Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Jim: My friends call my Jim Callan. My passport says James Ruskin Callan. And I write under the name James R. Callan.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Jim: I was born in Dallas, Texas. After graduate school, I lived in Connecticut for 20 years. Now, I split my time between northeast Texas and Jalisco, Mexico.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.)
Jim: I took a degree in English, intending to write. I taught school for a few years then returned to graduate school in mathematics. From there, I moved to Connecticut to work at a research center. After a dozen years there, my wife and I started a database company, which we ran for 25 years. We have four kids and six grandkids.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Jim: My latest book, Political Dirty Trick, a Crystal Moore Suspense, just released as an audio book. Now, Political Dirty Trick is published in digital format, paperback, hardcover, and now audio.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Jim: I did a little writing in college and after. But when that did not support a family, I became a mathematician and computer scientist. Then one day, I said, “The kids are all out of college, self supporting. I can go back to writing.”
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Jim: When I finished my first, full length novel.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Jim: After a thirty-five year detour in mathematics and computer science, I was primed and ready to get back to my first love – writing.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Jim: It was a murder mystery, with the murder taking place in Madison Square Garden. So, the title was A Garden Variety Murder.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Jim: I use a lot of dialog, trying to capture the differences in the characters. And in fact, a publisher liked my dialog enough to ask me to write a book for writers on dialog. That became one of my non-fiction books: How to Write Great Dialog.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Jim: My books are almost always based on some real occurrences, some news story I read. The one that came closest to me personally was my second Father Frank Mystery, Over My Dead Body. The inciting instance in it was the abuse of eminent domain. We had experiences that on some property we owned in Texas. However, there was no bloodshed connected with ours. But having experienced it, I knew it would inspire a good book, and it did.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Jim: Generally, no. However, for the second Crystal Moore Suspense book, A Silver Medallion, half of the book takes place in Mexico. So several trips were necessary to get the places, distances, and descriptions as accurate as possible.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Jim: I have had several people design covers, but for the most recent book, Political Dirty Trick, A Crystal Moore Suspense, I found a great artist in Ireland, Adrijus Guscia. I’ll use him on future books.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Jim: Generally, I just want people to have a good read, enjoy an interesting story, well told. However, A Silver Medallion, a Crystal Moore Suspense, was meant to bring to people’s attention the terrible reality of virtual slaves in the world today. These are people who are held, not by chains, by threats to family members, should the slave escape. It is widespread and insidious.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Jim: Gland Nuchols writes YA books that are clever, interesting, and always carry a helpful message for teens. Caleb Pirtle, III is a great story teller. Lesley Diehl writes mysteries that are fun and different.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Jim: Multi-award-winning author Jory Sherman was very supportive. As I struggled with the first couple of books, he was a constant cheerleader, encouraging me, pointing out the good things I had written, and alternative paths I might take with a story. Jory has passed away, but his advice and encouragement still linger.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Jim: Yes. It can be very fulfilling.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Jim: Yes. In Political Dirty Trick, the antagonist goes from being a law-abiding citizen to an evil person. If I were to rewrite the book, I would make that descent more gradual.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Jim: I always learn something when writing a book. In Political Dirty Trick, I learned a lot about the electoral process at the state level. In every book, I learn more about the law and the criminal justice system. And I always learn more about the writing process.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Jim: Rachel Brosnahan would be great, but then so would Emma Stone or Scarlett Johansson. I’d be excited with any of them in the Crystal Moore role.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Jim: Read good writers. Then, write. Do not believe there is a writer’s block out there. Just keep putting words on paper. And don’t be afraid or reluctant to throw out stuff that isn’t good. All good writers throw out a lot of things they’ve written.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Jim: I want to entertain you. Most of all, I want you l to say, “I’m glad I spent time reading that book.”
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Jim: I just finished Solomon vs. Lord by Paul Levine and I am starting Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Jim: Probably either a Tom Sawyer book, or a book by Jules Verne.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Jim: This will sound strange, but either extreme kindness or extreme cruelty will make me cry. And I laugh at a good twist to what I was expecting.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Jim: President John F. Kennedy. I think he gave the people of the United States a grand, optimistic view of the future. He inspired America in a way no president since has been able to do.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Jim: Tennis, travel, reading
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Jim: I do not watch much TV and fewer movies.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Jim: Ice cream; blue; classical.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Jim: That probably means beyond tennis. So, I’d read more and travel more.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Jim: With my wife, children and grandchildren.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Jim: He loved his family. He lived a full life. He wrote a good story.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Jim: My website is www.jamesrcallan.com My blog is at www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
My Amazon author page is http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Armen Pogharian said:
I’m always amazed at the diverse professional backgrounds of writers, who like me, write their first book after 40. I guess there’s a lot of bottled up creativity out there in corporate land. Congratulations on your audio release and best of luck to you.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer but it definitely doesn’t support a family, unless your book gets turned into a movie. lol I like that he went back once the kids were out of the house. I’m glad he didn’t just give up on this dream.
Always nice reading about the person behind the amazing book. 🙂