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Adam Interviews...Ian Thomas Healy!

Logo for Adam Interviews - a hand holding a pen, superimposed over an old-fashioned typewriter

Hey you!

It's your old pal Kendra, filling in for Adam. It seems he's still recovering from Fan Expo Denver, and asked me to step in for him.

Boy, he's gonna regret it!

Actually, no, I wouldn't screw him over like that. He's been good to me so far, getting my story mostly right and steering your world so it's closer to mine.

Right, so what do I do now? Oh, yeah, bio! Lemme see what Lyta can dig up on this guy. Hold on.

Here we go. From the official Terran Federation Archives:

Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific author known for his diverse speculative fiction, particularly the "Just Cause Universe" series. Healy has participated in National Novel Writing Month fifteen times, showcasing his versatility by tackling subjects like superhero fiction, cyberpunk mercenaries, and unusual combinations such as vampires with minor league hockey. His notable works include "Just Cause," "Deep Six," and "Hope and Undead Elvis." Besides writing, Healy also created the "Writing Better Action Through Cinematic Techniques" workshop, aiding writers in crafting dynamic action scenes​.

A black and white image of the author, Ian Thomas Healy

What felgercarb! Okay, I like the bio he wrote better: Born, went to school, grew awesome hair, writes kickass books in Colorado.

My socials:

You can read samples of all of my work at (longer samples than Amazon offers).

Find me on Threads for daily snarkage and arguing with swords.


This is actually a difficult question because I’m a lifelong DC Comics guy but with the exception of a few of the Batman movies, most of the DCU movies have been pretty bad compared to the MCU movies. So I guess I’m punting here—DC Comics, Marvel movies. We cool about that?

The cover of Pariah's Moon by Ian Thomas Healy, an elf in a western hat holding a bow in front of a moon

Firefly – gone too soon or overrated?

Straight truth—I love Westerns. One of my favorite movies is Silverado, and one of my favorite books is a pure space western: Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future by Mike Resnick. I’ve slipped more than a bit of Western themes and ideas into my books, subtle (in the case of the Just Cause Universe superhero books) or blatant (in the Pariah of Verigo duology). Firefly checked a lot of boxes in my favorite kinds of stories: space opera, western, great dialogue, strong female characters. On the other hand, Joss Whedon is a very problematic person, and he has an unfortunate obsession with the majority of his female characters being either badasses or whores. I would have liked to see what Firefly could have done with a new showrunner in a second season. If they ever relaunch it, I think Apple TV would do a good job with it. And they can offer me a consulting job. Seriously, back up a dump truck full of cash to my front door. I have ideas.

The cover of Flint & Steel by Ian Thomas Healy, two women - one shorter, one taller and metallic - standing in front of the silhouette of a city

Coffee, tea, or cacao?

I’m a coffee guy. I drink far too much of it. But I also do like a nice iced green tea. In fact, I’m drinking a peach green tea tonight (which for some reason is wine pink). My favorite is Jamaican Blue Mountain, but I’m not made of money yet (see the consulting offer above), so that’s strictly a special occasion brew.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I have an Idea Wizard.

As far as my Big Series goes, the Just Cause Universe, I have an unfortunate tendency to sprinkle every one of my books with subplot hooks, and sooner or later they will turn into stories of their own. When I wrote the first book, Just Cause, it was about 120k words. I eventually cut 60k words out of it (I took an entire book out of a book!), wrote 40k brand new, and that became the book that is now the foundation for the series. What happened to the 60k I cut? It became the seeds for something like seven more books.

Never throw anything away. You never know when you’ll need it.

A page from a comic book written by a very young Ian Thomas Healy

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I was six or seven years old, and I made a comic book using a stamp pad and thumbprints on 8.5x11 typing paper. It was called The Happy Days Gang Goes to the Disco, which is an extremely old-fashioned title full of plagiarism. I added a couple scans to the uploads with this interview!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I spend too much time on Threads. I play old-school one-person offline video games. I read comic books. I love to cook and to visit new restaurants and try new foods (especially breakfast!).

The cover of Assassin by Ina Thomas Healy, showing a spaceship over a planet, being fired upon

Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?

Found Family is my favorite trope, and it’s not even close. It figures prominently in the bulk of my stories—in at least half of them. Part of that is because I tend to write books featuring characters who are members of superhero teams. By their very nature, superhero teams become surrogate families for their members.

What does your family think of your writing?

They tolerate it. LOL. I think my wife might have read five or six of my books and my kids might have read two or three. My parents were both extremely supportive. Although my mom has passed, my dad still reads my books (he is a far more voracious reader than I ever knew growing up).

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Not counting a few standalone short stories, I’ve got about 45 novels and novellas out there in the wilds of the internet. Not too shabby for two decades of work! There are so many that I can’t really pick a favorite, but I have a few I’m really proud of for different reasons. Assassin is the first modern book I wrote (not counting the Happy Days Gang comic book or the really terrible novel I wrote in high school that thankfully no longer exists anywhere), so that one has a special place in my heart. Day of the Destroyer is one of my best-plotted books and introduces one of my favorite characters in the Just Cause Universe.

