Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I’m trying to get my wife to call me Master, like Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie but that doesn’t seem to be working out so well.
Are you an astronaut?
No, but I flew helicopters in the Army for five years, and since I had a uniform just like Major Healey, I figured that somehow… but no dice.
Favorite city and why?
San Francisco. It had a great vibe, great memories, and the best sourdough bread in the world.
Birthday / Age:
Sept 14, 1962. Damn, how’d I get this old?
It’s what happens when you don’t die. Getting older might suck a bit, but I think it beats the alternative… until it doesn’t.
The funny thing is, old isn’t as old as it used to be. I thought people over fifty were geezers when I was growing up. But now I see them driving their golf carts up for the early bird special and think “Now there are some cool dudes!”
How would you describe yourself physically?
A 2015 F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
How would someone else describe you physically?
A 1939 DC-3 in an aviation boneyard.
The first thing people notice about you is…
How well I blend in.
Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I’m a horror writer. Every superstition and phobia are laid out for all in black and white.
Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
No vices. Certified candidate for sainthood.
Current occupation / Dream job:
I am currently a technical writer for a Fortune 50 company. The only thing I’d give my job up for is to write fiction full time.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Writing takes up almost all non-work time.
What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
My wife and I steal about a 30 foot sailboat since I haven’t seen any swimming zombies. We live off fish in the Florida Keys.
As much as I hate to be the one to break it to you… http://youtu.be/uOSN2s8FY8Q
Oh, hell. Now I need a Plan B.
Weapon of choice:
M16A1 rifle with an M203 grenade launcher. I used to volunteer to run qualification ranges with both of those.
Do you have any special skills?
I’ve restored several classic 1970’s muscle cars.
What was your favorite one to restore and why?
I’m almost done with a 1970 Corvette convertible. I think that body style is one of the prettiest ever made. The driving position is excellent because of the tilt/telescopic steering wheel (a big deal in 1970) and the view down the long hood through the bulging fenders is ultra-cool. Damn near everything but the frame is new, but I like knowing how the whole car was assembled.
Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I have a Business BS from Cornell University and an MBA from Central Florida University.
If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
I worked my way through college and had an ROTC scholarship so had a minimal student loan to pay off. How people can consciously saddle themselves with some of the debt levels I hear about now is unbelievable. I mean $45K in student loans when you are getting a job in a field that pays less than that annually? What kind of investment is that?
That’s a good question. When I attended college in the mid-nineties, state school was about eight grand a year, and the median income for my chosen field of study, psychology, was around fifteen to twenty thousand dollars a year. I wanted to be a psychologist and just renting out office space and calling yourself a psychologist is frowned upon, so I went to college because I was young and it seemed like a good investment. It took me five years to finish my bachelor’s degree so I should have had forty-thousand in debt waiting for me on the other end, but I was pretty aggressive in trying to gouge away at the loans when I had the spare money to do so. Since I maintained full-time employment for the duration, I usually had the money. I ended up on the other end with around seventeen thousand, but paying off that last bit has taken me twenty years and the balance has crept up to around twenty thousand, but, that’s life. At least I had the sense to major in an area of study that can be used to augment a resume when applying for a position in a career field. Most of the people I know that majored in film aren’t making movies.
Kudos for working full time through college. Somehow the idea that that is possible doesn’t occur to a lot of people.
I know, right? I just couldn’t imagine not working. I mean, I get that college is for drugs and sex, but I managed to do all that and attend my classes and hold down a full-time job. That being said, it’s definitely a young man’s game. If I tried to stick to the schedule I stuck to in college at my age it would probably kill me.
Any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names?
Two lazy cats named Mallory and Sophie.
What is your favorite animal?
Anything that won’t eat or poison me.
You’d hate Australia. That’s the only kind of animals they have.
Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Give me a week to get a good list together for you.
Keep me posted. There’s no deadline for these interviews.
I can eat pizza until I am physically ill, and then eat one more piece. Least favorite? If during the zombie apocalypse, brussel sprouts are all there is to eat, I’m infecting myself and going cannibal.
You’re, like, the third person in a row to mention brussels sprouts, a food that, until last year I was aware of in name only. That kind of thing happens sometimes with these interviews. I chalk it up to the zeitgeist.
