I am from Texas originally. I live now in St. Louis with my wife, dog, and cat in the upstairs apartment of a duplex. I've taught writing for many years, and I also run a blog at jplantern.com where I review movies and books and talk about politics.
What was your first book?
My first book that is for sale is IN THIS RED COUNTRY. It's a novella about a man and a woman living on a frontier-like Mars who have to get the woman an abortion to save her life. To do this, they have to use the woman's old lover, a native Martian, as a tracker, and things start to get disastrous.
My first actual book that will never be published was a thing called ACROSS CREATION, and it was about a young man who traveled across hell, purgatory, and heaven to find a delinquent God. It was very bad.
Describe your first break.
I'll tell you when I get one!
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
They're one and the same: science fiction. I'm a big fan of those irreducible elements of unreality.
What makes a protagonist interesting?
He or she has got to be good at something. You can make someone as unlikeable as you possibly can, or as likeable as you possibly can, but unless they're good at something, nobody will care. And typically, the more interesting the thing they're good at, the more interesting the character. People tend to love reading and watching process—this is why in movies, for instance, why montages are often so fondly remembered in sports movies.
Anyway, protagonists have to take action, and lots of it. That's why we like them.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is just the process itself. Being able to get lost for a bit when you're putting words together, and knowing intuitively what will sound best or work best (even though, really, your intuition is often wrong). That's the best thing.
What is the worst thing?
The uncertainty. There's a lot of nebulousness about whether what you're doing is right, or whether it'll sell next month, or whether you have an audience, or what else you can be doing to make sure you're selling copies. You can second-guess yourself to death in this business.
Pantser or plotter?
I'm a little of both. It's a weird term. I don't know that I ever heard of it before reading writer interviews. I think everyone does both. Breaking down the writing process by how the plot is structured isn't really something I do very often.
What do you see the direction of your future writing taking? What can we expect next? Give us a little taste.
I'm not too entirely sure. I think I might be doing something with robots, something with alien planets. I'd love to give you more, but that's about all I've got right now!
Cat or dog person?
I love both! I had a dog before meeting my wife, and then I bought my wife a cat for Christmas last year. Since then, we've realized that the anxious, incredibly affectionate dog is much more like my wife, and the moody, picky, coy cat is much more like me.
My favorite food that makes me feel like a decent person is probably like, banana-egg pancakes. My favorite food for when life is stressful is probably just pizza. I'm a simple man.
Oh god, who can say? Probably something by Gene Wolfe. I don't know if I really categorize books in terms of favorites that often.
My stock answer used to be The Thing, but lately its been Alien. Maybe Blade Runner. Clearly, some kind of science fiction from the seventies or eighties, though.
Favorite vacation destination (you just have to want to go there)
London! My wife and I really want to go, and have never been. We're both huge history buffs.
by J. P. Lantern
Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.
Before anything else—before the riot, before the flood, before the gap and the deaths and the fires and the pain—before all of that, Ana just wanted to get the hell out of Junktown.
But she was stuck there with Raj, and Raj had all the bodyguards, so she couldn't very well leave on her own. Walk into Junktown without any protection? No, thank you. She had a knife on her, but that was hardly enough. The knife fit neatly in a small, luxury Cardion-brand sheath at her side.
The rest of her outfit was direct out from a fashion magazine. She wore tight black Cardion slacks, her patent leather Aushwere ankle boots sexy and stylish and perfect for inner-city walking. Her dark blue blouse was Cardion again (there had been a sale); already she had noticed the way Raj had been hugging his eyes to how it cupped and clung to her body. He would have been looking a bit more, perhaps, but she wore her favorite Kadaya Sarin-brand leather jacket, allowing her a bit of modesty with the long sleeves and tight collar, despite the thinness of the material. She was a woman dressed to impress, but also was no whore—she had her man. He liked her dressed attractive, but not like some slut. Ana knew what he wanted, because that was her entire life, as she saw it, from now on.
They were inside the ground floor of a tall building. Cleanbots rushed around them, sweeping up dust, guided along by retrofitted eyebots that spied out areas of dust and disrepair.
“Here's where we'll have the lobby,” said Raj, opening his hands out wide to the open space.
Ana had presence of mind to hold her tongue.
What she wanted to say was, “Really, dear? Here in the first possible place that someone could enter from the street? That's where you'll have the lobby? That's so inventive. You're so smart.”
What did she say was, “Oh! It will look beautiful, I'm sure.”
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.