Being part of a Writing Group
Being part of a Writing Group

Sparks in the Dark Blog Tour: A Conversation With James Siewert

James and his husband live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Part-time office drone, part-time storyteller, full-time sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast (and some spooky ghost tales), James couldn’t find enough stories involving guys like him and his hubby are: big men with big hearts, full of big ideas!

 

Taking matters into his own hand, James seeks to share high adventure, low-angst stories where the heroes are solid blokes who take centre stage. Come join the adventure and explore bold new worlds full of authentic characters, gripping scenes, lush imagination, and a touch of mushy stuff – there’s a whole galaxy waiting for you to discover!

Here, he speaks about his latest release, “Sparks in the Dark” and more!

When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I was a teenager, but it’s only within the past year or so that I’ve made the leap into sharing my work with others. It took a long time for me to build the confidence I needed to make public what was otherwise intensely private, but after some encouragement from my co-workers (all who enjoyed how I wrote the office newsletter), I thought I’d give publishing a story a go, if only to see where it took me.  

I can’t say if I’m any good at writing – I think I’m pretty decent and am always looking to improve, but I do enjoy the process of writing stories immensely. Everything from creating characters that resonate with me, to finding adventures for them to experience, to building the world that they inhabit.  It’s a mental holiday for me to just step into my character’s shoes and see their world through their eyes, to figure out their reactions, to say what they would say.   

How would you describe your writing style/genre?

As of this moment, the writing style I am most comfortable with is the one that I most enjoy reading – the first-person perspective, where we really get to experience the character’s world, as they do.  I find it more intimate, and more realistic, to see events unfold before the character’s eyes, and experience their reaction. For me, it makes the characters easier to relate to and connect with, as we’re able to share their thoughts and feelings in real-time.  In the future, I might experiment with different writing styles, but for now, telling a story as though it were a diary of the character is just the ticket for me.  

I also try and write stories as though I were watching a movie, setting the scenes and providing details like I was sitting back with a bowl of popcorn, watching my characters in a feature film.  I love excitement and adventure, and so I make sure my writing contains a lot of big-screen, high-octane action – Michael Bay eat your heart out.

What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.

Allure of Oartheca, my first published work, was as much an experiment as it was a book. I had never written a full-length novel start-to-finish before, and to be honest, I wasn’t very hopeful that it would be well-received, as the story has some rather unique characters in it, ones that are not everyone’s cup of tea – anthropomorphic space-bears are not an easy sell!  But it was the story I wanted to write, and I figured what’s the worst that can happen?  I love the end result, I learned a lot, and other folks got the chance to explore a universe unlike any they’ve ever seen before.

Turns out Allure wasn’t just a story on its own, it was the opening instalment of a feature-length saga, with a plethora of ideas spilling out in every direction on where to go and what to do.  The sequel, Barons of Oartheca, continues the saga, and I am currently writing the third instalment, Captains of Oartheca.

Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.

I planned a three-day excursion to the British Museum in London, all so that I could get a better understanding of life in England during the Napoleonic Wars – specifically, what everyday people wore, the tools they worked with and the day-to-day life they experienced, just so I could hone the realism of my story.  I really needed to understand the life of the common person, as well as a soldier on the front-lines, all for a story I was (and still am) formulating that takes place in that era and location.  Oddly, the thing I learned the most pertained to be their dental hygiene – if you ever want to give yourself nightmares, study pre-20th century dentistry.  Yikes.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Writing historical-based fiction is definitely my Achilles heel, to say the least. Avoiding time-anachronisms, either in language, actions/reactions, social situations and technology, is no easy feat. There’s so many chances to slip-up that the whole creative process becomes frustrating and defeats the purpose of why I write to begin with: enjoyment.  It’s a bit of a heartache, because there’s lots of stories I want to get out there that take place in our history, but the risk of messing up is just so high.  Readers are smart, and they’ll catch you out on a time-mistake faster than you can blink, so it will take a lot more reading of Jane Austin, Walter Scott and the like before I feel even remotely comfortable in giving the world of the nineteenth-century a go.  Shame, because the story I have for it is really cool – it involves mind-controlling immortal aliens of all things!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Start now and stop worrying! I am very critical of myself, and for the longest time, I thought that I’d never be at the level necessary to consider publishing a novel.  That was until I read about four pages of a very popular series that first started out as fan-fiction but now has been made into movies, and discovered a dozen or so grammar mistakes. I figured that if something of this, uh, ‘quality’ can be considered literature, then I have nothing to worry about.  

That’s not to say that I don’t need practice and improvement (far, far from it), but that perfection is an illusion, and it’s sometimes the effort that matters, more than the result.  Oh, and I would tell my younger self to experience more things – writing about something that you know nothing about first-hand is a fool’s errand, so go out and live a little more, experience more, and feel more, even if it means you get a couple of bruises along the way.     


Book Blurb:

 

Space: Where discovery and danger are two sides of the same coin.

 

Meet Albert ‘Buzz’ Buchanan, a retired space marine now freelancing as a gun for hire, who finds himself accepting a deal too good to turn down, even if it’s too good to be true.