Try one. You’ll be aware of them forever after that.
I did last year. They were like wads of warm wet toilet paper. I’m sure that there’s a recipe somewhere that makes them delicious, but I haven’t seen it yet.
What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.” - Groucho Marx
What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
My wife will kill me if I don’t say getting married to her.
What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
My wife’s response when she reads the previous question’s answer.
Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Absolutely to both. Will that story be told here? Absolutely not.
Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Reference candidate for sainthood answer above.
What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve been on two missionary trips constructing houses for the poor in the Dominican Republic. If you ever want to appreciate everything you have and how amazing America is, go do something like that.
What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Reference candidate for sainthood answer above AGAIN.
If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
Adolph Hitler in a trench in World War I, just to see of the world would be any better without World War II.
What if the world is worse without World War II. What then?
I’d have to go back again, not kill Hitler, and send out about 60,000,000 apology letters.
What do you do?
I write novels.
How did you get started doing what you do?
I used to tell stories I thought up to my wife during long drives. She started bugging me to write them down. I wrote a few. Then she got me two online writing classes that helped me hone my skills.
What did you learn from the online writing courses?
A lot about character creation. I always thought I knew the character in my head, but the classes were good at showing me how to pass that knowledge on to the reader, to make them know that person as well as I did. I also met all the people in my critique group there. We have been working together for years now and they really keep me on my toes, make me think about what I’ve written. We collaborate on all our benefit anthologies as well. Paul Siluch, Kelly Horn, Belinda Whitney, Teresa Robeson, Janet Guy. Google ‘em.
What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Write every day until you are too tired to put down another word. Then read until bed. Rinse and repeat.
What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
I have five horror novels published through Samhain, including Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Dark Vengeance, Black Magic and Dreamwalker. I have three short story collections, Outer Rim (SF), Tales from Beyond, and Deeper into Darkness, the last two both horror. I am in three SF benefit collections for Doctors Without Borders: Out of Time, Still Out of Time and Centauri Station.
What projects are you working on now?
Q Island is a post-apocalyptic tale about a virus turning Long Island, NY into a quarantine zone filled with psychotic killers. A mother must escape with her son, but a cannibalistic crime lord has his sights set on both of them. It’s pretty much a family-oriented story. I envision Disney doing the movie version.
That sounds pretty interesting. I lived on the island for a few years and it’s interesting how one end of the island is urban and the other end is rural and you’ve got every variety in between. Let me know when you’re sending out ARC PDFs. That sounds like something I’d like to check out.
What are you listening to?
Classic rock from the 70s. Music jumped the shark when people stopped having to read it to make it.
What are you reading?
The Cure by JG Faherty, an excellent story about a woman who can cure with a touch, but then must pass the disease on to another before she herself succumbs to it.
Favorite author / book?
Anything by Stephen King.
Favorite band / song?
Boston / Don’t Look Back
Least favorite band / song?
Country/western makes me want to tear my own ears off.
If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Not much. I have an amazing life that I am continually grateful for. Seriously.
Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Jay Leno if it included a tour of his garage.
Dead. Elvis, unless he qualifies in the category above.
Fictional. Superman and we take a trip to the miniaturized city of Kandor.
What’s so great about Jay Leno’s garage?
He has hundreds of classic cars, most exceptionally rare. It’s like a museum, but he takes them out and drives them. That would be a great afternoon. Or week.
Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
C’mon, I barely got through these.
Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Any Samhain Horror author. They are a cool group.
If my e-mail inbox is any kind of indicator it looks like I’ll be collecting them all in the next month or so, but thanks for the recommendation.
Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote. All of them.
Twitter: twitter @rrjames14
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.
After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, Q Island, releases in 2015.
His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."
Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.
Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, or drop a line complaining about his writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and Condemned; and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
Check out his electronic music here: soundcloud.com/master_control
And here: master-control.bandcamp.com
Check out his Etsy here: www.etsy.com/shop/ScottLefebvreArt
Stalk his Facebook at: www.facebook.com/TheLefebvre
E-mail him at: Scott_Lefebvre@hotmail.com