Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I grew up in Kearns, Utah, and moved to West Jordan a week before starting my 10th grade year at Copper Hills High School. My high school years found me fully immersed in choir, drama, and the tech lab. I also sported a pretty sexy tan my junior and senior years, what with all the lifeguarding I exhausted myself with during the summer. Hey, it's a hard job, soaking up the sun all day!
Yeah... anyway, I served a 2-year mission for the LDS Church in Pennsylvania. I really learned to love those people, especially in Wayne County (you know, the Poconos). They still hold a special place in my heart. A year and a half after returning, I married my smoochie-poo and set sail on a new life. Five sons and twelve years of college later, I've worked as a bank teller, a call center grubby, a civil engineer, and now my greatest passion, a junior high English teacher.
Although I dabbled in poetry in high school, I didn't truly realize my full writing abilities until 2008. After immersing myself in an endless array of fantasy and sci-fi novels, all in search for "that one story" I had been aching to enjoy, I finally decided to try my hand at it and create the story myself. Four months of brainstorming later, I had a 3-book fantasy series (BEHOLDERS) fully laid out and a tummy-twisted-dread to actually start writing the story.
I don't know who was more terrified that I'd be a terrible writer, myself or my wife. Admittedly, I had probably watched Chevy Chase's "Funny Farm" too many times growing up. I just knew she was going to throw the manuscript in the fire. Fortunately, after I had created the first chapter of INSIGHT--the first book in BEHOLDERS--we both knew I had discovered a hidden gift for writing. Full steam ahead from then on!
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
That's the big question, isn't it? I crank out some serious writing hours during the summer, when I don't have to plan 180 sets of curriculum for 8 different class periods. I seriously take advantage of those three months off school. Just this past summer, I cranked out 150,00 in 42 days. No wonder I suffer from carpal tunnel. Meh... it's an occupational hazard I'm more than happy to bear.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?
My writing zone is at a quaint table in my master bedroom. I own over 700 movie and video game soundtracks--a pricey addiction I gave up after leaving my civil engineering job--but the soundtracks help me zone-in. I carefully select from said selection every day, picking the perfect music to carry me through that day's writing. Just me, my little table, an alienware laptop, and a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones are all I need. Oh, and rootbeer barrels. Lots and lots of rootbeer barrels.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite moments are when my "magic fingers" take control. Although I have a semi-structured outline to carry me through the full series of BEHOLDERS, it's fascinating to see my imagination take control of the story. And it happens at the most unsuspecting times. For example, in my first novel INSIGHT, I was writing a scene when a man knocked on a village door, simply to remind them that he was leaving with his caravan soon. Little did I suspect, when the door opened, said man announced that one of the three main protagonists had been kidnapped. An entire chapter emerged because of that little moment, and it was one of the most exciting chapters I've ever written.
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Least favorite thing about writing? The sacrifices my wife and children have to make in order for me to write. It's not fair that I have to cut into their time, but they are endlessly supportive nonetheless.
How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
I've already explained a little of the background, but to go a little deeper... One of the biggest frustrations that I have with reading fantasy literature is encountering magic-wielding moments when I find myself musing, "That was stupid. Why didn't he just...?" I've ready too many books with flaws and loopholes in their magic system. Even The Lord of the Rings, my most favorite fantasy series of all time, is weak at its core. How is it that Gandalf can defeat a balrog, one of the greatest terrors of middle earth, but when a little squad of orcs attacks he finds himself crying for help. Bah. So I spent most of my 4 months of brainstorming BEHOLDERS purely focused on my new magic system, True Sight. As a reader, you begin the story right alongside the main character, clueless as to how to use your power. You get to follow along with the character as he both succeeds and fails in his attempts to control it. I joke that if anyone REALLY wants to know how to create a fireball between their hands, my book tells them exactly how to do it.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
Admittedly, not enough, but I have lame excuse. I'm in a transitional period because my old publisher, Jolly Fish Press, closed their doors a few months ago. A full book design takes time and money, both of which are in short supply at the James house. I don't want to push my book until I have all three books fully designed, ready for sales. In the meantime, JFP continues to profit off of amazon sales. I'll get there though, most definitely before April when the last book in my series is released.
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What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
Funny that you should ask. I was just talking about this! BEHOLDERS consists of three books: INSIGHT (book 1), TRUE SIGHT (book 2), and HINDSIGHT (book 3). The last book, HINDSIGHT (originally forecasted as two books), is scheduled to be released in April. Only two months away, and by far the best book in the series! I'm very proud of it.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
Not right now. My family has sacrificed so much over the past 8 years. It's time I pay them back a little.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
The only difference between a published author and an aspiring writer is an empty desk and a stack of blank paper. It will never be convenient to write. If you want to do it, you have to make time.
A Question for Me:
At our latest author event together, I noticed that you have a large collection of pottery, etc., to go along with your books. What's that all about?
Pottery? You must mean someone else's cool stuff. I'm not kidding. I have no pottery on my table for book signings. I do have plenty of books, postcards, a clip board for interested readers to write their name and email on, and oh, let's see, posters and easils and maybe even my initials in lights. Sorry, no pottery. What I like to do is to make my table as fun as possible.
Oh, maybe you mean the wrought iron pans? The ones I use as part of my mystery series? They're close to pottery I guess, so let's talk about them. I was at a signing about three years ago, and a gal who ran another booth brought them to me. "Would you trade these cute pans for your mystery book?" I only had one mystery out at the time, and it's called, Scrambled. Because you usually cook eggs in a frying pan, this vendor thought I'd like to display a couple of small pans as part of showing off my book. She was right. I traded.
I also have sun flowers that go with my Conquering Your Goliaths book. And let's see...I think that's it. You obviously needed to come closer to my table and talk to me about them. :)
Thanks for asking.
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