Ballard author wins second place in international science fiction writers competition

Ballard resident Tom Vandermolen is a winner in an international science fiction writers contest, earning him a spot in a week-long master class workshop.

Vandermolen won second place in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future (WOTF) contest. His winning piece, a science fiction story called Nonzero, will be published in the anthology L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 40.

From Vandermolen:

Nonzero is about an astronaut who has chased the stars her entire life, but after being suddenly left behind in deep space, light-years away from the nearest human being, must now face getting what she always wanted–but in the worst possible way. It’s about isolation, both the physical and the self-imposed, social kind. It takes place in the same universe as the science fiction novel I’m working on.

Vandermolen tells My Ballard he’s been writing on and off since he was in middle school. He took a break from writing when he served in the Navy, but picked it up again a few years ago.

Since then, he’s sold two stories: A horror story in anthology called Monsters Monsters Monsters Monsters, and more recently, Nonzero, for the L. Ron Hubbard contest.

Vandermolen likes the horror and science fiction genres: He’s currently working on a series of horror novellas and short stories set in a “small, very strange, town in Louisiana, followed by a science fiction novel (think Battlestar Galactica meets Ender’s Game with a dash of Master and Commander),” he said.

Winning the Writers of the Future contest has been a goal of Vandermolen’s “for literally decades,” he says, “so I’m very excited!

“I started reading the WOTF anthologies not long after they began forty years (!) ago, and almost immediately began submitting my own stories. Out of at least a dozen entries, I got an Honorable Mention once.”

He stopped submitting his stories while he was in the Navy, but then decided to try once again when he was looking for a home for Nonzero.

Vandermolen says he’s looking forward to the masterclass: “The masterclass is supposed to be a great experience, exhilarating and very intense, and I’m equal parts delirious and terrified about attending.” He says the instructors include an array of his all-time favorite authors, so he’s looking forward to having his idols “rip apart” his work.

“I guess this is one of those cases when persistence and patience pay off.”