“If you don’t have an imagination, stop reading now.” Tag Line Tuesday with Chris James

17 Jul

This Tag Line Tuesday, we sit down (virtually) with…actually, why don’t I let him introduce himself?

Ed: Hola! As writers are “creative” people please answer each of the following biographic questions twice, once with the truth and once with a lie.


CJ:  Chris James and…. Lucas Hunter

Ed: Where you from?

CJ: Hampton Hill, London, England, or the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland

Ed: You have one of those Day jobs?

CJ: Proof-reader/Copyeditor or Dimension Researcher

Ed: How about a Dream job?

CJ: Dimension Researcher…already got it

Ed: And, of course: Why do you write?

CJ: Because I must know that something will remain after I die.

Ed: You may now return to full honesty (if you feel like it) for, THE LIGHTNING ROUND! (zap)

What is your favorite:

Band – Genesis

(Ed: You and me both, what are the odds?)

Food – Fillet steak (blue)

Game – Snooker

Album – A Trick of the Tail (Genesis, 1976)

Word – Autumnal

Color – Green, various shades

Animal – Cat

Piece of clothing – My collection of Genesis T-shirts

Movie – The Long Good Friday (1981)

TV show – Frasier

Drink – Beer

Song – “Mad Man Moon” (yep, it’s a Genesis song)

Line from a song – “But can you do something that’s out of this world?” (Supertramp, Dreamer, 1974)

Pizza topping – Anchovies

Crime – Not paying my taxes

Place – My imagination (sorry, sounds terribly arrogant I expect)

Quote – “If anything is possible, nothing is interesting” (HG Wells)

Ed: Finally, three random things about yourself, please.

CJ: 1.)  I’m left-handed. 2.) I’ve peed in Adolf Hitler’s kitchen. 3.) If I had my life over again, I would do almost everything differently

 Ed: Now on to the BOOK CHAT portion of the show, let’s start with books you didn’t actually author.

What’s the biggest consideration when you are deciding what book to read?

CJ: These days, author

Ed: Let’s say you are looking at the back of a book in a bookstore, reading on online blurb, or whatever (you don’t have to say it out loud). What sort of thing makes you say “yes,” what sort of things makes you say “pass?”

CJ: If the blurb contains fewer clichés than usual, I might pick it up.  If it contains only clichés, I definitely won’t. Blurb writing is difficult, so it’s a good indicator of the writer’s skill.

Ed: What genre do you enjoy most?

CJ: These days a lot of military history, and some Indie books if the premise is original enough.

Ed: What genre would you read only if you lost a bet?

CJ: Chick-lit

Ed: Do you have a favorite author, and do you think they influence your own writing?

CJ: HG Wells, and yes, definitely

Ed: Do you have a favorite book, and how many times have you read it?

CJ: The Time Machine/The War of the Worlds – at least ten times each

Ed: What’s the first book you remember buying with your own money?

CJ: The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (still got the 1981 first edition paperback I bought when I was 13 😉

Ed: Any books you have been told you should read, and know you probably never will?

CJ: Loads, way too many to list

Ed: Ever lied about reading, or not reading, a book?

CJ: Can’t remember, don’t think so (probably wouldn’t on the grounds that it would be asking for trouble)

Ed: Ever read a book you were sure you were going to like, and not liked it?

CJ: Gai-Jin by James Clavell.  His last book, and a crushing disappointment.

Ed: Urf, that series started so well with Shogun and Tai-Pan, too, I feels ya.

Ever grudgingly read a book, and loved it?

CJ: Nope, although my wife got me to read Bridget Jones’s Diary and I laughed quite a bit 😉

Ed: What’s your favorite line from a book? (not your own)

CJ: “The Time Traveller, for so it shall be convenient to speak of him, was expounding a recondite matter to us.” (HG Wells, The Time Machine) I just can’t describe how I feel when I read that line.

Ed: Now onto those books which you did write.

How, and when, do you tend to come up with titles?

CJ: At the planning stage, early on – it reminds me what I’m aiming for and helps keep me on track.

Ed: How do your characters get their names?

CJ: Pretty randomly.  I have printed lists of thousands of names and surnames (English, Polish, French, Indian, etc) and tend to pick what sounds good.

Ed: If you could live in the world / with the people of one of your stories, which one would it be and why?

CJ: I would give anything to be a Dimension Researcher for real.

Ed: What do you think your books say about you?

CJ: That I can’t really write?  Ha ha ha, just kidding (no, REALLY!).  I don’t know, I don’t think about my writing in relation to me, I’m just trying to tell an entertaining story.

Ed: Is there anything you have written which you would now like to change or revise, wish you had written differently, etc.?

CJ: As I write more, I learn more, so now if I glance back through my two published novels I’d probably edit some of the scenes differently, but a writer should always be improving (I believe) so this is a difficult question. But overall I am quite happy with the way my published stories turned out; each of us can only try our best, after all.

Ed: Tell me about your favorite character.

CJ: Lucas Hunter, Dimension Researcher for the Second Internet Café.  He’s very clever (has 5 degrees), bit of an idiot with girls.

Ed: Have your favorite character tell me about you.

Lucas Hunter: “Oh, this James guy, the writer?  Actually he was quite a seer, although his books didn’t sell till after he died.  The thing is, although he was right about all those alternate realities, I’ve read his books and, you know, he didn’t quite get it, didn’t get just how amazing it really feels to step into an alternate reality.”

