Boston is typically cast as a backdrop for contemporary stories of crime and urban conflict, but local fantasy author Auston Habershaw’s unique world of mavericks and mages also finds inspiration here in the Hub.
With a series of novels and a top industry prize already under his belt, Habershaw is making his mark on the world of science fiction and fantasy writing.
His career as a writer began some nine years ago when he decided to concentrate on fiction. Before that, he had worked as an improv performer, dog-walker, pedicab driver, video game tester, waiter, barista, and once at the front desk of a “shady bed and breakfast” in Allston.
Though a family man and college professor now – he teaches English at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston – Habershaw, 36, credits his earlier life of odd jobs around Boston for helping inspire many of his characters. He compares his time working around Boston to his sister’s experience; she has travelled “everywhere” but has only had two jobs.
“I’ve gone nowhere and I’ve had a dozen different professions. And it’s pretty neat, actually. I’ve met all kinds of people from different walks of life and I think it’s helped me be a better writer,” Habershaw said in an interview with the Reporter.
A Hingham native, he has lived for the last ten years in Dorchester’s Ashmont neighborhood with his wife Deirdre and their two daughters.
Next month, Habershaw will take part in the 31st Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards ceremony, which will celebrate winners of the Writers of the Future Contest. The competition is held four times a year and twelve authors are selected to have their work appear in an anthology published by Galaxy Press. Habershaw, who has entered the contest about ten times over the years since first hearing about it as a student, will be taking a second-place award back home to Dorchester.
In Habershaw’s view, “If you’re going to be a writer, you can’t let rejection frustrate you from the publishing industry. It’s based on rejection. Your batting average is going to be really low for a long time, so you have to get used to it.”
As part of the awards event in Hollywood, Habershaw will attend a weekend workshop with top genre authors that is meant to guide the newer writers toward producing fresh work.
The competition is affiliated with the estate of L. Ron Hubbard, the acclaimed sci-fi writer who later founded the Church of Scientology. The workshop, award and anthology series are designed to foster new writers in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.
Said Habershaw: “They follow your career following the contest and they blow the trumpets every time you do something. And they try to help you out, because if they can point out that their former winners have gone on to successful careers, as many of them have, that generates more and more interest in the contest.”
The latest anthology, “Writers of the Future Volume 31,” will carry Habershaw’s short story “A Revolutionary’s Guide to Practical Conjuration,” which will be released in May.
Habershaw has also been successful with longer fiction; he recently published his first novel, “The Iron Ring,” which is the first part of his projected “Saga of the Redeemed” series.
The “Iron Ring” story follows a brash but dashing hero in a world where magic, and those who control it, are a part of everyday life. Smuggler Tyvian Reldamar travels across the fictional world on a journey to avenge a double-cross. He picks up some unlikely companions along the way, as well as the titular enchanted ring that may shape his destiny to come – whether he likes it or not.
Habershaw answered a call for novels from Voyager Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins that specializes in sci-fi and fantasy. After a lengthy judging process, the publisher selected Habershaw’s book, then titled “The Oldest Trick,” for digital release. In June, “Iron and Blood,” the second volume in the saga, will be released, and a hardcover edition of the first two novels will follow in July. The third part of the initial trilogy, “No Good Deed,” is scheduled for release this fall.
The novels and his winning short story take place in a complex fictional world Habershaw has been creating for years. He said he has written more than 1,000 pages of background on the different nations and eras where his stories take place.
He has two long-reaching professional goals for his career and his saga. One is to see a fan at a genre convention dressed as his lead character, Tyvian. The other is to confront a reader who may have studied his fictional world more closely than even the author himself.
“To have some person in a clever t-shirt and glasses corner me somewhere and grill me about inconsistencies in my own world. That is a win,” he said.