Hey everybody. I have a special edition of Into the Unknown with J. Scott Coatsworth, who is here to talk to us about his new release, Lander, which is the follow up to the Rainbow Award winning Skythane, and it releases today, the 13th. But before we get to that, we’re just going to chat.
Let’s start with a really popular question. Many writers are introverts and get their energy from solitude, which is not a bad thing given that writing is usually a solitary pursuit. Are you the kind of writer who can keep going for hours all by yourself, or do you get worn out from all the drama going from your head onto the page? J
I tend to write in short, focused sprints with a bit of time around the edges to let ideas work their way through. I don’t do a lot of rewriting, so I like to develop the story intentional piece by intentional piece so in the end, it mostly makes sense.
Ah. Focus is a good thing. I have none of it, lol. I also tend to be a bit high-strung. Do you think writers need loads of confidence or a big ego to make it in this business?
Absolutely not. In fact, I think confidence and ego are two of the most destructive things for a writer’s work. If you think you know everything, that your writing is fantastic, amazing, best ever, you stop growing. We writers live in a sea of doubt. One bad review can throw us into a deep, days-long funk. But the flipside of it is that we’re always testing ourselves, stretching what we do, asking ourselves if it’s good enough. Sure, you don’t want to be so doubtful of your own work that you never send it out. But a healthy dollop of doubt is one of the things that keeps me improving as an artist. If I ever feel like I have this whole thing down, it’s probably time to quit.
Whew! So I’m not alone. Good to know. I usually have more than my share of doubt, which can be a problem sometimes, especially since the last few years have seen a significant influx of books on the market. There is a lot of good stuff out there, and the competition is huge. Do you take the market into account when you write your stories, or is it all from your heart?
Anyone who wants to sell books has to at least be aware of the market. I am writing for two markets – one is the queer romance market, and the other is the queer sci fi market. While there is some overlap, they really are two different things.
So I take that into account. My Oberon Cycle is more tilted to the romance side, while my Liminal Sky series tilts more to sci fi.
Regardless, though, within those frames I write what I want, what I am passionate about.
I do, as well. The joy for me is in being in love with my story. But, I also have to say that there’s nothing wrong with writing to market. One of my favorite writers is Raymond Chandler and I’m pretty sure he wrote what he thought other people would buy. His stories, powerfully and incomparably, capture a specific place and time. When did you learn that stories have power, and how did that affect you?
I remember it very clearly. I was in third grade, and was reading “The Two Towers.” I got to the part where Boromir was killed by the orcs, and something just broke inside me. I cried for days.
I think I’d never really encountered death before that. Oh, I knew what it was. I knew things and even people died. But it hit me hard.
Learning that writing had that power was one of the things that made me want to write – the idea that emotions could be passed on from one person to another via the written word. It still inspires me today.
If you couldn’t be that person who writes, for whatever reason, who would you like to be for a day and why?
Wow. Hmmm… someone young and gay who grew up in a world where it was a lot easier than it was when I was in high school in the early eighties. Maybe an athletic hottie like swimmer Matthew Mitcham? See what like is like now for young, athletic, popular gay guys.
Well, I’m going to employ a cliché here and say that without those experiences, for better or worse, you wouldn’t be you. But… there’s a whole lot of work to be done to ensure kids are given with all the acceptance and support they need to explore who they are. Being a youngster is hard enough under the best of circumstances, and we carry a lot of baggage with us from our youth. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that writers often work things out in their writing and sometimes that can dredge up painful feelings. Sometimes what we write is hard anyway. What are your toughest scenes to write and is there a particular scene that was the hardest of all?
I have a hard time with sex scenes. Not the no-holds-bared erotica type, but the tamer versions that would go into one of my sci fi books. Making it hot enough to keep the reader interested, but making it flow in the story and plot too.
This is always tough because some readers what sex scenes and some don’t, but personally, I think it needs to work with the story. So now that you have Lander out there, what else are you working on, and when can we expect it?
So many things.
Lol. Okay. Can you tell us about a few?
After “Lander”, the next up is “The River City Chronicles,” the book form of my successful web serial about a group of friends (mostly queer) in Sacramento. It will be my first self-published work.
In October, “The Rising Tide” comes out – book two of “Liminal Sky” (after “The Stark Divide).
Sometime this year, Mischief Corner Books should start releasing “Marionettes in the Mist,” a four author serial I participated in over there, as a trilogy.
I’m already writing my 2019 releases – “Ithani” will be the last book in the Oberon Cycle, and “The Shoreless Sea” the last in the “Liminal Sky” trilogy.
Oh, and I have a bunch of stories coming back to me from anthologies and the like that I might either turn into an anthology, release as self-published stand-alones, or expand to full novels. Or all three!
Wow! That’s great! Looking forward to it. And thank you so much for stopping by to talk to us. It’s was great having you here.
Everyone else keep reading because I have a nice long excerpt for you and the blurb from Lander, plus a buy link and social media links and a GIVEAWAY!. I hope you enjoyed the interview!
Sometimes the world needs saving twice.
In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.
Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.
In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.
Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?
The Oberon Cycle: Book Two
Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon.
Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.
What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them – and all of Oberon – forever.
Jameson kissed Xander again, his passion fading, but his ardor for the man still in full bloom. It was good to find time for the two of them in the middle of madness.
Xander was at rest, peaceful as he floated on the surface of the water, his eyes closed and his muscles slack. His black wings trailed off below into the glow of the pond. He looked more like an angel to Jameson than he had since the first time they’d met.
Images flashed in his head—this place, other people, other times. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing them to go away.
