Interview with Nathaniel Dean James

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. It was a story called The Road Sleeper about a SAS sergeant who returns from Afghanistan to discover his wife and two young children have been killed in the crossfire of a gang shootout in London. The protagonist - I can't remember his name now - promises not to do anything rash and then does it anyway. I'll have to dig it out some day and have a look at it, if only to remind myself just how awful my writing was back then.
What is your writing process?
I push out the first draft in a mad frenzy of non-reflection, rolled cigarettes and Red Bull, then go back in a few weeks later with a battleaxe in one hand and a chainsaw in the other and proceed to slay without mercy the 30% or so of the manuscript that has no business existing. I'll do this twice before sending it off to the editor. So a pretty standard approach.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember the first book that had an impact on me, but it wasn't the first one I read. When I got to the end of Stephen King's It I remember sitting back and wondering what had just happened. King is the high priest of captivating fiction in my opinion. I didn't exactly run off and open a new Word document on my computer as a result, but the seed had been planted and I think it was only a matter of time - well, I know it was because here I am all these years later walking in his shadow, or perhaps standing on his shoulder.
How do you approach cover design?
Because I commission artwork for each of my books toward the end of the editing process, choosing one as the cover is the obvious way to go. As for the rest, I do it myself in Corel Draw. I'll throw a few ideas together and do the rounds before I settle on a final design.
What do you read for pleasure?
Believe it or not, I mainly read non-fiction. It's not a research thing - although that does sometimes come into it - I just enjoy absorbing facts about anything that catches my interest. The last thing I read was a biography of Fidel Castro. Before that, a book about Shawn Fanning and Napster. I'll read just about anything if I think it will make me smarter. It hasn't yet by all accounts, but I'm working on it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle. It's a no-frills e-ink model, not one of the Fire devices, which I think are pointless because you can't really read a book on a back-lit screen unless you want to wake up with a serious case of Photokeratitis. I probably do half my reading on the Kindle and the other half on dead trees.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
It's a little early to say, but Goodreads appears the likely winner at the moment. It's probably the biggest online community of active readers and if you play your cards right you can bring a lot of then on board through book giveaways and follow up marketing.
Describe your desk
Chaos, pure and not to simple. At least when I'm in the zone and willfully ignoring the world in general. I'm like a kid, I'll tidy my room before bed time and not a minute sooner.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. As for how it influenced my writing, I'm not sure it did. I draw my inspiration largely from the catacombs of the imagination, a place that has evolved mostly through reading the work of others. I guess there must be some subliminal influence there, but I couldn't draw a line for you because it's too vague.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I lay looking up at the stars one night and found myself imagining something lost way out there in blackness of space. By lost I mean, misplaced and forgotten by the people or the civilization that built it. I then tried to picture what might happen if we eventually stumbled onto it. After running through the all the obvious and cliched possibilities I considered an unlikely but possible alternative and thus was Origin born.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
An article in which a New York writer described sending the ten most popular novels of all time to every top agent in the city under fictitious names and titles and getting a rejection letter from every single one of them. Whether the agents even read the submissions or not is irrelevant, it boils down to the same thing in either case. To me that made the case for self-publishing. I'm all for the lottery, don't get me wrong. But you don't have to write a covering letter on a lottery ticket, you just pick your numbers and hand it over.
What do your fans mean to you?
I don't have any that I know of. But should one come along, he or she can count on my undying loyalty.
What are you working on next?
Book two. First draft's almost complete. I'm looking to publish toward the end of the year.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King and Richard Bachman. Yes, they're the same person.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My kids. Although I'm not sure inspiration is the right word. Let's go with blackmail.
Published 2014-06-01.
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