Author’s Roundtable: Chris James

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Altogether about 10 years. No, my lifelong dream was to build my own house. When I achieved that, I decided I needed a new objective. Writing has now become hugely important to me.

What books or stories have you written? Published? Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Mainly I am a science fiction writer. My first novel, “Class Action,” takes elements of sci-fi and puts them into the courtroom drama/political thriller genre. Set 20 years in the future, we follow a young litigator as he takes on a unique case and gets sucked into a frightening world of global conspiracy and international terrorism. My second novel, “The Second Internet Cafe, Part 1: The Dimension Researcher,” is about a scientific facility where researchers jump to alternate realities to find out about them. The idea here was to write a “proper” time travel story in which the characters could not create time paradoxes. This year, however, I branched out into comedy (which my novels are certainly not) to publish a picture book about a litter of five adorable puppies who cause chaos in the house where they are born.

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

For me I pick elements to build characters as I do to build worlds. Sometimes that can change at the planning stage of a novel, but once I start writing them, I get used to them and then it will be the story that changes.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

No, not at all. As all my novels are set in the future, the vast majority of them comes from my imagination.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

This is difficult because I believe each writer has to find his or her own path through the process. The only advice I can give is that there is one thing a writer must fail at, and fail at quite spectaculaly: giving up. As long you fail to give up, you’ll get there in the end.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

I didn’t have my books professionally edited for two reasons. First, I had a raft of talented beta readers who helped enormously. Second, my full-time job is copy editor/proofreader, so I felt quite confident with the published standard of my books.

What are some of the hardest things you’e had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Mainly the frustration caused by others’ lack of interest. Non-writers have little idea of how much effort, heart and soul go into a novel, not to mention thousands of hours of work. When you announce your novel to the world, you will be ignored for the most part (unless you’re very lucky and are surrounded by caring people). For me this was the hardest thing to cope with: that no matter how hard I try and how hard I work, I’ll be lucky if someone even barely notices what I’ve done.

How do you find enough time in the day to write?

Usually at night, when my kids are safely asleep and I have silence. Then I can escape into my worlds.

How did you find time to write your books?

I think you have to make the time rather than find it. As a novel progresses, I become more involved and make more time for it.

Do you set aside a special time to write?

Yes, nighttime. 🙂

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

It keeps me alive, like breathing. I think up stuff and have to write it down. It’s very important.

Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

It seldom relaxes me, but more makes me feel as though I’m not wasting my life. I have a tremendous sense of satisfaction when I write, that words are out of my head and on the page. My fear that my stories could die with me is what propels me to write.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

That’s too subjective a question – I always try to be a better person! Other than that, writing is a very, very good form of escape from the drudgery of everday life: paying the bills, providing for my family, etc.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

Oh yes. I like sci-fi, thrillers, modern history, military history, historical adventures. I like to escape into the imagination of someone else. It does take good writing to pull me in, but some totally immerse me.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers? What kinds of information do reviews offer authors like yourself? Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Generally they are important, but I’m not so good at marketing myself, so even if someone reads one of my books and likes it a lot, I’ll ask for a review but won’t hassle them because I think that’s impolite.


Is there anything I forgot to ask that you’d like to mention?

No, I think they were all very good questions – thanks for asking them!

Keep up with Chris, buy his books


6 thoughts on “Author’s Roundtable: Chris James

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