Today we have the pleasure of welcoming James R. Callan. How did you develop a 'love of story'?
First, I love to read. This probably goes back to my parents who both liked to read. When I was young, I would hear them reading a story to one another. These things impress a kid. Later, I read stories by Mark Twain and Jules Verne and Edgar Allen Poe and loved the way an author could bring me into the story. It was pretty exciting to a young kid who hadn't been anywhere.
You enjoyed the adventures within the written page. I can relate. :) So, how did you get started in writing?
I did a little writing in high school and then, as an English major, wrote more in college. I thought I would write as a career after college. But that didn't support a family. So, I went to graduate school in mathematics, which led to a thirty-five year detour. Then one day I said, "The kids are all out college and self-supporting." With the blessing of my wife, I retired to begin - although a little late - writing.
Better late than never. Now tell us a little about your new novel.
A few years ago, Keystone wanted to run the pipeline through our property. We objected but in the end, they had eminent domain on their side. When bulldozers cut a swath through our trees one hundred and fifty feet wide and a third of a mile long, I knew I would write a novel dealing with the use of eminent domain by private corporations. Over My Dead Body is the result. However, I write murder mysteries, and while there were protests over the pipeline by many people, I don't think anyone was murdered. So, eminent domain provides the genesis for Over My Dead Body, but I did not use a pipeline as the catalyst.
Syd Cranzler is fighting a large corporation which is taking his land by eminent domain for a new shopping center. In a heated argument with the company's representative, Syd says he will challenge the ruling in court. The next day, Syd is found dead from an overdose of his heart medication. The police rule it suicide. End of story.
Father Frank, Syd's minister, does not believe Syd would commit suicide and works to find some evidence that would get the police to reopen the case. As his investigation begins to make progress, the minister is attacked. Later, he is almost poisoned. Finally, the police are motivated to reopen the case. But, in the end, it is Father Frank who must solve the murder.
I can see where that book came from. How else do you get story ideas?
Life. Everyday, story ideas are popping up all around - in the newspaper, on TV, in conversations overheard in a restaurant or grocery story, or events in your life. A three paragraph article in the L.A. Times was the start for my 94,000 word suspense novel due out in 2016. I read an old folk-tale and wondered how that could affect people today. The 90,000 word novel A Ton of Gold answered that. I see or hear something and then ask the famous author question, "What if ...?"
And that gets the wheels turning. Are you involved in a critique group?
Absolutely. It is difficult to critique your own writing. You need outside people. However, I should add, be sure to select a "good" group, one that actually critiques (not just compliments), one with members who know how to write and understand your genre.
Great advice. What foods do you eat when writing to keep you going?
Almost anything sweet, but ice cream is the favorite.
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Jodie. It is my pleasure and honor to visit with you and your friends.
I'm glad you stopped by, Jim.
Here's Jim's bio:
After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He has had four non-fiction books published. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense. His eleventh book is scheduled to release in 2016.
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