L. A. Jacob (00:00:10): Hi, and welcome to Small Publishing in a Big Universe. I am your host, L. A. Jacob. Today’s interview will be with J. Scott Cosworth, an author of assorted paranormal and sci-fi books featuring gay characters. Coming from our sponsors this month: from Water Dragon Publishing, The True Son by Vanessa McLaren-Ray, Angels Adrift Book Five in the Z Tech Chronicles by Ryan Southwick, and The World’s Shattered Shell by Lawrence Raphael Brothers. From Paper Angel Press, Dangerous Inspiration by Greg Stone.
L. A. Jacob (00:01:08): Due to the overwhelming response to the Dragon Gems Program last year, Water Dragon Publishing is putting together a series of anthologies featuring works by new and exciting authors in the speculative fiction genre. The first in the series of Dragon Gems is being published this month, Dragon Gems Winter 2023. There are 15 assorted speculative fiction stories from a touch of humor to a little horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal suspense. Look for more to come out quarterly. Dragon Gem’s Winter 2023 is available this month from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smash Words, and other online booksellers. Or support your local independent bookstores by ordering it through bookshop.org or indiebound.org. For more information, visit their website at WaterDragonPublishing.com/Dragon.Gems.
L. A. Jacob (00:02:17): This is Small Publishing in a Big Universe. And I am your host L. A. Jacob. And I have with me here today, J. Scott Coatsworth, who is an author and a member of the SFWA, also known as the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. He lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento, California. And he was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci-fi by his mom at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would maybe make them to his own ends. So, we’d like to welcome J. Scott Coatsworth.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:03:04): Hey, you can just call me Scott.
L. A. Jacob (00:03:06): Okay. Scott.
J. Scott Coatsworth 00:03:08): J. Scott Coatsworth is my pretentious writer name.
L. A. Jacob (00:03:09): You are a very busy person in the community from what I understand. You’re a very busy writer as well.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:03:15): (laugh) Yeah. I wish I had more time for writing, but yeah, I, I get a lot accomplished in a little bit of time.
L. A. Jacob (00:03:20): I understand that for the community you have put together something called Liminal Fiction. What exactly are you trying to do with it?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:03:28): I realized a while ago that one of my big strengths is that I’m a community builder. I tend to try to bring groups of people together and make things with them. And I’ve always like fascinated with uh, fantasy and science-fiction. And so, when I had the chance to put together a community site for this, I kind of jumped at it. Uh, Liminal Fiction, at its heart is what I call a discovery directory. So, the idea behind it is you can go on Amazon, and you can put it in keywords, but it’s hard to really narrow down and find something that’s a lot like the thing that you like to read. So, with Liminal Fiction and a sister site, which is a Queer Romance Ink, we created these directories where we ask authors for a ton of information about their books. But then that lets us drill down and provide a lot of ways to find different books.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:04:06): So you can do the regular search if you want to. You can search by genre; you can search by trope or by subgenre. You can do a filter search and kind of combine all different kinds of things to look for that. You want the Lesbians on the Moon book. You can do that if you want. Werewolves and vampires on Mars, you can do that. I actually have a friend writing a werewolves and vampires book on uh, the moon that just came out. Anyway, the idea was that you would be able to drill down and find exactly what you wanted in the site. It’s also a Facebook group and so I’ve been building the actual community itself there and a lot of people get together to talk about daily discussion topics. They stop by on our Spec Fic Saturdays to talk about their newest releases for authors, their news, their great news.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:04:45): So it’s basically just supposed to be a way of bringing together a bunch of people in the SFF community. And it actually goes beyond that to horror and paranormal as well. But for speculative fiction, to bring a bunch of folks together, there are organizations like SFWA, which are great, there are cons and things, but I found when I was writing in the romance field, there was a lot more connection and community there than I found online in the sci-fi world, at least in terms of like websites and in groups and that kind of thing. So, I think it’s a lot more direct fan-based, fan to fan, con based. Um, but I really wanted to build something different in terms of the web itself. That’s why the idea and LimFix was born actually during the pandemic about uh, three months in we launched it. It’s been around for a little over two years now.
