While researching Jim C. Hines for this interview I discovered that not only are we both Michigan natives, we both have a love of BBC America show Dr. Who. (If you aren’t watching BBC America you are missing out on some great television.) Mr. Hines is a prolific fantasy writer who has written and published many short stories and is currently working on his third book series. (I’m new to his books and am currently reading, and enjoying his first book Goblin Quest.) His books are published by DAW Publishing and he is represented by the JABberwocky Literary Agency. His novels have been translated into multiple language and have received rave reviews from around the globe. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hines during a 2010 Nanowrimo write in which I discussed in one of my previous blog post. I want to thank Mr. Hines for taking time away from his busy schedule to visit Lexi’s Author Alcove.
1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing my first (very, very bad) novel back in 1995, over the course of my junior year in college. By the end of that year, I had decided I wanted to give this writing thing a serious shot. If only I had known what I was getting into…
2. What inspires you to write?
Well, from a practical standpoint, things like paying the mortgage can be darned inspiring. For the most part though, I don’t know that I’ve ever needed much inspiration to start writing. I get excited about stories and characters, so once I have the seeds of a story, I *want* to sit down and start getting it out on paper.
3. Do you ever suffer from writers block and how do you combat it?
Nope. There are days when I’m not as happy with what I’ve written, and days when I realize the story has problems. But I don’t have time for writer’s block.
4. Congratulation on the publication of your latest book Red Hoods Revenge, part of the Princess series. Can you tell us a little about it?
Thanks! Red Hood is the third book in my princess series, which has been described as a cross between the Brothers Grimm and the Angels Charlie. This book came from a throwaway line in The Stepsister Scheme, where Danielle and Talia are talking about the stories of Red Riding Hood, and Talia remarks that little Red Hood grew up to become the most feared assassin in the land. And now Red Hood is after Sleeping Beauty…
5. I’d also like to congratulate you on your new publishing contract, with a two book deal and a larger advance. How did you feel when you received the news from your agent?
Thanks! I was pretty pleased. I had spoken with my editor, and knew they were excited about my pitch for the Magic ex Libris series, but it was still pretty exciting. I can’t wait to start writing them!
6. After writing over 40 short stories and three book series will you be able to quit your day job now?
I wish! I live in the United States, meaning the only way I get health care is through a “real” job. I’m diabetic, my wife is in grad school, and I have two young kids. I did have one year where I made more from the writing than I did from my day job, but various health issues would have bankrupted us within months.
7. What lessons have you learned on your journey to publication that you can pass on to other aspiring authors?
Be stubborn. Learning to write is a long, slow, and sometimes frustrating process. I did a First Novel survey earlier this year, and it took most writers an average of 10 years or so to sell their first book. Persistence is one of the most important traits for a writer.
8. Libriomancer, the first book in your Magic ex Libris series was recently sold to DAW Books, for publication in 2012. Can you give us a sneak peek into the new series?
Libriomancer is an expansion of a short story I wrote called “Mightier than the Sword,” in GAMER FANTASTIC. The title character is a librarian who has the ability to pull things from books, everything from light sabers to laser guns to Smudge the fire-spider (from my Goblin Quest series). I’m expecting this series to be a great deal of fun, and it should let me play with all sorts of interesting ideas.
9. Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading now?
I’m currently reading CHICKS DIG TIME LORDS, an essay collection edited by Lynne Thomas and Tara O’Shea, and LIBYRINTH, by Pearl North. As for my favorite authors, that changes way too often for me to be able to answer.
10. What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
Learn the business as well as the craft. It’s great to know how to write, but if your goal is to be published, you need to know how to avoid the pitfalls and reach that goal.
11. What are you working on now?
I’m wrapping up final revisions on THE SNOW QUEEN’S SHADOW, the fourth and final book in the princess series. I’m also doing a rewrite on a short story called “Epilogue” for an anthology invite.
12. I’m sure you don’t remember but we met at a Nanowrimo write in. Lately there has been some criticism of novels written during National Novel Writing Month as useless drivel best left unwritten and unread. What do you think of this program and the writers who attempt this impossible feat?
I do remember, actually. And it’s certainly not an impossible feat. 50,000 words? I’ve got a friend who did over 100,000 in November. I believe I talked about writing GOBLIN QUEST at that write-in; that was a 90,000 word book which I wrote, edited, and started submitting over the course of six weeks.
I don’t know about the criticism you’re describing, but my gut reaction is who cares? Yes, most books written in a hurry, following the mantra “No plot? No problem!” are going to be crap. Not to mention that 50,000 words isn’t a full novel for most genres. But so what? It’s a start, and most of my first drafts are crap too. NaNo can give you a starting point, something to work with.
13. Where can someone purchase your books?
Pretty much anywhere, really. Most bookstores carry at least some of my books, and of course, there are all of the usual online outlets.
14. Will there be a movie version of any of your books soon? I can’t wait to see Jig the goblin on the big screen.
I wish. Sadly, movie deals are something the author has very little control over. If a studio comes along to make us a real offer, I’d love to one day see Jig or my princesses on the screen, but we’ve had no nibbles yet. (Despite an odd rumor that started flying around a few years back that Disney was going to make a movie out of THE STEPSISTER SCHEME.)
Photo © Gabriel Edson