Today I’d had the opportunity to talk shop with the author Chris James about his book ‘The O.D.’. Chris let’s start today’s interview by a quick drive-by of the basic plot of your book.
The O.D. is about the threats and perils that face everyone on the planet – over-population, climate change, water shortages – and what can be done to avert them. The action takes place ten or twenty years from now, by which point the Earth will have reached its tipping point.
Where did the underlying ideas for this book develop?
I got the idea after a lifetime of worry about the direction human beings are taking the planet. It seems like a problem with no solution in the reality of today, so I’ve made one of for the possibility of tomorrow.
By addressing this possibility did you also feel the need to include strong thematic elements into your books?
Whatever it takes to get my ideas to a wider audience I will employ.
Did you also do any research to support your ideas?
Yes, lots. And where the research wasn’t available, I made it up.
Did you also try and put your personal experiences into the book?
Yes. I spent years working for environmental pressure groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. I also spent three years living in Dubrovnik, which features in the book.
How did the characters come to you?
They came from a combination of real and imagined personalities and physiques.
Did you have trouble saying goodbye to any characters?
Yes, I would have liked to have stayed with the hero, Lonnie Pilot, and his wife, Macushla, but it was time for the book to end.
Is there any character in your book would want to take out for a beer?
I’d like to spend an afternoon speaking with Forrest Vaalon, Lonnie Pilot’s aged mentor.
Do you ever dream about your characters?
I did when I was still writing the book, and I’d have to write down the action before I forgot it.
Now that this project has been completed, have you started working on another book?
Another ‘environmental’ fictional story, but under a pseudonym.
Good luck with your new work. Did it take you a long time to write this book.
Yes. 27 years.
Wow, that is a long time. Your relationship with the book must have changed since it took such a long period of time to completed. What did you find the most rewarding thing about writing this book?
The wide variety of reviews I have received – many supportive of the content, some not so. It seems to have divided opinion, which falls in line completely with how I see people. Some are flagrant, blind polluters, whilst others actually care about the world to come.
How did you feel when you got your first book review?
It was a heart-stopping moment. It feels great to get a 4 or 5-star review. My average on US Amazon is 4.0 stars and on UK Amazon it’s 4.4 stars.
How do you go about the editing process? Do you do a large amount of editing the books yourself?
Mostly myself – reading and re-reading. Then sending out to a literary consultant and friends.
Do you have any tips for self-publishing for other authors?
Just do it.
It can be as simple as that. Are you primarily employed as a writer?
I’m a writer and an artist, which allows me to write visually.
That’s a really great description of being an artist. What techniques do you use for writing?
I like to write with a laptop in bed between 7 and 9am.
Did you design your own cover as you are an artist?
A friend in advertising created the initial image on computer and then I doctored it on mine.
What are your feelings about the future of reading?
People seem to have less and less time to read – especially the young – so I can only hope that reading is ‘rediscovered’.
What are your favourite authors, and do you believe that they have influenced your writing style?
Herman Melville, John Le Carre, Doctor Seuss. I don’t think they have influenced my writing style.
What are you currently reading?
The Ghosts of Everest
What was your favourite book as a child?
Who is your favourite literary character?
And now my favourite section of the interview, the random question round. Answer as quickly as you can:
What is your favourite quote?
‘It is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.’
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
I’d breed a human with a panda so as to reduce the rate of population growth.
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Julius Stravenue (the name of a street in Tucson)
That is different. Chris, I’d like to thank you again for your generosity spending time with me today, and I’d like to wish you the best of luck with ‘The O.D.’.