Tell us about yourself? (Family, Pets, Lifestyle, Hobbies.)
My name´s James and I´m 43 years old. I live in Madrid, in Spain, but I was born in Liverpool in the north of England. I´m married to a lovely lady called Ana and we have two kids, Carmen, who´s 7 and Matty, who´s 5. I have two brothers, Ben, who´s a teacher, and Dan, who´s a school headmaster. My mum still lives near Liverpool. I´m a teacher here in Madrid and I have a pretty ordinary life. I like reading and football. I like running. I don´t have any unusual hobbies apart from writing, which for anyone reading this will be pretty normal but for some people is unusual!
When did you start writing?
I´ve always written, as long as I can remember.
Tell us about your book/series?
This book – and series – is about children at a boarding school who become involved in the plot of Shakespeare´s plays. Each book is based on a different Shakespeare play. The first is Macbeth. The idea is to have fun with the plays but also have the ongoing stories of the characters at the school and the history of the school itself being told. It´s not a normal school, let´s put it that way.
Do you have any advice for budding writers?
The usual. Keep writing, keep reading, learn to accept criticism and take advice. Be honest with yourself. Be very, very patient: if you´re in this, you´re in this for the long haul. Make sure you enjoy the process – actually writing. Make it fun. Don´t chase trends. Believe in yourself. Keep getting up and going forwards.
What is your literary bible? What piece of literature has helped you become the person you are today?
Probably the Enid Blyton kids books. Incredible imagination and storytelling.
How do you get in the mindset for writing?
I don´t. I sit down and do it. It´s discipline.
How often do you write?
I try to write every day. Every weekday, at least.
How much do you write in one sitting?
These days, a chapter. If I have longer and feel good, maybe two.
What’s the best thing about writing?
The trance-like, sleep-like state where time disappears. Also, reading it back, when it´s good, and getting that smile on your face.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Not being able to accurately communicate what you want to communicate in the way you want to say it.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Everything. Dreams, chats with people, other books, posters, walks, films – everything and everywhere.
What was the inspiration for your book? (Your currently featured book.)
Being taught Macbeth very, very well when I was at school. The play has stayed with me for years – it has everything. I wanted to pass on some of the passion I felt for it.
How has writing impacted your personal life?
Not hugely. I´m not a precious writer. The only time I really notice it is if I´m trying to finish something or write something and someone interrupts me but these days my family are used to the “wait!” shout. They laugh at me. But there´s nothing worse than interruption when you´re just getting something down, especially the end of a chapter or a good exchange of dialogue.
What are you currently working on?
The next book in the series, based on Romeo and Juliet.
Who is your inspiration as an author?
There are a few. I used to think I would love to be a proper artist. I mean, a proper author-artist, who put books first in their life and screw everything else, but I think it was a pose. It´s not me. But I love reading about those types of writers. I also think all writers love the stories of the poor buggers who wrote what are now considered classics and were totally ignored in their day. Kind of keeps you going that sort of story.
Do you have a life motto/catchphrase?
A few, depends on the day and mood! The Beckett one, “fail better” is grim and funny. “Life is what happens when you´re busy making other plans,” from a John Lennon song is good, too. I´m a firm believer in Murphy´s Law. Can´t think of any now which aren´t vulgar.
What is your favourite colour?
Blue. I used to think it was because of Everton, who are the better football team in Liverpool, but now I think I just like it. The colour of the sea and sky. Beautiful colour.
The sloth. Majestic beast. In no hurry to do anything but gets things done.
Favourite television series at the moment?
Maybe any Martin Scorcese ones. Works of art. I took the kids to see Rogue One and enjoyed that too, much more than the one before it.
Favourite book(s)? Why?
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. Has it all.
First adult book you remember reading?
Jeffrey Archer, probably. Kane And Abel.
What is a book you enjoy that is the same genre as your book? (Your currently featured book.)
Don´t know, really. More a short story, The Monkey´s Paw by W W Jacobs.
You win prize money of one million dollars, what do you do with it?
Hopefully, travel and pay off mortgages, etc, and give to charity or good causes, but I´d also be scared. That sort of money arriving at one time is not a great thing. You immediately create a gulf between yourself and everyone around you and you suddenly become unsure of people´s motives. Money is a thing to be wary of, not to worship in my experience.
What’s number one on your bucket list?
Learn to fly and maybe even have a small plane.
How do you relax the best?
In Córdoba, Spain, where my wife´s family come from. Gorgeous city, great family, lots of fun and just a brilliant place to switch off and recharge, and drink beer.
What’s your idea of a day off?
Lazy morning, exercise if I feel like it, nice lunch, siesta, good film, drinks out, nice dinner, a good book or other leisure past-time.
What is something in your life you would go back and redo?
Loads of stuff but I don´t believe in all that. Your “mistakes” got you here. If you want to do something, do it, or try to do it.
Do you have an irrational fear? If so, what is it?
Heights. I´m not sure if it´s irrational, though. I shake and go weird. Don´t like twigs or leaves on the floor, either, as I lived in Thailand for a bit and most leaves and twigs were living things.