My Facebook friend Neal James is speaking to us on the blog today. He has a great group on Facebook, you should check it out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/209490679066398/
What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike (if anything)?
The freedom that it gives to my imagination. As Neal James, I can step into another personality and write the kinds of things that Philip Neale, the accountant, could never even contemplate.
What inspires you to write?
The challenge of doing something completely outside of my normal routine. It’s like being on holiday without ever leaving the comfort of your familiar surroundings.
Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?
Reading is another one of the major sources of inspiration. Just seeing what other writers are doing is a massive pointer as to where I could be. I never copy what I write, but the ideas which come out of reading, say, another crime novel always set me thinking. I’m reading ‘A Place of Execution’ by Val McDermid; it’s a crime novel set in Derbyshire where I live.
Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Crime – James Patterson, Jeffrey Deaver, Val McDermid.
Science Fiction – Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert.
Fantasy – Terry Pratchett.
Humour – Jasper Fforde, Deric Longden.
Horror – James Herbert, Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I am actually a CIMA qualified accountant, and have been doing the job for over 30 years. It puts bread on the table and gives me the flexibility to indulge in writing as a passion, and not something on which I need to rely for an income.
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths? Writing in a variety of genres; I never seem to get ‘Writer’s Block’. Each style has its own stories to tell, and that’s the beauty of it – I never chase down a story; I let them tell themselves to me as and when they are ready. Time is another factor – my publisher never pressurises me and this gives me a relaxed atmosphere in which to get things down on paper.
Weakness? As far as writing goes, it has to be impatience. I like to be there at the computer, hammering out the next chapter. Again, I have the flexibility to write as and when I choose, rather than to someone else’s deadline.
What are you working on at the moment?
‘Full Marks’ sets the ground for DCI Dennis Marks, my detective, to emerge from the shadows and take centre stage in a number of novels. It’s 100,000 words and tells of his fight against charges of corruption and incompetence. He will reappear in ‘Day of the Phoenix’ next year, and also in ‘Three Little Maids’, which follows on from ‘Full Marks’.
Where can we find you online?
www.nealjames.webs.com is my website where details of all current and future writing can be seen. There’s also a Guest Author section, and a Showcase where other writers can display one of their books. Submission guidelines are on each of the relevant pages. I’m also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/neal.james.125?ref=tn_tnmn
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself and never give up on the dream. If you don’t have that belief, why should anyone else believe in you? Try not to get despondent at critique – you tend to find that those picking fault are writers who can’t get their work published. The green Eyed Monster is a reality.
What’s been your proudest moment?
Definitely the sight of my books in Waterstones – the UK’s major retail bookstore chain. That happened to me in Derby and Nottingham, and it’s a feeling that you never forget. Close behind that is seeing your books on a library shelf.
What would you say to your sixteen-year-old self if you could offer one word of advice or inspiration?
Never give up the daytime job. I wouldn’t change a single thing that’s happened over the last 30 years. Accounting is what has given me this opportunity – without it, the writing would have simply remained a dream instead of the reality which it has become.
Download ‘Two Little Dicky Birds’ by Neal James here: http://amzn.to/MkVqFc
Download ‘Short Stories – Volume 1’ here: http://amzn.to/LImvWp
Order your copy of ‘Short Stories – Volume 1’ here: http://amzn.to/MkW7yi