Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines, Author, Keynote

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an author?

There really hasn't been any single defining moment. Getting my first rejection letter was certainly one step along the way. I had deluded myself into believing this writing thing was easy, and that I'd send out my stories and the money and fame would come rolling in. So when that rejection showed up, my gut-level response was, "Oh yeah? Well I'll show you!" That actually worked pretty well for me as motivation to keep writing and improving. (And I'm happy to say I eventually ended up selling two stories to that same editor many years later.)

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

At this point, I'd have a very difficult time writing and being a writer without the Internet. I know it can be done, and that people produced many amazing works of art without the convenience of Google and Wikipedia and social media sites where you can post things like, "Help! I'm writing a scene where a magic-using librarian has to read a book underwater. Is that even possible, and if I wrote it, would anyone believe it???"

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

Janet Kagan. She only wrote a handful of books, but she was a very kind human being, and we corresponded by email a lot when I was starting out. She offered advice and encouragement and support when I needed it. She passed away in 2008, and I never got the opportunity to meet her in person and thank her.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

When I was Guest of Honor at Penguicon, they made "Troll Toe" flavored liquid nitrogen ice cream in my honor, using marshmallows and squid ink. It actually tasted pretty good, though it was disturbing to look at.

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

I suspect they'd pick Snoopy. I'm a huge Peanuts fan, and as a writer, I can tell you that Snoopy gets it.

Plus, if you read the strips, Snoopy's doghouse is clearly bigger on the inside, which suggests it's actually a TARDIS, and that appeals to the Doctor Who fanboy in me.

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

The fact that it is a road. Nobody's born knowing how to write. You wouldn't just decide to be a brain surgeon, grab a hacksaw out of the tool box, and start rewiring people's mental hardware. It takes time and practice and persistence. Writing is a skill, just like anything else, and the more you work at it, the better you're going to get.

About the Author/Keynote: Jim C. Hines is best known as a fantasy novelist and the guy who did those gender-flipped SF/F cover poses. His first novel was Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt and his pet fire-spider. Actor and author Wil Wheaton described the book as “too f***ing cool for words,” which is pretty much the Best Blurb Ever. After completing the goblin trilogy, Jim went on to write The Princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. He’s currently working on the Magic ex Libris books, which follow the adventures of a magic-wielding librarian from northern Michigan.He’s also the author of more than forty published short stories. His first professional story sale was the award-winning “Blade of the Bunny,” which took first place in the 1998 Writers of the Future competition and was published in Writers of the Future XV.Jim is an active blogger about topics ranging from sexism and harassment to zombie-themed Christmas carols, and won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Masters in English, and currently works for the State of Michigan. He lives with his wife and two children, who have always shown remarkable tolerance for his bizarre and obsessive writing habits. (The cats, on the other hand, have no tolerance whatsoever, and routinely decide to walk across his desk when he’s trying to work.)


  1. I really enjoyed this interview. The books sound great. I don't read a lot of Sci Fi these days, but these sound interesting.

  2. Good interview! I'm a Kagan fan from way back too, and really sad she died without our getting more books from her.


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