Reluctantly they subsided. Jameson stood to get out of the water, shaking his head as if to dry his hair.
Xander pulled him back down for one more kiss. “What’s the hurry? I can still hear the storm roaring outside.”
Jameson growled. “I’m hungry. Don’t you ever get your fill?” He should have told Xander about the memories. He knew Xander saw them too, sometimes, but Jameson didn’t want to ruin the moment.
“Apparently not.” Xander let him go. “But I like to watch your backside, so I guess this is some kind of compensation.”
“Pervert.” Jameson smiled to himself. He was still sore from their exertions, but it was a good kind of sore.
He climbed up to the rock floor next to the pool, using one of the columns to steady himself. Something skittered across the edge of his vision. A bat? Or something like it? He looked after it, but it had vanished.
He went to pull his pants back on and wrinkled his nose. His clothes were filthy.
He opened his pack and grabbed a fresh set. He pulled on his underwear first, then laced up his shirt while Xander watched appreciatively. Getting dressed had been a hell of a lot easier before he’d gotten his wings. To compensate for his lack of skythane clothing, they’d raided the king’s closet, and it had been a challenge to find anything without a fur lining or silver buttons. King Theron had been a big man too—thick in the middle, if his clothes were any indication. Frowning, Jameson cinched his belt tight to hold up his pants.
“It suits you.” Xander smirked, getting out of the water and giving Jameson a full-on view of his beautiful body. He was muscled, but not overly so, his stomach firm and his body sleek. He was perfect.
Jameson felt a surge of love for Xander. He took full advantage of the unguarded moment, enjoying the show. Xander’s well-defined abs and his lopsided grin were almost enough to entice Jameson to give it another go, but the memories were messing with his head, and he really was hungry.
“Let’s eat.” Xander pulled out his own change of clothes and sniffed them.
“A little damp?”
“Yeah. Mildew from all the rain. Still, it’s better than the alternative.”
He grinned. It was a shame Xander needed to wear anything at all. “Um, food. Yeah. Sounds good.”
“We need to be ready to leave as soon as the storm lets up.” Xander pulled on his pants. “That means keeping up our strength. Getting fed, getting some sleep…. I want to look for Quince and the others, and my people need me back home. Things will be confused in Gaelan after the shift.”
My people. Jameson had his own people too, somewhere across the continent. “Things will be crazy in Oberon City too, I’d imagine.”
Xander nodded. As he finished dressing, Jameson took a look around the cavern. It was maybe fifty meters across, and half that deep, and there were dark shadows at several places near the back, leading off to other caves or rooms.
He wondered how far this cavern system went. His new gift—or curse?—wasn’t specific on details like that, though sometimes memories sprang wholly formed in his head.
Back home on Beta Tau, caverns could stretch on for hundreds of kilometers. The Great Rift system went on for at least three hundred and fifty, meaning it was theoretically possible to get from New Davos to Arctus without ever going aboveground.
He closed his eyes, trying to remember this place. The ability seemed to come and go randomly, but there had to be a way to summon it up at will. It had come to him when he needed it, but not of his own volition.
Again, there was a flickering, like something fluttering past in his peripheral vision. This time it slipped past on both sides. He looked around wildly, but there was nothing there. Not bats, then. He was losing his mind.
“What are you thinking about?” Xander asked. “You seem a little… distracted.”
“You didn’t see that?”
“Never mind.” He sighed. “It’s probably just this place. I… remember it, but I don’t.”
“I know. Since that kiss, it’s been hit and miss for me too.”
Jameson nodded. That kiss. The one at the House of the Moon, when memories had flooded through him, through Xander, like a torrent. It had been the second time for him, but for Xander….
“Do you ever… see things that aren’t there?”
“Sometimes. Quick images. Like brief overlays of the past on the present.”
“Do you see them now?”
Xander looked around. “No, nothing now. You?”
“No. I….” He stopped. Something was moving at the edge of his vision. He looked around. The cavern seemed to shift, becoming brighter. There was a weird fluttering, as if a hundred dark wings were flapping just out of sight.
“Jameson, you okay?”
Everything went fuzzy for a moment, and his stomach clenched in protest. When he could see again, golden light flickered from candles placed all around the room. Where had they come from?
He turned back to Xander, but Elyra stood there instead, grinning at him, leaning forward, her breasts like two perfect moons under her vest. “You came. I’ve been waiting for hours.” She pulled him close. He could smell her musky perfume, feel her long raven-black hair brush against his cheeks as their lips met….
The world shifted again.
The cavern was dark, lit by only the smallest blue illumination from the pool, and he was all alone. The deep, keening sadness of loss cut him with a sharp physical pain. In his left hand was a bloody dagger, and his right cupped his torn intestines.
A massive furry creature with eight arms and long teeth like a saber-toothed tiger rose up with a growl, and six eyes stared at him over its wrinkled snout. It swiped at him with a hairy paw tipped with sharp claws and he danced away….
He was out of breath, gasping for air, and covered in sweat. He held on to one of the rock columns for support, staring over his shoulder. Surely they hadn’t followed him all the way back here.
There were shouts behind him, in the main cavern, and he took a desperate gulp of air and pushed himself onward, toward the darkness at the back of the cavern….
He/They/We were joined, feeling a sense of peace and harmony at their union. He/They/We fed on the nutrients in the water, joined body and mind, and mused about the world outside and the events of the last few days. Each part of He/They/We shared its experiences out in the world, the others they had encountered before returning with their knowledge to enrich the whole. The time of the Great Move was coming….
Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate and three copies of his queer sci fi eBook “The Stark Divide.”
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.