Jim C. Hines has been one of favorite writers since long before I started this blog. It all started with a little book found at my local bookstore called Goblin Quest starring a little blue near-sighted goblin named Jig and his trepidatious fire spider companion Smudge. From there Jig's adventures got bigger with Goblin Hero and Goblin War. Hines's prominence then grew with a quartet of novels based on fairy tale princess stories starting with The Stepsister Scheme and his latest novel Libriomancer--out this week--is his first in the Urban Fantasy series Ex Libris, which is also his first hardcover release.
MH: You've done your Quest Fantasy series, which turned into something of an Epic with the Goblin books, tackled the Fairy Tale genre with the Princess novels, and now you're after Urban Fantasy with Libriomancer. Is your plot to cover the breadth of Genre literature?
HINES: YES! Though I'm finding this one-book-at-a-time approach to be painfully slow. This is why my next book will be 50 SHADES OF BLUE, an erotic romance about goblin detectives in the old west. It will be a picture book.
MH: That's a best-seller waiting to happen. Despite my reluctance on erotic romances that would certainly be something to behold. Smudge, originally scene in the Goblin books, reasserts his role as a sidekick/companion in Libriomancer. You mentioned in the introduction that a short story was the impetuous for Smudge coming back. Did you ever feel pressure on bringing a character you've used so much into a new world?
MH: I love that little fire spider too. Libriomancer is peppered with genre literary references from both classic and new works. How much were you bribed for those mentions? And did you go back and re-read a lot of books to get the little details right?
HINES: How much did they bribe me? Well, looking at my bills for this month, IT WASN'T ENOUGH! There were actually only a few instances where I deliberately snuck a friend's name in. Ann Crispin has done tremendous work through Writer Beware, and I remember loving her Star Trek novels when I was younger, so I asked if I could put her in as the author of Vulcan's Mirror. My friend Catherine did a quick consult for me on the idea for Rabid, so I listed her as the author for that one. Mostly though, I just looked for the books that fit, and the kind of books Isaac would want to use for various situations.
As for rereading, I wish I had time to reread every book I mentioned. I read some, skimmed through others, and queried the groupmind on Facebook and Twitter for a few.
MH: You're become known as a humorist Fantasy writer. What moment(s) made you feel that was the direction you should head and make your niche in? Were you know as a funny guy growing up?
HINES: When I started seriously trying to make it as a writer, I concentrated on serious stories. I wanted to be deep and powerful. The first time I made someone cry with one of my stories, it was a huge triumph. But none of that stuff sold. Finally, in a fit of annoyance, I wrote a quirky, humorous sword and sorcery story about a magic bunny knife. It won first place at Writers of the Future, and remains the highest-paying short story I’ve ever done. That was my first clue that maybe lighter stuff was a better fit for me. I still pushed myself to learn how to write dark and serious, but I have more fun when I can work humor into the story.
Growing up, I was mostly known as that skinny, geeky kid. But I did enjoy making people laugh. That hasn’t changed. When someone tells me a story of mine cracked them up, or a blog post made them laugh-snort their coffee, it makes my whole day.
MH: Labeling is something many reviewers seem at odds about, especially YA. I find the Jig the Goblin books YA friendly even going so far as to give them to my niece. If you could have had a say and had them published in the YA category would you? Granted the YA category barely existed when Goblin Quest came out.
HINES: If you'd asked me about the title 24 hours ago, I would have said no, but I just last night emailed several suggestions to my editor. I think my favorite is "Codex Born." I don't know if that will be what we use, but I like it. I'm currently about 25K words into the second draft of book two. I'm exploring Lena's character a bit more, as well as the history of the Porters and some of the enemies Gutenberg made along the way. I'm also pissing off my protagonist, which is what a good author is supposed to do, right?
MH: That's exactly as it should be. Just hope he doesn't pop out of the book one day. More on the history of the Porters and Gutenberg is definitely what I'd like to see. Do you have any celebration rituals when you finish or sell a new book?
HINES: I don't, and I really need to start some. Any suggestions?
MH: A bottle of wine and reading a good book seems like the way to go. Or how about dancing a merry jig? What is the greatest advice you've even been given as a writer?
HINES: Always ... no, never ... forget to check your references. Also, sit your butt in the chair and write!
MH: Now on to the important issues. What is your favorite hat?
THIS ONE, BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME! (And the bonus sonic screwdriver takes that picture up to 11.)
MH: Now that is a swank hat. What books are you reading at the moment?
HINES: Lots of good stuff! I'm halfway through N. K. Jemisin's Kingdom of Gods, the final book in her Inheritance Trilogy. I've also been reading various works from the Hugo Voter Packet, and recently finished Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons, which comes out in February of 2013.
MH: I love the cover for Brennan's book. I'll have to make time for it. And thanks for all your time. Is there anything you'd like to say to close us out?
HINES: Thanks for inviting me to do the interview. This was fun! For anyone who's read all the way to the end, you can check out the first chapter of Libriomancer at www.jimchines.com, or follow the links on that site to come hang out with me on the blog, Twitter, Facebook and such. Finally, always stock up on emergency cupcakes, never piss off a platypus, and try not to get too jealous of my hat.
MH: I'll try not to get jealous, but it is going to be hard.
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