Friday, September 23, 2011




Q: What is amazing is that your career in writing started with a short story competition. Can you tell us more about that and what happened on that day?

A: My first attempt at writing came after the death of my father-in-law. At one of several reminiscing afternoons Joyce, my wife’s mother, remarked that ‘You could write a book about all that’, so I did. It remains in manuscript form to this day, but it set me off on writing a few short stories. Later in the year Lynn, my wife, spotted a competition in one of our local newspapers and I sent in five of the stories. One of them finished in the top ten of a competitive international field comprising almost 2,000 entries.

Q: It says on your biography that you are an accountant. If you had to choose between the two which would you rather do, write or continue being an accountant?

A: For the moment, my full-time job as a Management Accountant brings home the bacon, and until the big breakthrough which all writers hope for, that will remain the case. Of course, if the time came that writing provided me with a comparable income, I would take it up permanently.

Q: Did you ever try your hand at writing before the contest you won?

A: Not really. I was good at ‘composition’ at school, but when Grammar School examinations came around, that kind of thing stopped. IO have always been able to ‘tell a good tale’, but until the competition had never given it serious thought.

Q: Tell us more about your books; it seems you write a few different genres. Is there one you like best?

A: ‘A Ticket to Tewkesbury (ISBN9781905809349) is a spy thriller set in 1992, and which harks back to the fall of Berlin at the end of WWII. A soldier brings back a set of secret files and hides them away. When their existence resurfaces nearly fifty years later, it sets off a chain of events which threaten to restart the Third Reich in modern day Britain.

‘Short Stories Volume One’ (ISBN9781905809608) is an anthology encompassing a variety of styles. Horror, crime, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, romance and humour all have a place amongst the thirty-six tales. It’s ideal for a lunch or coffee break with an average word count of around 2,500

‘Two Little Dicky Birds’ (ISBN9781905809936) tells the story of a young man brutally treated by his father. He kills the man and vows to rid society of all such people. Eighteen murders up and down England, and spanning a period from 1975-1992, hold the entire country in a grip of fear. Then they stop. In 2002, the same killer re-emerges and threatens a fresh campaign, giving the Metropolitan Police just twenty-eight days to catch him. It’s my longest novel to date, comprising 90,000 words in 85 chapters.

‘Threads of Deceit’ (ISBN9781907728266) is my latest work to go on general release. A young man is betrayed by his boss, someone whom he believed he could trust implicitly. He embarks upon a campaign of revenge which eventually brings down the company which they both worked for. It is a story of deception, murder, drug-trafficking fraud and embezzlement.

Q: How does your family feel about your writing? Tell us more about them.

A: My wife is quite ambivalent towards the writing, and as long as it does not get in the way of more important family life, merely acts as ‘back-stop’ and reader of last resort. She is the one who checks the logic of each and every story after the writing and editing is finished. My children are merely amused that their hitherto humdrum father now has his books in libraries and bookshops up and down the country.

Q: Have you always lived in the UK, and if so do you think that your country has a bearing on your creativity?

A: Yes, I have, apart from the usual holidays abroad over the thirty-five years of our married life. I am certain that the British culture has greatly influence the way in which I write, but some of my short stories are set in the USA. I have managed to write an acceptable American tale, due largely to the friendships which I have built up on a number of US writing sites since 2008.

Q: Are there certain ways you get your ideas for your stories that you can share with us?

A: I listen; I watch. People do the strangest things sometimes and their behaviour is wonderful fuel for someone like me. I can turn a story from a word, a sentence, or even a look. As an example, I asked my daughter, a few years back, to give me a subject for a short story. ‘Stick’ she said, write a story about a stick. I did, but not the piece of wood she meant. ‘Stick’ was an n old Jew living in London. His father had been murdered at the Battle of Cable Street in London, in 1936. An accident at work left him a cripple and he walked with a stick, hence the nickname.

Q: If you had to choose only one of your novels which one would you choose as your favourite and why?

A: That’s a very hard question. I think an author’s first novel always has a special place in his or her heart, but with each new piece of writing you improve and evolve. That’s certainly the case with me. I would have to say that ‘Two Little Dicky Birds’ gave me the greatest satisfaction. The amount of research which I have to do was considerable, and the collaboration on the cover with Nathan Weaver and his Onyx Dragon production company in Rolla, Missouri, was extremely satisfying.

Q: Where do you hope your future in writing takes you?

A: All authors hope to hit the Best Seller list, and I would be lying if I did not have that very same ambition. For now, though, it’s a joyride, a hobby, and one which is giving me an enormous amount of pleasure. I would love to see my books on the shelves of every branch of Waterstones in the UK, and Barnes & Noble in the USA. I already have an international presence with Amazon, and all four books will shortly be available on the Kindle.

Q: Is there any advice you'd like to offer to other aspiring authors?

A: Believe in yourself, because of you can’t, no-one else will. Never treat your work as finished – be prepared to write, then edit and edit again. Polish until the shine on the manuscript blinds you, and please...get it edited finally by an independent pair of eyes. Be ready for rejections, because they WILL come, and get over the disappointment. Promote yourself widely and do not expect an agent to take you on. I promise this: that feeling when you actually see your book on a library shelf or in a bookshop window will remain with you for the rest of your life.

For more information about Neal James go to his site at:

Read more: