Today I want to introduce a most interesting gentleman that I met because of this weekly blog I write.
A couple of years ago I started getting comments from James Osborne with each and every blog. His comments were always encouraging and complimentary. After several of them, I thought, “I have a fan!” I decided to do some research and discovered that James Osborne is a fellow writer who also posts a regular blog—and often the subject is one of his short stories.
James and I have become long distance friends in the process (he in Canada and me in the southern United States) and I’ve since learned that James is truly a modern-day writing entrepreneur. This year he has published a full-length novel, a short story collection of his own, a short story anthology with me and has contributed to three more short story anthologies being published by the end of the year.
His publishing record includes:
The Ultimate Threat: A fiction novel based on the spread of terrorism in recent years across the Middle East, Africa and Europe superimposed onto real settings in American cities. Available now on Amazon by clicking here.
Encounters With Life – Tales of Living, Loving and Laughter: A collection of 34 short stories by James Osborne. Each story was inspired in some way by his personal experiences. Available now on Amazon by clicking here.
Unforeseeable Consequences: A collection of six suspense-filled short stories edited by me and in which James contributed an exciting short story called With Lethal Intent. Available now on Amazon by clicking here.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: This anthology has just been published and it includes a fun story by James about Halloween called The Halloween Outhouse Caper. Available now on Amazon by clicking here.
Voices of The Valleys: A short story anthology that will publish shortly and in which James has contributed yet another one of his short stories. This anthology is extra special in that all of the authors with stories included have agreed to donate their proceeds to Doctors Without Borders Canada.
As you can see, James is an impressive and versatile writer. I thought you’d like to know a little more about him personally, so I asked him a series of interview questions. His answers reflect, in part, his experience providing his short story for our anthology Unforeseeable Consequences as well as his overall journey as an author.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself, James. I’m a former investigative journalist, and have also been a vice president of a Fortune 500 company, served in the military, and owned a business for 10 years. That diversity has been helpful in my writing.
2) When did you first start writing and what inspired you? Have you taken writing classes? I became an avid reader at a young age. I was about eight on my family’s wilderness farm one winter with nothing much to read. So I browsed through page by page an all-in-one edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia, some 1,200 pages. The following Christmas I received the novel ‘Hunting Lions In The Grand Canyon’ by Zane Grey. It sparked my imagination and I’ve been an avid reader ever since. I’ve taken a number of seminars on writing, but 15 years in journalism was a big help both to improve my facility with the language and also to gather plot/content ideas from some of the stories that I covered.
3) What sparked the idea for your novel (or your other writing)? How did you come up with the title? How long did it take? My short story “With Hostile Intent” that appears in the Unforeseeable Consequences anthology was inspired from research for my novel, The Ultimate Threat. At first, I considered using it in a sequel, but felt it made a better short story.
4) What is your writing routine? Do you have the idea for the novel first and the character’s story develops or vice versa. Do you use an outline or just begin writing? There are a number of important questions here. First, everyone will have a routine that works best for them. For me, I write almost every morning as soon as I get up, but it varies as ideas form in my mind throughout the day. That’s why I always carry a notebook. But I refuse to be a slave to my writing. Sometimes I write, sometimes I don’t write – and I simply do not allow myself to get stressed about it one way or the other. Second, each of my novels and short stories evolved differently in the beginning, but at some point I let the lead characters tell me where they wanted to go. I set them free to create the challenges in the plots and to solve them. Third, when I sat down to write I already had a notion in my mind in very general terms how I thought the plot should unfold. Sometimes that’s how it worked out, sometimes it didn’t.
5) What are your favorite authors/books? Did any of these influence your writing? I have a bundle of favorite authors and each one had an influence in one way or another. Most of all, they instilled in me the joy of the story. There are two dimensions to that: the first is receiving the story, that is reading, hearing, watching, and, second, the joy of telling and writing stories for others to enjoy. My favorite authors range from Plato to Lee Child and scores in between. A short list would include Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, James Michener, Michael Creighton, Robert Ludlum, Trevanian (a.k.a., Rodney William Whitaker), Tom Clancy, Jack London, W. O. Mitchell, Ken Follett, Zane Grey… the list goes on.
6) Do you identify with any of the characters? No, but in my mind I do champion the good guys and mentally frown upon the bad guys.
7) If you could go back, is there anything you would change about the book? There are always many changes a writer can do to improve a short story or book. In my experience, none of my short stories or novels has ever been finished. They may be deemed by my editors to be complete, but they can always be improved and thus are not ever truly finished.
8) What was the hardest thing about writing this book? Have you experienced writer’s block and how do you get over it? I worked on this story on and off for more than three years. I had the plot in mind but struggled to find a satisfying way of having it unfold credibly. As for ‘writer’s block’, I personally don’t believe in it. I believe that what some call ‘writer’s block’ is merely your mind telling you that you don’t have anything to say just now. Doing something else for a while often stimulates the mental juices for many people. Sadly, people who feel they’re suffering with ‘writers block’ get stressed about it and that often makes matters worse for them.
9) Have there been any challenges with getting your book (or other work) published? Of course! Every writer has faced challenges getting their work published. Even JK Rowling experienced immense difficulty finding a publisher for Harry Potter, and then it was the publisher’s daughter who read the first chapter of Harry Potter and demanded more. The rest is history, of course. The fact is, whether we realize it or not, we are in the midst of a massive ‘sea change’ in this industry. Traditional publishing and the literary agents who fancy themselves the gatekeepers for them are being made obsolete by the digital age. They are being eclipsed by independent publishers, many of which accept manuscripts without literary agents. Be careful, however, not to confuse independents with vanity and other self-publishers who charge authors to publish their work. True independents do not charge authors and most offer royalty rates competitive with traditional publishers – and independents often do a better job of marketing your books.
10) What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? First, be prepared for more work than you can ever imagine. That’s what it takes, and more, to get a book or a short story right and ready for publication. Writing is hard work, good writing is even harder work than that! But even before you start, read the works of some bestselling authors of the genre in which you plan to write. Be observant about plot, character development, POV (point of view), pacing, among other things. If you’re new to writing be absolutely certain to take some courses. They will save you much grief later. Then whatever you plan on writing, research thoroughly. When you have the manuscript drafted, then rewrite and wordsmith and proofread it multiple times. This is a good point to have some beta readers critique it, and then rewrite and wordsmith it again. By this time, you’re getting close to having it ready for submission. If this sounds too onerous, then perhaps you’re not ready yet to get into serious writing. I say this not to be negative or to discourage aspiring writers, but simply to be honest based upon my own experience. Finally, see #9 above.
11) Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? Readers and fans are why authors write… it is they who motivate us to write. Without them, writing would be like the fabled tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it and to see it.
12) Will there be a sequel? This short story most likely will not have a sequel. Not sure yet. My novels probably will. But not sure yet.
Please take a moment to click into James Osborne’s social media sites to learn more about his published books and be sure to stop by his blog site to view some of his interesting short stories posted there.
James Osborne Links:
Amazon Author’s Page: www.amazon.com/author/jamesosborne
Goodreads Authors Page: https://www.goodreads.com/JamesOsborne