28 May

An appreciation of Jim Hines

For no particular reason, I’d love to share with you the Guest of Honor appreciation that I wrote for Millenicon earlier this year in honor of Jim Hines being their guest.

Jim is one of my favorite human beings in the world, and I’ve known him for a long time. So when the folks at that convention asked if I’d write up the appreciation, I was genuinely excited.

Here we go:

So the humble task of writing a few words about this year’s amazing, multi-talented, Author Guest of Honor has fallen to me. And, although I’m told I shouldn’t let that get to my head, I have to say I’m pretty excited. I’ve never introduced a real life, honest-to-goodness Guest of Honor before! Oh, the things I could say. The power I’ve been given!

But I shall restrain myself.

I’ve known Jim Hines for-just about-ever, it feels. We’ve been soldiers in the finger-bloodied fields of writing, pulling each other across craters made by heavy verbs and dodging errant adjectives together since the very beginning. Jim’s a part of my cohort, the group of writers I have a special sort of regard for because we broke into the field at the same time. If ever there was a man I wanted covering my back with a keyboard at the ready, it would be Jim.

For Jim and me, boot camp was short story writing. We cut our chops selling our first short stories to the same magazine, Jackhammer, both in 1999. Basic training continued with Jim winning a Writers of the Future anthology slot that year (I managed to imitate him a year later), and we both shared the experience of shambling zombie stories through The Book of All Flesh anthology. Since then, Jim has gone on to see almost 50 more short stories appear in a variety of venues.
Jim answered the call of bookish duty with his first novel, Goblin Quest. An engagement I’m proud to say I witnessed. From that book’s first beginnings as a limited hardcover (I still have that version, I expect it to be worth a lot some day), to Jim’s joining the same agency I was in, it was cool to share his journey. Even when Jim was nervous about the ups and downs of negotiating the Goblin Quest’s sale, I never had any doubt he was heading out to become a strong voice, a leader in our field.

And what a leader. Let’s be clear, Jim’s been incredible for the field. His advocacy for equal rights and diversity in the field has started many conversations and helped us move into the new century. His gentle (and not so gentle) mocking of cover poses is renowned, but it’s just a more visible part of a conversation Jim’s been dedicated to since he was a volunteer at a rape crisis center long before he won a Hugo for striking a pose. His recent advocacy has not been something he took up recently, but a commitment for as long as I’ve known him.

However, while all of his success was the result of his hard work, his dedication, and none of his success is due to my friendship, I will say this: the leather jacket he wears?

Totally stolen from me. My idea. One hundred percent.

What can I say, Jim’s got impeccable taste.

Jim’s a good guy. A fun conversationalist. An engaging writer. A thoughtful essayist. Award-winner. And he’s my friend. Be sure to say hello to him. Because we’re all luckier for having him as our Guest of Honor.