My guest today is J. Scott Coatsworth, telling the stories behind the stories for his two new releases, “Between the Lines” and “The Homecoming.”
People often ask me how I get inspired – where I get the ideas for the stories that I write.
They come from all sorts of places, depending on the story.
Case in point – I have two different novellas coming out in July, my first stand-alone stories, and they have very different themes and backgrounds.
The first, “Between the Lines”, out from Dreamspinner on 7/15, is the story of a chief of staff for a state lawmaker, and the curious things that happen when he discovers a medallion that lets him see the words behind the words people say.
I’ve been writing for a long time, but with some big gaps, and Between the Lines started out as a story fragment called “The Box”. I wrote it in a sitting or two, one of those “let’s open up a blank page and see where it goes” sort of things, and then it sat on the shelf for a decade or two.
Flash forward to 2014, and I needed something to submit to Dreamspinner’s “Random Acts of Kindness” anthology. I pulled this one down and dusted it off, and thought it would make a perfect entry. I plotted out a direction for the rest of the story and set about writing it, using my current hometown of Sacramento as the backdrop, and voila, a full fledged story.
It was rejected for the anthology, but DSP encouraged me to extend it and resubmit it as a stand-alone, and once I did, they bought it.
The second novella, “The Homecoming”, also started out as a story fragment, albeit with a much longer history. In elementary school and junor high, I used to draw maps of this world, Antana, that experienced regular worldwide floods. I built a whole history for the world, and then one day I started out a story with the idea of an expedition back from Antana to old Earth – what if Earth was taken over by intelligent wolves?
Less Than Three called for submissions for an anthology “Lovely, Dark and Deep”, about things that happen in the forest. Once again, something off my dusty shelves seemed perfect. I pounded out the story, where the wolves were now werewolves, and submitted it.
And here, too, I was rejected, but with a request to resubmit the story as a stand-alone. I did, and three days later, they said yes.
The takeaway here is that inspiration can come from a myriad of sources.
And you never know when an idea you discarded a few years back will finally come into its own.
Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.
Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.
While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad’s not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.
When his own world is destroyed, Aldiss and his crew barely manage to escape, leaving friends and lovers behind. What was meant to be an exploratory trip back to the home world turns into a mad dash for survival.
When they awaken from stasis on Earth, which was abandoned by humanity five centuries before, they must quickly learn about their new home. While exploring the region around the ship, Aldiss meets Hari, a shape-changer, whose people harbor secrets that might cost the crew their lives.
Buy Link: Less Than Three
About the Author
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.