Friday, January 25, 2013

World of Writing, interview

-- World of Writing -- 

Today’s featured author is Neal James – based in Derbyshire, UK – who began writing in 2007 when a series of short stories found favour on a number of international writing sites. Since then, he has released three novels and an anthology of short stories. Full Marks, his fifth book in as many years, is a crime novel and a product of a vivid imagination set against a backdrop of exposés dating back to the mid-1970s. Two Little Dicky Birds, his 2010 release, was a finalist in the prestigious UK Peoples Book prize of 2012. Neal is also a member of a number of writing groups, and a regular contributor to local newspaper features. Find Neal @:

Q: Neal, I understand that you have had quite a number of books and short stories published – can you tell us how many books/stories are now available for your readers?

A: Books – there have been four so far: A Ticket to Tewkesbury (2008), Short Stories Volume One (2009), Two Little Dicky Birds (2010), (2011), and most recently: Full Marks, which will be out in 2013, will be my fifth in as many years.
Stories – there are 36 of these in the anthology Short Stories Volume One, and a second anthology, containing a further 50, is complete and ready to go to the publisher. I am now compiling a third volume, and have a dozen already in the file.

Q: How have your books gotten published?

A: All of my writing has gone through the traditional route of sample submissions to a known publishing house, followed by an offer to proceed to publication upon submission of a complete manuscript. I have my work independently edited. The projects are running at an average of a book per year, and I have work in progress, which will take me up to 2020.

Q: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

A: This would be my ability to lead a reader down any one of a number of blind alleys, carefully concealing the truth of the story until I am ready to reveal its conclusion. Chapters are carefully structure to compel the reader to keep turning the pages, and are deliberately curtailed to between 750 and 2,500 words to achieve that end.

Q: What has been the most surprising thing you learned from creating your books?

A: I have been constantly surprised by the fact that I can pull an idea for a novel from pretty much anywhere and anything. I have a very active imagination, and am not restricted to a single genre. Full Marks, my 2013 release, is a crime story. Day of the Phoenix, which will come out in 2014, is a political thriller, and The Rings of Darelius, which will follow in 2015, falls in the science fiction genre. Writer’s block, which can be a real obstacle, never seems to afflict me.

Q: Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?

A: Never be afraid of critique – everyone has an opinion and all advice is helpful even if you don’t agree with it. The arrogance of thinking that you know best is the surest way to lose readers.
Never try to edit your own work – you will see what you want to see rather than what is actually there. Errors are very costly to correct once the text has been published, and any decent publisher will caution against that kind of carelessness.
Do not lose belief. Rejections simply mean that a publisher/agent is not interested for a variety of reasons, which may NOT include your ability to write. Accept the fact that the road is a hard one, and that if you do manage to find a traditional publisher, as I did, you are very fortunate.

Q: Do you hear from your readers? / What do they say?

A: Yes I do, and I feel that an open line to your readership is very important. Reviews for my books have been extremely encouraging, with everyone saying what I hoped they would. They tell me that they could not put the books down, and that they were constantly surprised at the twists and turns which each story took. At book signings, people who have bought copies of early work look out for me and spend time talking about the books – this is very satisfying.

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