Saturday 19th April 2014
Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author…
Welcome to the Bookish Banter James. Please tell us from which part of the universe you have travelled from? Sector 7? The Dark rift … just kidding…I hope gulp!
I was born and raised in Syracuse, in Central New York State. I say it that way to avoid the idea that I am from New York City. Syracuse is nothing like New York City. Sometimes that is a good thing, some times not so good.
How long have you been writing about adventures off world?
I started writing in 2011, and published my first novel, THE BEST LAID PLANS Birth of the Starclan, in June of 2012. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. In junior high school I wrote a book for an assignment. It was about a sailor in WWII who survived Pearl Harbour and served through the end of the war. I think some one stole it and made it into a movie around 2001. With extensive re-writing, of course.
HeHeHe I hear you. I sometimes think famous authors and Movie producers are stalking me and stealing all my best ideas! :O
Are you promoting a particular book at the present time?
I have four books out right now, three novels and one short story compilation. The novels are THE PAGE, a story about a heroic knight fighting to rid the post-Arthurian world of dragons, THE TURRET Starclan Foundation, the first Starclan Series book, and THE BEST LAID PLANS Birth of the Starclan, the second Starclan Series book.
The Starclan books are a multi-generational story about one family’s contribution to the struggle of good vs. evil on a universal scale. There will be at least two more books in the series.
The compilation consists of 17 short stories I wrote as exercises in airports and hotel rooms, trying to tell a story in two pages or less. My inspiration was the wonderful Twilight Zone episodes I watched growing up.
I am reading The Page at the moment and I will definitely have a book review follow up here on the Bookish Banter soon. I am enjoying it immensely. 🙂
What genre do you consider you write in – just Sci-fi or do you write other genres as well?
The Page is a Fantasy book, the others are Science Fiction. I have the beginnings of two more that cross into Action/Adventure and Suspense/Mystery and perhaps even Horror. I write first, and then categorize the work when it is done. Sometimes I struggle with that part!
Yes, I agree, it can sometimes be difficult knowing what genre to place your book in for the readers, especially if it crosses into multiple genres. Best to just go with your gut.
Can you give us the cosmic details of your latest book – can you give us the feel of it without sucking us all into a black hole?
THE TURRET follows the life of Jock MacAlister from childhood through his service in the United Space Force. Along the way, he battles personal tragedies to graduate top of his class from the USF Academy. His first assignment results in the capture of an alien ship sent to mark advanced systems for attack. Jock also confronts difficult facts about his friends and classmates and his father’s death in a research accident.
Jock plays an important role in preparing the defence of Earth while powerful forces work in the shadows to turn humanity down the path of villainy. As he battles evil from both sides, Jock lays the foundation for something much larger and more powerful than he could ever imagine.
Sounds really intriguing. Do I sense a James McAllister alter ego hidden in this one? I wonder if some of you has snuck into this character? 😉
Where did the idea come from?
I’ve had several ideas for stories like this in my head for quite some time. I guess I finally got tired of waiting for some else to tell them!
Did you have to do a lot of research for your latest work? You know late nights gazing up at the stars… wandering around on board alien spaceships… (shivers)
I’ve always had an interest in science, and a good memory. I was a math-science nerd/jock in school. I also notice small details and retain things a long time. So I know the basics, but yes, I had to research many ethnic names and practices for the Starclan and PAGE books. I also looked into gravity theories, so I could develop my own for the book.
Do you think your writing is improving with each galactic addition to your extra-terrestrial library?
THE TURRET is a better book than THE BEST LAID PLANS, if for no other reason than I learned a lot publishing my first book. Mostly I learned what I didn’t know, which is much more important than most people think.
Did you find yourself lost in an alternate universe at any time in your writing process, trying to find the words that seemed to have been eaten by a post-apocalyptic computer? Writer’s block’s even harder to cope with when you are floating around in space! 😉
After I finished THE BEST LAID PLANS, I found myself missing many of the characters. That has held true for THE PAGE and THE TURRET as well. Unlike most series, the Starclan books take place generations apart, so I can’t keep the characters around in the latest book. It’s a challenge dictated by the overall story of the series.
