JS Fields is both an world traveling scientist and an acclaimed novelist who someone found time in their schedule to visit with us.
Q You have a day job as a scientist, what made you decide to jump into being an author?
There is a lot of neat tech that I get to see that will never make it commercially. Since I work in wood, a lot of that tech is also really foreign to most people. Writing science fiction allows me to showcase a lot of ideas and prototypes that would otherwise likely never surface. The wood tech in the Ardulum series, for instance, is all technically feasible now. It’s just not cost efficient.
Q Your research takes you to lots of different places around the world, have your travels affected your writing?
Very much. You’ll find a lot of forests in my work, with dangerous plants and animals. I’m often in the Amazon rainforest, as well as other tropical and subtropical areas. Those forests in particular show up in my work. I like to write the forest scenes right when I’m in the forest as well, to try to capture the feel (and the humidity). Occasionally I like to also capture the pain of stings/bites (I HATE tangarana ants).
Q You write both novels and short stories, Do you approach them differently ? Do you have any writing habits that you do to keep your productive?
Short stories are relatively new for me, but I think I like them! I write both about the same. For long form novels I tend to write in layers, where the first layer is characters’ movement through time and the plot, then a layer of emotional resonance, then a plot workings layer, etc. For short stories there are generally fewer characters and the plot is much shorter, so I can usually (although not always) draft the whole thing at once instead of layering it.
The only writing habit I have is to write 1000 words every day. Even if I delete 5000, I still need to put 1000 on the page. Even if they’re absolute garbage. Just opening up the laptop and trying helps keep me in the zone. SFF books in particular have a lot of world building, so it can be dangerous to leave a book for more than a few days. You lose a lot of those little threads you were trying to remember and weave and balance.
Q What are some Queer authors you think deserve more attention?
Rosiee Thor (Tarnished are the Stars is their first one) writes incredible queer picture books, MG, and YA. They also do a lot with speculative fiction and their writing is immersive and impactful. Steampunk, too, and you can never go wrong with mechanical hearts. If you’re more into novellas, Angel Martinez writes just the best little sapphic shorts (Safety Protocols for Human Holidays is a standout holiday short). A criminally underloved duology is Shell Game and Beggars Flip by Benny Lawrence, which follow the escapes of two lesbian pirates who are really into BDSM…yet never show it on page. The writing is downright masterful. And while it could be argued that Mira Grant doesn’t need more exposure, I need you all to read Into the Drowning Deep for killer mermaids and sapphic scientists. This is a yearly re-read for me, and I find most queer readers just don’t have it on their radar.
I maintain a list of sapphic SFF books, along with reviews, here: https://jsfieldsbooks.com/book-lists-f-f-sff-titles/
Q Did your giant Flemish rabbit demand the placement of more bunnies in your books and that is why they appeared in Queen?
Hah! I wrote Queen well before getting Sir Chip Edmonton III, although I’ve had other rabbits before. They’re creepy critters if you really get to know them, and I always wanted to feature rabbit warren mentality in a book. Sir Chip would like you to know that he should get royalties off that book, paid in carrots and bananas. He doesn’t, as of right now, and this is intolerable.
Q What is your next project? Are you working on the sequel to Queen?
I laughed, then I cried a bit. I’m overdue for the next in the Ardulum series, the sequel to FOXFIRE IN THE SNOW, and the next in the Queen trilogy. Right now I’m finishing up the first in a new noir crime series (I clearly need more series books…) that features a burnt out wood science graduate student becoming a Private Eye focusing on dildo-related deaths. Wood can be quite toxic under warm, wet, pressurized conditions. It’s a funny, sometimes crude series with a lot of sneaky science. I expect no one to take me seriously after it but it’s too hilarious to not write. Aside from that, my new fantasy The Rosewood Penny comes out this year, which is a fantasy romance between a thief and a princess. Classic tropes, silly fluff, on an island overrun with feral pegasii and one of the love interests is probably also a dragon. Of course.
Q} if people want more info about you or your books where should they go?
I post all my unpublished books on there, do monthly chapters for drafting books, etc. The $10 tier also accesses a Discord, where we have some lively chats on occasion.
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
Dead, likely. I don’t do well without 10 hours of sleep a night so I figure I’ll just be eaten in the first wave. Why stress about it?
Q ) What is your favorite Fandom
Janeway and Seven of Nine slash fiction FOREVER
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
I think everyone should sculpt. In any medium, sculpture gives you a sense of your body in space, and how it interacts with other bodies in space. It’s a beautiful experience.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I’m a very good baker and for every Thanksgiving, make between 15-30 pies in one day.