Steven James is the bestselling, award-winning author of four thrillers, including The Knight, which Suspense Magazine named one of the top ten books of 2009. Armed with a Master’s Degree in Storytelling, James is a popular conference speaker and has taught writing and storytelling throughout North America, as well as in India and South Africa.
Read reviews of Steven James novels HERE.
What two or three things would you do differently if you were starting your publishing career today?
Early in my writing career, I took on whatever jobs I could in order to make some money. Sometimes these included projects I was interested in, sometimes I was just putting down words in order to get paid. Over the years, I’ve realized I would personally only feel satisfied when I’m writing the stories that are true to who I am; stories I honestly believe in. This has helped me find my voice as an author and has kept me from the cookie cutter approach I sometimes followed earlier I my career.
If I could change something, I would avoid the work-for-hire type projects I did earlier and focus on the original ideas that I have.
The editing process.
Imagine that you are a painter. You spend a year of your life on a project, then pass it on to a museum. At the museum they hand out paints and brushes to a number of artists who have only recently graduated from art school, who have 15 years less experience than you do. Then they tell the aspiring artists to fix the parts of your painting that they don’t feel are right. An artist would go insane if something like this happened, yet, this is what happens every day to novelists.
Handling it isn’t always easy, but communicating your expectations with the editor from the start will stem off some of the problems before they arise.
What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?
Don’t fall in love with your first draft.
Very often when we write we believe the words we are punching down on the page are the best words ever written. However, if you set your work aside, and live a little between drafts, then go back to your work, you will be able to look at it more objectively and always be able to improve it.
What one issue ignites your passion? Does your passion fuel your writing? What would you do with your life if you didn’t write?
Several times I’ve had the opportunity to visit the slums of India. Seeing the horrifying conditions that many people throughout the world live in, makes my heart ache.
Also the fact that so many innocent children are killed through legalized abortion is deeply troubling to me.
I believe that my writing affirms the value and dignity of human life, and hopefully will inspire other people to treat the underprivileged with more compassion.
If I weren’t writing or speaking, I believe I would like to be involved with some type of humanitarian work.