10 Questions with Jim C. Hines

Interviews with Contest judges, past winners, current winners, and entrants
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Brad R. Torgersen
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10 Questions with Jim C. Hines

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:53 pm

Okay sports fans, ask and ye shall receive. I pinged Jim on this last night, per your requests, and he was gracious enough to hit me back with his answers today. Thank you, Mr. Jim.

For those who aren't aware of Jim's credentials....

Jim C. Hines began writing in the early 90s, while working on a degree in psychology from Michigan State University. His first professional sale was the award-winning “Blade of the Bunny,” which took first place in the 1998 Writers of the Future competition and was published in Writers of the Future XV.

For many years, he focused on short fiction. His work has appeared in more than forty magazines and anthologies. During this time, he also picked up a Masters degree in English from Eastern Michigan University.

Actor and author Wil Wheaton described Jim’s first published fantasy novel Goblin Quest as “too f***ing cool for words!” which is pretty much the Best Blurb Ever. After completing the goblin trilogy, Jim went on to write the princess series, four books often described as a blend of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with Charlie’s Angels. Jim’s books have been translated into German, French, Czech, Polish, and Russian, thanks in no small part to his wonderful agent. In 2010, he signed a contract with DAW Books for a new current-day fantasy series, one which will feature the return of a certain fire-spider…


Brad R. Torgersen wrote:1. How many times did you enter the Contest before you won?

Jim C. Hines wrote:I entered once and was a quarterfinalist. The next time I entered, to my
shock, I was a first place winner for my quarter. Yeah, I know ... I'd hate
me a little bit too.

2. Was winning the Contest something you really focused on, or
something incidental?

Jim C. Hines wrote:Somewhere in between. I was still a very new writer. In some ways, I think
I won too soon, before I knew enough about writing to really understand or
to take advantage of all of the opportunities winning presented. Writers of
the Future was a market, one I really wanted to crack, but my goals back
then were more "Sell a short story" as opposed to "Win this contest!"

3. Did you notice any differences in how editors responded to you,
once you could claim the win?

Jim C. Hines wrote:Nope. I was hoping that after the week-long workshop and awards ceremony,
editors and agents would be lined up and waiting at my apartment when I
returned home. Sadly, it didn't turn out quite that way.

4. Did winning change your outlook on your own writing, and how you
approached it?

Jim C. Hines wrote:I think there were two significant changes. First and foremost was the
validation that yes, I really could write a publishable story. That was
huge. In addition, as a result of the workshop, I learned that I could
write a lot more than I thought: finishing a story in a single day, for
example. It helped me to recognize that a lot of what I thought were my own
limits were self-imposed and false.

5. What are 5 pieces of writing wisdom you think you have learned
since being published in Writers of the Future?

Jim C. Hines wrote:-Be stubborn.
-Don't be afraid to fail.
-Listen, but don't take any particular advice as gospel.
-Don't be a dick (This advice is copyright Wil Wheaton).
-Aim high.

6. What do you think are 5 mistakes you’d like to see people avoid,
who may be trying to break into publishing?

Jim C. Hines wrote:-Rushing to publish their early work, which may or may not be ready yet.
-Arguing with editors/agents, either by responding to rejections or online.
-Trying to write whatever seems hot right now (because by the time you
finish, sell the piece, and get it published, what's hot will probably have changed.)
-Trying to follow the example of an outlier. For example, an author who
says "I'm going to publish my book online for free, because it worked for
John Scalzi!" Well, yes ... but very few of us are John Scalzi, and there
are a number of reasons that approach worked for him, reasons which probably
don't apply to you.
-Buying into the myth that publishing is a big conspiracy against new
writers, which is total bull.

7. How did you attract DAW’s attention, and was it easy or difficult
to pitch the Goblins series, and other books to them?

Jim C. Hines wrote:That's a very long, somewhat bizarre story, which I talk about in detail
here: http://www.jimchines.com/2010/07/first-book-friday/ I will say that
once I sold them the first two goblin books and developed a relationship
with my editor at DAW, it became a bit easier to sell them future books.

8. What’s the value of World Fantasy Convention, for up and coming

Jim C. Hines wrote:Assuming you're not too overwhelmed by it all (I was, my first time), it
plunges you into a hotel full of professional writers, editors, and agents.
I tended to stick to the panels in the beginning, which were educational and
helpful for little old newbie me. And of course, there's always the fun of
hanging out at the bar, a primary value of all good conventions. (Even if,
like me, you don't drink.)

9. Has networking with other authors proven important for your
long-term success?

Jim C. Hines wrote:The most important thing for my long-term success has been to keep writing
good (I hope) books and stories. Networking certainly hasn't hurt me. I've
got a lot of author friends these days. One suggested I query JABberwocky,
which ended up being my agency. I've received some professional
opportunities from friends as well. But the writing has to come first. For
me, "networking" has been a pretty gradual and natural thing that grows out
of just hanging out with writers online and at cons, and enjoying the

10. What future projects are you working on? Can you talk about any of

Jim C. Hines wrote:I've got a short story due soon, and I'm also working on "Libriomancer," the
first book in a new modern-day fantasy series. I'm in the very early stages
of this one, by which I mean I'm at the stage where I've decided I suck and
will never write anything good ever again, woe is me, alas. It's a normal
part of the process for most authors, and I think it will be a fun book once
I'm done. And I get to bring back Smudge the fire-spider from the goblin
books, which makes me happy.

Again, big thanks to Jim for answering the 10 Questions, especially for getting it back to us so quickly. As always, if you liked what you saw here, ping Jim at his blog or web site and let him know. For people at his level, time really is money, and it's nice that a former winner and published pro will spare a few moments to give us feedback like this.


Coming up: "Life Flight," in Analog magazine
Coming up: "The Chaplain's War," from Baen Books
Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell nominee.

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Re: 10 Questions with Jim C. Hines

Postby nodehead » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:05 pm

Jim C. Hines wrote:I entered once and was a quarterfinalist. The next time I entered, to my
shock, I was a first place winner for my quarter. Yeah, I know ... I'd hate
me a little bit too.

:D A great start to yet another great interview. Thank you forum overlord, and thank you Mr. Hines!
Someone mentioned me somewhere, once. But, it wasn't here. And, it wasn't honorable. (A.K.A. 2x Rejections.)
A blog-like kind of thing...

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