Friday Feature: Interview with James E. Guin

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with James E. Guin, a past contributor of Jenny Magazine.

Describe your first publication. Where was it, when, and what was the piece about? How old were you at the time and how did it feel?

A flash fiction piece called “The Sun Fallen” about our early ancestors. An ancient aliens type of story, it was in the E-zine Free Flash Fiction on September 25, 2012. Free Flash Fiction was free to the public and free for the writers-no payment. I was nearing forty. The E-zine closed sometime in 2013. Even though a couple of my writer friends said that I was wasting my time and my writing by not receiving payment, it felt great. I sold my first piece in May of 2013 and made my first professional sale to Daily Science Fiction in December of 2013.

What inspired your pieces in the Jenny?

“Anila, the Wind, and the Sea” began as a contest entry for Enchanted Spark: Photo Flare Contest. The contest involved writing a piece inspired by three photos. Photo one was a statue of a dancing girl, photo two was a windmill, and photo three was seashells on a beach.

What got you into writing?

Between 2007 and 2010, I majored in English Education at Kennesaw State University. I was required to take a class that taught middle and high school students how to write creative nonfiction. Until that point in my life I had written only research papers. After reading my essays about my assorted jobs and bizarre life experiences, the teacher encouraged me to “get published.” Four years later, I did.

What do you like writing the most? Is there a certain style you prefer?

I prefer speculative fiction. My life is filled with facts and reality, so why not “speculate” from time to time.

What are your influences? Who are your favorite writers?

My favorite authors and influences are: Kevin J. Anderson, The Bible, Ray Bradbury, Kate Chopin, Bob Dylan, Bret Easton Ellis, Jed Guin, June Guin, Joe Haldeman, Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert, Lui Cixin, Cormac McCarthy, Ngugi Wa Thiong’O, Charles Portis, John Steinbeck, Peter Watts…

What’s your proudest moment as an author?

Winning second place in the Jenny Magazine Speculative Contest: Spring 2015, of course.

How has your writing developed over time?

I am a little better than when I started a few years ago. This fall or spring, I plan on taking writing classes at a nearby university.

Are you currently working on anything?

Over the past few months I have been working on a story that started out as a flash fiction piece then transformed into a book, and now I am condensing it into a short story 16,000 to 17,000 words. A few years ago when I first started writing my wife had an idea for a book, and I have spent more time with it this year than when she initially presented it to me.

What’s your writing process?

Through out the day, sounds and sights spark story ideas. Someone opens the car door to a black, dented up, 1994 Toyota Corolla, a sentence pops into my head, and then a paragraph, 1,000 words to 5,000 words, etc. Next I read, edit, research, read, edit… Ideally I let it sit for a month or two and then back to read, edit, research, read, edit… At some point, I send it to a market for publication, and the rest of my time is spent receiving rejection emails.

What are you currently reading?

Hyperion by Dan Simmons and L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of The Future Volume 31. I’m waiting for Death’s End to come out later this year. It is from Lui Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past Trilogy: The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End.

Have you ever co-written something with another author? If so, what was that experience like?

Not yet, but I would love to someday.

Have you ever worked with a medium other than writing? Or collaborated with someone in another medium with your writing?

Although I have held many jobs, I am a musician by trade. I would have never been able to attend college without music and the majority of my income over the past twenty years has involved music-teaching, performing, arranging. 

Thus far, my approach to writing has been through my understanding of music. I start with an idea, which in music could be called a theme. The idea is developed through the media of words, sentences, paragraphs, and into pages. Obviously, the musical theme consists of notes, timbre, and rhythm. The theme is developed in many ways such as changing the rhythms, adding or shifting harmonies above or below the theme, adding notes to the theme, introducing new themes, and so many other techniques. Character development is essential to writing just as style and voice are crucial to the successful musician. For me the process is similar to composing music.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

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