Eventually someone said, “Hey, James, read this fantasy novel.” He did, and still hasn’t managed to crawl out of that rabbit hole, though he has found others to fall into.
The first story he ever wrote was horrible but everyone pretended it was great, so now he can’t feel good about himself unless someone is praising his work.
He lives in Utah with a dog and a growing collection of porch cats that he wishes would just go away.
Welcome to The Mysterious Stranger blog, James Jakins!
"Indie Author Tuesday" is all about showcasing writing talent beyond the big publishing companies. However, while my identity is clouded in mystery, Jakins has already made himself known through his stories and novels. You can read more about Jakins' books here.
Which authors have inspired your own writing?
I'd like to think that I'm able to learn something from any writer, but there are those I've read that stick with me and that I'd love to be able to emulate in one way or another.
Growing up, Robert Jordan was always a major influence for me, as I'm sure was the case for a lot of fantasy writers.
I was also really inspired by the original Tarzan novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs when I read it for the first time. That fun, pulpy goodness is something I always aim for in my own writing.
I'd also have to include, in no particular order, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Lynn Reid Banks, Brian Jacques, J.K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson... And that list could go on, but I'll stop it there.
Many authors approach writing differently. Some plot, some just write. What is your writing process?
It really depends on the individual story, but I have a few things I do with every project. I usually start with the initial concept and spend however long is necessary letting the idea grow naturally in my mind until it's basically demanding to be written.
Then I set aside a few days, sit on the couch with a notebook and start the brainstorming/outlining process. This usually involves deciding on the tone and thematic elements I want in each individual story and then I round up a good list of movies and tv shows I can use to get myself in the correct frame of mind for the direction I've chosen for the story. Then I binge watch my list of entertainment. I pay attention to tropes, themes, characters, all that fun stuff, and jot down any ideas that come to mind. Usually after a day or two of this, I have a pretty decent idea of what characters, plots, and set pieces I feel my book needs. Then I outline the book, scene by scene.
And, finally, I sit down at my keyboard and start writing. Usually two or three scenes in, the outline's been tossed out the window and I trust the characters and the story to take me where I need to go.
Once I hit this stage of the process, pretty much all that happens is writing. No more research, no more looking for something to help me find the tone. I just write until that first, god-awful draft is done.
And finally, a mysterious stranger approaches and offers you one book to read, unpublished in our universe but published in another alternate universe. Which book would you choose and why?
Man, So many possibilities... I think I'd have to go with what 13 year old James would want and find a universe where Robert Jordan was still around and managed to finish the Wheel of Time outrigger novels, then grab the omnibus edition. An omnibus isn't cheating, right?
Thanks once again, James Jakins, for the interview! If you'd like to know more about James Jakins and his novels, please visit the link below.