Interview with Rudi James

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Warwick, England, not far from Stratford Upon Avon [yes, Shakespeare country] but did most of my growing up in Nottingham, until I joined the RAF [boy entrant] at the age of 16.
As a kid I always seemed to be the one to encourage my friends to sit round a camp fire at night and tell short stories; especially ghost stories. With dark clouds rolling in, the hooting of distant owls and the wind whistling through the trees we generated an atmosphere that scared the pants off us more than once.
Those early days of story telling no doubt influence the way I write now. Although I am into science fiction at the moment, I may well try my hand at a ghost story in the future.
I guess the real influence began after I joined the RAF and started to travel around the world. I developed 'itchy feet' and thirsted for more and more adventure. This stayed with me after I left the service and I continued to travel. During the course of my life I have been to so many places and met so many different people and cultures that it is probably reflected in the books I write now. Anyone who reads them will probably note the diversity of characters and places. I hadn't thought about it before, but my travels may have had a subconscious impact on my writing although, of course, my stories are pure fantasy and the characters and places don't actually exist.
When did you first start writing?
As a school kid I used to read the various comics that were in circulation at the time and one of them had a story about a robot. I completely re-wrote the first part of the serial, in my own words, from memory.
I suppose that must have been a practice run; I began scribbling my own tales from then on. I wish I'd kept them because, looking back, they may have had the basis for a short story book.
What is your writing process?
The first book, Alex and the Realm People, was written around my perception of a leprechaun. I already knew what the ending sentence would be and, strange as it may seem, wrote towards that.
I don't usually write notes, unless I use something based on fact, but rather let the ideas flow freely in my mind's eye. I once tried writing notes and to my surprise it seemed to restrict what I really wanted to write. The notes had the effect of channelling my thoughts in one direction so I stuck with the free flow idea. It works for me and I do corrections every couple of thousand words or so.
It was the same with the second book. I had the whole story in my mind [albeit a little nebulous] and wrote, more or less, towards the last sentence.
What do you read for pleasure?
I am currently re-reading the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I may add Tolkien to my list of favourite authors.

Apart from books, I like to update myself on what is going on in the world of science and tend to read the science columns in the media at large; especially anything to do with astronomy and the space research front. Reading about the latest innovations etc. helps to put a different perspective on my sci/ fi/fantasy writing and makes my stories seem not quite so far fetched as some might imagine.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book Alex and the Seventh Realm is the sequel to Alex and the Realm People and is the second book in the Realm People series.
Alex Shrine [main character] 13 going on 14 embarks on his second adventure in another time dimension. Jaw dropping revelations about the universe and his own developing powers result in him joining forces, with his friends, in an ancient battle against a deadly enemy that is intent on taking over the entire cosmos.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I imagine that every author has had rejection slips. I am no exception.
I considered becoming an indie author for some time, knowing I would probably kill any chances of ever being accepted by a mainstream publisher. For me, though, time is of the essence. As an Indie I can get my books out there immediately and have full control. That's not to say I wouldn't be prepared to do business with a traditional publishing house.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It depends how one measures success.
I have sold a small number of books, so far, via the retailers that Smashwords distributes to, books that would never have sold otherwise. In that respect, a small success can lead to more. From little acorns the mighty Oak tree grows.
What Smashwords has done for me is to circulate my work over a relatively wide area.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Without a doubt the greatest joy is knowing that someone has taken the time out to read what I have to offer.
Second to that is the immense satisfaction of actually writing a complete book; good, bad or indifferent and getting it out to readers. Of course it would be nice to think that my books are good in respect of the genre. That's something the reader has to judge.
What do your fans mean to you?
As far as I'm aware I don't have any fans as yet but it would mean a great deal. It's early days and it's one of the reasons I'm doing this interview.
What are you working on next?
I am working on the third book in the Realm People series; Alex and the Samurai King. I am not going to assign a specific age range but rather aim it at any and all Sci Fi / Fantasy buffs.
Briefly:
Alex's powers are growing and he and his friends have been contacted by strange apparitions, they call the Pathways, who ask them to assist a Samurai like warrior group in Earth's 4th.parallel dimension. The Samurai are in a struggle against a malevolent warlord.
The book is intended to be as stand alone as possible but the prologue, and various sections of the story highlight a certain amount of 'back-telling,' so the reader has a good idea of what happened in book 2 of the series; Alex and the Seventh Realm. The best option, of course, is to read all three books, but that is up to each individual preference.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Not long ago I was fixing/rebuilding/installing/modifying helicopter avionics systems.
Now that I've given up my travels, I have plenty to find to do in house and garden including tending to a variety of fruit trees.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favourite authors unfortunately are no longer with us. Isaac Asimov, H.P Lovecraft, Charles Dickens. Enid Blyton
How do you approach cover design?
The Book Guild designed the cover of my first title. The second title cover was picked from a selection of fantasy stock photos/drawings. I purchased the right to use it as a book cover. It was inexpensive and avoids the hassle of doing it myself [I'm no artist] or paying large sums to a design house. I do have an idea for my third cover that I may be able to design myself.

Update to cover design approach:

Since researching cover design techniques I find I am able to design my own covers to a reasonable standard. I still use stock photos / drawings as a basic design or background. The latest cover for Alex and the Seventh Realm, is an example of what can be done although I am looking to constantly enhancing and improving designs.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I tend to use the scatter gun technique, metaphorically speaking. Load the gun with sticky pellets, instead of lead shot, and pull the trigger. Some of the pellets will stick if scattered over a wide enough area.
Smashwords is excellent at distributing titles to many outlets and I can't thank them enough. Already I have had sales through Apple and Barnes& Noble.
Occasionally I lower the price of my titles or make them free. This is intended to keep them as near to the front of a search list as possible.
Published 2014-10-12.
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Books by This Author

Alex and the Seventh Realm
By
Series: Realm People, Book II. You set the price! Words: 42,920. Language: English. Published: February 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Long ago in a time dimension, parallel to our own, a battle had raged between two factions that practised the techniques of advanced magic; Warlocks and Sorcerers. Centuries later cosmic forces focus their attention on young Alex Shrine, because of a rare gene inherited from a distant ancestor; hoping to recruit him to the ranks of those who would oppose the destruction of the cosmos.
Alex and the Realm People [2nd. edition]
By
Series: Realm People, Book I. You set the price! Words: 41,790. Language: English. Published: September 17, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
A stranger, calling himself Hogarth, claims to come from another dimension and persuades a teenager, Alex, to accompany him to a parallel world. A bizarre dust like powder transports them to the stranger's home and Alex embarks on a mind blowing adventure. He discovers his new friends are realm and time travellers and assists them in a battle against an evil renegade.