Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.
After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, The Portal, releases in 2016.
His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."
Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.
Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, Facebook as Russell R. James, or drop a line complaining about his writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more on Amazon.
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
There was just a very deep need to tell stories. On long car drives, I would tell my wife ideas I had for plotlines. No doubt fed up with it after years of listening, she said “You should write these stories down and get them published. I answered that no one in the world would ever want to read anything I’d written. That earned me a “Yes, you were right, dear” that gets repeated all the time.
Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be? I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?
On the demands side, there’s no longer such thing as free time. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about what I should be writing. There seem to always be promotional things to do, some as easy as a Tweet, some as big an effort as going to a convention or a book signing. I can’t watch a movie or a television show without groaning over plot holes or bad dialogue. I can’t read a spectacular book without drowning in envy. There is no resting on the laurels. The rush of the good review or the signed contract is quickly washed away by the fear of not being able to write the next story as well as the one just proclaimed a winner. The pay is ridiculous.
The perk. A stranger walks up at a convention and says she read one of my books, and she was so touched by it that she drove hours just to thank me. And then I’m ready to walk right out of the convention center and get back to writing.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
All my novels and my novella are traditionally published by Samhain Horror. I was in an online writing class that my wife bought me after demanding I write. The teacher mentioned that the legendary Don D’Auria was the editor of a new horror imprint and the press was taking manuscripts. I’d had several manuscripts, justifiably rejected by many. My latest one, Dark Inspiration hadn’t seen the light of day yet. So I thought I start by getting it rejected by a man at the top of the industry. I sent it in.
The acceptance email nearly gave me a heart attack. My first thought as that it was a scam. But it wasn’t, and seven novels later, there I still am.
I’ve self-published a time-travel novella, two horror collections, and a novel of the life of St. John the Baptist. I’ve also self-published four collections of time travel and sci-fi stories with my Minnows Literary Group, six amazing authors. Those have sold extremely well and all the royalties go to Doctor’s Without Borders.
The self-published works are all 100% Amazon. Createspace and Kindle make the actual go-to-market process easy, and since I saw the vast majority of my novel salesall come from Amazon, the exclusivity clause to enter into Kindle Unlimited wasn't really a stumbling block.
Advice to anyone: Self-Publishing isn’t solo-publishing. You must have people with specific skill sets replace what a publisher would do for you. You need editing, proofreading, cover creation. Make sure whatever you do is good enough for the Bog Six publishers before you decide to foist it on the world.
Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?
My wife is a saint, incredibly supportive. She always gives me time to do whatever I need to keep the writing career rolling.
This is for pet lovers. If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?
Our two cats, Sophie and Mallory, want for nothing. My wife is a major cat-spoiler.
Are your plants actually still alive?
I specifically buy the plants with the lowest possible maintenance needs.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
I general get up very early and write while it is still dark and the rest of the world is asleep to avoid everything you just mentioned.
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
I think the strangest thing is being at conventions where I’m sitting next to famous authors, actors, whoever. I’m always wondering “How did I ever get here?” followed by “How long before they throw me out the door?”
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I’m on Twitter and Facebook and that’s about it. I just don’t have time to explore all the other options out there. I’m not sure that social media per se sells anything well. It just provides connections to people who share your interests sales may spring from that organically.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
I try to do as many events as possible where I can meet people in real life and put a book in their hand. I’ve done local events in Florida including the Tampa Bay Festival of Reading and the Tampa Bay Book Fair. Scares that Care and HorrorHound are also great cons to meet horror readers.
In November my publisher put my first novel, Dark Inspiration, on sale for 99 cents. Powered by promos from BookBub and several other sites, it made the #1 spot in Ghost Stories and the #2 spot on horror overall. I’m thrilled by that sale’s performance and all the new readers it brought in.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
Q Island has a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and was the Staff Pick of the Month at Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine! Seriously, as a kid, FMOF was the mag one of the cool kids brought in to school. We would all gather round in awe and gaze at all the latest in horror and monster movies. To have something I wrote featured in that magazine is just amazing.
Okay, too much sugar for you today! Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in. Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?
I wake up every day and realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have this life, and exceptionally lucky to have the opportunity to be traditionally published. I love having the creative outlet for the stories that come to me, even though the process of putting them on paper is often a bear. Nope, not trading it for anything, thank you.