The cover of Castles by Ian Thomas Healy, featuring a number of faces of people, all looking outward, of various genders and races and historical periods

Castles is one of the books I often point people to when they ask where they should start in the series (all the JCU books are standalones, so it’s easy to start wherever you want). The Neighborhood Watch is one of my top-selling titles at conventions and it’s incredibly popular with parents and younger readers. Flint and Steel is a superhero romance and I’m really proud of it. Horde, which is not a JCU book, may be the funniest thing I’ve ever written, and it’s by far the best fantasy I will probably ever tell. The Guitarist got me an agent (although she couldn’t sell it and we eventually parted ways). And finally, The Oilman’s Daughter is the first book I ever cowrote, with a dear friend and fellow author named Allison Dickson.

Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

The best way to become a better writer is to keep writing, and to learn about the craft from other writers. One of the best things you can do is to be a beta reader for other writers. You will learn far more about the problems in your own work by reading someone else’s than you can by paying hundreds of dollars for a seminar. This is a dirty, filthy industry to get into, and if you’re not willing to get down into the muck to find the jewels, you’re in the wrong field.

Related to that, when you are being critiqued, learn the difference between honest criticism and personal preference of the beta readers. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. But nobody ever became a better writer from having sunshine constantly blown up their ass. If someone tells you there are problems with your book, and they’re not coming at you from a place of hate or jealousy but legitimately want to help you improve it, listen to them. I’m fortunate to have a team of beta readers who have no compunctions about telling me when I’m fucking it up, and I love them dearly for it.

The cover of The Guitarist by Ian Thomas Healy, featuring a woman wearing a western hat, white blouse, and jean shorts playing guitar

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I almost never hear from readers. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM THEM!

What do you think makes a good story?

An interesting beginning, a series of unfortunate events in the middle, and a satisfying ending. A lot of writers have problems with one of these three parts, and it makes their books not very fun to read. The components of stories haven’t changed since humans first told each other stories around the fire twenty thousand years ago or however long it’s been.

What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Great Scott, Adam, there are SO MANY. Today, I’d have to say it’s using generative AI to “write” stories, “create” cover art, and “narrate” audiobooks. Large language model Ais were developed unethically, using source material without permission. I’m sure my own work has been captured in them. I did not grant any permission for such thing and if I had any legal recourse, and I could prove they did it, I would demand satisfaction, vis a vis a dump truck full of cash (as mentioned above).

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Stop rewriting chapter 1 over and over again because someone in your critique group wants you to change something. I know writers who’ve been stalled on the same project for a decade because they can’t get past the first chapter. I know some people find critique groups valuable tools for their work, but I always found them to be a mixture of selfish and predatory writers who are driven by fear and jealousy more than they are trying to improve their craft.

The cover of The Oilman's Daughter by Ian Thomas Healy, done in the style of a playing or tarot card, with a woman in a blue dress and top hat in the center, a man with a vaguely pirate appearance behind to the right, and a dapper man behind to the left

That’s pretty cynical, I suppose. Most writers aren’t like that, but I have had some pretty negative experiences with critique groups.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

The Just Cause Universe series is 26 standalone books, and I’m working on the 27th now. You can literally start anywhere in the series and not feel like you have to have done your homework. This is by design. I always wanted this to be a gigantic series, and I know that can be very daunting to some readers. So, I took a page from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and made each book a complete story in its own right. One of the things I enjoy most is listening to readers tell me what kind of story they like best and then recommending one from the JCU or one of my other works that I think they will like.

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

The cover of Just Cause by Ian Thomas Healy, featuring a woman in a red and gold superhero suit on a white background

I am 100% self published. I don’t see an advantage to working the traditional side where it takes 18-24 months (or longer) for a book to get to market, and then the publisher doesn’t support you unless you’re already a big-name author or celebrity. That’s also pretty cynical, but it’s also the way the traditional industry works, and it’s only getting harder for new writers to break into it.

On the other hand, it’s so easy to self-publish anymore, that anyone can “create” some AI-generated pile of shit, lie to Amazon about it not being generated with AI, and put it up for sale. Maybe they’ll make a few bucks on it. Maybe they’ll make hundreds or thousands. I’m not making thousands of dollars off my body of work every month, but I’m proud of it, and I’m egotistical enough to say that I’ve got some pretty fucking awesome stories in my catalogue.

What does literary success look like to you?

The cover of Day of the Destroyer by Ian Thomas Healy, featuring a blonde woman ina red and gold outfit battling what looks to be an anthropomorphized lion

My yardstick for measuring success is hookers and blow. I want to be hookers and blow successful. That means I can say to someone in my retinue (you have a retinue when you’re hookers and blow successful), “bring me some hookers and blow,” and lo, they will provide me a quantity of both.

I don’t even want hookers and blow. I just want to be successful enough to order them on demand whenever I feel like it.

Barring that, I’d like the ol’ dumptruck full of cash I keep harping upon.

What’s the best way to market your books?

By writing more books. Seriously, nothing builds interest in a series like adding to it. Every time I release a new Just Cause book, I get a big bump in sales not just in the new book, but all the way down the backlist.

What do you have coming next?

The 27th book in the Just Cause Universe series is a superhero noir that should be out sometime in the fall of this year. It’s called Rain Must Fall and I’m somewhere between 30-40% done with it now.

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