Why do you love writing so much?
I hated writing in school. It was a task. Now I know that was because I had to write what some one else wanted. When I went to college for Respiratory Care, I had an English teacher that broke through and showed me how to write for me. It just took 30 years for me to do it!
Never too late to share your stories! 🙂
How much planning goes into a book? Do you spend a long time planning or do you just start writing and see where it leads you?
I have the story outline and a few scenes in my head. The book then writes itself. Imagine that you are reading a really good book, and you get to decide what happens next! It’s a blast.
That’s pretty much how I work too. Fun isn’t it?
Do you have a crowd of alien robot followers who read every word and encourage you?
I have a wonderful wife, The Lovely Cindy, who really likes my stories. She wouldn’t tell me that if it wasn’t true. And, she never reads the genres I have written. I have some other friends, fellow authors, who keep me focused and grounded too. Some of my first reviews really gave me encouragement too.
What is your experience of the Publishing industry?
I have only published through Amazon and CreateSpace. They are pretty straight forward. My biggest struggle has been with marketing. Selling has never been my strong point.
Is this book a part of an awesome sci-fi series? Where is it going?
THE TURRET is the first book in the Starclan Series. I wrote THE BEST LAID PLANS first, because it wanted to get out of my head more, I guess! Really, I needed to build the universe with PLANS before I could fit TURRET into it.
Evil is working behind the scenes, trying to push Humanity down the path of despair and destruction. Many people sit in the big chair, but the evil continues. The Clan MacAlister becomes a force to counter this evil through the way they live their lives. As the story progresses, the main characters begin to see the forces they battle, both alien and domestic. The end of the book is merely the signal to begin the battles anew.
Have you had some good reviews for your book?
THE TURRET has nine five-star reviews and one four-star review out of 14 right now. People seem to enjoy it a lot.
If you couldn’t be a writer what would you do instead? And no Star ship Captain is not an option!
I have a “real” job! I am a Respiratory Therapist who works in Healthcare Accreditation. I help homecare companies improve what they do, from both a business and a patient care standpoint. I really enjoy it!
Your favourite Author is…
Right now it is Michael R. Hicks. He is very talented, and comes up with unique, original stories. My first favourite author was E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith, author of the Lensmen Series. Then I would say Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, James Bliss, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are there too.
Have you got a book trailer?
No. I have a half dozen illustrations I’ve done for THE BEST LAID PLANS, and two for THE PAGE. That’s all.
What do you do to wind down?
My interests are fishing, gardening, sports, my wife, my sons, and Jordan, The Wonder Cat.
Do you belong to a friendly writers group and does it help?
I belong to several writers’ groups. Yes, it helps me immensely to belong to them. The most helpful is the Authors’ Sharing Network. Really good people there.
What is you experience of editing and polishing your manuscripts?
Good editing is crucial to releasing a quality product. I had no editing for THE BEST LAID PLANS, and early reviews told me that! So my wife took to proofreading my books, and I’ve had some beta-readers that look at the drafts and give me their ideas. I’ve hired two editors, and had mixed results; one good, one so-so.
Any tips for all our budding authors out there wondering how to get started?
Get GOOD proofreaders and editors. When they are done, set your book aside for a month. Just like making biscuits, walk away. Just walk away. Pick it up and read it. Read the words you did write, not the scenes you think you wrote! Then toss your ego out, take into account the suggestions from all sources, and begin your rewrite. Then have it proofread again. Imagine you are carving a statue, and make it perfect. Then realize that you will still find a few mistakes months after publication!
Link city – as many as you need to guide us round your intergalactic internet trail of space/techi goings on…
My FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/FortiterPublishing
My twitter name: @StarclanAdmiral
My Amazon page: http://amazon.com/author/jwmcallister
Thank you for joining us here on the ‘Bookish Banter’ and taking time out to give us such an interesting insight into your writing world James and keep us updated when you publish more awesome books.
Xx Laura Crean x