Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to welcome back LJ Cohen to our spotlight this Friday and our 65 James Street store THIS SUNDAY, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, along with Jen Petro-Roy, for our Queer Representation for Younger Readers panel, a Pride Celebration co-hosted with Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts.
LJ Cohen is a novelist, poet, blogger, ceramics artist, and relentless optimist. After almost twenty-five years as a physical therapist, LJ now uses her anatomical knowledge and clinical skills to injure characters in her science fiction and fantasy novels. She lives in the Boston area with her family, two dogs, and the occasional international student. A STAR IN THE VOID (book 5 of the SF/Space Opera series Halcyone Space), is her eighth novel. When not doing battle with a stubborn Jack Russell Terrier mix, she can be found working on the next novel, which often looks a lot like daydreaming. LJ is a member of SFWA, Broad Universe, and the Independent Publishers of New England.
Thank you so much for joining us, LJ! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your books?
I write both fantasy and science fiction, but across all my work, a reader will find vivid characters overcoming their internal conflicts. Learning to trust – oneself and others – seems to be a theme that emerges in my stories. Along with blowing up spaceships and unraveling galactic conspiracies and the like. 🙂
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out [newest release/spotlighted release]? How did you overcome that challenge?
Drafting A STAR IN THE VOID was so much more difficult than I anticipated. It took me twice as long to draft as I had planned for. Firstly, I think my subconscious was “dragging its feet” because I really didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters. Secondly, I had no idea at the start how hard bringing a five book series to a close would be! All those plot threads needed to be drawn together in a way that was satisfying to the reader and appropriate to the story. I wrote myself into a lot of corners during the process.
Having writer friends to rant at was really helpful! And trusting the process. That’s what I go back to again and again: trust the process.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
My current passion is ceramics. There’s something meditative and healing about having my hands in clay. Plus I get to give cool gifts to my friends. 🙂 I tend to hang around at the clay studio when my imaginary friends aren’t talking to me. When I’m totally focused on something else, that’s usually when the writing problem fixes itself. Plus, it gets me away from my computer and allows me to hang out with other people, which is good, since writing is such a solitary job.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
I have aphantasia – which means I don’t see images in my mind. I never realized this was a neuro-atypicality until I read an article about it from the New York Times a few years ago! I thought that when people talked about their mind’s eye, that they were using it metaphorically. It also explains why in my early writing attempts, people kept telling me I was writing ‘floating heads in black boxes.” I’ve since had to learn to add visual descriptions in my writing.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
I currently have 2 shelter pups. Dustin is a Jack Russel terrier mix and is always getting into trouble. He barks at everything. Mya is a border collie mix who has discovered that she can distract me when I’m at the computer – she either lays her head on the keyboard, or worse, hits the touch screen with her nose.
But both have beds in my office and are great to talk plot points with. They typically stare at me as if what I’m saying is the wisest thing ever. Of course, it helps if I ply them with dog treats.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My novels can be found in print and ebook in all the usual places. Links are always current on my website, ljcohen.net
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
I’m on twitter, FB, and Google plus and you can absolutely follow me on my occasional newsletter. You can find all the links on the contact page on my website: ljcohen.net/contact.html
Thank you again for the great interview, LJ, and we look forward to having you and Jen Petro-Roy THIS SUNDAY at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on 65 James Street, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, to celebrate Pride Month with the Rainbow Readers of Massachusetts with “Queer Representation for Younger Readers.”