Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Scott Coatsworth who visiting with us and celebrating the release today of his debut novel Skythane.
J. Scott Coatsworth
I wrote my first story when I was in fourth grade. It wasn’t very good, or very original – basically a Jetson’s rip off in technicrayon colors. But it was such an exciting idea – that I could create my own stories instead of just reading the stories other people created for me. It was empowering.
I remember the old green metal typewriter my Mom used to have, the one I wrote my first stories on, including a novel where a herd of Pegasus… pegasi? swoop in to save the day – clackety clack clack.
I’m not proud of that particular tale – it was juvenile and derivative – but nevertheless it was a part of my evolution as a writer.
In high school, I wrote an amazing first page of a story, and took it proudly to my Junior year English teacher for an evaluation. I don’t think I actually said the words “Prepare to be blown away.” But it was implied when I handed it over.
Her studied response? “It’s a good start.” I still laugh when I think about that moment.
By the time I reached my early twenties, I was ready to be discovered – you know, hot new talent writes bestselling sci fi novel. “He’s so young,” they would all say, as I counted my first million and jetted across the country for book signings and author conferences.
Instead, the ten publishers I sent my masterpiece to sent me back ten rejections, which sent me into a tailspin. Authors, especially young ones, have very fragile egos, and I was no exception. It would take me twenty years to successfully climb back up onto the writing horse.
One day, in 2013, I was complaining to my amazing saint of a husband, Mark, that a family tragedy had derailed me from my writing once again. He looked me in the eye and said nine words that changed my life.
“The only one keeping you from writing is you.”
I think I just stared at him for a couple minutes. But he had a point. I always let other things in my life take precedence over my writing, and if I was ever going to get my writing career off the ground, that would have to change.
So I made my writing a priority, and this time it worked. I got my first publication in less than six months, a short story in a Dreamspinner anthology called “A Taste of Honey,” and I pulled out some of my older works and dusted them off to see if I couldn’t make something of them.
Skythane was one of those, and will be my fourteenth published work, as well as my first novel. It was a short, maybe ten page story starter about this man with wings who is deeply wounded by the loss of his lover. And it’s also about a world split in two by unimaginable forces.
I read it and was hooked. Had I really written this, once upon a time? I would spend the next two years working it into a novel.
Now here I am, almost forty years after I wrote that first story. Forty years! I’ll be forty nine in April, and my first novel is finally seeing the light of day.
So why do I write? I write because I have to. I write because I am not whole unless I am writing.
And I write to get to this place I am at now – because I have waited so long to finally see this day.
I hope you enjoy the results.
Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnison, a handsome, cocky wing man with a troubled past.
Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.
Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
Rain hit the plas and ran downward in little rivulets, separating and rejoining like branches of time as the storm whipped itself into a frenzy over Oberon City.
Xander Kinnson lay on his bed, head thrown back, watching the tempest with a laziness that belied his inner turmoil and pain. Alix had left him and gone missing. A year had passed, and still he had a hard time accepting that simple fact.
His dark wings with their jet-black feathers were stretched out lazily to each side of his supine form, their tips extending past the edge of the bed. His chest heaved slowly up and down, and he breathed easily, as if he were utterly relaxed.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Below the surface, under the deception of skin and sinew, his heart beat at a thunderous pace, and his mind raced for answers to Alix’s fate that slipped beyond his grasp.
The handsome trick he’d brought home rested his warm hands on Xander’s thighs, his hot mouth engaged elsewhere. Xander smelled the deep, masculine musk of him, slipping a hand absently through the man’s dark, tousled hair as the rain increased to a thundering downpour against the plas. The drops glistened, each an individual universe of shimmering light before running quickly out of sight.
A flash of lightning illuminated the room, thunder indicating how close it had been. As the heavy rain pounded against the arco’s walls, Xander rode the wave of pleasure higher and higher. Despite himself, he rose quickly toward climax, drawn up on the tide as the trick worked his cock. Unable to stop himself, he thrust his hips almost angrily upward into the man’s willing throat. Closer, closer….
He reached the crest, a pleasure so intense it burned through him like phosphorous, a white-hot fire.
Lightning flared again across the wet, black sky, followed by thunder so close it shook the bed. The storm had reached a fever pitch outside, and he arched his back in the air one more time, his wings rustling beneath him. As if in concert with the storm, Xander came, the release of his orgasm radiating from his hips along his spinal cord and down through his toes and the tips of his wings.
The rush of elation washed away his cares for a few brief moments. Xander shuddered, shivered, and shuddered again, and it was over.
For a while, he drifted in an oblivion that was blessed in its emptiness. The rain fell in a steady beat against the window, and he forgot to wallow in his pain. His mind floated free, with no responsibilities, nothing to worry about for those brief moments between sex and real life. This was what he needed. This lack of thought, this pleasurable oblivion where he could just be.
When he opened his eyes at last, the nameless trick was staring down at him, expectant.
“You’re still here.”
“I can do more, if you’d like,” the man said with a grin. Like Alix, he had no wings—a lander man.
Xander glared at him, annoyed. He was handsome enough, tall, dark-haired, with blue eyes and a light complexion. Strangely, he reminded Xander of Alix. The hair and eyes were wrong, but there was something about him, and that annoyed the hell out of Xander, for reasons he didn’t care to examine too closely. “Get out,” he said with a dismissive wave.
The man frowned. “I thought—”
“Oh right, your pay.” Xander took the man’s arm and slitted him a hundred crits from the wrist reader embedded in his own. Then he waved the trick away. “We’re square. Now get the fuck out of my flat.”
The man gathered his own clothes, but Xander didn’t give him time to put them on. Instead he hustled the trick out of the irising door, palming it closed on his hurt and angry expression.
I really have become a bastard, he thought, staring at his dim reflection in the shiny black door. It had been a long year.
He tapped the cirq in his temple with his left hand, and called out to his PA. “Ravi, any messages for me?”
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. He has sold more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before. He is currently working on two sci fi trilogies, and also runs Website | Facebook | Twitter