James Ross Vs. Lucy Pireel

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!

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Q&A session – Questions: Natasha Johnstone – Answers: James Ross

The gorgeous Natasha Johnstone (married, boo! hiss!), who you can find at this website, recently put me under the spotlight and refused to let me go until I answered her questions. That’s why I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, I’m stubborn. Anyway, she gave me a copy of the transcript when she booted me out and told me not to tell anyone, clearly I just can’t be trusted… But you knew that.

1) Why did you decide on a pen name like Jams N Roses?

A while ago, when toying with the idea of setting up a website to showcase some screenplays that I’d done, I typed in JamesRoss.com (my real name) and discovered the domain name was already taken… by an author! Further investigation led me to find another two James Ross’ who put pen to paper, so an anagram of my name (and a borrowed N) had to do.

2) What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Scream. Shout. Throw things. Sleep (have nightmares). Lift weights (light ones). Promise myself that I’ll never try to write again. No, seriously, there is no one answer for that one. I would say, that leaving your work at the point you are blocked, and then coming back to it after a sleep, or anything else that takes your mind of it, can be the best thing to do. After wasting an hour or so writing next to nothing, I’ve gone back to the computer after a good sleep and carried on as if there was never a problem – struggling to even remember what the problem was, the night before.

3) If you could meet any person in the world, who would that be?

It would have been Christopher Hitchens, if he hadn’t passed away, of course. The guy was a legend in my eyes; super intelligent, quick-witted and not too timid to point out the wrong-doers in the world. There are many people alive who know much more than I do, so I’d be happy to meet anyone who could broaden my mind and open my eyes, that sort of thing. They wouldn’t have to be famous, just knowledgeable, honest and kind.

4) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

The USA. Why? I’ve always had something in me that wanted to know more about America. It’s a major player on the world stage, and compared to other parts of the world, can be classed as peaceful. The variety over there also shouldn’t be ignored. It isn’t just the easy option either, because it is English-speaking, if that’s what you think! I’ve lived in Spain, I live in France now; I’m not scared of language barriers! I can just honestly say that America appeals to me.

5) Tell the readers something they don’t know about you?

I’m writing this whilst wearing only my boxer shorts. Seriously, it is uncomfortably hot in the south of France at the moment. The wind isn’t blowing at all and technical difficulties mean there isn’t a functioning fan in the Jams N. Roses household.

6) Who would play your characters in the movie version of your book?

I couldn’t tell you. I’ve thought about this question many times, probably over thought it, and still got no closer to who would play who. I’d leave that to the professionals. I had a guy talk to Ben Drew (Plan B) at one point, before he really blew up, to play the lead in Get Clean. Ben Drew is a star, but I thought he was too chubby to play a cocaine addict! Turns out he had bigger and better things to be doing anyway…

7) Who inspires you?

My son. Full stop. The little man, just being in my life, is the proverbial kick up the backside that I needed to get up and start doing things in my life. I owe him a lot, and have every intention in repaying him fully.

8) What was your journey to publishing like?

Long winded. I started out writing screenplays, and anyone in that game can tell you how hard it is to get noticed. I had good feedback, someone was interested in producing Get Clean, but funding fell through and that was the end of it. Amazon gave my writing a lifeline; it gave me the control I wanted in my writing, without having to satisfy the tastes of an agent or publishing house, not many of whom are keen to take a punt of a new name who writes in a brutally blunt fashion.

9) If you could give any advice to aspiring writers what would that be?

Sit down and write. Don’t stop writing until you’ve typed the last full stop and don’t think about going back over your work for at least a week. Then, you’ll see the obvious mistakes you’ve made, as well as general improvements you could make to every page.

10) Who is James Ross as a person?

I’m one of the good guys, a single dad, trying to make my way in a foreign country; doing battle with French bureaucracy and a crazy ex most days of my life. I’m an honest man, looking around and seeing the not-so-honest being rewarded for their shenanigans, wondering if lady luck will ever step in to relieve me of the struggle of the daily grind. I’m the one with his fingers crossed, which doesn’t always help, when I’m tapping the keys of my laptop, late into the night, hoping that my next book will be the one that takes off and changes the game.

