Interview: J. Kathleen Cheney

Head2J. Kathleen Cheney’s story, “Taking a Mile”, won third place in the fourth quarter of the 2007 Writers of the Future contest. She took time out from her rising career to talk with us.

IFP: Is there a recurrent theme in your writing?

JKC: I tend to see my characters as constantly discovering who they are. We all change every day, and sometimes, we’re startled when we figure out who we’ve become. I’d say there’s also a recurring theme of romance in most of my work, even though it doesn’t always surface in the writing. Sometimes, I know that there’s something going on behind the scenes that may not make it into the manuscript.

IFP: What inspires you to write or helps you get into the mood for writing?

JKC: Everything. I’m almost always in the mood. I have stories to tell, and they just have to come out. Sometimes, I know that a story’s not commercially viable, but it still gets written anyway. Caffeine helps, though, too.

IFP: What type of writing do you prefer to write the most: short stories, novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc.?

JKC: At heart, I’m a novelist. I wrote a couple of novels before even trying to write a short story for publication. I would say that my work is more character driven, which works better at longer lengths.

IFP: What does your writing space look like?

JKC: Cluttered. There was a meme circulating through the blogs over a year ago, where writers posted pics:

Not much has changed.

IFP: What genre do you like the most and why?

JKC: That’s hard. If I were only allowed one genre of book on a desert island, I would have to go with fantasy. That encompasses so many different types of writing that I would be entertained for a long time.

IFP: Name your favourite book and why.

JKC: One book? I suppose that I’ve read The Fall of Ile-Rien (yes, that’s a trilogy) by Martha Wells more times than anything else in the last few years. I really enjoy the cast of characters.

IFP: Name your favourite author and why.

JKC: A single favorite? Hmmmmm, Agatha Christie, because she covers a lot of territory well.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraft/Mythos monster, which one would you be? Why?

JKC: Oh heavens, not a monster!

IFP: Do you have a favourite Lovecraft/Mythos story? If so, which one is it?

JKC: I favor the Lord Dunsany-influenced works, so perhaps “The Doom that Came to Sarnath” might be my favorite.

IFP: What writing accomplishment are you the most proud of in your career so far?

JKC: Having my story, “Touching the Dead”, selected to be part of The Best of Jim Baen’s Universe 2. I suddenly found my little story in an anthology with a lot of heavy-hitting writing heroes of mine, and bounced all over the walls for days.

IFP: Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

JKC: I have a novella entitled “Iron Shoes” coming out this fall in the second volume of the Alembical series. It’s the story of a young widow in 1905 Saratoga Springs who is trying to save her farm from foreclosure, deal with her own demons and find help along the way. I also have a novel in the works, along with a few more shorter pieces of fiction, all of which I hope will be out soonish.

IFP: Many thanks for taking the time to interview with us today. We wish you luck in your upcoming projects!

J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. She is a member of SFWA, Broad Universe, and The Oklahoma Speculative Fiction Syndicate. Her works have been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future XXIV, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Fantasy Magazine, among others. Her website can be found at

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IFPInterview: J. Kathleen Cheney