Interview with James Rada, Jr

Who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy reading lots of different authors in different genres. Some of my favorites are Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, David McCullough, Erik Larson, Harlan Coben, Craig Johnson, James Rollins and Dean Koontz.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
If I don't get out of bed, my son certainly won't get up on his own to go to school. Besides, I've always been a morning person. It's not too difficult for me to get up each morning.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love taking long bike rides and just exploring the back roads of my county. I like to read and go to movies, too. I also work with my son's Boy Scout troop.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Most of my ebooks are from authors whom I regularly read. New authors catch my attention a variety of way. Sometimes a friend will mention an author or I'll see a recommendation on a web site, along the lines of "People who bought this book, also bought these books." Sometimes I will browse through books on Goodreads and see which ones have stories that catch my attention.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a short story called "Mickey's Dream." I dictated it to my kindergarten teacher and she typed it up. Then I illustrated it. I still have it. I use it often when I give talks about writing.
How do you approach cover design?
I have no problem designing my book cover if I have a strong idea for what I want. Otherwise, I have a couple designers that I use. I will talk over any ideas or thoughts that I have for the cover with the designer. She will prepare a couple rough sketches based on my thoughts and her own ideas. From there, we'll find the right one and she'll prepare the cover.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon is an odd coming-of-age story that combines horror, fantasy, mystery and drama. I read it again and again and always enjoy it.

1776 by David McCullough is the history book that showed me that non-fiction history can be just as fascinating as fiction.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan is the book that got me hooked on epic fantasy. I loved all of the different cultures that Jordan created, each with backstories, traditions, languages and different uses for magic.

These are the top 3. There are numerous ones that I enjoy that I can't pick the other two.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read mystery, thrillers, young adult, and fantasy for pure enjoyment. I read historical fiction and non-fiction history not only for enjoyment but also to learn something new.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Currently, I use a Kindle Fire. The feature that I particularly like is the text-to-speech function. I plug my Kindle into my car stereo or carry it with me when I go bike riding so that I can have my book read to me.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Right now, the most-effective marketing technique for me is to participate in arts and crafts festivals. I'm usually the only or one of the few authors at the festival so I'm offering something unique. I usually do really well at them. Second best would be giving talks and presentations and selling books afterwards.
Describe your desk
Not big enough. It's usually pretty messy. I have files and piles of research on one side. I keep a couple books about marketing on the back end and one of my favorite sculptures (a robot made of pieces of scrap metal by Don Rea).

I also have a treadmill desk next to my traditional desk. I still have trouble using it for everything, but I do use it to give my back side a break from sitting too much.
Published 2016-12-01.
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Books by This Author

