Betsy Streeter is a Northern California-based scifi/fantasy novelist and writer, artist, illustrator and cartoonist.
I grew up in a town that was home to a national laboratory (where my dad worked) and a community of musicians, photographers, and artists (many of whom also worked at the lab). My parents were in a local theater group and opera company that (until it burned down) performed in a one-room school house north of town. On the lab’s Family Day I would ponder the cylinder-shaped Cray supercomputers and play games on teletype machines. There were no boundaries between art and science.
My childhood bedroom was adjacent to our living room dominated by a grand piano, a frequent site for musical rehearsals and performances. I woke to music, I went to sleep to music. My own walls were covered in layers of drawings and paintings.
I consumed a steady diet of Star Trek, The Muppet Show and Atari games and did my high school FORTRAN homework on one of the Crays using a teletype machine into which I plugged our home phone receiver. I used my dad’s extra tractor-feed computer paper for drawing. I did All The Sports and at one point was running 8 miles nearly every day. Amazingly, I still have knees.
My mother, once I reached my tweens, went back to school and pulled straight A’s in finance and became vice-president of a bank, following the fine tradition passed to her by her own mother of telling girls that they can do whatever they set their mind to. Mom’s generation being one in which her basketball ability was considered more of an interesting mutation than an actual pursuit, this ambition is no small thing. She was the first female president of a Rotary Club and you would have thought these people landed on the Moon or something.
I majored in Studio Art and Communication at Stanford University, which at the time had a nonsensical “fuzzy-techie” divide that I never related to. Since that time design and science have crept closer and closer together to the point where some departments are even combined now. For me painting in the studio was not some “fuzzy” pursuit. It was a way of thinking and externalizing ideas. And media was just a big toy store. I got involved with film and video, and then graphics and animation, and then interactive design and information architecture, all while publishing cartoons. To me this was all of a piece.
After college I went on what I call “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride Through Corporate America” in which I worked in numerous industries (production, software, video games) and participated in an array of Big Business Moves (mergers, acquisitions, an IPO) in the midst of the explosion of the Internet, and during which I became a syndicated cartoonist with the feature BRAINWAVES. Over time my fiction projects lengthened and turned to short stories, and then novels.
My first novel, SILVERWOOD, came out in 2015. Its sequel, SILVER SHARD, came out in 2016. I describe these as YA-and-up science fiction/fantasy. I also describe them as MacGyver meets The Incredibles with a heavy dose of Twin Peaks. As one might expect, they break down conventions including the use of time travel (I don’t mess about with causality loops, thanks). I’m at work on the third novel, tentatively titled ORIGIN.
I launched my science fiction serial NEPTUNE ROAD and spinoff stories ROCKET ANGELS and PHILO AND MAY as a means to develop stories and ideas over time, much as I have done as a cartoonist. These stories are about people (and other life forms) living on a terraformed Neptune. They are followed by a large readership on Wattpad and have expanded far beyond my initial expectations.
As an artist I mash up animals, humans, machines, and tiny stories. I am fascinated by old photographs and have been known to costume my characters in Civil War or Romantic- era outfits.
My work travels the world without me in books, magazines, pixels, a Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory science exhibit on black holes, and at least one tattoo. I love and honor everyone who reads or enjoys what I make.
I now live in Northern California with my equally geeky husband, two metalhead kids, a couple of peculiar cats and a mellow but hungry tarantula.