The interview with James McAllister has been sitting in queue a long time. I met James in a group where he flashed through. He is an aggressive promoter of his stories and his interview is indicative of why.
I was fortunate in 'winning' several of his books which in turn won him an avid reader. I picked up most of his books and am ecstatic to know he has stories in a charity collection book I have yet to read in its entirety. More will be heard from me about his books and short stories when I post my reviews on our sister site, Paul and Paula's Books.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
An English teacher in college told me I could be a good writer, with a little effort. That was back in 1984. I didn’t think much about it after that until about 2005. In sort of an informal ‘bucket list’ thing, I decided I’d like to write a book. I started writing my first book, The Best Laid Plans, in 2012. I finished and published it in June 2013. I also published an anthology of short stories I had written, The Universe, Five Minutes At A Time, about the same time. I published my second book, The Page, in February 2014. In March 2014 I published The Turret, then in November I released Rods. My latest, Staged Fright, was published in April 2015.
I’ve had a few short stories published by others. The first is Things Seem Different By Firelight in the anthology Torched in July of 2014 - not in print at this time, fortunately can be found in The Universe While You Wait. The others are The Last One, We’re Not In Kansas and The Agony of Defeat. All are in Gifts From The Dark, a Miscellany of Dread, published October 2015.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Good question. My first took about 14 months, sort of. I travel a lot, so I began writing on planes, in airports, and in hotel rooms. When I would get a stuck writing The Best Laid Plans, I would work on The Page. When I didn’t have enough time to complete a scene in either, I’d write a short story as an exercise. I wrote The Turret in about ten months, including about three months ‘off’ for hip replacement surgery. Rods and Staged Fright are novellas. Each was written in about a month.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer. I try to put an ‘Easter egg’ in my stories. In The Turret, there is a law firm name taken from a famous comedy movie. In Things Seem Different By Firelight, all of the characters are names from classic 20s, 30, and 40s comedy movies. So, if you read my stories, google the names of people, places, and ships.
How do books get published?
I publish them through my publishing company, Fortiter Publishing LLC. I publish on Amazon and in paperback formats through CreateSpace. I find it an intuitive and straightforward process.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
The basic storylines are in my head. The short version is I write the stories I got tired of waiting for others to write.
The details I research. I did a lot of research on 500 A.D. Scotland, historical figures, Celtic names, flora, fauna, etc. for The Page. For The Best Laid Plans and The Turret, I researched various ethnic names, military ranks, ship names, star names and locations, famous sea battles, and more. Facts for Rods and Staged Fright came from my personal knowledge of New York City, research on NYPD ranks, geography, and history.
The internet is very helpful.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love my ‘real job’ doing surveys in healthcare accreditation. It has me traveling three weeks each month, so it is hard to find enough time to spend with my family. I also like fishing, gardening, football, baseball, and basketball.
And I read and watch movies, mostly SciFi. I also beta read for a few author friends.
What does your family think of your writing?
My wife is not a SciFi or horror fan, but she genuinely likes my stories. So do the others in my family who’ve read them.
My wife’s favorite is Rods, with Staged Fright and The Page close behind.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve published seven books: two Starclan books, The Turret and The Best Laid Plans; Two John Martin Adventure, Staged Fright and Rods; The Page; and two short story collections, The Universe Five Minutes At A Time and The Universe While You Wait. The last one is available in paperback and Kindle formats, but my intended use for it is in waiting rooms.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they
The best thing I can tell you is to practice. Write a lot, even if it’s just short stories. Give yourself a challenge; tell a complete story on one page, etc. Then have others read it and listen to their criticisms. Use their thoughts to improve your product.
And remember, your writing is your product, so do everything you can to put out a product you can be proud of; you can never have enough proof-readers!
Lastly, write what you know, write what you like. Have fun.
Connect with James at his website: Fortiter
On his Facebook page:
His Twitter: @StarclanAdmiral