James Montgomery Jackson interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Mar 30, 2017 11:27:25 PM
James Montgomery Jackson interview with David Alan Binder
Short Bio info from his blog:
Why use a 22-character moniker like "James Montgomery Jackson", when a simple "Jim Jackson" would do?
His answer. It’s the name my parents gave me. Have you met other Jim Jacksons? Me too. Some of them were fine people, but none of them were me.
As near as I can tell there are four James Montgomery Jacksons having something to do with the United States. There are probably more, but they don’t show up on a Google search. One was a revolutionary war soldier; another fought during the Civil war. I came third and a decade after me some other parents had the same idea as mine for a name.
I’d rather try to distinguish myself in a group of four than 40,000 or so.
Names Under Which He Writes:
Whatever the publisher wants. My bridge book: One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge is written in a casual style, so we used Jim Jackson. My Seamus McCree novels, Ant Farm, Bad Policy, Cabin Fever and Doubtful Relations use the name James M. Jackson. I have short stories under all three versions of my name, plus Giles Elderkin (used for historicals). Who cares what name they use as long as they publish my work so people can read them.
My novels are suspense/ domestic thrillers involving financial crimes. Most of my short fiction also involves crime. I've dabbled in horror and occasionally write fantasy, sci-fi and "literary."
My book for Intermediate bridge players, One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge was published by Master Point Press in March 2012 and received excellent reviews in the New York Times and Bridge World magazine. I've published essays and delivered a number of homilies for various churches.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/James-M.-Jackson/e/B004U7FRP2/
1. Where are you currently living?
I split my time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s Lowcountry. I claim the moves between locations are weather-related; others suggest they may have more to do with not overstaying my welcome.
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
The mystery-writing community is very supportive of authors at all levels in a non-competitive way.
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
Prior to submitting a book, I will review it electronically, in print, and do an auditory read through. I catch different problems with each method.
4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
An author needs to decide the best publication route for each project. There are tradeoffs between traditional publishing with large companies, small publishers, micro-publishers, and self-publishing. What is right for one project may not be the best choice for another.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?
I am a hybrid author. Barking Rain Press (Vancouver, WA) traditionally published two of the Seamus McCree novels; Kindle Press (Seattle, WA) published the e-book edition of Ant Farm after it won a Kindle Scout contest. I have also indie published through Wolf’s Echo Press (Amasa, MI)
5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I’ve discovered many older readers hold a strong preference for either eBooks or print versions. I want to provide both alternatives to maximize a book’s potential market. Younger readers will often switch back and forth between print, eBook, and even audio depending on their physical location.
6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
Nothing secret about it: for an unknown author, the better your book is written, the better chance it has to be published.
7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
Personal connections can open doors unavailable to those making cold submissions. Meeting agents who work in your genre (and subgenre) at conferences or through mutual friends will often get you past gatekeepers. After you have made a connection, your work must stand on its own.
8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Read widely to see how great writers succeed and lesser writers fail. One of the most informative things I did early in my writing career was volunteer as a reader for a small press. I soon learned that it did not take many pages for me to determine whether the submission was well written. A great start can peter out and prove disappointing; a poor start never gets a second chance to prove how great it really was.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing, or illustrating?
I discovered that I love the rewriting process more than the initial creation process. That’s a very good thing since I only write one first draft, but I do multiple rewrites!
10. How many books have you written?
Four of my novels and one non-fiction book on the game of bridge have been published. Various published anthologies include a novella and numerous short stories.
11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
I maintain a list of all my bad tendencies. One stage in polishing a story is to go through the list and find and correct those tendencies. In every story, I become enamored with some new word or phrase and overuse it. To find those problems, I use a program that counts word and phrase frequency. More than two uses of something like “sideway glances” and I need to cut or rephrase.
12. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
The best twists jerk the story from the path the reader assumes is being followed to another of the author’s choosing. Like a magician, a little misdirection with the right hand while the left hand is doing the work can be effective.
13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
My novels feature tight plotting with twists and turns combined with characters that readers care about.
14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I have a theory that people need to hear about something three times before it sticks. That includes discovering new authors. As a result, I try to find ways, such as this interview, to introduce myself (and my books) to readers. I maintain my own blog and am a regular blogger on Writers Who Kill (http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/)
15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I would not have submitted my early books to agents before the manuscripts were completely ready. Scratch many great writers who found “instant” success and you’ll find they frequently wrote several unpublished novels before the one that sold. I didn’t realize how much effort and time it takes to become a good writer, and in retrospect, I would have honed my writing skills before submitting to agents.
16. What saying or mantra do you live by?
“Attitude is Everything”
17. Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks for this opportunity.