Ed: Back to Chris, What’s your favorite line which you have written?

CJ: If you don’t have an imagination, stop reading now.

Ed: Now some “Nuts n’ Bolts” sort of writing questions.

Plotter or Pantser?

CJ: Plotter

Ed: Best/Worst advice you ever got as a writer?

CJ: Best: “Just write it.”

Worst: “I think this book is going to make it for you, Chris.” Otherwise known as “The Kiss of Death,” which someone has managed to give each book I’ve published.

Ed: Best/Worst thing about being a writer?

CJ: Best: At least my books are “out there”.

Worst: so are a million, billion others, and no-one is going to read mine.

Ed: Why Indie?

CJ: Because my literary agent in London dumped me after two years of not being able to sell The Dimension Researcher.

Ed: Is being a writer what you expected? How so or how not?

CJ: No, it’s awful.  Apart from a few people I’ve met who are very nice, being a writer – in public – is awful.  Actually writing is wonderful; I love it when I’m in my worlds and can escape from this world, but I really don’t like being in this world and having to market my books to people who are too busy with other things and who will never read them.

Ed: Though some would say that’s not being a “writer,” that’s just being a salesman. Sadly, we have to do both, and the two have virtually nothing to do with each other. 😉

Have you, or would you ever, collaborate on a story?

CJ: No, never have, never would, never will.

Ed: If you were starting to write for the first time, what would you do different?

CJ: Understand that I’m writing for myself and no-one will ever read my stories, in which case I might take up photography instead.

Ed: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?

CJ: To accept that failure is guaranteed.

Ed: What’s the moral of the story?

CJ: Not done just yet, but I’ll be sure to get back to you just before I reach the end.

Ed: In closing, some real answers to HYPOTHETICAL questions.

Your computer is smoking, wheezing, and sparks are shooting out of the back.  You can save one thing off the hard drive.  What is it?

CJ: The file with the artwork for my books – I can write for free, but those cost money!

Ed: You have one perfect day of free time, no obligations, needs, or responsibilities.  What do you do?

CJ: Go Nordic walking, shave and shower, eat bacon sandwich with unlimited cups of Marks & Spencer Extra Strong Tea, write, get drunk when word count for the day is reached.

Ed: Someone “in the business” suggests you change something you feel is a critical part of one of your books, and guarantees it will increase sales.  What do you do?

CJ: Refuse to believe them.  Nothing I do will ever increase my sales.  Really.  Today any book that is successful only means that the writer had a lucky break, nothing more.

Ed: You are offered just enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, if you will just stop writing.  What do you do?

CJ: Laugh, loudly.  I can earn money without writing anyway: but my stories will not die with me, I promise you that.

Ed: What question do you wish I had asked?

CJ: “Chris, would you like to sign a six-book, global distribution deal with Random House with a modest advance?”

Ed: Thanks for stopping by, Chris.

CJ: Thanks for inviting me, Ed – it was fun!


Please do check out Chris’s books, available wherever you find yourself sitting this very moment. 😉

Class Action (2010)

How a dystopia really happens.”


The Second Internet Café, Part 1: The Dimension Researcher (2011)

“Alternate realities: ALL of them.”


The B Team and Me, or How five adorable puppies nearly ruined my life (2012)

“Hilarious cute puppies cause chaos!”


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8 responses to ““If you don’t have an imagination, stop reading now.” Tag Line Tuesday with Chris James

  1. Jo-Anne Teal (@jtvancouver)

    July 17, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Great questions, Ed – insightful and certainly not boring! Really enjoyed reading this interview…all most as much as I enjoyed reading Chris’s books!

  2. Chris James

    July 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Many thanks for inviting me to be on Tag Line Tuesday and all the additional work you’ve done with the interview. I’m not that miserable all the time… Well, no, actually I probably am 🙂

  3. acflory

    July 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Evening gentlemen. 🙂 I rather enjoyed this interview. If you read this Chris then know that you are not the only one who is writing for immortality. The trouble is success and immortality are not the same beast. Even worse, sci-fi is dead in the water at the moment. I’m sure if you put a nubile female vampire in your book somewhere the publishers would have snapped it up. The public too.

    So all of us unloved sci-fi writers are just going to have to endure until we’re the flavour of the decade again. Whatever you do, do /not/ give up. Our turn will come again…-maniacal laughter….

    • Chris James

      July 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Hi acflory,
      I did read it and agree with you totally. I just don’t know what’s happened to sci-fi these last few years. All anyone cares about are bloody wizards and vampires – I swear I’ll scream if I see one more book described as a “parnormal romance” – arrrggg!
      But yes, I hope one day proper nuts-and-bolts sci-fi will become popular again *sigh*

      • acflory

        July 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm

        Me too. According to my daughter Twilight is to blame for the vampires. I have my suspicions about the paranormal romance epidemic but I think I’ll be diplomatic and keep those suspicions to myself. -sigh-

  4. medmcn

    July 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    The decline of Western Civilization continues. 😉

  5. laurieboris

    July 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Awesome! Chris, I’m a left-handed fan of Frasier, too. Ed, I love Tag Line Tuesday.

    • Chris James

      July 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks, Laurie – Ed’s TLT is a cracking thing 🙂


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