Tour: J. Scott Coatsworth – The Stark Divide

What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.

Kind of a trick question. I was first published in 1988 as part of a group of teenagers who wrote a book on parents and teens (though by then I was technically twenty) called Raising Each Other. You can still find copies on Amazon.

But my first fiction publication was the story “The Bear at the Bar” in the “A Taste of Honey” anthology from Dreamspinner – a magical realism take of a gay guy who goes from being a gym bunny to a bear overnight. It was fun to write and research, as I set it in Seattle, a city I’ve been to a few times, but which necessitated a lot of Googling to get the details right. You can still get the book from DSP – I highly recommend it. 🙂

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

I don’t know if it qualifies as weird or not, but we did take a trip down to San Francisco to walk along the waterfront and figure out how a twenty or forty foot rise in sea level would affect the city, and what would still be above water, for my sci fi/fantasy story “Through the Veil.” I think it added an extra level of realism to the story, and helped me visualize it in a way that wouldn’t have been possible strictly using online resources.

What’s your greatest weakness as a writer?

LOL… not writing. I do best when I force myself to write a little, every single day. But it’s so easy to find reasons not to. There’s laundry to be done, emails to reply to. Facebook likes to suck me in for hours at a time. And food… hey, I gotta eat. So I have to force myself to have butt in chair, every day, or my stories won’t get written.

Would you visit the future or the past, and why?

I would love to jump two hundred years into the future – far enough out that I wouldn’t risk knowing wat happened to me, but close enough to see how we deal with threats like climate change and if we mature as a species. Does humanity survive? Do we go to space? Or do we squander it all here on our own little dirt ball? I want to know!

What’s your writing process?

It’s not that exciting – butt in chair and write. I do often work out plot issues when we’re out riding bikes – it creates some free space for my mind to wander and figure things out.

I typically write three drafts prior to submission. The first one is mainly getting the story out. The second is smoothing out the rough edges and adding detail. And the third is post-beta read, fixing all the issues my betas find. 🙂


Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky


DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world. 

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.

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Author Bio:

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

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