James McHarg. I had the pleasure of having an interview with James McHarg, an up and coming new Author. We worked together for several years and our days usually started out with coffee in his office chatting on a vast array of subjects. When he retired, he was greatly missed.
One of the things I found out about him during one of our many morning conversations, is that he loved to write and planned on pursuing this skill upon his retirement. Well, he did exactly that. He published his first novella which was a thriller titled Incoming Call and it was released world-wide in the fall of 2015. Following that, his second suspense novella, Sins of the Past came out in May 2016. Both wonderful reads I might add.
I admire him very much. Most people have dreams that they never fulfill and live the rest of their lives with regrets. We learn from people like Jim so I thought it would be a great opportunity to ask him a few questions about his experiences and share with everyone.
So without further adieu, I give you my Interview with James McHarg.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always had an interest in writing and penned a couple of short stories when I was in my twenties, mostly just for fun. At the time, being a shy person, I didn’t dare consider publication. Life went by, and, preoccupied with all that goes along with it, I didn’t pick writing up again until I retired.
- Where do your ideas come from?
I’m fascinated by ordinary people who find themselves plunged into extraordinary circumstances. For that reason, my story ideas tend to spring from every day events. From there, my imagination conjures up an unusual twist, putting the unfortunate protagonist in situations that would threaten the sanity of most people. The real thrill for me comes from creating that seemingly real person and discovering how he or she reacts to the surreal stuff I throw at them.
- What genre are your books and would you consider any others?
So far, I’ve written stories in the horror, thriller, mystery, and sci-fi / fantasy genres. For my next project, I want to pursue the mystery / suspense genre further through a planned sequel (a full-length novel) to my most recent novella release, Sins of the Past.
- How long does it take you to write a book?
The short answer is: Longer than it should. The longer answer: Between sports and recreational activities, limited keyboarding skills, a propensity to be easily distracted, and interruptions by life in general, I somehow manage to put words to the page … well, not as often as I’d like. To use a specific example, Incoming Call is a 78-page novella, and it took about 18 months to finally decide I had a marketable manuscript (draft 6 being the final version). By the way, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist.
- What type of research do you do for your books?
I can sum that up in 2 words: The Internet. I’m always substantiating my facts by searching the web for encyclopedic data, watching instructional videos, using map sites such as Google Earth to verify location information, and even viewing images to help with scene / character / structures and buildings descriptions. For example, the scene where Maggie enters the church in Incoming Call – I viewed many photos of old churches, which provided the inspiration for me to write that particular description.
- When developing your characters, do you base them on anyone you know or are they fictional?
I’d have to say a mashup of both. I often pull bits and pieces from real characters I’ve met in my lifetime and then add my own subtle nuances and quirks to make the characters both as believable and as interesting as possible. Of course, resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. (My lawyer made me say that.)
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned that writing is not as easy as it seems, that it takes a great deal of patience – which, by the way, I never thought I had – and that my wife is the best editor, promoter, and all-around supporter / ego booster a writer (and husband) could ever hope for.
- Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
When I first began this writing hobby, I decided to take a course to learn more about the craft. The best piece of advice I can offer, I’d have to borrow from the writing instructor: Read. Read as much and as many different genres and authors you can get your hands and eyes on. And don’t just read, view each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter through the eyes of a writer. It takes longer for me to get through a book because quite often I find my mind wandering to whatever writing project I’m involved in at the time.
Having said that, take what you’ve gleaned from your reading experiences, and simply use your own voice to adapt these learnings to what suits your writing style and personality.
- What do you think makes a good story?
For me, it’s definitely the characters. If readers don’t relate to, or care about, the people in the book, why would they care what happens to them?
- How do you deal with writer’s block?
Um… Can I come back to the question later? Maybe after I take a walk to clear my head, distract my brain with some TV sports, do a little reading, or grab a snack.
If you could have lunch with a famous author, who would that be and what would be your most important question you would want to ask them.
I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen King. I think having lunch with him would be an informative and fascinating experience (maybe even a little spooky). I’ve always been in awe of his ability to write so prolifically. I suppose I would ask what his secret is to finding the time to craft so many great stories throughout his lifetime? If I could also ask him one bonus question, I’d like to know if he still gets the same charge from writing today that he did forty years ago?
You can purchase James’ books at the following links:
Sins of the Past
Kobo (The Kobo eBook can also be found on Chapters – Indigo) – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/sins-of-the-past-14
Barnes & Noble (Nook Books) – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/sins-of-the-past-james-mcharg/1123783988?ean=2940153224695