Q&A with James C. Glass

As you’ll discover below, James C. Glass is a voracious reader, once reading a total of 126 books in a single year, and a piece of advice he gives aspiring writers is to “read, read, read.” In that spirit, you’ll want to check out his latest novelette, “Beneath a Red Sun” in the March/April issue [one sale now].



Analog Editor: What is the story behind this piece?

JG: “Beneath a Red Sun” evolved from reading I’d been doing for science panels at conventions. I attend four to five conventions a year, and do panels on both science and writing. One panel had been about so-called habitable-zone planets, and whether or not being in the habitable zone is enough for life to evolve. (It isn’t.) Doing the reading, I began wondering how life might evolve and survive on a planet close to a red dwarf star with a history of active flaring. My story presents one possibility.


AE: What is your history with Analog?

JG: I have been published ten times in Analog. My first story there came out in 1996. One story, “Reinventing Carl Hobbs” (2005), was expanded into my novel Synths, which came out from Wildside Press in November 2018. I began reading Analog around 1950, when it was titled Astounding.


AE: How do you deal with writers’ block?

JG: When I begin writing a story or novel, I always know what my ending is going to be. I think that’s vitally important. And each writing day I also finish at a point where I know what’s going to happen on the next page or so. Beginning a writing session at a transition point will usually slow me down.


AE: How did you break into writing?

JG: I read voraciously at an early age, was writing stories I liked to read in my teens, edited a fanzine, collected rejection slips (one hand written from F&SF), and from other major magazines until college intervened. Later I was a dropout of the Famous Writers School when career building and graduate school intervened. But the writing bug gave me a terminal bite in my mid forties; I made a couple of sales and then won the Golden Pen Award for Writers of the Future in 1991. Since then I’ve regularly written part time, sold ten novels, four collections, and over seventy stories in various magazines and anthologies, including Analog. I wrote, I read, I studied the craft, I sent things in, and I persisted. That’s how I broke in.


AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

JG: I’m currently putting another story collection together for Wildside Press, and working on two novels. One is a sequel to Synths, and the other is set in the universe of an earlier novel of mine titled Branegate. I always have short story ideas cooking, usually things I think might be of interest to Analog.


AE: What inspired you to start writing?

JG: Reading really good stories when I was a kid.


AE: Do you have any scientific background, and does it impact your writing?

JG: My B.A. is in physics and astronomy, and I have M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics. At Berkeley I worked my way through school as an accelerator technician, helping to discover new particles and their properties. I spent a year working on a mirror machine and plasma heating before working five years at Rocketdyne, building arc-jet and ion engines. Grad school involved both nuclear and solid state physics, and much of my thirty-plus-year academic career dealt with superconductors and molecular biophysics. All that experience has been fuel for the writing and lends authenticity to it, though I also use balonium on occasion.


AE: What careers have you had, and how do they affect your writing?

JG: I’ve been an accelerator tech and associate physicist for Lawrence Berkeley Lab, a senior physicist at Rocketdyne, professor, department head, and dean at North Dakota State University and Eastern Washington University, and a published writer since 1987. I also paint, and sell enough to keep me in paint and canvas. My wife and I have traveled all over the world and worked actively with theatre and ballet companies. All of this has been life experience that fuels the writing and broadens my point of view. Good science fiction isn’t just about gadgets; it’s about people.


AE: Do you have any advice for up and coming writers?

JG: (a) Write something every day. (b) Finish what you write, send it in, and get on to the next thing. (c) Buy a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and memorize it. (d) Go to cons, meet readers and other writers, editors and publishers. (e) Read, read, read. Sample everyone, especially the big sellers, old and new. (f) If you get a chance, use critique workshops at conventions. (g) Do not give up. If you have an intense desire to write, you likely have the talent for it. The little kid inside you is the one who wants to tell stories, and he or she doesn’t care whether or not you sell, or make money, or become famous. Be kind to the little kid, and persist, persist, persist, persist. . . .


AE: What are you reading right now?

JG: I read 81 books last year, stories from 1930 to 2018, and not all science fiction. A few were nonfiction, mostly physical science. My record is 126, but that was the year I was a judge for the Philip K. Dick Awards. I’m currently reading two Maigret detective mysteries by George Simenon and Day of the Giants by Lester del Rey. I recently finished two European novels: The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler Olson, and The Way Inn by Will Wiles, and a stack of 12 vintage science fiction novels and collections awaits my attention. I’m eagerly awaiting the next mass-market edition of a Mercedes Thompson story by Patricia Briggs, who writes urban fantasy.


AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?

JG: I’m on Facebook as James Glass and Twitter as James C. Glass. My website is at www.author-jamesglass.com and has a bookstore on it as well as my contact e-mail. I love to hear from readers.



James C. Glass is a retired physics and astronomy professor and dean who now spends his time writing, painting, traveling, and playing didgeridoo or native American flute. He made his first story sale in 1988 and was the Grand Prize Winner of Writers of the Future in 1991. Since then he has sold nine novels, four short story collections, and over fifty short stories to magazines such as Aboriginal S.F., Analog, and Talebones. A novel Sedona Conspiracy and a new double anthology came out from Wildside Press in 2011. Branegate came out in September 2012 from Fairwood Press, and Eagle Squad in May 2013. For details, see his website at http://www.sff.net/people/jglass/. He now divides his time between Spokane, Washington and Desert Hot Springs, California with his wife Gail, who is a costumer and healing dancer.

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