L. A. Jacob (00:05:27): Have you found it successful in what you’ve wanted it to be and do?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:05:31): It is. It’s a little bit harder going than we had in the romance market, but we are pulling together folks. In fact, we just got our 400th author listed a couple days ago. There’s a kind of a critical mass that you have to hit to have enough stuff to interest people. And also, we do a weekly newsletter where we put out new releases and reviews and things. You have to have enough people involved so that you actually have stuff to do that with. So, I think we’re rapidly getting to that point. So yeah, I’m very happy with where it’s at and where it’s going. I hope that it continues to grow.
L. A. Jacob (00:05:57): Now your other site is Queer Romance Ink.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:06:00): Queer Romance Ink is basically a mirror of Liminal Fiction in that it runs the same way, but it is for LGBTQ+ fiction. Mostly romance fiction, but we also kind of broaden the limit on that to allow anything that’s got a queer romance and LGBTQ+ romance or relationship in it. It’s a very similar site. It’s also a discovery directory but focused on that particular market.
L. A. Jacob (00:06:19): I just wanted to get everything out for you.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:06:21): Oh, there’s about 20 other websites we run, but we don’t have to talk about all of them today.
L. A. Jacob (00:06:24): Let’s put on your author’s hat. How many books do you have out?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:06:28): Well, it depends on how you define books. So, if you define book as novel, um, eight, and I’ve got uh, three more actually that uh, Water Dragon is gonna be putting out over the next year and a half. So, it’s basically two trilogies, the third trilogy coming, and then there are two standalone books. Dropnaughts will be, this is my next thing to work on the sequel for. So, it will eventually also be a trilogy. And I’ve got another nine novellas published currently. And then beyond that probably I’ve published around 20-25 short stories of which about 16 are available through uh, two collections that I have. So, overall published works, I’m in the neighborhood of, I’d say 40 at this point.
L. A. Jacob (00:07:01): How long did it take you to get this far?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:07:03): So I’ve been writing my whole life, but I didn’t get serious. But until, uh, 2014 I’d kind of started and stopped and started and stopped. And I wrote a novel back in the nineties that went out to a bunch of publishers and every single one of them rejected it and stalled me out. I was working on uh, writing again and we had a tragedy in our family, and I remarked to my husband that I’d just gotten started again and things were going good and this had to happen. And he looked at me and he said, “You know, the only one stopping you from writing is you. If you wanna write, write.” And I was like, this clarion wake up call. So, I just buckled down and with his blessing just started to really do it. So, in 2014, I got my first two novellas published, sold a couple short stories.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:07:39): My first novel came out, I think it was 2017 that would’ve been Skythane. And I did this insane thing where I was working on two different sci-fi trilogies at the same time. And so, I wrote one and got it published in the first half of the year and then the other one, the first one got published in the second half of the year. And I did that for three years until both trilogies were out.
But they were, I didn’t know it at the time until I got part the way into ’em, but they were related. One was in maybe, maybe 150 years from now and one was about 1,500 years from now. But they’re in the same universe and there’s a connection between the two. So doing that way, it kind of let me, especially in the last books, make some connections between them. Some Easter eggs that are in there that kind of actually do connect them. If you’re reading both.
L. A. Jacob (00:08:21): I would think that if you’re doing it both at the same time, you would have made some unconscious connections with them. So, your mom was a sci-fi nut?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:08:29): Still is. Still is, yeah. She was a science-fiction book club member, and she had these two huge bookshelves in what we called our spare room. And there were other books there too, but there were two or three shelves that were devoted to science-fiction and fantasy. And she had the Dragon Riders of Pern and she had Foundation Amos books. She had just a bunch of things, kind of the classics of the genre at the time. This was back in the seventies, and I just started out with Lord the Rings when I was in second or third grade, read them into third grade. Yeah. When Boromir died in The Two Towers, I cried for days. So, I went through everything that she had on her shelf, just devoured it. It’s good and bad. It gave me a real grounding in that era. But as a writer, writing has changed so much, and the genres changed so much.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:09:11): But I have to be careful in drawing on that while at the same time not making it sound too much like that era when I write. The writing was just different back then and mostly straight older white men writing it. There were a lot of assumptions that went into the writing that in in the characters and characterization and it was amazing for its time. But it’s so different than what’s being written now. So, it’s important to gotten back into reading after all long reading drought over the last three years. It’s fascinating to see kind of what’s being written now.
