Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Jim Hines who currently is displayed on card number 342, from the Science Fiction Collection. Jim is an American author of fantasy and science fiction. He won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer and was the first place winner in the 1999 Writers of the Future contest. His first novel was, Goblin Quest, the tale of a nearsighted goblin runt named Jig and his pet fire-spider. His short fiction has appeared in more than fifty magazines and anthologies. Jim was the editor of Heroes in Training as well as the Invisible series about representation in SF/F.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a trading card?
I can’t say that’s something I ever imagined or expected, no.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I haven’t yet. Hopefully one of these days.
How early in your life did you know you would be a writer?
I was about 21 years old when I figured out that I wanted to be a writer, but that’s not the same as when I knew I would be a writer. That’s just when I started trying. Like most authors, it took a while to learn the various skills that go into writing a story. For about ten years, I kept practicing and working, wanting to be a writer but afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it.
The biggest turning point was in 2006, when my first book (Goblin Quest) came out from a big publisher. That was my confirmation that yes, I could do this, and I was going to keep doing it for as long as my mind and body would let me.
How has writing today changed from when you were younger? What do you like or dislike about the changes?
It’s nice not having to submit my work by snail-mail anymore. And I can’t remember the last time I had to buy and use international reply coupons.
I think there’s less acceptance these days of lazy storytelling that ignores the enormous range and diversity of the human experience, which is a good thing. As a reader, it means it’s easier for me to read a variety of stories. As a writer, it pushes me to grow and to challenge my own assumptions and defaults.
If you did not become a writer, what would you be doing?
Bemoaning the fact that I’d never be on a trading card.
What are your favorite type of books and why?
I still mostly read science fiction and fantasy. I have a preference for happier stories. Bad things can happen, but I like to come away with a sense of hope. If I wanted to feel depressed, I could turn on the news or surf certain social media feeds.
What are your favorite hobbies today?
Photography and karate are the two I’ve been enjoying in recent years. When I have the time. Being a solo parent and a writer while also working a day job doesn’t leave as much free time as I’d like.
What does it take to be a professional writer today?
Practice. Research. Practice. Determination. Practice. Reading.
Not too different than when I started out 25 years ago, really.
What do you think about electronic books that you can download versus the actual physical hard copy?
Books are books. I appreciate anything that makes it easier for people to read and enjoy their books in whatever format works best for them. I worry a little about e-books being tied to a particular platform, and I think there’s still work to do in areas like fair lending agreements through libraries. But on the whole, I’m very much pro-electronic books.
What authors do you admire today and who did you look up to as a child?
Ursula LeGuin. Rick Riordan. Nnedi Okorafor. Terry Pratchett. Gail Simone. Julie Czerneda. And so many more…
What are your favorite books past and present?
Hellspark by Janet Kagan is a past and present favorite. Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman. Some of the early Peanuts collections.
Who is your favorite celebrity and what makes that person special?
I don’t really have a favorite. I’ve been really impressed with everything I’ve read about Keanu Reeves, lately. He seems like an incredibly generous and grounded human being.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
There are video games that are too violent for me, personally. Do violent video games lead to violence in America? I don’t think the video games are the underlying problem here, and none of the research I’ve seen makes me think otherwise.
What do you see yourself doing in the next 10 years?
Hopefully writing more books.