Since childhood, Gary Roen, 1969 Boone graduate, excelled in reading in writing.

During junior high, he began receiving feedback from his teachers on his stories and realized what career path he wanted to follow.

Following his graduation from Boone, Roen began his collegiate studies at Valencia College and continued at the University of Central Florida. At the time, he never graduated from UCF, but pursued his degree once more in the late ’90s.

“I was never that good of a student. I just didn’t apply myself. But when I did, I went back to UCF. In 1997, I got my B.A. in English Education,” Roen said. “…I went back, tweaked my major a little bit and became an English major.”

Roen, now an author of four books, is a science fiction writer with an eccentric imagination and draws his story ideas from everyday life.

His first book was published in 1976 and his most recent, Journey, this year. After publishing, he began receiving compliments on his work from friends, coworkers and even the famous. Roen noticed the influx of recognition when he began marketing his books to the public, which he emphasizes as the best way to get story recognition.

Journey is a compilation of science fiction short stories, from a smartphone with a mind of its own to slivers of time in characters personal lives.

A popular character in Journey is Slotski Bear, a menacing teddy bear that helps people when they need it most. Slotski bear plays a large role in Journey and can be found on the cover of the book. Roen found his inspiration for Slotski when he wasn’t looking.

“I was working at the Florida Mall. I was out at the time and I saw in the trash can what looked like an ear. I went over, pulled it out and it was this bear,” said Roen. “He had claws for hands, claws for feet, fangs and bloody gums.”

While some writers struggle with writer’s block, Roen suggests “watching your surroundings and the people around you.”

“Writer’s block is a real thing. I was just never affected by it. I always moved on and wrote something else,” Roen said. “If you find yourself in a patch of writer’s block, work on a different story.”

“Continue to write. Observe what is around you, take notes. Go to conventions, meet authors, meet agents. Learn about the craft of writing. Learn where publications are that are taking short stories. Write from your perspective, write what you want to write,” Roen said.

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