L. A. Jacob (00:09:38): What’s your most recent book?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:09:40): Most recent book is Dropnauts, actually ties in with the idea behind The Stark Divide. That was the one, the book that I wrote back in the nineties was, was actually called The Shoreless Sea. The idea behind it was a generation ship where it was difficult to tell that it was sci-fi because the world inside was basically medieval at that point, was like a fantasy. And when I came back to writing in 2014, I wanted to do something with that. So, I thought, why don’t I go back and figure out what the origin story is for that world? How did it start? When did it start? How did it get to where it is? And so I wrote The Stark Divide as a, it’s actually three different pieces, like three novellas that come together as one novel each separated by about 20 years. And when I went to start a new project a couple years ago, I had basically destroyed the Earth in The Stark Divide, which I’ve done a couple times.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:10:22): And I thought, what if not everybody’s dead? What if somebody’s still there and where would that be? And that idea had come up in that trilogy because I had had them at one point get a signal from Earth, but nobody knew what it was or who it was from. And so that one little piece, that little line in the story took me back to write this new story about, yes, there was a base on the moon and the base on the moon survived and actually thrived. But they are such a small population that they know at any point there could be an asteroid strike or plague of something or something else could happen that could take out basically all that they know is left of mankind. And so they need to get back to Earth now that Earth after 120 years is starting to kind of settle back down. And so Dropnauts refers to the astronauts essentially, but they’re dropping back to Earth and trying to find out what’s going on down there instead a base to begin the migration. So, it’s one of those elevator pitch things. It’s kind of like The 400 meets The Expanse, but more hopeful ‘cause most everything I write has elements of hope in it.
L. A. Jacob (00:11:17): And you said that’s going to eventually be a trilogy?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:11:19): Yeah. So next one is Coredivers and it has to do with something hidden on the moon. And so, I’m kind of letting that percolate while I’m finishing up the editing on my current trilogy. And then I haven’t figured out what the third one is yet. But yeah, that’ll be a trilogy. Ultimately.
L. A. Jacob (00:11:32): I’m assuming you write mostly in science-fiction, fantasy, and romance.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:11:37): Yeah. My overall thing is Hope Punk. So, it’s basically fiction, but most of it goes in science-fiction fantasy. I do a bit of sci-fantasy, so my Skythane one has Winged Men and there’s a lot of science-fiction background to it. But it again, kind of got a fantasy feel to it. The Stark Divide starts out as kind of a hard sci-fi and then that Arianna Cycle trilogy kind of moves over closer and closer to fantasy as you go through it. And one of my plans is to write that middle one between the two series. That will kind of be the first book I ever wrote and finished, and submitted that never got published, just started over from scratch. But that middle time, and that’s gonna be mostly a fantasy feel. I got my start in romance because that was where I was able to find places that would accept my work.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:12:18): And even then, most of my romance, it’s male/male romance, most of it has sci-fi or a fantasy or paranormal in it because I have a hard time writing straight ahead Guy meets Guy… My show and tell example of that is Wonderman. To write a, um, novella or short story for a collection. And it was supposed to be a Christmas story. And so of course I had to write a Christmas post-apocalyptic zombie story. And it’s the last two guys alive on earth as far as they know. And they meet and one of ’em has OCD and it’s what they go through to kind of figure each other out. And, but yeah, so I have to have that extra little something in most of what I write. There’s a couple that I’ve written that are just pretty much straight ahead contemporary.
L. A. Jacob (00:12:55): What genre would you like to try?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:12:58): That’s a good question. I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve written fantasy, but most of my fantasy, again, is sci-fi adjacent. So, one of ’em is a climate change set in San Francisco, so it’s kind of an urban fantasy post-apocalyptic. One of my fantasies was just a fast forward time with a references to Faye. I’d like to do an actual all-out epic fantasy at some point, probably a trilogy, something that just is fully fantasy and not dipping into the sci-fi well. Play in that side of things. Cause I’ve, I really love the mix of the two, but I think just be fun to do one that that’s straight on magic and just be able to screw around with the way the world works in reality and everything in ways that as a sci-fi writer, you’ve really, even if you don’t disclose everything, you’ve gotta have some kind of idea in mind how it works.
