Book #1, Book #2 and Book #3 is on its way, keep your eyes open for it.)
Please welcome James Snyder to Genuine Jenn!
The first thing I should tell you about my writing is I don’t focus on a particular genre. I don’t really think about genres at all, in fact. If I were to categorize my writing, I think it leans more toward the literary, but in the tradition of literary writing that places similar emphasis on both character and story. I try to write books that are as polished as I can make them, but the number one thing I want to give the reader is an exciting read with great characters. My first novel, American Warrior, concerns war and prison and much, much action, but it’s primarily a coming-of-age story. Great Expectations with an attitude. My second novel, Desolation Run, concerns three escaped convicts and a runaway girl, searching for a buried cache of stolen military payroll, while being pursued by a massive police manhunt and a psychotic cop. More in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy when he’s focused more on savage storytelling and less on pontificating. The Beautiful-Ugly is my venture into the young-adult, new-adult realm, but while writing it I was channeling stories about women in conflict with their lives, rereading Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, etc., so I’m sure some leeching occurred. My just-released book of short stories, Tales of the Late Twentieth Century, gives you a good overview of what I’m doing now. If nothing else, read The Blue Light in the collection and you’ll see what I mean.
Myself? I come from a long line of storytellers (in some specious circles, otherwise known as liars), being born in Memphis, Tennessee and partially brought up in the South. We were poor and my father was never one to be without a job for long, so we moved about a great deal in pursuit of that goal. Currently, I’m an executive for a Fortune 500 company and live in Texas. My wife’s and my beautiful daughter is a junior in college, pursuing an English degree. Beyond reading and writing as much as the intake can handle, I love to kayak and travel. Winter wave-jumping, by the way, is the greatest stress reliever known to this man, among others. Something about crashing through high angry roils of icy green water that transforms all the bad into good. I really should write something about that.
When was your first book published?
American Warrior in 2004. My first short story was published in 1986 in a Black Mask anthology between Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy. Nice bookends to be between.
Are you currently working on anything?
I’m shortly publishing The Beautiful-Ugly Trilogy as a single volume. I’m also working on an historical thriller about a serial killer in Gilded-Age New Orleans. It involves presidential politics (of 1884), the Liberty Bell and the very early mafia, and it’s based on real events that almost sent the United States into war with the Kingdom of Italy. Beyond that I’m sketching out a possible dystopian trilogy and other things in One Note. By the way, if you’re not familiar with Microsoft One Note, check it out. It’s a very cool organizing tool, not just for writing, but for anything you want to organize on your computer or collaborate on.
Why did you decide to become an Author?
I never really decided that. I’ve just always seen things in a creative sense. Reading great stories and seeing what was possible, or maybe pushing the limits beyond what seemed possible, was always like a duck to water for me. Stories, people, situations are constantly flowing through my head. If I didn’t use all this, creatively, I don’t know where I’d be. Frustrated, most likely. But what I’ve found is the best thing about being an author, beyond the writing part, is connecting with readers that get what you’re doing and enjoy it. It brings them pleasure. That’s my nirvana.
Who and what inspired you to write?
My mother always told this story about me that before I could even read I would slip my Golden Books between the slats on my baby sister’s crib so she could read them to me. Words and stories were always magic to me, and I can’t separate the time I started reading them and writing my own down. I was lucky to spend several formative years being raised around my Southern grannies and aunts, and they were all great storytellers. That’s what people did then when there were only three TV stations and your imagination. They talked to each other. They told wonderful stories to each other. And those rhythms and inflections and driving narratives were burned into my young mind, and I never forgot them.
When you are writing do you like to listen to music? What is on your playlist?
No, actually when I write I go into my own weird twilight zone. I’m creating other worlds, after all. So shades in my office are drawn because natural light distracts me. Just one incandescent lamp and my sweet little Lenovo laptop. Sometimes in the afternoon when I’m blocking and outlining a story or doing research I’ll listen to music, maybe sip some tea, open the shades, wander about. But when I’m doing the actual writing in the morning, it’s showtime, folks. Total concentration and focus. Cups of black Columbian coffee and brave new worlds to conquer. But as far as music goes, I listen to whatever’s playing. I like jazz, classical, grunge, techno, industrial, country. As I said, my daughter’s a junior in college and I count on her to keep me up to date. She tells me what’s hot now. But I have to tell you, the bands these days seem kind of tame in retrospect.
Who is your favorite character in your books?
Oh gosh, they’re all so needy and jealous of each other already, I’d rather not say. I’m drawn to each one because of whom they are and what makes them so special. Now I will tell you I have some characters I would prefer never having to meet coming down the street, and I have others I regret never having the chance to meet. As you know, Jenn, the main character in The Beautiful-Ugly is Connelly Walker Pierce. And while she was not based upon my daughter, she was at least partially created because of her. So we’ll leave it at that.
Do you ever take characteristics or nuances from close friends or family when working on character development and if so has that friend or family member noticed and what was their response to it?
I may but I’m not conscious of it. I like my characters to come into their own lives in their own organic way. I don’t see them as made up of bits of people I know or have known. They just appear in my mind, and sometimes they’re vague and grow more defined as the story progress, and sometimes they come to me full-blooded and seething, and I’m just writing down what’s there before they’re gone.
What is your favorite book of all time?
I have to pick just one? Well, then something big and rich with a plethora of amazing scenes and characters and absolute rivers of astonishing heartbreaking breathtaking prose: I guess Tolstoy’s War and Peace. And if readers think that’s a too-easy copout, then, Albert Vigoleis Thelen’s The Island of Second Sight, another big wonderful book that defies category or easy logic, but is the best book to snuggle up with on a long cold rainy afternoon.
Tell us in one sentence why we should read your books.
Because you will meet amazing people that are realer than real caught up in heart-stopping situations that defy you to stop turning the pages.
List your books that are available
The Beautiful-Ugly (Book One) (Trilogy)
Tales of the Late Twentieth Century (Short Stories)
Where can people connect with you?
Thanks for taking your time to answer some questions for my readers at Genuine Jenn.
Giveaway time! James would like to offer a signed copy of The Beautiful-Ugly Trilogy in a single volume to one lucky Genuine Jenn reader. Please fill in the rafflecopter below for your chance to win! This giveaway is open to US/Canada and will close September 28th,2014.
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~*Disclaimer: This post was written by Genuine Jenn. All opinions are honest and my own.*~