Wednesday, 6 June 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW - JAMES STRAIT





When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?

Most of my adult life I knew that writing was in my future, but, it wasn’t until I was hired to write “Weird Missouri” and then followed up with “Déjà vu All Over Again” that I allowed myself to believe that I was a writer.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I was lucky; I was hired to write my first book by a group that already had a successful genre in production. I merely did the research and then sat down to write the book. I was given a year, but was finished in six months.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I hosted “Strait Talks” radio, airing in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania market. It was on my talk show that I met the authors of the Weird Title series, leading to their hiring me to write about my state of birth, Missouri.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
What if a beautiful mathematical savant had only fifty-seven hours to prevent the modern timeline from rebooting?

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
My first book, “Weird Missouri”, required two months of in-state research; driving 8,500 miles, visiting over 250 venues, interviewing hundreds of Missourians, and taking 2,700 photographs. The research double the time needed to actually sit down and write the book, which took six months total.

My next book, “Déjà vu All Over Again”, an action/adventure novel, took less than eight weeks. The rough draft was near 120,000 words, and the final book is 90,000 words.

My third book, “Thomas Jefferson is Missing”, is also an  action/ adventure novel, and the first 60,000 words took about thirty days. The remaining 40,000 words took about two additional months.

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be...and why?
That’s an interesting question, and reveals the Catch-22 about being an author. The author cannot avoid being each and every character in the story. The characters are birthed in the writer’s imagination, and cannot help but be a composite of the author’s experiences and imagination. So yes, I am the good guy, the villain, and the standers-by.


How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
Again, the cover of “Weird Missouri” is formulaic, and I had no influence over its design. However, with “Déjà vu All Over Again” and “Thomas Jefferson is Missing”, I worked with an illustrator who took my ideas and converted them into book cover quality art.


How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I choose names that I like, and that seem character appropriate. Tough guys get tough guy names, and kind old ladies get kind old lady names.  Wealthy socialites get pretentious names suggesting a lineage of golden spoons and fox hunts. Strippers get the expected “Bambi Bubbles” names. I’m pretty predictable when choosing names; nothing exotic or difficult for the reader to remember.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I like to think on my feet, thus, the story begins and it goes wherever my mood takes it. Frequently, I write myself into a corner. The challenge then becomes to find a way out that makes sense to what came before, and offer continuity for the future story. I also never look back. I write fast, never second guess my writers voice, and worry about corrections during the initial editing when the story is complete.

How do you market/promote your books?
Marketing is everything! I take advantage of every offer or discovered outlet possible to make my book known. I do a lot of radio, averaging five hours per week. I use the social media sights, and during the initial release, or when the story is timeline specific, such as is the case with “Déjà vu All Over Again”, I’ll do television to force feed to book visually. Humans are visual entities and seeing the cover on television is like planting a seed in a garden that will prosper if tended properly.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I’m a competitive cyclist. I ride an average of 200 miles per week, and race on the track (velodrome) during the summer months.

 
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
 Absolutely.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books?
Yes, it would be a waste to write a story that did not in some way attempt to influence the worldview of the reader. A writer’s job is to move the reader off of dead center. Love my book, loathe my book, but most importantly, learn something new from my book. My books are full of both subtle and overt messages.

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook, hardback, or paperback?
My personal preference is that of a paper based book. My brain matured using paper books, so my mind is calibrated to enjoy the tactile experience of holding the book in my hands, of mechanically turning the pages, of smelling the paper and ink. However, I publish in all formats.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
Books can transfer to movie form very well. The quality of the movie though, is a function of what the director wants to communicate, and how well the screenwriter converts the books story to a scripted format.

Surprisingly, my favourite book to movie is “First Blood”, the original Rambo movie. The movie was very close to the books story, and only the ending was dramatically different. However, had they ended the movie as the book, they’d not been able to produce a Rambo II! Yup, Rambo died in the book.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it? (e-book, hardback or paperback)
I have not read a complete book in at least a decade. I read more now than ever, but I read only what I need to know in order to accomplish a mission, whether that is to write a story, or to learn about an event in the news. However, if I were reading a novel, I’d read it in paper format…soft or hardcover. (I do own an e-reader, but, I’ve not yet used it.)

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I don’t see e-books completely replacing paper based books, but I can see a future where paper based books will be special order.

Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Sci-fi adventure…earth based Scifi!

What do you think about book trailers?
I’ve yet to use one, however, I can’t see how they could hurt. The first rule of marketing your book is, to turn down no publicity.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Never doubt or second-guess your writing voice. To do so is to place an honest and rewarding writing future in peril.



Readers can learn about my books at:

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