L. A. Jacob (00:13:41): Do you use a small publisher, or do you self-publish?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:13:45): So I started out with a small publisher. I actually had four or five of them at one point that had done my works. I, I submitted different places for things. I’ve left most of them at this point. Some of them have left me, some of ’em just gone out of business, but I’m still with Mr. Corner Books, which is a great little publisher of LGBTQ+ fiction. They do romance, but they also stray over into the more genre side of things. So, I’ve got still four or five novellas with them, short stories. But then everything else up to this point I’ve done myself since 2019. I’ve re-released all my novels. Um, we released my novellas, put out a couple new things. I am actually trying to experiment with Water Dragon now. When I broke my arm, it was the day before Baycon, and this was the first con I’d planned to go to for three years with flew off my bike, flew 15 feet and slammed into the ground on my shoulder.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:14:29): Didn’t actually hurt, it was just my arm just wouldn’t move. And I was so distraught because I thought I’m not gonna be able to go. I didn’t know it was broken or not, but I’m, I’m not gonna be able to go. I but the doctor in the emergency room, he said, you know, it, it looks like it’s broken. You’re probably gonna have to have surgery, but that’s gonna be a couple weeks. If you can handle the pain, you’re not gonna hurt it anymore. Just keep it in the sling and you can go. So, we did this crazy thing and went to a convention the day after I broke my arm and we’re there for four days. And because of the break I could type with one hand, or I could, you know, voice to text, which is imperfect. But it just hit me how I’ve been working on this trilogy, and I tried getting it to an agent, the first book at one point, and I’ve been working on it for over two years.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:15:08): And I really just wanna get it done because I wanna move on to something new. I haven’t written anything new since I finished the third book last year. So I ran into Steven at the Water Dragon table and we got to talking a bit about SFWA and about science fiction and publishing and things. I was thinking about it and thought, you know, what I haven’t tried is really working actively with the small publisher on the sci-fi side spec-fic side. And I really like what he’s doing here. And so, I’ll check with him and see if he wants to look at it and if he’s interested in it, we’ll go from there. So, I sent him the first book and he had the editor looked at it and they really liked it a lot. They said, there’s a few issues that we want you to fix if we take you on, but we’d like to do it.
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:15:46): You know I said, yeah, that’s fine. And so, we’re gonna go ahead and try this out for this trilogy. So long answer short, I’m still self-publishing and I still, I’ll probably do Coredivers on my own since I self-publish the first one. But I also want to try out this. It’s a, having a publisher, but it’s also in a way, is kind of a partnership to try to make things work as well, um, that I might not do if I was just handing it off to any publisher. I’m really excited to see how that goes.
L. A. Jacob (00:16:09): When do you plan on getting the first book out?
J. Scott Coatsworth (00:16:11): That’s titled The Dragon Eater. I sent that in about a month and a half ago and I’m waiting for edits. The tentative plan is to do a March, October, March, I think it is. So, so six months apart each one. And we wanna leave enough time because if you really wanna get reviews in the trades, you have to have actual physical books ready. And so, my plan is even if it takes longer to get to that point, get the books out to the trades and then if we have to move the date back a little bit, it moves back. But it should be in spring and then fall and spring.
L. A. Jacob (00:16:38): You can get ahold of him through LimFic, LimFic.com or Queer Romanceink.com.
L. A. Jacob (00:17:10): Paper Angel Press presents author Greg Stone with his novel Dangerous Inspiration. Detective turned novelist, Ronan Masini, has different perceptions because of a condition called synesthesia. He transforms sounds into colors. These visions give him unusual insights into solving cases. So when a collection of eccentric and possibly violent creative people come together at an elite artist’s colony in rural Vermont, murders occur in rapid succession and suspicion falls on everyone as Masini unearths the founding family’s secrets. Dangerous Inspiration is available this month from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and other online book sellers. Or support your local independent bookstores by ordering it through bookshop.org or indiebound.org. For more information, visit their website at PaperAngelPress.com.
L. A. Jacob (00:18:46): Thanks again to our guest. We plan on publishing new episodes every second Wednesday of the month. Watch for new episodes around that time. Theme music is provided by Melody Loops. Other music is from assorted free music websites found on the internet. If you want to know more about Small Publishing in a Big Universe, visit our website at SPBU-Podcast.com. Tweet us at SPBU-podcast and like us on Facebook at SPBU-podcast.
This podcast was recorded and edited by L.A. Jacob. Executive producer is Steven Radecki. This month’s episode was sponsored by Paper Angel Press and its imprints, Water Dragon Publishing and Unruly Voices. You can hear our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, and most of your favorite podcast services. Visit our marketplace for more information about books that are mentioned on this podcast. Thanks very much for listening and talk to you soon.
Transcription by Remy of Sleepy Fox Studio