“The contest draws thousands of entries each quarter from around the English-speaking world, so to be considered one of the top three is an achievement,” he said in an email interview. “Many of the winners have gone on to significant careers. I hope to continue writing and reach a larger audience.”
And Sottong’s writing will reach a larger audience. His story “Planetary Scouts” will be in the annual “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future” book, which the contest publishes each year and contains winners’ works.
What’s his story about? The teaser blurb describes it like this: “The ads say, ‘Live the adventure! Meet strange new aliens!’ But beware what the ads don’t tell you.”
Sottong said he was born and raised in Kokomo in a working-class family. He said his dad was an assembly-line worker at Chrysler.
“We couldn’t afford the constant stream of sci-fi books I wanted to read, so the library fed my passion,” he said. “The biggest shaper of my writing would have to be the Kokomo Public Library. I wouldn’t be a writer without it.”
Sottong attended Ivy Tech Kokomo, joined the Navy for six years, and then went to Purdue University where he graduated with a degree in engineering. From there, he moved to California to work for an aerospace company.
In the early 1990s, he received a master’s degree in library science and worked in academic libraries until he retired at the age of 51.
With plenty of free time, Sottong began honing his writing skills. A few of his pieces landed in local publications in California and Oregon, but his story in the “Writers of the Future” book will be his first national publication.
Currently, Sottong said, he has a dozen or more short stories and a few novels sitting on his computer in various stages of completion.
So where do ideas for his stories come from?