Greetings my sweets, I’m back again with another interview with an author who writes speculative fiction with LGBTQ themes. I want welcome J. Scott Coatsworth, the author of Skylane, to the J. Ashburn Blog!
Thank you Scott for taking the time to do this interview for my blog. When did you first start writing fiction? When I was in fourth grade. I wrote a Jetsons-inspired, fully Crayola illustrated sci-fi short story that won a local contest and ended up (somewhere) in the University of Arizona library. But my first serious writing started in my junior year in High School, when I began a novel that will NEVER see the light of day. It was an embarrassing mishmash of elves and pegasai and sci-fi that… well, let’s just say it’s hidden in a box up in one of our closets, and that’s probably where it belongs. :p
Did you have any formal writing training or education? Hmmm… not formal? I did take a few classes with the amazing mystery writer Elizabeth George and her sidekick Jo-Ann Mapson, and I learned a lot, but mostly I’ve honed my craft on the job, and with mentors like Angel Martinez.
What do you do to tackle a project? Do you write outlines or keep all in your head? I used to just pants it, but these days I do outline it. I try to keep my outlines simple, though, as things do tend to change as I work through a story. I like to leave room for surprise.
Where do your ideas come from? It’s a mélange, really. Often they come from specific submission calls. Sometimes they are stories that I started years and years ago and that I pull out from my story starts drawer to take another hack at. Other times, I get inspired by music – sometimes a particular song will suggest an entire story. My short story “Flames” was in part inspired by a Bastille song called “Things We Lost in the Fire.”
I noticed that your newest book “Skythane” came out recently. Can you tell us a little about it? Sure. It’s one of those story starters I mentioned above – I started the initial story back in the mid-nineties, and it was the first actually “gay” thing I wrote. When I came back to it in 2014, it went off in a new direction, and when I made it my NaNo project in 2015, it veered again. Now it’s complete, the first book in a planned trilogy. It features lost souls, a world split in two, an impending tragedy, and swamp bears!
What was it like working with an actual publisher like Dreamspinner press? I love Dreamspinner. Elizabeth North is one of the most forward looking folks in the industry, and DSP has a fantastic editing process that helps guide authors to make the most of their stories and to put out the best and cleanest manuscript possible. They’re also like a big family – I’ve been to the DSP retreat two years running, and always learn a lot and have a fantastic time.
Tell us about some of your other published? My more recent works include the post apocalyptic tale “Wonderland”, in the “This Wish Tonight” anthology – a “what if we were the last two guys in the world” Christmas story, and the aforementioned “Flames”, which combines my love of my hometown growing up, Tucson, and my love of Italian. Also last year, my novella “The Autumn Lands” came out from Mischief Corner Books – it’s in the same family as Skythane, with a bit of a twist.
Do all of your books or stories feature gay characters? Yes, and others besides. My ongoing serial, “The River City Chronicles”, is the most diverse with characters from all over the queer spectrum.
Why do you feature gay storylines in your work? Because it’s personal. For the longest time I read and wrote straight sci-fi and fantasy, but I got tired of not seeing myself reflected in the work. So I took matters into my own hands. 😛
I understand you and your husband have recently undertaken a new online business that hosts gay paranormal, fantasy and science fiction books, excerpts, selling links and more. Can you tell us more about this? Sure! QueeRomance Ink was our answer to the fall of ARe. Unlike ARe, we don’t sell books on the site. Instead, we’re building an author-driven directory that will allow readers to search for titles across the queer romance spectrum in ways they never could before. Our goal is to connect each reader with exactly the right book and author. The site launched in late January; as of this writing, we now list more than 230 authors and 1,000 books, and we’re growing all the time.
What do you like to read when you’re not writing? When I can? I wish I had more time to read. Mostly these days I try to delve into other MM speculative fiction writers – know your market, right? But I also have a big soft spot for “mainstream” sci-fi and fantasy folks like Peter Hamilton and Robert Jordan.
Who is your favorite writer? Probably Sheri Tepper – she had this amazing ability to reflect and dissect our current society and to write works that kept me thinking for weeks after I put them down.
What current projects are you working on? I’m involved in two serial projects – “The River City Chronicles”, which is a contemporary magical realism tale set in my current hometown of Sacramento, and “Marionettes in the Mist”, an urban fantasy piece set on an alternate Earth that I’m writing with Angel Martinez, Freddy MacKay and Toni Griffin at Mischief Corner.
Novel-wise, I am writing Lander, the sequel to Skythane, which if everything works out right, will come out in February 2018.
What can readers expect in the future from you? This summer, my other post-apocalyptic tale “The Great North” is coming out from Mischief Corner Books. In the fall, my queer (but not romance) sci-fi book “The Stark Divide’ is due out from DSP Publications in early October – it kicks off my second trilogy. And I hope to self-publish River City later this year.
