Hello, everyone! We’re so pleased to have DSP Publications author J. Scott Coatsworth with us today on The Novel Approach Reviews, you have no idea. Not only is he a fabulous author, he’s also been a tireless supporter of LGBTQ+ fiction and its authors. So it’s nice to be able to turn the tables a bit as JSC debuts his new Sci-Fi series Liminal Sky with book one, The Start Divide, available today! So before we get too carried away, let’s have a look at what’s in store:
The Stark Divide
Book One of the Liminal Sky Series
Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.
From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.
Carole: We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to drag you in here, Scott, so let’s get right to it. Why don’t you start by telling about your genre.
JSC: I write in a few genres, but primarily sci-fi/fantasy and contemporary/magical realism. I’ve loved sci-fi and fantasy since my mom got me to read The Lord of the Rings in third grade, and I fell in love with Middle-earth. Pern hooked me soon after, and I decided I wanted to write it. I won my first award in fifth grade with a Jetsons-like story, illustrated in full crayon. 🙂
I wrote my first magical realism story in 2014—The Bear at the Bar—and it was accepted for publication by Dreamspinner Press.
Carole: Tell us about The Stark Divide.
JSC: The Stark Divide has a long and twisty history. The first book I ever finished—initially titled Forever and eventually On a Shoreless Sea, was about people who lived on a generation ship who no longer knew what it was—a fantasy set in a sci-fi world.
I went out to ten publishers back in the mid-nineties. It took a year, but every one of them came back to me, rejected. Thus started the “Twenty Years of Writerly Darkness.”
When I came back to writing in 2014, I decided to start from the ground up. I went back to look at that novel, and decided I needed to back up a bit and figure out how the world came to be.
I started with the origin story, and it went on from there. It took two years, but then The Stark Divide was born, an epic sci-fi tale told in three acts.
Carole: An epic sci-fi tale with a very diverse cast, too. Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
JSC: Hmmm, good questions. I’m always trying to explore different kinds of characters. In The Stark Divide there are characters of several races, gay, lesbian, bi and trans characters, and in the sequel that I’m writing now, I’m writing my first ace character.
In The Stark Divide I enjoyed writing Evelyne/Eddy, a strong Trans character. His being Trans is really incidental to the story—if you didn’t know he was Trans, you wouldn’t know he was Trans.
Carole: The Stark Divide is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in The Stark Divide and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
JSC: The Stark Divide has a wide cast of characters. While there are characters who fall in love and form relationships in the book, a lot of that is behind the scenes, and the main thrust of the story is the sci-fi plot that drives the story.
I took inspiration from classic sci-fi books like Rendezvous With Rama, as well as Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth books. I love stories that mix fantasy with sci-fi, and that look forward at what might happen in ten, twenty, a hundred years. How will computers and the bio sciences merge?
I love that it’s being published by DSP Publications—a publisher that’s both really connected to the LGBT community and willing to take chances on queer genre fiction.
Carole: We’re happy about that, too, since it means we finally got to put you in the GT Hotseat™. 😀 So on that note, let’s switch gears, and move on to the important stuff. What do you do for fun?
JSC: Well, one thing we do is study Italian. It started with a traveler course back in 2005 when we were planning a trip to Italy. Then in 2008, my husband and I started taking courses on an ongoing basis, and ended up with a group of friends who studied the language together. Now I’ve become the defacto teacher, and after almost ten years, we still meet just about every Tuesday. 🙂
Carole: We’re not at all surprised about the “teacher” bit. 😉 So you mentioned you’d started writing way back, and you’ve been publishing for a few years now. How do you think has your writing changed since you published your first book?
JSC: I like to think it’s evolving. I learn something new with each book—people who have read them have seen a progression as I’ve started to flex my writing muscles again. The main thing I’ve been working on the last year is strengthening my characterization skills. I try to find each character’s unique voice, and then stay true to that as the characters evolve. It’s a challenge with such a large cast, but I relish it.
Carole: So what projects are you working on now, and what can your readers expect next from you?
JSC: I’m about two thirds through writing The Rising Tide, the sequel to The Stark Divide. With any luck, it will be out in October of next year.
I’m also wrapping up my serial tale, The River City Chronicles, which I hope to release in the spring. I’m also part of another serial project, Marionettes in the Mist, which is coming out in a three volume form this winter and next spring.
Carole: Lots of great stuff to look forward, then! Thanks so much for visiting with us today, JSC. You’re such a boon to the community in general, and more specifically to your readers’ TBR lists. The best of luck with this latest release—we hope you sell tons!
And thanks to you, too, Awesome Readers, for joining us today. We have that giveaway to get to still, but first, let’s have a tantalizing glimpse of The Stark Divide.
“DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.
A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.
Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.
“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.
“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.
He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.
All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.
At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.
The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.
“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.
The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.
“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”
The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.
Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”
A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.
“Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.
Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.
He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.
All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.
We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.
About the Author
Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci-fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.
He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.
He runs both Queer Sci-fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.
And now for the giveaway! Scott is generously giving away three—count ’em, three!—copies of his Sci-Fi/Romance Skythane to three lucky winners. All you have to do is “like” his Facebook page then come back here and comment “done!” to verify. So click on the Rafflecopter widget for the link to the Facebook page, and get started!
And that will do it for us this week. Thanks for joining us, everyone! If you’d like to keep tabs on Genre Talk and never miss a post, hop on over and like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and check out our web page.
We’ll see you next time on Genre Talk when we welcome author Mark Wildyr, who will be visiting Genre Talk for the first time and bringing along his upcoming Historical release Cut Hand, so don’t miss it!
Until then, that’s all for us. On behalf of me and Co-pilot Extraordinaire Elizabeth Noble, thanks for spending some time with us, and have a great week!