of the 21st century?
Lawson: I think its influence, and that writers and comedians are essentially 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 aren’t given many chances to analyze what we see, ourselves. I like using fiction to bring awareness to reality.
The Hilltop: Your website mentions you have seen over 500 films within the last decade. What is your favorite genre of movies and books?
Lawson: From 2015 to 2019, I spent the summer watching lots of movies, and my favorite are superhero movies and the science fiction genre, where it’s like the 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 a young adult dystopian fiction, yet the story can resonate with people of all ages. What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Lawson: I like for readers to tell me their key takeaways, but probably the idea that you can rise above your circumstances no matter what. As far as lessons, I was trying to explain human nature, and why it’s important to have discipline and boundaries even when free. From corporate and personal desires to acquire more, to the need to survive harsh life situations, readers can see how wanting more is relative and can be good or bad.
The Hilltop: “Nova’s Blade” has many similarities with society, such as corporate greed, an unknown indigenous population that was the victim of political violence, widespread use of virtual reality and e-dope, a digital version of narcotics, and is set in the Corporate States of America where citizens need subscriptions to receive protection from the law and law enforcement officers, and treatment at hospitals and other public services. What was the motivation behind this?
Lawson: Years ago, I imagined what would happen if everything was private, like private police. I started writing the book in 2020, during the pandemic, election cycle, and public reaction to George Floyd. In my opinion, I saw that we think the government would save people, but it’s more of an absence. The government’s there like a street sign but people behind the scenes run the operations on the street, to the point where the government is almost nonexistent. I took that to the extreme level where there are literally no public services and people are at the mercy of the corporations. So, you have to pay the police department, but people don’t rebel because they’re too focused on the entertainment produced by mass media and all the things you can watch.
The Hilltop: With technology, readers can read in more ways than ever – e-books, audiobooks and other platforms – and writers can write in new ways with audio recorders, etc. Do you have any advice for young writers or people who have ideas or dreams about writing?
Lawson: If you’re younger than 18, the world is your canvas and write whatever you want however 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’re older than 18, still write what you want, but you have to have a sense of why you write. Identify whether you want to have fun, earn passive income, or to have a publisher or be independent because it’s different in terms of marketability. If you feel bad when you stop writing, that’s a good sign.
The Hilltop: What’s next for Will Sci-fi?
Lawson: I’m focusing on grad school and marketing “Nova’s Blade.” It’s in a couple of bookstores and I plan to participate in virtual book tours as well. I also plan on writing a sequel sometime at the end of this year or in 2023. I was recently hired as an English teacher, and I believe as an author and teacher it allows me to have a greater impact on our society’s youth.
Copy edited by: Jasper Smith