Laters…

Writing, and crying as I go…

So I’m nearly at the end of the first draft of my latest project… and I’ve been blubbering like a hungry baby with a soiled nappy.

Seriously, it’s a sad tale, and whilst writing a few of the chapters I’ve found myself welling up, shedding a few tears and even having to blow my nose!

‘Finding Her Feet’ is a contemporary drama, and if people still used the word ‘tragedy’ as a genre (which doesn’t seem to appear on Amazon, for example, please correct me if I’m wrong), it may well be best suited under that heading.

I needed to take a break from it to be honest, so I thought I’d embarrass myself by giving you guys the chance to read about my failure to be a tough guy and poke fun if you want. I deserve it, I’m a thirty-three year old man, a father, a football man, crying over the words I’m typing into my laptop.

Somebody help me…

Ok, I guess I’ll make a cuppa then get back to it.

Night night… Jams N. Roses.

The silver lining of those clouds of negative emotions…

Suffering from bouts of depression, going through a difficult break-up or losing someone you love can really lead you to question life, and sometimes even consider ending it.

Fortunately, most of us get to the other side of these obstacles that life throws at us, and as a writer, it is the perfect ammunition for writing a narrative that consists of raw emotion.

Please read my article ‘Dark thoughts that light up a page,’ that has been published on Laurence O’Bryan’s website.

Laurence is a best-selling conspiracy/thriller author, so I’m grateful and a little chuffed that he invited me to post on his website. His published titles ‘The Instanbul Puzzle’ and ‘The Jerusalem Puzzle’ (he likes his puzzles!) are both well worth a look.

Speak soon…

James Ross – Under the spotlight…

Me? Under the spotlight? You really want to see all of my imperfections?

Over the next few paragraphs, I’ll try and summarize where I’m coming from, so you’ll maybe have an idea as to what to expect from my writing.

I am not a criminal, not in the sense that I’ll rob your bag when you’re not looking, or I’ll steal the food from your plate even when I’m not hungry, just to be a nuisance. I won’t threaten you in the street for looking at me funny, nor will I throw bricks at your windows if you don’t give me a cigarette when I ask for one.

But I have been arrested on more than one occasion. I’ve been locked up, I’ve had my prints and mug shots taken and of course, as a sign of the times, they’ve even taken my DNA. But I’m not a real criminal.

And I’m not a drug addict either. Although if I’m honest,  I’d have to tell you that in several of the recent years of my life, I’ve spent more money on cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes than I’ve spent on the rent for the dirty, little apartment that I’d been living in.

I’ve mistreated friends and loved ones and lost some people that were close to my heart, but at the time I was too blinded to see the irreparable damage I was doing to relationships.

Things change, and people change, too.

Luckily, after all the stunts I’d pulled, all the ridiculous and dangerous situations I’d found myself in, things started to go on track.

I’m a daddy now, and that little boy of mine is the angel that keeps me away from trouble, away from even the situations where trouble could potentially arise. Of course, I am no angel, but I am no sinner.

I have found a way to channel my naughty side, a way to allow my mind to have a free run with its mischievous ideas and not cause any trouble, and nobody gets hurt or embarrassed or let down.

I found that by writing my thoughts, those dark little waves of energy in my head, down onto paper, or tapping them into a keyboard and onto a computer, relieved some of my desire to be in the mix myself. I stopped needing to be in the bars or the pubs and didn’t need to be high or drunk to have fun.

I’ve learnt that by creating a separate world where anything goes, I can keep the world in which my son walks and plays as safe and as beautiful as possible.

I draw on my previous experiences for my writing. ‘Get Clean’ is based loosely on my drug problems and the time I spent living on the notorious southern coast of Spain. ‘Son of a Serial Killer’ is heavily based on the thoughts and emotions I had during the break-up of a serious relationship, which all seemed too much when on top of the other daily struggles we all go through.

I hope to have an exciting life in the future, one that I can draw on for future ideas and plots and characters for my fiction novels, who knows, maybe I’ll even get to write a love story, but I’m not holding my breath!

That was a piece I did for LaeLand – A place where Lae Monie and other criminals get to put their points of view across. It’s a good place for writer’s resources as well, so take a look, just make sure that you stash your cash in your shoe first!