Interview with J.L. Doty, author of The Thirteenth Man


Inside the Book:

 Title: The Thirteenth Man 
Author: J.L. Doty 
Release Date: September 6, 2016 
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse 
Genre: Action/Adventure 
Format: Ebook

After five years as a prisoner of war, Commander Charlie Cass-bastard son of the Duke de Maris-is finally home. But his arrival is cause for consternation as much as celebration, because when he was thought dead, he was considered a hero to the Empire.

Alive, he's a political liability. Because the war with the Syndonese is not yet over, and while the King technically answers to the Nine-the Dukes of the various planets and moons of the Empire-there are others actually pulling his strings. And they certainly don't need Charlie Cass messing up their delicate plans. Unfortunately for them, that's what he's best at. And when the next war always seems to begin as soon as the ink is dry on the peace treaty, only a true hero can set things right.
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What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I almost said, "my writing," or, "my scientific background," but then I realized I'm most proud of little things like the friendships I've made.  I'm certainly proud of the writing and the Ph.D., but they're not what I'm "most" proud of.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
My parents instilled in me a sense of honor, and my writing frequently includes strong themes about integrity and principle.  Like me, my heroes and heroines stumble and make mistakes, but they keep trying to do the right thing, and they're probably more successful at it than I.
When and why did you begin writing?
In my family you got a degree then got a real job with a paycheck.  Being a writer was such a foreign idea it never occurred to me, at least not at an early age.  But I had these stories in my head, and in my twenties it slowly dawned on me that maybe I wanted to give it a try, though it took a while for me to actually sit down and do it.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I had a wild imagination as a kid and I made up stories in my head, and I didn't grow out of that as I grew older.  The stories just became more complex and sophisticated, so in the early 80's I just sat down and decided to give writing a try.
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
It certainly wasn't after I wrote my first book, which was about 30 years ago.  It was 250,000 words long, and because of my day-job it took me a couple of years.  When I finished, I put it away for a month, then pulled it out and reread it.  To my horror it was absolutely atrocious and no one has ever seen that book.  I almost gave up, but I kept at it, and eventually my writing skills grew to where I could be proud of them.
What inspires you to write and why?
Frequently, it's the little things in life, little victories, or little injustices like the vending machine that doesn't give you the candy bar after you've given it your dollar.  Stretch that and reshape it a bit, and it can become an entire novel in which the fate of empires will be determined.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I write hard science fiction, contemporary urban fantasy (no vampires or werewolves), and traditional fantasy.  "They" say you shouldn't write in multiple genres, but "they" also say write what you read, and I read copious quantities of all three.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
Early on it was writers like Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton and Roger Zelazny.  More recently it's been writers I've met at conventions like Todd McCaffrey, Jerry Pournelle and Kevin J. Anderson. There are so many good writers out there it gives me an inferiority complex, and makes me want to do better.  There have also been some excellent editors that I've worked with.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
The hardest part is always the mundane aspect of editing and plot mechanics.  Writing the book is thrilling, but once the first draft is finished, what follows after that can be pure drudgery.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
I quit my day-job about three years ago to write full time.  A little scarry, but I'm having the time or my life, and will never go back.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
I've been told I'm a good story teller, which I think came naturally.  The writing skills are something else.  They have to be honed and constantly improved.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
I take pride in making science entertaining and understandable.  I'm a scientist with a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a specialty in laser physics.  One might need degrees and equations to advance the field of study, but I passionately believe they are rarely necessary to understand it, as long as the scientists are willing to make the effort to explain the technology properly.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I get so focused on writing that my wife has to literally walk into the room and shout at me to get me to realize she's trying to talk to me.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
"The most important thing to remember is this: to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become." --W. E. B. Du Bois

I like this quote because I've had to do that a few times, most recently when I started writing full time.

Meet the Author:

J.L. Doty

Jim has eight published SF&F books, with two more due out in 2015. He's been unusually successful as a self-published writer; Child of the Sword went word-of-mouth viral about two years ago, and among all his books he has since sold close to 50,000 copies. With that success, he was able to quit his day-job as a running-dog-lackey for the Bourgeois capitalist establishment, and work for himself as a fulltime writer. He says his new boss is a real jerk--so demanding.

Jim writes in three sub-genres: epic-fantasy, hard science fiction, and contemporary urban fantasy--no vampires--frequently with strong young-adult themes. The infamous "they" say that one should not write in multiple genres, but "they" also say, "write what you read," and Jim reads copious quantities of all three.

Jim is also a scientist with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering; his specialty is laser physics. He has a big pet peeve regarding lasers as weapons in science fiction. He spent decades working in the laser and electro-optics industry, even did some research on laser weapons in the 80's. And when writers use a laser as a weapon in a story, they invariably get it wrong, usually by violating some basic law of physics. Jim gives a workshop on laser weapons, and what writers do wrong--no names please.

Jim was born in Seattle, but he's lived most of his life in California, though he did live on the east coast and in Europe for a while. He now resides in Arizona with his wife Karen and their three cats: Tilda, Julia and Natasha. From a very early age he made up stories in his head, but he never considered writing. In his family you went to college, got a degree in something useful and got a real job, so he did the Ph.D. thing. But he was still making up those stories in his head, so he sat down and wrote a science fiction novel, and as he says, "It was 250,000 words of pure crap." It was the hardest decision he ever made, but he literally threw it away and turned to other writing projects.

Science has always been a passion of Jim's, but writing is an addiction. He just recently published The Name of the Sword, the 4th and final book in the series that started with Child of the Sword. Right now he's working on Treason's Child, the prequel to A Choice of Treasons, which should be out in Q3 2015.

Never Dead Enough, the 3rd took in The Dead Among Us, will follow near the end of 2015.

Jim intends to keep on writing and publishing more stories, but no laser weapons.

Visit him at


Tour Schedule

 Monday, August 22 - Interviewed at The Review From Here
Book featured at A Title Wave
Tuesday, August 23 - Guest blogging at The Book Tree
Book featured at Inkslinger's Opus
Wednesday, August 24 - Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Thursday, August 25 - Guest blogging at Whispering Stories
Interviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Friday, August 26 - Book featured at Celticlady's Reviews
Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Monday, August 29 - Book featured at Cover2Cover
Guest blogging at Lover of Literature
Tuesday, August 30 - Book featured at CBY Book Club
Book featured at The Literary Nook
Wednesday, August 31 -Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
Thursday, September 1 - Interviewed at I'm Shelf-ish
Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Friday, September 2 - Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
Book featured at As the Page Turns

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