Interview with Neal James

Posted: July 1, 2012 in Guest blogs
Tags: , , , , , ,

Today’s guest is British mystery, suspense and crime writer Neal James.

* * * * *

Q 1. You’re making an elevator pitch to your favourite movie director.  Who is it? Which of your books are you going to pitch?  Who do you envisage playing the lead roles? And what are you going to say?

 This has to be Spielberg, and I’d pitch ‘The Rings of Darelius’. It’s a sci-fi epic still in manuscript form, and I’d give him the ‘heads up’ on its publication.

Lead roles would have to be people like Patrick Stewart as Admiral Charles Devereaux, Daniel Ratcliffe as John Bains, the hero, Michael Dorm as Maddran Chakk – it could go on forever, but I’d need actors experienced in the fantasy/sci-fi genres.

What would I say? Well, bearing in mind that he’s heard it all before, and that I would literally have minutes to do the thing, it could be something like

‘Remember when you were an unknown and looking or that big break? Here’s my chance to pitch mine to you.’

Q 2. Somebody holds a gun to your head and gives you five minutes to come up with an idea for a novel in the genre you are least likely to write.  Name that genre and give us your best life-saving concept.

This would be Romance, and I’d have to twist it into a style where I also felt comfortable. So, there would need to be crime in there as well as perhaps a horror story. I could also bend the plot into a time-slip theme along the lines of ‘Somewhere in Time’ which starred Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, and give the hero/heroine one chance to get back to where they belonged.

Q 3. Where do you sit on the traditional publishing/self-publishing continuum?  Or are you equally comfortable in both camps?

I started out by trying self-publishing with Lulu, and it worked initially because I simply took all of the templates and built my book in the cheapest possible form. The trouble was that it looked cheap, and there was no appeal.

That’s when I found my current publisher, and they have done an awful lot for me. Presentation is better, and the promotional help I’ve had has been awesome. Book cover design is in there as a free option, as is a range of promotional material. I would never go back to self-publishing now.

Q 4. What’s the best thing that anyone’s ever said about your writing?  And what’s the worst?

If you look at reviews on Amazon for ‘Two Little Dicky Birds’, they all say pretty much the same thing – that the reader could not put the book down. This is a great feeling for any writer, and these reviews have come from people I don’t even know.

The worst thing? One woman, on the same book, bucked the trend and trashed the entire thing. Her right, of course, as a customer, but when I managed to track her down and ask why she’d done it, the review disappeared the next day. I didn’t understand that.

Q 5. What’s the best thing about being a writer? And the worst?

For me, the best thing is doing something for fun, getting paid to do it without incurring any costs, and having strangers tell me how much they enjoyed it. Another thing is standing in the branch of a major bookstore chain and talking to willing listeners about the books.

The worst thing is running into a blind corner with a plot – it’s only happened once, and nowadays I can see it coming before it actually arrives. Side-stepping is a really neat trick.

Q 6. If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner writer, what would it be?

Never lose faith in what you can do. Trust your ability and try not to read too much into what so-called reviewers’ opinions are. They are, most probably, failed writers with only a touch of your ability. The green-Eyed Monster is out there, and on the hunt.

Q 7. What do you hope or expect to be doing, career-wise and personally, in ten years’ time?

I’m 60 this year, and cruising to retirement as a qualified accountant. I have book signings cropping up on a fairly regular basis, and will have no need, in a few years time, to go hunting down a full-time job. I will continue to write as long as my publisher likes the material that I am coming up with, so in ten years I’ll be contentedly churning out a book each year for the foreseeable future.

Q 8. Give us a snapshot of Neal James the person – name your favourite band or singer, movie, book or author, food, dream holiday destination, childhood memory.

I’m happily married with a couple of grown up kids and a career which has put the bread on the table for the past 36 years. My choice of music depends upon the day and the mood, and can vary from Puccini to the Rolling Stones. My favourite singer is probably Jim Reeves – touch of velvet like that come around once in a lifetime.

Books? Thomas Hardy’s Wessex Novels – all of them.

Food? Italian – lasagna, spaghetti, tagliatelli, cannelloni……so it goes.

Holidays? Anywhere in Britain – why go abroad when I haven’t even seen 90% of my own country yet?

Memories – now there’s a tester. Has to be holidays with mum and dad when he was a miner. There was a holiday camp on the east coast and we went there every year until I was 13. Great place, safe, free activities, and everything a kid could want.

* * * * *

 Neal James’s books are available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.  He’d love you to stop in and visit his website at

Purchase links –

A Ticket to Tewkesbury

Short Stories – Volume One

Two Little Dicky Birds

Threads of Deceit

  1. Alexandre Sébastien says:

    Another interview for the brilliant author Neal James. I enjoyed it very much. His books are just pure delight to read.

  2. What great interview questions–they weren’t the usual questions! I loved the interview and I’m going to have to check out Neal’s books! Thanks so much!

  3. Thanks for an informative review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s