Tag Archives: Jim C. Hines

Fantasy author battles sexist book covers – Jim C. Hines

The more I learn about Jim C. Hines, the more I like him. Read this article from the BBC and you’ll see what I mean. Jim Hines has chosen a uniquely funny and poignant way of raising awareness about the blatant sexism on fantasy novel covers. I’ve read one of Hines’ books, Goblin Quest, and reviewed it here. You should also check out his blog. He has a lot more posts and images there on this topic, including posts about the females that appear on the covers of his own novels.

For a wannabe novelist like myself this is good stuff to think about. I know from my experience working for a publisher that while authors typically have a say in what goes on the cover, the publishing house is the one that sets the initial direction and gets to put the final stamp of approval on it.

Female readers: I’d be particularly interested to know what you think about this topic. Do you find most fantasy novel covers to be tasteless? (Spoiler: I do.) What do you think of what Hines is doing?

 

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Book Review: “Goblin Quest” by Jim C. Hinews

Jim C. Hines, fantasy novelGoblin Quest by Jim C. Hines is the first in a trilogy of books about a goblin named, “Jig.” (I’m assuming the other two books are about Jig, I’ve not actually read them yet. But I will…read on…) Jig is a misfit and spends his days just trying to stay out of the way of most of the other goblins. He has a quicker wit than most other goblins, but that’s hardly valued in the goblin world. Through a series of serious bummers Jig quickly finds himself in a place he’s never been: outside the goblin community with a narcissitic human prince, a crazed wizard, a dwarf (a race that hates goblins), and a thieving elf (another race that hates goblins).

From page one I connected with Jig and I suspect most other readers do too. Hines’ strength throughout the story is his ability to create compelling characters that you can easily identify with. The ensemble of unlikely adventurers described above is an intriguing group to follow as they venture into the realm of the “Necromancer,” fight a dragon, and search the bowels of a mountain for a legendary artifact. Along the way I definitely grew to hate some of the characters and grew to love the others. This, I think, demonstrates a great success for storytellers. Some characters need to be hated for the story to work. Some need to be loved. Hines achieved both.

Hines’ other strength is his own semi-snarky and always self-deprecating sense of humor that creeps into the story at various points. During many Terry Pratchet-esque moments I had to put the book down as I laughed out loud. I won’t spoil it here, but I’ll tell you the most side-splitting joke for me was the one about fetishes certain people have for their own name. (I know that sounds weird, but if you read it, you’ll know what I mean and probably laugh hysterically too. It’s not as weird in the book as it sounds here.)

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Telling Details: Some Examples

I’ve been thinking more about “telling details” this week and I thought that it might be helpful to post a few here for all of us to read. I’ve looked through various books on my shelf to find these. If you know of any other great examples off-hand please leave them in the comments section below.

Here’s the passage from chapter 2 of Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame that got me thinking about this in the first place:

“And we’ll need you to dress fifteenth-century French. I have just the items,” said Augustus as he joined them, arranging his poplin suit just so. He rearranged his silverware to perfection, then picked up the fork.

This excerpt from chapter 1 of Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham is a great example of “the telling detail” at work. Maugham not only inserts telling details about the housekeeper, Miss Fellows, but the narrator references them for the reader. Here’s the conversation between the narrator and Miss Fellows about a phone call that he neither wants to take, nor return:

“Is that the writer?” she asked me.
“It is.”
She gave the telephone a friendly glance.
“Shall I get him?”
“No, thank you.”
“What shall I say if he rings again?”
“Ask him to leave a message.”
“Very good, sir.”
She pursed her lips. She took the empty siphon, swept the room with a look to see that it was tidy, and went out. Miss Fellows was a great novel reader. I was sure that she had read all of Roy’s books. Her disapproval of my casualness suggested that she had read them with admiration.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1 of Fahrenheit 451. It’s easy to see that Guy Montag is confident in his work as a fireman:

He hung up his black beetle-colored and shined it; he hung his flameproof jacket neatly; he showered luxuriously, and then, whistling, hands in pockets, walked across the upper floor of the fire station and fell down the hole. At the last moment, when disaster seemed positive, he pulled his hands from his pockets and broke his fall by grasping the golden pole. He slid to a squeaking halt, the heels one inch from the concrete floor downstairs.

Here’s an interesting example from chapter 1 of Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines. In this scene a large mean goblin captain (Porak) is bullying and tricking a younger weaker goblin to join his patrol that night. Notice how the telling detail is use and then interpreted for the reader. I think this is similar to how Maugham explained Miss Fellows’ above:

“Glory, fighting, and bloodshed.” The goblins puffed up like rock lizards competing for a mate. Porak smiled, a warning sign if ever there was one. “We want you to come along on patrol.”

As I’ve worked on my manuscript for the goblin project this week I’ve been focusing on inserting telling details along the way. I’m not trying to overdo it, of course, but I am finding that my manuscript lacks in this area. My plan now is to go into every major dialogue sequence in my story and see where I can re-write a sentence or two and insert telling details if they are needed.

Happy writing.

-Andy