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THE JAMES GANG

March James Gang Interview

Each month, I interview authors or publishing insiders who have some form of “James” in their names or in their books. My March James Gang interviewee is author, Michael James!

1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?

Why James? The best answer I have for that is that I was born with it. There are a couple of persistent jokes about the family name. One of my father's favorites had to do with orphans, misfits, and the fatherless being laid at the castle gates in the time of King James. My favorite story simply held that Jesse James was a traveling man. The irony is that there are at least 2 people in the family names Jesse.

2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?

I enjoy the daily insanity of the Florida newspaper headlines. All of my stories are set in Florida. If I had to put my finger on it, I would have to say crime mixed with some adventure. My last book, After Wyle, has elements of science, which I enjoy as well.

3. Tell us about your latest release.

The last book I released is called After Wyle. It involves the defection of a former Soviet Cold War era geneticist who longed to do peaceful research in a warmer clime. The main character, Marat Bukov, eventually executed an elaborate defection with the help of the U.S. State Department and the Navy by way of Cuba. He eventually landed a nice, safe university teaching position in Miami, where he was provided with a fine research lab along with the freedom to choose how he would use his knowledge for peaceful good. Bukov was always interested in reptiles, even as a child. His former home and brutal climate prevented him any meaningful exposure to the animals that fascinated him so much. Miami turned out to be the perfect location to turn his interests into something good.

The book deals with lots of interesting ethical undertones about things we can do at the molecular/genetic level that sometimes outstrip our moral obligations. In short, Bukov develops a monster in a secret lab near the west coast of Florida. Wyle, it turns out, is a super GMO. Not inherently bad but equipped with rudimentary intelligence and a couple of other tricks put in his genetic code by a scientist that the world had never seen the likes of.

4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?

If I had to define a core theme, it would have to be good versus evil, right versus wrong, good guys against the bad guys. The first book I ever published is called Turning Final. I was able to relate to so many of the things in the book. Growing up in south Florida during the late 70's, early 80's, there were lots of bad guys in the paper each day. Some of them lived in the same neighborhood, local bankers, realtors, mechanics, you name it. The badness came by way of cocaine trafficking. In short, the money was just too good for many people to not try their hand at it. I grew up around cowboys and Indians (Seminole Indians who, for the record, are some of the finest cowboys in the country). I can relate to the heroes in this book because I grew up with them. The good guys win in Turning Final. That’s the important thing.

5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?

My favorite heroes are Doc and Jake from Turning Final and the second book that featured them, Bone Diggers. It is a contemporary classic Western, set in the east.

6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?

I spent 19 years as a commercial photographer. The last 7 years of that career, I had the distinct pleasure of working as a photojournalist. The best part of this work is meeting interesting people. Outlaws, in-laws, you name it, I have encountered them. The people I have met are part of the fabric of what I have written. Unlike photography, writing gives you the freedom to deal with character traits any way you want. Once I realized that, I understood the creative freedom that writing provides.

7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?

During the time I worked as a photojournalist, I won an award from the Native American Journalist Association for a photo and story of a Seminole Indian cowboy who rode a bull the full 8 seconds at the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Saskatchewan back in '97. It turned out that the bull had killed a man in the arena several months before and was quite a celebrity because of this gruesome fact. As far as I know, I am the only Caucasian to have ever won a NAJA award.

8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?

I don't. That's the big failure that many new authors contend with. Word-of-mouth, social media, minor book signings. That's about it. I have decided that with my next release, I am going to invest in some professional assistance to see what happens. I am planning to relocate soon to the Charleston area, where I will set up a writer's den replete with library and throw myself back into the game as a nearly full-time job.

9. What is your next project?

I have a couple of projects in the works. It seems that Wyle had the capacity to generate progeny; his offspring may appear soon.

I work in the medical field as well and have been kicking around some ideas along those lines.

Most of my readers really enjoy Doc and Jake from Turning Final and Bone Diggers. I would love to revive them again in some sort of dramatic Florida whodunit.

10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you’d like to impart or a favorite quote?

One of my favorite authors is Edward Abbey. I like him because I try to live my life as close to the ground as I can. This is one of my favorite quotes:

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." -- Edward Abbey

 

Thank you Michael!  Stop by next month, when my April James Gang interviewee will be author, Red L. Jameson!

 

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