James Hartley - Witches and Spaceships

Hey everyone!  Today we have the delightful James Hartley!  

Or, as he is sometimes secretly known...SUPERJIM!!!
No... Wait... That doesn't seem... Is that photoshopped?  I feel deeply betrayed... 

...Is it Sir Jim?
Er... Well, whatever his name is, he's here and you should all say hello!  Hey, Jim?  Why don't you tell us about yourself while I sort this out?

Greetings from nice, warm, sunny Florida. I grew up in cold, snowy New Jersey, and spent a lot of time in colder, snowier Poughkeepsie NY. Came down here on a vacation, and when we got home someone had plowed our driveway ... leaving four-foot snowbanks on either side. I said, "Why didn't we stay in Florida?" and it wasn't too long before we moved. Now I live here with my wife Sally, two cats, and a swimming pool ... and of course my computer.

I've loved Science Fiction and Fantasy all my life, from Oz books on up. I've always had this idea of writing, but way back when, there was a severe obstacle ... I am a truly horrible typist, and back in the day, they wanted you to type your stories. I worked for a long time in the computer industry, and I discovered that, at least when writing stuff for work, I could use the computer and get good results. When Personal Computers really got off the ground, I was actually able to do writing for myself. So here I am, "I are a pubbished auttor!" Ooops!

Marion: What was the first book you ever read that really blew your mind, that you couldn’t stop thinking about after you’d finished?

Well, it wasn't just one book, but I can remember when I was very young, being totally hooked on the Oz books.

Marion: How do you start thinking about a book?  Is it the characters
that first pop to mind, or the setting, or the plot?  Where do you usually start?

There is no "usual" starting place ... some kind of idea just pops into my mind and things start happening. For example, I was listening to the radio and they played that old favorite, "Teen Angel." It goes "Teen Angel, can you hear me?" and all of a sudden I thought, what if she is listening, somewhere in the afterlife, and she hears this and thinks it means her boyfriend still loves her, and decides to go back to Earth and claim him. Only she messes up ... messes up big time ... and there's my novel, "Teen Angel."

Marion: If you could invite five writers, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, E.E. "Doc" Smith, J.R.R. Tolkien, and L. Frank Baum. If I could go for a sixth, I should put a woman writer in there, so I might pick Janet Evanovitch ... but never, never, ever would I invite Jane Austen! (I take pride in being prejudiced against her books.)

Marion: When was the last time you just had to write, and what inspired that feeling?

Don't remember exactly, but it happens frequently ... there's a story, or part of a story, buzzing around in my head, and it won't go away until I get it down on paper (or, more accurately, into the computer).

Marion: When you’re writing, what game do you most often play during “breaks”?

I have three of them: Shisen-Sho, one of those Mahjong tile things; Spider Solitaire; and Sherlock, a logic puzzle game.

Marion: Have you ever tried to shake up your writing routine?  Writing at a different time? Writing in new places?  Writing nude?  *waggles eyebrows*

I have no routine to shake up ... I just write whenever ...

Marion: What is your absolute favorite sentence--just one sentence--from your book?  Why?

The characters, all witches, are discussing spells they might use, including alohomora, and one character says, "Somebody ought to sue that Rowling woman for using real spells in her books." (From Fortunatus, due out soon.)

Marion: What’s your worst writing habit?  Something you know you shouldn’t do, but just can’t seem to stop?

Run-on sentences are probably the worst, my thoughts are running on at top speed and the sentence goes right along with them. But I'm getting a lot better at fixing it, breaking up the sentences, when I go back and edit.

Marion: What’s the one thing you wish you were good at, but just can’t seem to master?

Music. I love to listen, but I couldn't carry a tune if you put handles on it.

Marion: How do you ‘get into character’?  Are their certain characters you find it harder to write than others?

It seems like I must be totally schizophrenic, getting into a character's head is never much of a problem.

Marion: If you could choose one writing related question you never, ever wanted to hear spoken again, what would it be?

The old classic, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Marion: What’s your favorite book title?

I have a novel I have just finished and sent out on its first submission, and I think the title, "Beverly Bronte, Space Chick" is kind of hard to beat.

Marion: What project are you currently working on?

I'm trying to get back into gear with "Magic versus the Empire," a sequel to "Magic Is Faster Than Light" and "Magic to the Rescue," another of the "witches in spaceships" books. I was going fine on it for a while, then I got stuck and put it aside for a couple of other books. But I think it's ready to get moving again.

Marion: About how long does it take you to get from first draft to polished manuscript?  What does that process look like?

The interesting thing is that I don't do first drafts. I can't just bang out text and leave fixing it for later, I need to fix it right away. So I do a lot of editing as I go, and by the time I type "The End" it's already a second draft.

Marion: What did your “favorite” rejection letter say?

I don't remember the exact words, but somebody actually sent me a "Rejection Limerick!"
Marion: Aw man!  Too bad you can’t remember the words!  I want to hear it now!  *G*  Is there a writer whose style or talent you envy?  What is it about their writing that draws you in?

Dickens, Tolstoy, anyone who can do a 900-page book. I really feel I need to write longer books, and I envy those who can do those monumental tomes.

Marion: Any parting words?

So there you are, I hope I haven't totally confused anyone with my crazy answers. You can look on my website for my books, MuseItUp and others. Had a couple of other nice ones on there, too. But the publisher went belly-up (sob, sob, boo-hoo) and I had to pull them off. Guess I'll just have to take that stuff and send it off somewhere else. So long, it's back to work ...


Hi, Sir Jim: Enjoyed the post. I envy you the warm sun, it's cold as a witch's tail bone here. Good luck, with your books, although a knight shouldn't need luck. Don't they always fight the good fight and win?
Lorrie Struiff said…
What a fun interview. You sound like an author I'd like to know better. Honestly, I think all of us have to have multiple people in our heads to write.
Hmm, I wonder, where is the true me.

Good luck with the books.
Marion Sipe said…
Thank you both for coming! And thank you Jim, for joining us today! It was such fun to have you!
S. Durham said…
Enjoyed your interview Jim! And your wit is always appreciated:)

Cheers, Sara
Wendy said…
Good answers, Jim. So you'd prefer not to be asked, 'Where do you get your ideas' and yet your replies would be so interesting, like the one from the song title, Teen Angel.

Here's one only you could write: A Knight in Florida. When it's published, remember to credit me with this idea though. :) Oh and the sequel: Knights in Florida -this would be a father and son combo, of course.
An enjoyable interview.
Cheryl said…
Great interview!
Jim Hartley said…
"A Knight in Florida"? Doesn't sound catchy enough for me. How about "Orlando Knights and Disney Days"?
Marion Sipe said…
You should totally write it! *G*
Wendy said…
Much better title, Jim. Where DO you get your ideas. :)

Popular Posts