Wednesday, August 23, 2017

James Austin McCormick on Reviews

This week we’re going to find out a little about author James Austin McCormick. James will be talking about reviews. He’ll also tell us a little about himself and his writing, and answer some fun questions.
James Austin McCormick is a college lecturer from Manchester, England and in his free time enjoys writing speculative fiction, mostly science fiction, horror and a little sword and sorcery fantasy. He is also a particular fan of classic Gothic and Victorian horror tales and is currently in the process of writing updated versions of these with a science fiction spin.

His novels include the trilogy Dragon (Dragon, Dragon: Smuggler Tales, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane), The Last Synn, a sword-and-sorcery story, a SciFi novel, Sunfall, and a horror novel, Balec. All are available from Class Act Books.

Beverley: How important are reviews for your book?
James: They’re very important, I’m sure most authors would say the same. They allow you to get to know what people think of your work. Reviews, especially those posted on Amazon, also help to attract more readers.
Beverley: How do you get reviews?
James: They’re very important, I’m sure most authors would say the same. They allow you to get to know what people think of your work. Reviews, especially those posted on Amazon, also help to attract more readers.
Beverley: Do you pay for reviews?
James: No, very recently someone contacted me on twitter saying they’d love to review one of my books (The Last Synn, a sword and sorcery fantasy) for their blog and asked me to email them. When I did they said they’d forgot to mention they charge $50 and said this was because their blog generated so much interest. I politely declined.
Beverley: How many reviews does an author need? Why?
James: I heard that once you get above thirty it raises your profile on Amazon. I’m not sure. I’ve only got one book, my first science fiction novel “Dragon” that has more than thirty reviews.
Beverley: If you get a bad review, how do you handle it?
James: It depends, sometimes I agree with what is said, especially when it gives me a fresh insight into my work (character, scene placing etc…) but sometimes I don’t. An example is my second book Dragon: Smuggler Tales. The reviewer knocked a star off for lack of story arc, giving me three stars, which to me was ridiculous as the book is actually a collection of short stories filling in some of the missing time of my first novel, Dragon. I was extremely irritated about this.
Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write?
James: I prefer to write science fiction and horror, and also a little fantasy. I like to mix the genres together and rarely stray outside of speculative fiction.
Beverley: What prompted you to write in the genre/s you do?
James: For me, writing is pure escapism, and the more I can create my own worlds and settings the better. I’d say escape from humdrum reality is what prompts me to write in the genres I do.
Beverley: What genres do you enjoy reading?
James: I like most genres, not just science fiction and horror. I’m always working my way through a long list of classics that continually gets added to. I love detective novels, spy novels and thrillers. I’ve recently started reading the Jack Reacher series, they’re addictive.
Beverley: I’d love to hear what you think of the present genres, how they’ve been affected by self-publishing and where you think they might be headed.
James: I think self-publishing has been great for a lot of aspiring writers, and has meant that editors are no longer the gatekeepers, a potential barrier between author and audience. Anyone can put their writing out there now. The problem is that along with a lot of excellent books, others of very poor quality also flood the electronic market. I’ve read quite a lot of self- published books and some have been of a very low standard indeed. When reviewing it’s very hard to come up with something constructive for works such as this.
Regarding the future of the science fiction genre, in my opinion it lies with diversification, with sub-genres. Sci-fi can incorporate any genre or idea so the possibilities are limitless. For example, the first Alien movie was a horror, the second was more of an action movie.
Beverley: How long have you been writing?
James: Roughly twenty years or so, but I can also recall doing some scribbling when I was in my mid-teens on an old-style typewriter.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
James: My two biggest influences were, and still are, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. I remember when I first read the Solomon Kane and Conan stories in my late teens and thought I would really like to try and write something similar.  
Beverley: What obstacles did you have to overcome to begin creating your work?
James: When I first started writing Dragon, I had the two main characters in mind, a neurotic, cowardly elf and a surly, ill-tempered barbarian. I planned to write a series of novella length stories following their adventures. Somehow though it just didn’t work, although I liked Sillow and Brok, the two protagonists, I just felt all the story concepts were too derivative and unoriginal. I only made progress when I had the idea to turn it into a science fiction with a fantasy flavor. The eponymous Dragon became the name of their spacecraft, rather than a fire breathing creature. The last book in the Dragon series, Dragon: The Prisoner of Valathia, is as much fantasy as it is science fiction. It’s the only work where I’ve mixed two genres together in equal measure.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
James: I’m always thinking about stories and character. Every time I read a book or watch a film it sparks new ideas and I find myself scribbling something down regarding possible stories. The irony is I spend more time thinking about writing than I do actually doing it.
Beverley: What will stop your creative muse the quickest?
James: My two daughters squabbling usually does that. I also find it hard to write when I have a lot going on at work. Too much stress causes my creativity to dry up.
Beverley: What do you have for breakfast?
James: Fruit and two cups of coffee.
Beverley: What do you wear when you are writing?  
James: I write little and often, sometimes in my lunch hour, sometimes in bed so it can be pyjamas or a shirt and pants. There’s no correlation between the two.
Beverley: Where do you do most of your writing?
James: My kitchen table. This is especially true when I’m re-writing or editing.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
James: Bender from Futurama. Even though he’s essentially an amoral opportunist, he’s such a cool, uncomplicated character. He takes nothing seriously and always makes the most of an opportunity.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
James: I hope I can say two people, and that is Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Stan had a big hand in the scripts and camerawork and I’d love the opportunity to discuss these with him over a beer in a pub in Ulverston (Stan’s home town, only about ninety miles from where I live in fact)
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
James: Go hiking, I love getting into the countryside whenever I can. I’ve recently got interested in photography so I’d happily spend a day taking snaps of wildlife and nature.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
James: I’ve just finished polishing a young adult fantasy/supernatural novella very loosely based on one of the scary stories my dad used to tell me and my cousins when we were young. We all loved the stories but were always terrified and had trouble sleeping afterwards.

Blurb for Dragon: The Prisoner of Valathia:

A beautiful pirate queen, and a cowardly, chain-smoking elf, take on their first official mission together…investigate the hijack of a prototype military stealth craft and its connection to the mysterious owner of a small mining operation.
What begins as a simple undercover mission soon becomes something far more sinister as they find themselves caught up in one man’s obsession with ancient forces powerful enough to destroy them all.

Buy Links:                                                   
Paperback edition available exclusively from

You can find James at:
Class Act Books

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview

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