James is a college lecturer from England and a fan of all types of speculative fiction, most notably science fiction, horror, and sword & sorcery fantasy. Whenever possible, he tries to blend these elements in his own writing.
H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs were his first writing inspirations. More recently, James is inspired by Frank Herbert and Clive Barker, whose works, he says, he never grows tired of re-reading.
James lives in the rainy city of Manchester with his wife and two young daughters, the eldest of which is something of a budding writer herself.
Welcome James. I'm very happy you're here. Let's get to it, shall we?
Tell us, other than your excellent short story contribution to Reality Glitch, what is your most recent work? And can you tell us a little about it.
My my recent work is titled, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane (the third book in my science fiction series, Dragon)
After the death of the Tuolon Ambassador Lagua and the failure to bring the non-humanoid worlds into the Alliance, Sillow and Brok’s long partnership is finally at an end. Now a reluctant solo agent, Sillow is called upon to undertake his first mission, investigate the Tower, a high-tech prison complex along with the oligarch who runs it, a mysterious nobleman who calls himself Tamerlane.
Seeking evidence to prove Tamerlane is responsible for a series of terrorist attacks, Sillow quickly uncovers the sheer scale of his plans, a lethal military strike on all four humanoid home worlds.Caught and imprisoned however, the Sylvan finds himself helpless to warn the Alliance of the coming danger. All the while, something has been evolving, growing stronger inside the Tower, something intangible yet far more dangerous than Tamerlane ever could be, a being implacably opposed to all life in the galaxy. And only Sillow has any chance of stopping it.
Sounds exciting! What else are you working on?
At present I’m writing a sort of steam punk fantasy. I’ve always enjoyed mixing genres but I’ve not tried anything like this before. It’s very slow going especially as it keeps evolving and forcing me to constantly revise, but it’s also great fun.
What other novels have you written?
I write a lot of short stories but my longer works tend to be between twenty to sixty thousand words, so novellas up to short novels. I’ve six novels/ novellas out to date and these cover horror, fantasy and science fiction.
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?
Pacing. To deal with this I sometimes set out the plot points as if it were a screenplay (for example, the inciting incident, plot point/turning points 1 and 2 and also break it into three acts).
What are you planning on writing in the near future?
Without doubt more Dragon novels. So far these have been fast paced, action orientated and somewhat comedic in tone. I feel however that the next one needs to have a harder edge and a darker tone than previously. It’s something I’m figuring out at the moment.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m a college lecturer and teacher trainer. I taught abroad for many years but I’ve been working at a college in my home town for over ten years now.
What motivates or inspires you?
Escapism. I write mostly speculative fiction and the more I can create my own landscapes, worlds, characters and back stories the more I enjoy it.
What has been your greatest success in life?
Having the courage to pack in my supermarket job and go to university when I was in my mid-twenties. Many people at the time told me I was making a mistake but it was something I knew I had to do. It was the best decision I ever made.
And I'm certain your fans would agree with you. Okay, now comes the part of the interview where I ask three quick questions and hope for three quick replies. Ready?
My best friend would tell you: I’m a worrier. I work hard at not being one, and normally I do a reasonable job at it, but the natural tendency is always there.
The one thing I cannot do without is:
My morning cup of Earl Grey tea. I allow myself one caffeine drink a day and I wouldn’t be able to get going in the morning without it.
My biggest peeve is:
I tend to have more of these as I get older but queue jumping is close to the top of the list.
James has been gracious to give us an excerpt from his most recent work, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane.
“Take a good look Drake,” the guard said as the craft closed on the gigantic, ornate structure resting between frozen mountains. “This is the end of the line for you. I hear Tamerlane wanted you personally.” The man grinned, splitting his ugly face in half. “Which ain’t good for your scrawny ass, believe me.”
The prisoner remained indifferent to the mocking tones or indeed the attempt to scare him, but then Darius Drake was a most unusual figure. Small and malformed, his owlish eyes nevertheless exuded an absolute, unshakable confidence, a haughty detachment that often unnerved those around him. The guard was one of them. It was partly for this reason he felt compelled to say something to the perfectly silent prisoner who’d got so deep under his skin.
Drake regarded the structure below. The closer they came, the more like some bizarre, oriental tower it appeared. After some moments he turned his watery gaze back to the guard. There was no aggression, no challenge, just a cool contempt.
The smirk crumbled from the other man’s lips. “You be taking those psycho eyes off me freak,” he warned, lifting his rifle.
Drake blinked impassively back, his wrinkled, wizened features unreadable.
Those damned eyes, the man thought. He couldn’t stand them anymore. He moved forward, stopping the rifle butt an inch or so in front of Drake’s face.
The little man didn’t flinch.
The guard’s knuckles whitened around the weapon and for a moment he looked as if he might use it. Then he sneered. “You ain’t worth it. Little cripple like you.” He shook his head, sitting back down. He made a point of avoiding the prisoner’s eyes.
A derisive snort made him whirl round, a large blue vein bulging in his neck. The guard stared at a powerfully built, buxom woman with long auburn curls that fell to her shoulders. She was a striking sight, and as he was aware, she’d caught him more than once ogling her during their half day’s journey to Tamerlane’s prison complex. One of her shoulders and arm was completely cybernetic yet the metal was so smooth, so perfectly formed it seemed almost like a bodily adornment rather than an artificial appendage. A thin silver line ran across one of her cheeks whilst above it the eye glowed with an artificial soft ruby light. That eye was mocking him.
“You got a problem?” he snarled.
The woman sneered. “Real tough guy, aren’t you Kerry? Bet all the ladies are real impressed by you.”
The guard’s nostrils flared. “Shut your bitch mouth.” Narrowed eyes swept over her. “Look at you, Titanya, the Pirate Queen. Least that’s what they call you, ain’t it?” He slid along his bench, moving towards her. “Well, you don’t look so noble to me. More like a slattern.” He placed a gloved hand to her throat. “Don’t look so damn tough, neither.”
Great! James, I want to thank you for the excerpt and for the interview.
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