 

Meet Thomas Cutter, a star-ship engineer who’s a lot more than what he first seems. He seeks knowledge and adventure, and the offer to team-up with the sexy space marine is just what Cutter’s been waiting for.

 

As our two heroes set out, they encounter more than they bargained for: a discovery of a lifetime, but only if they can escape with their lives. Will the galaxy reward them for their bravery, or will they fall victim to the great unknown?

 

Join Buzz and Cutter in their very first episode as they journey across the galaxy, finding high adventure and untold dangers in the darkness of space … along with discovering a friendship that promises so much more.

 

Warnings: Sexual situations

 

Non-Exclusive Excerpt:

 

I see him, standing in the line-up to get into one of the numerous Bow Ties clubs—The Bull & Tackle, a low-key, pub-like establishment well known as the hunting grounds for men on the prowl for other men, without all the noise of a dance bar. I myself was headed to QuaTzar—the prime-time, holo-powered disco-nasium that attracts the partygoers of the galaxy, but after catching a glimpse of the hefty hulk of a man waiting in line for the pub, I changed my mind.

 

Broad shoulders that narrow to a solid waist, heavily muscled frame, tall and with a buzzed blond haircut so short he’s nearly bald. He’s not a ripped Adonis—there’s some heft and bulk to him that suggests he’s not afraid of a good meal, sorta like I am. Even though his firm backside is turned to me, I can tell this one’s going to be a looker. 

 

He’s dressed in tight tan breeches, tucked into heavy workman’s spacer-boots, and he wears a khaki tank top that shows off his impressively built arm muscles. His dark leather belt has a pistol holder strapped to one side, though it’s currently empty (all weapons are checked at the security airlock to the station). Fair-skinned, but with a rich tan, like he’s been in the sun a lot. 

 

He’s standing fifth in line from the entrance, which is twenty men deep. I gotta catch his attention somehow, so I walk to the front of the line, making my way to the automaton bouncer guarding the entrance. I ask the machine how long the wait will be, and after I get the answer, I turn, my eyes finding and locking on Mr. Number Five.

 

Ah, he is a looker!  Strong, classically masculine features—wide jaw, firm squared chin, proud, straight nose. Wears a short blond beard, kept neatly trimmed, but not stylised. Mouth looks like it was built just for kissing. Incredible eyes too—blue like mine, but more on the green side, like stormy waters. Older than I appear to be, but not by a lot—there’s some wisdom in his handsome face as much as there is quiet strength.

 

 I can’t help but give a low smile in appreciation at such a fine example of a man in the prime of his life, and my trick’s done its job—Mr. Five catches me sneaking a look at him, and gives me that deep stare that clearly shows he likes what he sees too. As I walk past him, I give him a quick nod of my head in greeting, and he’s fast to respond.

 

‘How long did the ‘bot say the wait was?’ he asks, his rumbly voice causing a delightful shiver in me.

 

‘Thirty minutes or so,’ I reply, sounding blasé. ‘Too much of a wait for me.’

 

‘Same,’ Mr. Five says. There’s a short pause as he inspects the line, then looks back at me, the corner of his lips curling. ‘You wanna find another club with me?’

 

I pretend to ponder the question for a believable amount of time. ‘Sounds good, you got something in mind?’

 

He steps out of the line, closer to me. Man, he’s tall, a good twenty centimetres on me, but we’ve got the same muscled build, so it’s not a case of David versus Goliath here. As his eyes wander over me, I can tell that he appreciates what he’s seeing, and I find I’m giving him the same grin he’s giving me.

 

‘Kinda hungry,’ he answers, his tone low and inviting. ‘We could go somewhere quiet, get a little something to eat.’

 

‘Got me a suite in the upper-levels,’ I say, casually. ‘Can always order room service.’

 

A split second is all the time it takes for him to answer. ‘Sounds perfect. Lead the way. Name’s Buzz, what’s yours?’

 

‘Cutter,’ I answer. 

 

 His smile broadens. ‘Good to meetcha, Cutter.’ He extends one of his meaty hands, covered by a fingerless gunman’s glove, and I shake it, firmly,   

 

‘Likewise, Buzz,’ I reply, genuinely, and flash him an appreciative smile. I extend my hand, showing him the way towards the lifts to the upper levels.

 

Ten minutes later, we’re up in my suite, and I’ve already got his shirt  

 

Buy Links:

 

UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LVGJ5

Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com) Link: https://www.limfic.com/book/sparks-in-the-dark/

 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47261/?

Author Bio:

 

James and his husband live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Part-time office drone, part-time storyteller, full-time sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast (and some spooky ghost tales), James couldn’t find enough stories involving guys like him and his hubby are: big men with big hearts, full of big ideas!

 

Taking matters into his own hand, James seeks to share high adventure, low-angst stories where the heroes are solid blokes who take centre stage. Come join the adventure and explore bold new worlds full of authentic characters, gripping scenes, lush imagination and a touch of mushy stuff – there’s a whole galaxy waiting for you to discover!

 

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21531168.James_Siewert

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/james-siewert/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-Siewert/e/B095T25ZSB/

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