Today author Jim C. Hines steps In the Spotlight at Second Run Reviews. Jim is the author of the Jig the Goblin series, the Princess Series and the Magic Ex Libris series. Jim has also been the toastmaster at ICON for the last several year. He is also responsible for me binge watching Doctor Who 3 years. Recently Jim officially became a writer full time and just released Fable: Blood of Heroes, a novel based on the hugely popular video game.
In the Spotlight Jim C. Hines
Welcome to Second Run Reviews, Jim C. Hines! Thank you for being In the Spotlight. I appreciate you stopping by and answering a few questions. So let’s get things started
In a tweet (140 characters or less), tell us a bit about yourself.
Father, husband, author, blogger, fan. 11 fantasy books and 50+ stories in print. Snoopy fan. Amateur photographer. D&D player. Geek.
Snoopy fan, huh? Would it impress you that I played Woodstock in a high school production of Snoopy!. My sister recently uncovered a VHS copy of said production. It’s quite embarrassing, but the old ladies ate up my performance.
Your most recent release is set in the world of Fable, a video game. What was it like writing in a world that was already created and has its own established fan base? Does it make writing a story more or less complicated staying within that already created structure?
It was different working with other people’s characters in an already-defined world. The most complicated part was working to introduce eight new characters from the game. That’s a lot of point-of-view shifts to juggle, but I’m happy with how it all came out. And it was fun finding ways to work with and develop the characters, finding their voices without completely muffling my own, if that makes sense? I might write a scene, then Lionhead would send back feedback asking me to change some things to bring it more in line with their vision, and the end result would be something even better, something I might not have come up with alone.
It’s certainly extra work, but it was also a lot of fun collaborating with that team to tell my own story in their world. I’d certainly be up for doing it again one of these days.
Writing with a team does sound like a fun adventure!
You are an established author with a larger publishing house. Looking back, what was the most difficult thing about getting published? What was the easiest? If you had to go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your stories or getting published that you’d change?
The hardest part was probably holding on to hope and determination during the early learning process. Nobody’s born knowing how to write good fiction, but there’s this myth that you just sit down at the keyboard, and wonderful publishable prose pours from your fingertips. So you spend years writing and submitting stories and getting rejected and struggling to understand why. For a long time, I couldn’t see the flaws in those early stories. It’s discouraging and frustrating to feel like you’re continually failing at something without knowing why, and with no guarantee that you’ll ever succeed.
If I had to change anything, I think I’d go back and tell younger Jim not to worry as much about what he thinks he “should” be writing, and to focus more on writing what he wants. One of the turning points in my writing career came about when I finally said the heck with it, and wrote some stories purely for the fun of it. Those ended up being some of my first big sales.
After reading The Rise of the Spider Goddess, I can definitely tell that writing does take patience and perseverance. I’m glad the younger Jim kept trying and succeeded in writing some truly excellent novels.
Of the books of yours that I’ve read, I’m a huge fan of the Princess series. Anyone who even whispers in my presence that they are a fan of The Lunar Chronicles or the “Crimson” books by Rosamund Hodge, I basically scream, have you read Jim’s books? He was re-writing the princess stories first! What inspired you to tackle re-writing classic fairy tales? (And why did you have to rip my heart out in book 4?)
Thanks! Those books came about when my daughter was going through a princess phase. We had princess pajamas, princess bedsheets, princess toothbrushes, princess tissue boxes…they were everywhere. And a fair amount of the merchandising seemed to prioritize being pretty over all else. I have no objections to pretty, but these characters and their stories were so much more than that. I wanted to create stories that showed these fairy tale princesses as the heroes of their own stories, kicking ass and taking names.
Also, I just plain loved the idea of Sleeping Beauty being a badass martial artist, Snow White doing mirror magic, and Cinderella whipping out an enchanted glass sword. Those three characters, along with Queen Beatrice, formed such a wonderful team to write about.
As for book four…I’ll just say that I struggled with that one a lot, trying to find the ending that felt most honest.
I appreciate that there are stories out there like the Princess series, the Lunar Chronicles and Hodge’s “Crimson” books. I can’t wait for my nieces and nephews get old enough to share my copies with them. And any other adult I can convince to read them.
What type(s) of books to you enjoy reading most and what three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
It’s hard to say, because I keep finding books that don’t seem like my “type,” and then I end up loving them. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey is a good example. I put off reading that one because I didn’t think I’d like it. Then I started reading, devoured it, and immediately went looking for book two. Books stuck in the mindset that only guys can be the heroes, that nonwhite characters only exist as background decoration (if at all), that women are little more than trophies, that non-straight characters don’t exist, and so on tend to end up on my Do Not Finish pile pretty quickly. I read SF/F for the wonder and imagination, and that kind of narrow-minded narrative is the opposite of what I want.
Have you had a chance to check out Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine yet? I was impressed by the wide array of characters and relationships in that book. One in particular jumped out at me because it was never called out. As a reader, you just started putting pieces together and it was natural. I was so impressed. I don’t want to say much more because it could be consider spoilerish.
If Libriomancy (did I spell that right?) was real, and what would you pull out of a book and why? (Feel free to invent a situation to set the mood!)
I’d probably start with various types of healing magic. I’ve got several family members dealing with chronic health conditions, including my own diabetes, and it would be nice to fix those. Not to mention the number of friends and peers I’ve lost to cancer in recent years. Lucy’s healing cordial from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe should be enough to help an awful lot of people kick cancer’s ass. Also a lightsaber, because it’s awesome, and any number of items from the Dungeons & Dragons guide books.
A Sonic Screwdriver might also come in handy. 🙂
Any last thoughts or wise words you want to pass along?
Thanks for giving me a spot on the site! Fable: Blood of Heroes was a lot of fun to write, and I hope folks enjoy it. If you’re interested in the game, you can check out https://www.fablelegends.com/
Have a great weekend, all!
Any time, Jim. Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you in October at ICON 40. Please come back again next year and fill us on your next big release. I’d love to have you back again.
author interview jim hines