Where can readers find you and your work? Everywhere they sell books. *laughs* They can go to my website at:
and click on Buy My Books for a full list with buy links. They’re all on Amazon, and most are at the other major vendors.
Thanks so much for taking the time the do my interview, it was fun for me, how was it for you? Lol. Thanks for the opportunity and all the great questions. 🙂
As a special treat for our readers, here is an excerpt from the author’s recent release Skythane. Amazon links to the book follow at the end of the excerpt. Thank you everyone for check out this interview. And if you’d like me to interview you next, please contact in the comments or on Facebook.
Excerpt from Skythane:
Quince got up and rummaged through her saddlebags, pulling out a mirror. “Take off your shirt.”
“Why? Are you going to hurt me?” Jameson backed up toward the rope that surrounded the clearing.
Quince snorted. “With a mirror? Hardly. I just want to show you something. Then if you don’t want to believe me, I’ll let it go.”
Fair enough. He shucked his shirt, though it seemed tight coming off.
“Now turn around.”
He complied, and she held the mirror up so he could see his back. “What do you think those are?”
He looked and his face went cold. Protruding from his shoulder blades were two strange lumps, the skin over them looking red and bruised.
He reached around frantically to touch one of them. It was tender and warm. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph….” He spun around, trying to reach them. “What are they? What did you do to me?”
“Your wings are coming in. It’s something that happens to every one of us from the first-wave settlers of Oberon—we usually induce it at puberty with a special hormone. Yours were delayed, but you drank some of the ethilium in that water I gave you—”
Jameson’s breathing quickened, and he felt trapped in the small clearing beneath the alien trees. Everything was wrong. “I don’t know… I can’t….” he rasped, unable to get enough air. What the hell is happening to me? He looked wildly back and forth, his heart racing and his mind struggling to follow.
She reached out to him, but he stumbled away from her touch. He didn’t want her to touch him again. He didn’t want to be here.
He turned and ran blindly away, ducking under the rope and into the open forest. His panic carried him off into the darkness, ignoring Quince’s frantic calls to come back. He was blind to everything but the need to flee, to escape this strange trap that he could feel slowly closing its jaws around him.
Branches slapped at his face, stinging him. He stumbled and fell, but picked himself up again to keep running.
When he finally slowed down, breathing harshly, the campfire was a distant glow, and he was all alone in the darkness.
Jameson stopped then, his hands on his knees and his head down, and let his breathing slowly return to normal. He had to get a grip on himself. He was here, for good or ill. He was stuck with this woman, and something strange was happening to him. That much was clear.
There were two options—he could run from it, or he could turn around and face it. His career had been built on helping people deal with things they didn’t want to acknowledge. Now it was his turn.
He’d been stupid to run.
Jameson had just turned to start back toward the distant campfire when there was a rustling in the branches above. Just one of those damned birds. He’d be back in the warm circle of firelight in a moment anyhow.
There was a loud flutter right behind him, and then he felt a sharp prick in his neck.
“Owww!” He put his hand up. It came down wet.
Around him there was a sound like a thousand little fans, and then he was surrounded by things flapping past him in the darkness. There was another peck on his arm and one on his leg, and he suddenly realized the danger he was in.
“Quince,” he shouted, and started to run, but the flock of wereveren followed him like an angry cloud, diving in to harass him and then flying away again, one after the other. He tried covering his face to protect his eyes, but then he couldn’t see. He stumbled forward, now bleeding in half a dozen places, hoping he was headed back toward the campfire.
He had no way to know without opening his eyes.
The attacks came faster. He was going to die out here, all alone, in an alien wood, fallen prey to a beast no bigger than his outstretched hand. All because he’d been a thick-headed idiot.
He fell down and curled up on the ground, trying to protect as much of himself as possible from the attacks. He felt weird—groggy, like he’d just awoken in the middle of the night.
A roar and a couple loud thumps startled him back to awareness. His assailants scattered momentarily, and a pulse rifle went off, twice. Then he was dragged up onto a seat.
Someone shouted “Hold on!” and he did as he was told, hugging her waist. Quince, he thought.
The cycle swung around and raced back toward the protection of the enclosure.
The wereveren returned, but in less force, and before they could take many more swipes at him, his savior had reached the fire-lit clearing. Quince guided the cycle under the deterrent rope, parked it, and eased him off the seat.
Jameson opened his eyes, but he couldn’t quite focus on her face. He was tired beyond imagining, and the campsite around him swam in and out of focus. The last thing he was aware of was being laid down to rest on a sleep sack. Warm hands touched his cheek, and he thought someone kissed his forehead.
Then he fell into a deep sleep and was aware of nothing else.