We’re excited to have humorous fantasy author, Jim C. Hines, here with us today!
Photo © Denise Leigh
Jim C. Hines: Author. Husband and father. Alternate universe cover model. Hugo-nominated blogger. We tracked down this balding 38-year-old man and asked us to share the real Jim Hines, to tell us what made the creator of Libriomancer tick. He responded, “Dude, what are you doing in my bathroom?” So we snooped around his house for something interesting to write about. We found a prominently displayed shelf of his own books, with titles like Goblin Quest and The Stepsister Scheme, which leads us to conclude that he is a very egotistical man. He also has an extensive collection of Peanuts books, a LEGO TARDIS and customized Doctor Who minifig, and needs to vacuum his basement. It was here that Hines revealed his true self, shouting at us to get the frak out of his house and repeatedly hitting us with a plastic lightsaber while his cats pounced on our shoelaces. To learn more, visit Jim’s website at http://www.jimchines.com
WD: How has your family inspired your writing?
JCH: I’m a strong believer in writing what you’re passionate about, and I’ve found that being a parent and husband has affected my stories a lot over the years. Sometimes it’s more blatant than others — there’s a goblin short story I wrote about a baby goblin and his nursemaid which was inspired by my own adventures in diaper-changing. Other times it’s the way I write about relationships.
WD: What method do you prefer writing in: long hand, typewriter, or computer?
JCH: I type much faster than I write by hand, and given the number of mistakes I make, the computer is the best fit for me.
WD: What was your journey like from writing the first pages of your first novel to getting that first book accepted?
JCH: Long. Bumpy. Kind of like driving from New York to Australia. With a faulty GPS. You get to see some amazing things, but it’s not a quick or easy road.
WD: What character is most like your own personality?
JCH: I’m probably somewhere in between Jig the goblin and Isaac the libriomancer.
WD: What was the hardest part of which novel to research?
JCH: Possibly all of the sailing information I had to learn when I was writing The Mermaid’s Madness. I have very little nautical knowledge, so spent a lot of time reading historical texts, browsing through photographs, and tracking down “Sailing for Dummies” type books. Sadly, I still messed up at least one detail. (I’m not going to tell you what it is, though!)
WD: If you could go anywhere for research, where would it be?
JCH: I think I’d start with outer space. If anyone wants to fund me on a weeklong moon vacation, I hereby promise to write them a cool story based on what I learn up there!
WD: What other books have you written?
JCH: The Goblin Series (Humorous Fantasy)
The Princess Series (Fairy Tale Princesses Team Up and Kick Various Butts)
The Stepsister Scheme
The Mermaid’s Madness
Red Hood’s Revenge
The Snow Queen’s Shadow
Magic ex Libris (Magic-wielding Librarian from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula)
WD: What awards have you won as an author?
JCH: I won first place in the Writers of the Future contest back in 1998 with a story called “Blade of the Bunny.” Not the kind of story I would have pegged as award-winning fiction, but I was delighted to be proven wrong!
WD: How often do you write when you are working on a work in progress?
JCH: I write every day during my lunch break at work (one hour), and I squeeze in night and weekend writing time when family and real life allow. When deadlines approach, I tend to make more time on those nights and weekends, but it can be hard sometimes trying to balance it all without neglecting my wife and kids or letting the house fall into disrepair and collapse around me.
WD: What are some of your methods you use when writing a novel to keep you on track?
JCH: I’m an outliner, though my outlines are generally broken in one way or another, so the book tends to veer off as I write it. More and more these days, I give my characters snippets of dialogue in my early drafts where they critique the story and yell at me if it’s getting boring or stupid. It lets me keep track of what I need to fix, and helps me to maintain some humor about the whole messy process.
WD: What are your experiences with using a Writer’s Critique Group?
JCH: I was in a writing group for a few years about a decade ago, and it was very helpful. Reading their stuff inspired me to push harder and aim higher with my own stories, and they helped me to recognize and improve a lot of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Every writer is different, but for me, this group was very helpful at that stage of my learning.
WD: What advice would you give to new aspiring authors on writing and revising?
JCH: Do both. A lot.
WD: What types of things do you do to relax from writing? Any hobbies?
JCH: What is this word, “relax”?
I’ve been doing karate for about five years now, which helps both for the exercise and because the physical workout helps me to let go of whatever mental and emotional stress has been following me around. I used to do gaming (Dungeons and Dragons, mostly), but then our DM went and had a baby, so that hasn’t happened lately.
WD: I’d like to talk about a more serious subject for a moment. Can you share with us a little about your thoughts on sex crimes, and what training you have received personally in order to help people that have been raped?
JCH: My thoughts … without writing a novel’s worth here, I think sexual violence is far too common, and that as a society, we generally do an unforgivably poor job of supporting victims and holding perpetrators accountable. I would love to see more education at all levels, and more work on bystander intervention instead of essentially writing it off as a “womens’ problem” and just telling girls, “Well, don’t get yourself raped!”
I was a volunteer crisis counselor during college, and was one of the coordinators for our sexual assault counseling program there. I also worked as the Male Outreach Coordinator at the domestic violence shelter on campus, which included both outreach/education and working one-on-one with students who had been referred for various disciplinary reasons.
I’ve written a lot about rape and sexual violence, and most of what I’ve written is available at http://www.jimchines.com/rape/
WD: Thank you, Jim, for joining us today! It’s been a pleasure having you here. Feel free to post questions or comments for Jim. Thank you.