Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday Thoughts with J. Scott Coatsworth

Dreams are powerful things. They tap into our subconscious, that churning well of memories and experiences and thoughts and hopes and fears that lies just below the surface of our waking minds. It's the place we go to when we write our stories, a source of passion and energy and weird ideas that fuels our fiction.

I'm a wild dreamer. I dream about things that morph into other things, people who are women but represent men in my life, and vice versa. Vivid, multicolored dreams that make total sense to me when I'm asleep, but melt into nothing if I don't record them right when I awaken.

I also have recurring dreams, and one of them has deep roots in my past. When I was 23, I was still in the closet. So deep, in fact, that I was living with my girlfriend in Southern California in 1991—we'll call her Dana—in her parents' house so we could save up for a move to the SF Bay Area together.

A couple months before the move, I got a call from a guy I had been seeing back in junior high and early high school—lets call him James. Well, it wasn't like a date or anything. More like a friend with benefits. He said he wanted to see me, and I said yes, standing there on the phone in my girlfriend's room, while my insides turned to jelly. We made plans, and I drove down to his place in La Jolla to see him.

Growing up, the few portrayals I'd seen of gay men on TV and in film had all been flaming caricatures – nelly gays and flaming gays and effeminate gays. I'd always thought that, if I ever did come out, I'd have to be like that too.

But it turned out that James wasn't like that at all. He was, dare I say it, normal?  Cute, sure, but just a regular guy who happened to like guys. It was a revelation.

Two months later I came out to Dana, over a couple melting containers of Ben and Jerrys ice cream, sitting together in a car after dark.

It wasn't pretty, though to her credit, the first words she said to me were "oh, it must have been so hard for you." I narrowly avoided a beating by one of her uncles, and lost a few prized possessions in the process.

But I was out. I was free.

And here's where the dream comes in.

Since that day, I've had variations on the same dream. Not often, but on a regular-enough basis that I remember them. I'm back in Dana's parents' house, and she's there, her mom is there, sometimes her dad is there too. And one by one, they all tell me that everything is ok.

It's an easy enough dream to interpret.

A few years before my coming out, when I was in high school, I dated another girl, "Jill", for a year or two, and then moved away. We stayed a couple for a while afterwards, long-distance, but I was a neglectful boyfriend. I'd let things lapse, and then I'd send her a letter to start things up again. There was no internet back then – no texting, no email – it was phone or snail mail.

And eventually, Jill sent me a letter, saying she had started to see someone else, and that I needed to either make an effort to be in her life, or let her go.

So I let her go. But I carried that letter for years, and along with it the sense of guilt. Then one day, I decided I had done my penance. I took the letter to the fireplace, and lit a match and burned it up. It disappeared in a puff of smoke, along with my guilt.

So to go back to Dana - I lost track of her after we broke up, and I always wondered what had become of her. And every now and then, I had another guilty dream of forgiveness.

Then about two weeks ago, I responded to a Facebook post from another friend from back then, and there she was, commenting on the post. It was like she was standing right in front of me. Do I dare?

I friended her. And I sent her a message, and waited breathlessly for her reply.

It didn't take long. Soon we were chatting, and I learned that she had a great life, with a loving husband and a couple beautiful children. That she didn't hate me for what I'd done. And that if I hadn't come out, she would never have found the great life she leads now.

And like a puff of smoke, the guilt that I carried around for twenty three years was gone.

As a writer, I like exploring the well of our subconscious thoughts, dreams and desires. Many of my stories delve into it, using supernatural or magical objects that enable the characters to tap into what lies beneath, often with strange and wonderful results.

Because in the end these stories are, in their own strange way, just more dreams out of my own subconscious mind.


Between the Lines

Brad Weston’s life seems perfect. He’s GQ handsome, the Chief of Staff for a Republican California State Senator, and enjoys the power and the promise of a bright future. And he’s in a comfortable relationship with his boyfriend of six years, Alex.

Sam Fuller is Brad’s young, blond, blue-eyed intern, fresh out of college, running from a bad break-up, and questioning his choices and his new life in politics. To make things worse, Sam also has a thing for the boss, but Brad is already taken.

While looking for a gift for his boyfriend, Brad wanders into a curiosity shop and becomes fascinated by an old wooden medallion. Brad's not a superstitious man, but when he takes out the medallion in his office, he sees the world in a new light. And nothing will ever be the same.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson


It began with a medallion. 
The piece was a simple wooden disk, hand carved with the shapes of leaves and forest boughs and polished by centuries of use, giving it a patina of great age. 
It sat upon a small green velvet pillow—the kind jewelers sometimes use, rather unsuccessfully, to enhance a plain necklace of false pearls. The kind you might expect to find on your grandmother’s settee, in a slightly larger size, embroidered with “Home Sweet Home." 
Yet there was something compulsive about it—something hidden in the dark crevices of the carving, filled with the dust of ages. 
At least that’s what Brad would recall years later, when he thought back on the first time he saw it: the moment when the lines of his mundane life suddenly snarled, snapped, and ultimately recombined into something quite different. 
Of course, he didn’t know any of this at the time.

Between the Lines is available from:

Dreamspinner Press          Amazon          Kobo

Barnes & Noble          ARe

Also, check out Goodreads!

Author Bio

Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi ( site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.



  1. Ohhh... what a wonderful story about your life. :) And I like your excerpt too!! Nice writing style! Thanks and aloha Meg Amor :)