Lucky for us, James was willing to take some time to answer our questions and give us a peek at the man behind the words. We are very thankful, and we hope you enjoy the following interview.
But that's not all! We are even luckier! James has decided to offer a free e-copy of the book I recently reviewed to all of you!
You can check my review out here : http://www.owl-read-it.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-new-death-others-by-james.html
So enjoy the Interview! Below you will find a rafflecopter which you can use to win a free e-copy of his book The New Death and Others :D!
> 1. Tell us a little about yourself
I am entirely bald, and I have a small, third nipple (these are both true by the way, although the complete baldness is self-inflicted).
> 2.Which story and or Poem in this collection is your favorite?
Probably 'The God of the Poor'.
Meghan: it would be really hard for me to pick one, but some of the ones I really liked would be 'The Enemy within', 'Compatibility', 'The Adventure of the Murdered Philanthropist', 'The Lamb's Speech', 'Legend: The Story of Kevin Marely', and more. That being said, I really did love all of the entries :).
> 3. Outside this collection, what is your favorite poem and or short story?
I don't know about poems, but here are a few of my favourite short stories:
HP Lovecraft, The Doom That Came to Sarnath
Robert E Howard, The Tower of the Elephant
Clark Ashton Smith, The Garden of Adompha
Franz Kafka, Jackals and Arabs
Ursula Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
> 4. Are you currently working on any new projects, or have ideas for some?
I'm currently working on a long poem called 'Confession of a Bounty Hunter', which is set in the old West.
Meghan: I look forward to reading more of your work!
> 5. Do you write things other than short stories and poems?
I've been encouraged to write a novel set in the fantasy city of Telelee, which is the setting of a few of the stories in 'The New Death and others'. I have a lot of background for this world, because I blog every day (http://www.apolitical.info/teleleli) and a lot of the posts are setting detail. I also have a half-finished novel called 'All-American Detectives', which is a combination of a detective story and a story about superheroes, which I'll probably come back to in the future.
> 6. If you could join forces with another writer, who would it be?
Probably someone dead, so they don't argue with me. I actually have done this in a way. 'The New Death' has several poems which are adaptations of stories by various writers.
> 7. Where do you find inspiration for your stories and poems?
Some ideas just pop into my head, without me knowing where the idea comes from. Other ideas come from experiences in my life. For example a while ago I found three injured birds in the space of a few weeks. I took all of them to the local vet. As I was carrying one of them, I thought that the woman at reception might wonder where I was finding all these injured birds, and that was the inspiration for my story 'Lost, Feral or Stray'.
I've written a lot about cats, based on having been a cat owner. But I'm a lot more cynical about them than some cat-lovers. One reviewer said he couldn't work out whether I loved cats or hated them.
Of course other fiction is a big inspiration. In some cases it's obvious. I've done poems directly based on stories by HP Lovecraft and other writers for example. In other cases it's more subtle: for example the city of Teleleli or Telelee is partly based on Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, partly on Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork, and partly on Port Blacksand in the Fighting Fantasy series. the dialogue in Lord of the Rings had a big influence on how my characters talk.
> 8. At what point did you decide you wanted to put your work out there for others to enjoy?
As soon as I started writing I wanted to get published. The thought of writing just for myself never occured to me.
> 9. What other things do you enjoy besides writing?
My other main hobby is coding online games. I spent several years writing an online game called Age of Fable (www.ageoffable.net). I don't have any plans to do more on it, but it's still online, and you can play it for free. I'm currently working on an online 'card' game, like Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon. I've also done a few smaller projects. For example I did an online version of the computer game Oregon Trail.
> 10. Do you prefer print or e-book, and why?
e-book, because it doesn't waste paper.
> 11. Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?
My blog (http://www.apolitical.info/teleleli)
> 12. In your opinion, what is the one book everyone should read?
I don't think there is one.
> 13. Are there any books you are currently looking forward to?
I read very few recently published books. In fact most of my favourite writers are dead. So I don't follow upcoming releases in the way that a lot of readers do.
> 14.Growing up, did you know you wanted to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be?
I think I've wanted to do something creative since I was a teenager. But I've tried several different things, such as music and filmmaking, before I finally settled on writing. To be honest, if it turned out that I was actually better at, say, painting than writing, I think I'd be happy to change.
> 15. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Nowadays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an ebook on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one's going to stop you. I'd recommend that people get onto Critique Circle (www.critiquecircle.com) and/or Scribophile (www.scribophile.com), put their work up, and listen to what people tell you. Don't 'defend' your work against people's 'attacks'. They aren't attacks, they're helping you. I've found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they're not making the changes they need to make.
My next point doesn't matter if you're going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won't publish work that's already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that's silly, but that's what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because google doesn't index them and you can't see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they're out there.
I'd also say that getting a book out isn't the final step. It's just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you're not self-publishing: I'm told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn't matter, of course).
There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they're going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they're asking you to pay then it's a scam. Of course if you're self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than ebooks - but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don't know why you'd want to. Preditors and Editors (www.pred-ed.com) is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle.
Finally, I'd suggest learning to touch-type if you can't already. You're going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.
Meghan: That is really great advice! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us, and for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to hearing from you again!