I was recently tied to a chair and forced to answer some questions (why do women keep doing that to me?) for the wonderful blog of Lucy Pireel. While escaping, I managed to grab a copy of the interrogation and thought I’d post it on my blog too, just to show she’s not the boss of me! (Just kidding, Lucy, if you’re reading this – you clearly are the boss of me)
Here we go…
Hi James, I’d like to start with a few personal questions. Just so the readers can get a bit of a feel as to who you are. If that’s okay with you? Are you a rooter, or a traveler? I mean, have you always lived in the same town?
I am a traveler… or at least a bit of one! I’m English, very much so, but I’ve spent nearly three years living in Spain, and I’m currently in my fifth year in France. Am I planning to travel the world? No. I love “western comforts” too much, so if I relocated out of Europe for a change, I think it’d the US or maybe Australia… boring? Horses for courses, I say!
What do you prefer, reading or watching a movie?
I’m a big film fan. I love films. I watch a couple of new films a week, which is more frequent than new books to be honest. But that isn’t to say I don’t rate being a reader. On a quiet, lazy afternoon, there doesn’t get much better than curling up on the sofa and opening up that book that I haven’t stopped thinking about since the last cliffhanger.
Would you ever want your work to be made into a movie?
Yes. 100% yes. Selling books means a great deal to me, to have people willing to spend some of their hard-earned cash on my work; it’s a great feeling. And then an even bigger boost comes along; the good reviews, which are fantastic. That’s a real buzz generator. But ultimately, being the film fan that I am, if I ever get to see one (or more) of my titles on the big screen, I’ll happily fall to the floor in fits of giggles.
Is the way your work is set up, psychological, twisting, and crime leaden with a touch of humour a reflection of you, or is it all pure fiction? i.e. what do you pour into your work that’s really a part of Jams?
Absolutely, it’s a reflection of me, the people I know or knew, and the life I once led and now avoid like the plague – except the humour, that is. However, don’t get me wrong, everything in my books has had the ‘fiction” wand firmly shaken at it. I can genuinely say that I am one of the good guys.
And now what you really came here for. *drumroll* – What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?
I guess I should talk about my most successful book so far, Son of a Serial Killer. It has recently had a stint in the Amazon top 100, which made me so happy I fell to me knees and had to hug my son. He thought something was wrong; I had to explain why I had tears in my eyes!
Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
No, I never really do either – it’s the rest of the book I have trouble getting down! I think a title, just on its own, should give the reader at least a clue of what the book is about. I feel that “Son of a Serial Killer” does that.
Can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
Alcohol, cocaine, and nights out at the casino. Is there any other way?
If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?
I don’t think I would – maybe if there were large bundles of cash on the table, but otherwise, no. “SoaSK” actually had interest from an agent, but she stressed that I would have to make the book longer – the word count was around 10,000 less than she thought she could push for me. But in my eyes, the book was done, the story was told. My work is what it is; changing it suit the market, instead of writing honestly how I feel the story needs to be told is perhaps a skill I lack.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
With a new release, I give the book away – literally, I’m out there on the streets and shoving paperback copies into the hands of anyone who’ll let me. Ok, that’s not true at all, but I do give e-copies of my books away when they are first released, to give them a bit of a boost and to let the world know it is there. I’ve also got a couple of titles listed as giveaways on Goodreads; this gives readers the chance to get a paperback copy of my work, and also acts as advertising for those of haven’t yet heard of me (that would be most of you).
Right with that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now. What don’t you like about writing?
Actually, there’s quite a lot of it…I don’t like how long it takes. I don’t like the fact that when I’ve figured out the plot, created some great characters who develop in interesting ways and whose paths meet and incredible things happen, that I still have to sit down and write it. And then edit it. And then edit it again. There’s just so much work involved in writing a book! And then the marketing! Don’t get me started on the marketing. I can summarise and say that it is the initial creation of the story and its characters that brings me joy, not the non-stop, tedious and lonely slave-labour that comes afterward.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
Well, I don’t really drink alcohol anymore, just on special occasions (like nailing that tricky chapter), so I guess my main drink is tea*. I drink gallons of the stuff when writing or marketing online.
*Best consumed with chocolate digestive biscuits.
What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?
I’m a single dad, with no culinary training and living on a writer’s budget – you do not want to know what we eat chez moi!
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
Seriously, there are many days I can’t write. But the best excuse, I would say, is when you’ve finished a draft, before editing it in any way, I find it best to leave it well alone and concentrate on something else, anything else. That way, when you go back to the “finished” story, you’ll go back with fresh eyes, and you’ll see the obvious flaws in the plot and bad grammar usage.
And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?
I don’t! I don’t know how I ended up here! I thought I was signing up for a dating agency and I wound up a bestseller on Amazon!