My first Author Interview of 2018. I’m pleased to welcome J. Scott Coastworth to my Scribble page.
Welcome Scott. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Thanks for having me.
If you don’t mind, please give us a quick introduction of yourself?
Well, I live in Sacramento, California, with my husband Mark of 26 years. We live in a small yellow bungalow in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood about ten minutes outside of downtown.
I have been writing since I was in fifth grade, when I won a University of Arizona writing contest that included my first sci fi story, illustrated in crayon.
I didn’t get anything published until I hit my mid-forties, but since then I’ve had 19 stories published with two more under contract for 2018.
Wow, winning a writing contest at such an early had to be exciting, is that what cemented your love of writing?
LOL… no. It was more the things I read, the worlds they opened up. I always had a gift for stringing words together. But hey, it didn’t hurt!
19 Published works that is excellent. Congratulations.
Thank you. It’s been quite a ride since Dreamspinner picked up my first story three years ago.
Not only do you write but you oversee several Facebook Groups (Queer SciFi & Queer SciFi Writer among others and a popular website www.queerscifi.com) How did you get started with that?
When I came back to writing in 2014, I started making contacts on Facebook in the queer romance and queer sci fi markets. I found a couple groups devoted to queer sci fi, but none of them were quite what I was looking for – sort of an Algonquin Round Table for the modern age.
So I built my own.
I like that, and I think it’s a great way to approach problems. You didn’t complain, you went out and did something to affect change.
Thanks, well building what I wanted. I ran into Angel, one of my co-admins, on one of those groups. She wasn’t available at first, but I pursued her relentlessly, and when her commitment to the other group was done, she came to help with Queer SciFi (QSF).
I ran into Ben early on too, and eventually talked him into becoming an admin and taking the helm of the reviews part of QSF. We work well together, and that synergy helps to make QSF the great forum that it is today.
And it really is. I’m so happy I found it.
So, not only are you overseeing a busy social media empire, but you have a very extensive list of novels, so what inspired you to start writing?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be either an astronaut, a rock star, or a writer.
The rock star thing never quite panned out. And astronomy turned out to be a whole lot about math. So writing it was.
My mom got me started on sci fi when I was in elementary school, and by third grade I had read all three of the Lord of the Rings books. I was enchanted by Lothlorien, and soon by Pern and Rama and the Foundation worlds, and I knew that I wanted to write those kinds of worlds. My novel list isn’t quite “extensive” yet – two out and two contracted – but I do have nineteen stories published in all.
Extensive or not it’s still impressive. So well done and I love that your mom helped push into writing. That is a great story.
Now, tell us about your latest novel and what inspired you to write it?
“The Stark Divide” has a long and (forgive the pun) storied history. My first finished novel, “On the Shoreless Sea,” took place in a fantasy world in the middle of the void – a world where plants glowed and you could walk around its girth in a day.
It was roundly rejected by the sci fi publishers of the time, but when I came back to writing, it was one of the first things I picked up again, and I decided to go back and tell the backstory of the world. And so “The Stark Divide” was born. It’s the tale of a generation ship that takes mankind to the stars, and an evolution no one foresaw.
That is so freaking cool. I’ve actually just started it and so far it’s great. I know I should have read it first, but I working on it now.
Let’s talk a little about who has inspired you the most as a writer?
On a personal level, my husband Mark, who gave me a kick in the pants when I needed it, and who is always supportive of my writing.
Ahh. Gotta love supportive spouses.
For fellow writers – Sheri Tepper, who told tales that left me thinking for weeks; Anne McCaffrey, who made a world filled with dragons and fire lizards and wonderful harpers; and Peter Hamilton, who writes about the future in such an amazing and exciting way. I mean, trains that connect planets – who knew?
Closer to home, my friend Angel Martinez, who has been writing for longer than she cares to admit, and who is always a class act in addition to being crazy silly.
Sounds like a good mix of writers. Okay, when you’re not writing and running your social media platforms what do you like to do?
Spend time with my husband Mark – playing games, walking, seeing movies, going out for coffee or dinner. After almost twenty-six years, he’s still my most favorite person in the world.
That sounds lovely. I gotta ask, what’s your favorite movie?
Hmmm… it’s a toss-up. Strictly Ballroom is way up there, as is Moulin Rouge – really, anything directed by Baz Luhrmann. Also, Romy and Michelle is one of my all-time faves. Oh and did I mention Edward Scissorhands?
As you’ve been around the writing world for a while now, I’m wondering if there are topics or issues you wish were more common in books?
Yes, I’d like to see us move past the focus on MM books (and even FF ones) and include more characters from other parts of the queer spectrum. I think it’s happening slowly – it takes time, but even in this difficult environment, we are moving toward justice and representation.
Nicely said. So, as a gay man what are your thoughts about writing to an audience that is sometimes more interested in reading MM Romance. Do you find this to be an issue?
I truly think there’s something for everyone, and I think we paint with too broad a brush when we talk about the “difference” between MM and gay fiction. There are so many great authors writing all kinds of queer works, some of which have a lot of romance and some just a little. I think discerning readers of all stripes find the authors they like, and it doesn’t really matter whether or not their books have the “MM” label.
That is a fair point, however, don’t you think it can be difficult for LGBTQA writers who just want to tell good stories to be lumped into a romance category even though that wasn’t what they were going for? Then in turn being judged poorly for not having a romance story.
I think it’s difficult getting any book into the “right” category. Sure, it’s an issue when a book gets placed in “romance” when it’s really something else with a bit of a romance thrown in. But the same can be said of sci fi stories with queer relationships that get shunned by the “mainstream” market – see “Sad Puppies.”
Last questions and I promise it’s an easy one. Do you have any final thoughts for us?
I feel truly blessed to be connected to so many great authors like you. I enjoy being a part of such a wide and diverse community. Thanks so much for having me on your blog – I hope to return the favor.
That was kind of you to say. Thank you for all the work you do with QSF and thank you for taking the time to be here today. I would love to have you stop by again. Maybe once I finished with your current books I can have you back to talk about them.
Well that is all for this week. Thank you Scott.
About J. Scott Coastworth
Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.
He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.