Secrets of the C&O Canal: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History Along the Potomac River
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 38,110. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » History » American, Nonfiction » Transportation » Ships & Shipbuilding / History
The C&O Canal runs along the north side of the Potomac River from Cumberland, Md., to Georgetown in the District of Columbia. It is a 184.5-mile-long engineering marvel that has 11 aqueducts, 74 lift locks, 160 culverts, 12 river feeder locks and guard locks, and one tunnel through a mountain. Its history spans the 19th century and is filled with mishaps, crimes, secrets, and drama.
Secrets of Garrett County: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History of Maryland's Westernmost County
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 37,740. Language: English. Published: March 5, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » History » North America, Nonfiction » History » North America
Garrett County, MD, is known for its natural beauty, but hidden in the valleys, beneath the ground in coal mines, and in the attics of homes are true stories of crimes, cover-ups, legends, and life in Garrett County. Secrets of Garrett County tells stories of coal mining and railroads, crime and war, interesting people and unusual incidents. These are stories that you won't read in history texts.
Secrets of Catoctin Mountain: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History of Frederick & Loudoun Counties
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 39,170. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » History » North America, Nonfiction » History » American
Catoctin Mountain runs from northern Frederick County, Md., to northern Loudoun County, Va., crossing the Potomac River as it does. Its natural history dates back to prehistoric times. Its history during the era of man is more recent and more fascinating filled with crimes, secrets, monsters, and drama. Secrets of Catoctin Mountain tells stories of railroads, canals, war, saints, and sinners.
Saving Shallmar: Christmas Spirit in a Coal Town
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 62,890. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Poverty & Homelessness, Nonfiction » History » North America
In fall turned to winter in 1949, the residents of Shallmar, Maryland, were starving. The town's only business, the Wolf Den Coal Corp. had closed down, unemployment benefits had ended and few coal miners had cars to drive to other jobs. When children started fainting in school, Principal J. Paul Andrick realized the dire situation the town was in and set out to help.
Looking Back: True Stories of Mountain Maryland
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 37,450. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » History » North America, Nonfiction » History » North America
From the unsolved to the unusual. From the historical to the hysterical. From the famous to the friendly. This is life in the Maryland mountains. Here are the stories of people who tamed the mountains, established cities, raised families and lived their lives. This collection of 40 stories spans 220 years of life in Western Maryland.
Looking Back II: More True Stories of Mountain Maryland
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 35,390. Language: English. Published: October 19, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » History » North America, Nonfiction » History » American
Enjoy more true stories of Mountain Maryland in this follow-up to James Rada, Jr.'s popular Looking Back collection. Looking Back II collects 47 history articles gathered from Rada's award-winning Looking Back columns, Allegany Magazine and other publications. Some of them have been updated with new information that Rada uncovered since their initial publication.
Clay Soldiers: One Marine's Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 67,870. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Military biography, Nonfiction » Biography » Artists, architects, & photographers
Chuck Caldwell is a WWII vet and Purple Heart winner who has met Civil War soldiers, fought at Guadalcanal and Tarawa, and studied atomic bomb explosions in Nevada. Through it all, he painted and sculpted miniature figures that have become sought after by collectors around the country. Clay Soldiers is the story of a man who became part of the history of America and chronicled it through his art.
October Mourning: A Novel of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 61,800. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Historical » USA
In October 1918, Spanish Flu left behind 40 million dead. In Cumberland, Md., Dr. Alan Keener wants to take steps to prevent its spread, but he is met with resistance from old-school doctors who believe that the flu’s deadliness is overblown and easily treated. His work is complicated as a street preacher named Kolas aids the flu’s spread.
The Rain Man
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 57,590. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Raymond Twigg hates the rain because it gives the Rain Man power. It is a power to bring Raymond to his knees or drive him to deadly action. As the March 1936 rains bring the St. Patrick’s Day Flood, the worst flood ever seen in Cumberland, Maryland, it also unleashes the power of the Rain Man on the citizens of the city.
Lock Ready: A Canawlers Novel
Series: Canawlers, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 87,760. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA
Even as the Civil War winds down, there is still danger on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal for those who work upon the waterway. The Fitzgerald family faces their greatest threat as a group of Confederate saboteurs plots to destroy the canal. In the past, the Fitzgerald family could have faced the dangers, but they are separated and dealing with their personal problems.
Battlefield Angels: The Daughters of Charity Work as Civil War Nurses
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 65,700. Language: English. Published: September 23, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Catholicism, Nonfiction » History » American
This is the story of the largely unknown work that the Daughters of Charity performed as nurses during the Civil War. They were the only trained nurses in the country at the start of the war and as such, their services were sought after by both the Union and Confederate governments.
Beyond the Battlefield: Stories from Gettysburg's Rich History
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 53,140. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » History » North America, Nonfiction » History » American
Beyond the Battlefield is a collection of 47 true stories and 56 photos that tell the history of Gettysburg and vicinity beyond the famous Civil War battle.
Kidnapping the Generals: The South's Most-Daring Raid Against the Union Army
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,530. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War
In 1865, McNeill's Rangers rode into Union-occupied Cumberland, Md., and kidnapped General Benjamin Kelly and General George Crook from their hotel room. This is the story of the planning and daring execution of this raid that became one of the last victories of the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Between Rail and River
Series: Canawlers, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 100,880. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA
The story of the Fitzgerald Family continues in this second book of "The Canawlers" series. Having experienced the horrors of the Civil War as it reached the C&O Canal, the Fitzgeralds must now try of survive as the canal draws more attention from the North and the South. They are also faced with problem unrelated to the war but impacting each member of the family.
My Little Angel
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 17,110. Language: English. Published: October 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Christmas, Fiction » Christian » General
Janet Sinclair is not looking forward to her first Christmas without her daughter. Janet still doesn't know how she will go on without Danielle. Then Janet receives a beautiful porcelain angel that looks so much like Danielle that she can't bear to look at it. As Janet tries to deal with Christmas, she finds out that the angel is more than just an ornament.
When the Babe Came to Town: Stories of George Herman Ruth's Small-Town Baseball Games
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,740. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Baseball / History, Nonfiction » History » Modern / 20th Century
"Babe" Ruth was a baseball legend. You can find out why in "When the Babe Came to Town." This book shows how the Babe connected with the fans through his many exhibition and barnstorming games."When the Babe Came to Town" is a collection of some of these stories highlighting games that Babe Ruth played in Emmitsburg, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania; Oakland, California and Cumberland, Maryland.
The Race
Series: Canawlers, Book 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 19,980. Language: English. Published: January 19, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Historical » USA, Fiction » Historical » General
(5.00)
Follow the lives of the Fitzgerald family on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal as Tony and Thomas Fitzgerald race their canal barge against a train. If you enjoyed "Canawlers" and "Between Rail and River" by James Rada, you'll want to follow this adventure set a few years after the Civil War during the canal's heyday. Originally published as a limited-edition chapbook for CanalFest 2003.