Dark Secrets of A Fantasy Writer – EXPOSED!

I got two rejection e-mails this morning, one with the (rather cruel, I thought) checkboxed form-letter note that the story “did not hold their interest”. [1]

But it is still a frabjuous day, because it is Mermaid Day.

Today the second book in Jim C Hines’ Princess Novels, The Mermaid’s Madness, comes out. [3] I really liked the first book in the series, The Stepsister Scheme. (You can read my review of that book at Goodreads.)

But wait, says my imaginary reader in my head, Where’s that “exposing the dark secrets of writers” bit the title promised?

Ah. That’s this bit below.

Jim agreed to answer a question – any one question – from fans who sent him an e-mail. Mine is below, and you can see the rest of the questions he answered back at Jim C. Hines’ blog. (As he notes there, questions will be added as they go live.) Stop by there and wish him a happy mermaid day!

So enough me, here’s my interview question for Jim:

Hi Steven!

I’m a little behind where I wanted to be, but I’m making my way through the one-question interviews.

Q: Have you ever been worried that someone would see themselves (or think they saw someone from real life) in your work?

A: Actually, most of my coworkers joke about ending up in my books, and the horrible deaths I’ll write for them after they drop a stack of paperwork in my Inbox.

It’s not something I really worry about, though. I don’t base my characters on real-world people*, and I’ve yet to have anyone claim to recognize someone from my books.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t been tempted. All joking aside, there have been people I feel deserve a very slow, messy, painful (fictional!) death. I’ve wanted to write them into the books, just to make their characters squeal. But satisfying as that might be, at that point I’m writing as therapy, which means my own emotional catharsis has become more important than staying true to the story.

Not to mention I don’t want to get sued! So I play it safe and don’t worry about it.

*With the exception of Stub the cat, who is totally based on my cat Pod. But I pay him off in cat food and tuna juice, so we’re cool.


[1] This actually doesn’t bother me. [2] I have read slush before, and many of the stories I read that did not hold my interest ended up holding another slush reader’s. But while that lets me blow it off as a subjective opinion, it’s still a bit cruel to have as part of a form letter.
[2] No, really. It just means I submit the work somewhere else.
[3] Mine has already shipped. Order yours now!