This week, I’d like to welcome James to the Thursday Throng. He spent more than ten years serving as a Department of Defence and Department of State contractor throughout the Middle East to include Kuwait and Iraq. Contractor by day and writer by night, he has worked hard to author work that would entice and entertain his readers.
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
This is a very difficult question to answer as I am pretty much an open book. I am a rather big guy and try to seem intimidating, yet I am terrified of spiders. I rock out to Taylor Swift and The Band Perry while I drive and I can hold a conversation with a baby or child for hours. For those that know me though, that is just common knowledge.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
In all honesty, this is not what most people would call a “review”, but it meant more to me than any review that I have ever had. Before I released my novel Ashes Will Fall, I began to release a short story series Called Rudy’s Rangers on Amazon. Each new story was supposed to be posted each Wednesday for 8 weeks. Well, I work in Baghdad, Iraq and was traveling home for vacation and missed a Wednesday. When I landed, I noticed that I had several emails waiting for me. They were in fact, emails from several readers furious that the next instalment was not out yet. It was, by and far, the best review that I have ever received.
What did the worst review you ever had say about you and your work?
I had a very bad experience with an “editor” when I was wrapping up Ashes Will Fall. I was desperate and reached out to anyone that could help me. I had an offer from someone who has extensive experience in the Indie publishing world. I sent him a copy of Ashes and he wrote me back saying that my writing style had to be changed and that he did not like it. He offered examples, but in doing so I would have lost my writing voice. I sought out another opinion from an actual editor that offered her services in my desperate situation. She helped me a great deal and told me never to lose my author’s voice. It was a severe gut check and I seriously considered not going through with my release.
Are the names of your characters important to you?
I can’t ever fully illustrate just how important my characters – including their names – are to me. In my mind, my characters are all real. I have spent years developing and getting to know them. Their names are such an important feature of who they are. Here is a secret for you, but you can’t tell my characters. I am horrible creating names. I create a character and I use a random name generator to pump out names. When I come across one that fits, they get the name.
How did you choose a title for your book?
I started writing Ashes Will Fall back when I was a teenager. It all started out after my best friend Jose and I went and watched the movie Face/Off. We both had aspirations to make movies one day, and we started brainstorming. I quickly discovered the “movie” we were working on, we could never make. Instead, I started writing it as a book. Rather quickly, I realized that the book I started was actually in the middle of the entire story. So, I decided to start at the beginning, where each of my characters began. There is a major event in the story – no spoilers – and the description ashes fit. Having the ashes fall just made sense.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
It would depend on what you define as hazards. I work as a contractor in Baghdad, Iraq and sleep is always elusive. I also tend to lose track of time when I write, so there have been many a days where I walked around here in an exhausted haze. Many aspects of my stories come from my experience in the military and extensive research. Also, there is always the risk of paper cuts and those hand cramps you get when you write too much. And yes, I handwrite all of my outlines. Not sure why, it just feels better.
Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?
Writing is not my primary profession, however one day I hope that it will be. My dream job however is to one day teach high school history and coach baseball. Since my dreams of being a professional baseball player were squashed back in high school, coaching would be the next best thing.
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
Since I made the decision to fully pursue writing, I have found that the vast majority of Indie authors are actually some of the best and supportive people I have ever met. I have made friends in each genre, and both in fiction and non-fiction. The only elitism I have experienced thus far is authors that have higher opinions of themselves than their books prove. Many of them are highly opinionated and tent to offer criticism with a sever lacking in the constructive category.
Have you ever written naked?
Though I am sure no one wants this picture in their mind, yes.
Who would you like to play you in a film of your life?
This is a discussion I have had many times. There is no question, and those closest to me already know this, Kevin James.
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
Without hesitation, self-doubt. I have always doubted my ability as a writer. Even today, I have serious doubts about ever “breaking out” as an author. Many of my writing friends constantly get on me about it, but it is a character flaw.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. It doesn’t matter what it is, keep writing. Keep a journal, start a blog, write scenes, describe objects without indicating what the object is, write extensive reviews about the books that you read on Goodreads. Write every day. There is no better advice than that.
How do you remain sane while writing?
To be honest, writing is what keeps me sane. From a very young age, I used writing as a means to explore the thoughts and wonders I had. There is no safer way to explore any and all of your deepest and darkest thoughts than to write about it.
What is the best excuse you have ever come up with for missing a deadline?
So far, the best excuse I had was traveling from Baghdad to the US to spend a month at home with my family.
What has been the best experience you have ever had in your life?
Without a doubt, the birth of my children. It is just like on television or in the movies. You never realise your capacity to love until you hold your child in your arms. There is nothing at all that can possibly compare.
Are you jealous of other writers?
I have a very close group of authors that I work closely with. We all discuss all aspects of writing and we constantly help each other in just about every way. One of them, Brandyn Murphy (you really should check out her novel Similar Lies by the way) who has been doing SPECTACULAR in with her novel. She has far outsold me. I could not have been more ecstatic over her success. The way I see it, the more success authors – especially Indie authors – have, the better it is for all of us.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. From your favorite television shows to the songs you hear on the radio, you never quite know where your inspiration will come from. I find most of my inspiration from the feelings I have after watching movies and television shows.
Have you had to learn new skills and tricks or attempted impossible feats in order to get a book finished?
Spending money on your book so that you feel obligated to actually finish it. When I continued to put off finishing Ashes Will Fall, I made the major step to have a cover made. Once I had money invested in the book and not just time, it forced me to actually finish it.
Do you have any favourite resources you would like to share with our readers?
A great resource for writers that many don’t even consider is the benefits of ono-traditional means of improving your writing. For me, character creation and development is paramount to anything that you write. An amazing tool that I have found not that long ago is playing table top games. Not long ago I tried out Dungeons and Dragons. Creating characters and developing them through the game is what the game is all about. It has helped me immensely when it comes to my writing. You would be surprised about where you can find tools and new ways to help you in your writing.
What is your favourite TV moment of all time?
There are several moments that come to mind. I have always been a fan of Boy Meets World. The final episode of the series was a major moment for me. Another that comes to mind is the first season of 24. I had never been so excited about a television show before in my life. Last but not lease was in the final season of The West Wing. John Spencer, the actor that portrayed Leo McGarry in the show passed away while they were filming the final season. The emotion in the show was so real when the character also died in the show. It was something that stuck with me over the years.
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
Monster energy drinks. Though in a pinch I will settle for coffee, the thing I prefer over all else in the white can Monster energy drink.
Are there any habits you wish you didn’t have?
If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body?
Funny you should ask this. If you want to read about where I would hide the body, you should read Ashes Will Fall and find out.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT james AND HIS BOOK?
You can find in Ashes will Fall in paperback format here:
You can also catch up with James on his website here: http://thejamespatrick.com/
WHY ‘THE THURSDAY THRONG’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.