Interview: Graduate Eric James Stone

A Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award finalist, and winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had dozens of stories published in Year’s Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues. His first novel was released by Baen in 2016.

One of Eric’s earliest memories is of seeing an Apollo moon-shot launch on television. That might explain his fascination with space travel. His father’s collection of old science fiction ensured that Eric grew up on a full diet of Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke.

While getting his political science degree at Brigham Young University, Eric took creative writing classes. He wrote several short stories, and even submitted one for publication, but after it was rejected he gave up on creative writing for a decade. During those years Eric graduated from Baylor Law School, worked on a congressional campaign, and took a job in Washington, DC, with one of those special interest groups politicians always complain that other politicians are influenced by. He quit the political scene in 1999 to work as a web developer in Utah.

In 2002 he started writing fiction again, and in 2003 he attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. In 2007 Eric got laid off from his day job just in time to go to the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He has since found a new web development job. From 2009-2014 Eric was an assistant editor for Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Eric lives in Orem, Utah, with his wife, Darci, a high school physics teacher, and their daughter, Honor. His website is www.ericjamesstone.com.


Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you write every day, at a set time, in a set place? Do you prefer writing in a library or coffee shop, or writing as solitary venture? What kinds of writing goals do you set?

Oh, now I feel guilty for not having a set writing routine. I really should. When I do write, it’s generally a solitary venture in my office, inspired by an idea. Currently, I’ve set some goals to actually revise and send out a bunch of stories that have just been gathering electrons on my hard drive.

What’s one of the most memorable short stories or novels you’ve read recently? What do you feel made it so?

My favorite novel from last year was The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu, because he does a marvelous job of combining intriguing characters, a tense plot, and a fantasy-world setting that draws on Chinese history and culture.

Your story “Crowdfinding” came out in the December 2016 issue of Analog and blends near-future science fiction with a mystery. Do you often merge genres when writing? Do you find that blending genres makes it more challenging or less challenging when writing a story?

It’s something I do fairly frequently—my novel Unforgettable was intentionally written as a blend of the science fiction and spy thriller genres (with a dollop of superhero thrown in). As long as you’re reasonably familiar with the genres you’re blending, I don’t think it presents that much of a challenge, and it gives you a chance to deal with some of the tropes of specific genres in new and interesting ways.

What’s the biggest weakness in your writing these days, and how do you cope with it?

The biggest weakness in my writing is I’m not doing enough of it. I recently started using Habitica, an app for “gamifying” the achievement of goals, and it’s helping me to be a bit more productive.

How many rejections have you received on a single story? What is your philosophy about rejections?

My current record for rejections is 23 different markets, for what I consider to be one of the best stories I’ve written. Fortunately, the twenty-fourth market bought it, and you can read “By the Hands of Juan Perón” at Daily Science Fiction. My philosophy on rejections is that if I believe in a story, I’ll keep submitting until it finds a market. If I lose faith in a story, I trunk it.

What’s next on the writing-related horizon? Are you starting any new projects?

The mass-market paperback of Unforgettable comes out in April. I’m working on a sequel to it. I’ve also got a bunch of short fiction that I need to polish up and send out.

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