SciFiChick: In your own words, can you tell us what Goblin War is about?
Jim Hines: Goblin War was an interesting book to write. I knew I needed to bring the trilogy to a close, so I went back to the beginning, looking at some of the struggles and issues Jig has faced since the first book. A lot of Jig’s actions and choices from Goblin Quest come back to haunt him this time.
I also wanted to get the goblins out of their caves and into the larger world. As you might have guessed from the title, there’s a war going on out there between humans and monsters. Jig being who he is, he eventually ends up with both sides against him. It’s rough being Jig Dragonslayer. Fortunately, he’s a clever little goblin, and he has a few friends to help him out. In the end, I had to find a way for Jig to face off against two armies, while also staying true to his goblin nature.
SFC: Besides Jig, what other characters will be back?
JH:Smudge will be back, of course. Jig wouldn’t last a single chapter without his fire-spider. Tymalous Shadowstar gets a lot of page time as well. Jig’s goblin companions are a warrior named Trok and a kitchen worker named Relka. (Attentive readers might remember her from the end of Goblin Hero.) Braf and Graf both show up as well, along with … well, I wouldn’t want to ruin all the surprises.
SFC: My favorite character, besides Jig, is Slash the hobgoblin from Goblin Hero. There’s more to him than meets the eye. Will we see him again?
JH:I couldn’t figure out how to get Slash along with Jig for this one, so I’m afraid he ends up sitting most of the book out. Though he does show up at the end. Slash is fun, and he deserved at least that cameo.
SFC: How did you come up with the idea to have a fantasy quest(s) revolve around a weak little goblin?
JH: Like so many great authors, I shamelessly stole the core idea. I was reading another book with the same basic premise, a fantasy adventure from the monster’s point of view. But that author took the idea in a completely different direction. I couldn’t finish it, because the book was so different from the story I wanted to write. I wanted to know more about the monsters, to see what it was like living in a fantasy world where the heroes routinely slaughter you on their way to greater things. I wanted to see life from the underdog’s perspective, and underdogs don’t come much lower than goblins. So I started Goblin Quest.
SFC: Shadowstar seems to be able to do a lot of healing through Jig. How did he become unpopular and almost forgotten?
JH: Good question! Sadly, I can’t answer it. Shadowstar’s history is a significant part of Goblin War, and I don’t want to give that away. I will tell you it was a bit of a challenge trying to figure out why Tymalous Shadowstar, who is one of the more pacifistic gods out there, would have gone to war the way Darnak the dwarf described in the first book.
SFC: After Goblin War’s release, what’s next for you? What else are you working on?
JH: DAW has bought another book from me, called The Stepsister Scheme, which I believe should be out in early 2009. It’s basically a mashup of fairy tale princesses with Charlie’s Angels. I’m really excited about the book. The characters are a bit more complex, and I think the stories are more powerful than what I’ve been writing. I’m currently working on a sequel, tentatively called The Mermaid’s Madness, along with a few short fiction projects.
SFC: Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.
JH: I started writing back in 1995. Sold my first story a few years later, to Writers of the Future. Goblin Quest was the fourth book I wrote, and we sold that one to DAW in early 2006, which was when things started to really take off. Over the past twelve years, I’ve collected well over five-hundred rejection letters, but I’ve also sold thirty-some short stories to various magazines and anthologies. Some of them are the same light, humorous style as the goblin books, but believe it or not, I’m also capable of writing the occasional serious story.
SFC: What inspires you?
JH: That depends … as a general rule, anything I care about, or anything that evokes strong feelings one way or another. For the past few years, my children have inspired a number of stories and plot threads. You’ll probably see one of those threads in Goblin War, actually. In the case of The Stepsister Scheme, inspiration came from watching one too many princess movies with my daughter, and my need to respond to those stories.
SFC: What was the last book you read that you’d recommend to others?
JH: The Cipher, by Diana Pharaoh Francis. It’s a fantasy set in a coastal city, and the amount of research and detail in Francis’ worldbuilding puts me to shame. Her system of magic is well thought out, and carries a very high price, as our heroine discovers. She gets to fight not only a magical curse, but a whole political conspiracy, not to mention a classic scoundrel captain who makes Han Solo look almost respectable. It’s book one of a series, so the ending left a few questions unanswered. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series, The Black Ship.
SFC: What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?
JH: Spare time? I have vague memories of such a thing…. Writing is great, but it doesn’t pay enough of the bills or provide health insurance, so I’ve got a day job with the State of Michigan. Add my family to that, including two young children, and there’s not a lot of down time these days.
SFC: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
JH: Probably a summer spent working as a greenskeeper on a golf course in Washington. We had to have the greens trimmed before the golfers started arriving, which meant I was waking up around 4:30 am. Never having been a morning person, that was a horror I hope never to repeat. Though I did get quite skilled at fixing divots.
SFC: Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JH: Well, in the interest of shameless promotion, I’d mention that the first chapters of all three books are at http://www.sff.net/people/jchines/Goblins/