Beyond the stars:
COMET staffer writes science fantasy
By day, Liz Lessard works as a program administrator and business manager for COMET, focusing on budgets, proposals, and other tasks to keep COMET’s day-to-day operations on track.
At night and on weekends, though, Liz indulges her passion for writing science fiction and fantasy. She is a published author and—if she had her way—she’d spend more time writing than wrangling numbers and supervising staff. Although she thoroughly enjoys the challenge and variety of her management role at COMET, “the act of creating is so loose and open,” she says.
Using the pen name of Nataya, Liz self-published her first book, Reach Beyond the Stars, on Booksurge.com last year. It is a fast-paced adventure tale involving extensive time travel in which people on Earth fight against an unknown race.
Liz didn’t have to go far to find an artist to create the cover of her book. COMET graphic artist Steve Deyo listened to Liz’s general description of cover art for the book before creating a computer-generated image of a silver hawk and a ship. “I used 3D Studio Max software to combine three composite images into one final image,” says Steve, a fellow Star Wars fan.
Sci-fi fascination at an early age
Growing up in New Mexico, Liz says she read a lot more than she wrote. She began reading adult sci fi, including Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern, at a very young age. Her reading repertoire expanded to include comic books: Spiderman, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four were among her favorites.
She loves to read anything in the science fiction genre. “There’s a difference between true science fiction and fantasy,” Liz says. “Science fiction tends to explain how everything works. In fantasy, the science plays a much smaller role. An author doesn’t have to explain how time travel works. It just does.” Liz labels her writing “science fantasy”—a combination of fantasy and science fiction.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in geography at CU in 1991, Liz signed up with a local temp agency for work to tide her over while looking for a “real job.” Her first job was a one-day assignment, photocopying at COMET. She jokes now that it has been “the longest day of my life!” She liked the fact that UCAR’s work centers on science. “The people are great and the work is interesting, so I stayed,” she says.
Liz’s first book took a couple of years to write, and her writing routine evolved slowly. At first, she would write a few hours each week. “About seven years ago, I made writing more of a commitment. Now I try to write at least an hour every night, sometimes more,” she says.
After finishing Reach Beyond the Stars in 1998, she spent time writing Star Trek Voyager: The Riders, a 250-page book based on the Star Trek series. She
is now finalizing it and hopes to eventually get it published.
Liz is also at work on Stars End, a sequel to Reach Beyond the Stars. It will not be her last book. “There are so many stories I want to write,” she says. “I enjoy my job at COMET, but writing is definitely my passion.” •Nancy Wade
Nancy, a employment administrator in Human Resources, is an occasional contributor to Staff Notes Monthly.
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