Today, I am happy to have Russell James make stop by my blog for an interview. I’ve just finished and enjoyed his book and I was excited to ask him some questions. Russell James has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness.
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? What propelled you to start writing?
I grew up on Long Island, NY and after graduating college I spent five years flying Blackhawk helicopters in the U.S. Army. Now the day job is writing technical manuals for a Fortune 50 company.
I got started writing when, during long car rides, I used to tell my wife story ideas I thought of. She said I should write them down and publish them. I told her that was ridiculous. She kept pushing and then signed me up for an online writing class as a Christmas present. That got the ball rolling over a decade ago. So if anyone hates my work, blame her.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? How does that infuse your work?
I restore classic muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. I haven’t been able to work that into a story yet. But both seem to be slow, often frustrating processes.
What do you love and hate about writing?
I love the entire writing process: the creating, the editing, the research, and that I have to switch between the three regularly enough to not get bored with any of them. I hate that doing it correctly takes more time than I have available.
What’s coming next and where people can buy your stuff?
I’m in two benefit short story collections that just came out, Still Out of Time (time travel stories) and Centauri Station (space-themed sci-fi.) Royalties from both of these go to Doctors Without Borders. A new Samhain novel, Q Island, goes on sale this summer. In that one, a plague breaks out on Long Island and it becomes a quarantine zone. Then there’s a mostly finished novel about the Devil trying to get his hands on a portal to Hell and a few other ideas in the half-cooked phase.
How much research is required for your books?
Some books don’t need much research, like Dark Vengeance, where all I did was a little research on a South American horror myth. I just finished a historical novel that needed a ton of research. Most books are somewhere in between. When I’m writing I have two files, one is the manuscript, and the other is research. That second file has notes and ideas about the story, and paragraphs cut and pasted from the Internet, some of which I only use a sentence of as a reference. The research universally sends more items to the notes and ideas page.
Who are you favorite authors? Which author(s) had a significant impact on you growing up? (See below)
How did you come up with the title?
Dreamwalker seemed to make sense as a made up word explaining Pete’s gift. I thought I was very clever until after it sold and I saw how far from unique it was in an Amazon search.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
Other than having my name on the cover, probably not much. I’m sure Publisher’s Weekly will use the phrase “horribly derivative.”
How does your writing process work?
Total pantser, no outline except for a few pivotal scenes in my head. Then I just write and see where the characters take me. About halfway through I have to start an outline of what’s been done so far so I can see all the threads that need to be tied up. Early morning writing seems to work best for me.
What authors have most influenced your life most?
Franklin W. Dixon. No kidding. My parents taught me to read early, and by second grade I was devouring Hardy Boys mystery stories. A few Tom Swift stories got into the mix as well, but even a second grader could see how dated they were. That experience got me reading as recreation, something very important if you are going to ever write. Those Hardy Boys stories are still on my bookshelf.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I wish I had a mentor. “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
What book are you reading now?
I just finished Hunter Shea’s Island of the Forbidden and am halfway through Jonathan Janz’ The Nightmare Girl. Both of these are excellent.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Trying not to repeat themes or characters. Even something as simple as selecting names is tough. I have a list of all the names I’ve uses in short stories and novels and try to not recycle the list.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’d read anything Stephen King writes, including a grocery list. I get swept up in his novels and all of a sudden I’ve burned away six hours. Lately I’ve got the chance to read a lot of the Samhain authors and there are some superb ones. Mick Sims, Catherine Cavendish, JG Faherty and Tim Waggoner come immediately to mind, but there are a lot more.
Can you tell us a little about your current/latest book?
In Dreamwalker, college junior Pete Holm lives two lives; one while awake, and an entertaining imaginary life when he dreams. His vivid night adventures turn from fantasy to reality. Drawn to Atlantic City by an unexplained force, Pete finds himself at the center of two battles. By day, he must thwart the plot of Jean St. Croix to expand his criminal empire. When sleeping, he fights to break the grip of the evil spirit Cauquemere, whose endless nightmare world holds hostage hundreds of spirits, including Rayna, Pete’s soul mate. Only Prosperidad, a local mistress of the black arts of voodoo, can teach him about his powers, if he can stay alive long enough in both worlds to master them.
Thank you so much Russell for taking time from your busy schedule! All the best with Dreamwalker.
Where can you find Russell James?
1) Open reviewer giveaway: Anyone who reviews Dreamwalker on Amazon and one other
site like GoodReads, etc. and sends Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, their links to
firstname.lastname@example.org will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card. This contest
ends on Feb. 28, 2015.
2) Rafflecoper giveaway for two copies of Russell’s previous books. Two winners will each
win one of two books, Black Magic and Dark Inspiration. US only, no international
shipping. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway,
you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates.
Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi,
publicist, Hook of a Book Media at email@example.com.