Today I have the pleasure to share an interview with James Crawford, a newly published author and a good friend. Jim is a man of many talents, from graphic design to metalworking (he has a fascination with sharp, pointy things). His first novel, Blood Soaked and Contagious, indeed features a main character with a wicked sword he calls the Man Scythe.
I am not going to complain to you about my life.
We’ve got zombies. They are not the brainless, rotting creatures we’d been led to expect. Unfortunately for us, they’re just as smart as they were before they died, very fast, much stronger than you or me, and possess no internal editor at all.
Claws. Did I mention claws?
I kill them for a living, but it’s as much a vocation as a freelance career choice. It helps me, helps my neighborhood, and the people I consider to be my family of choice. What’s more? I’m really good at it.
My life had a nice rhythm, but the military bungled an attempt to wipe out an organized bunch of undead near a major commuting route into DC. The formerly-human survivors relocated. Now they’re less than an hour’s stroll away from where I live.
We’ve got something they want, and they’re coming to get it.
Didn’t the Greeks consider pride a deadly sin?
I admit, I’m not a big fan of zombies. I just can’t take the gore, and with zombies, there’s guaranteed to be a lot of that. But I’m enjoying the book. Jim has an easy-to-read style and a great sarcastic tone. His main character is a tough guy—did I mention the cool sword?—who’s clinging to his humanity with his last tendons. It’s a good read. I may have to pass on the movie version, though, or just watch through my fingers.
Now on to our questions to get some insight on this new author.
Q: Where were you born? How many places have you lived? Are you the kind of person who likes to move around a lot, or do you prefer to live in one place?
A: I was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and I’ve lived a whopping 4 places my whole life. Considering my temperament, I’m more content moving around infrequently, if at all.
Q: What sparked your interest in writing? How long have you been writing?
A: My interest in writing was rekindled by metalworking… I damaged my hammer arm and couldn’t swing a hammer properly, so I decided to write while I healed up.
I started writing in 9th grade, and somehow forgot how much I loved doing it until 2010.
Q: Why zombies? What’s their appeal?
A: Zombies are dark, nasty, mindless things that eat us. They’re also an interesting metaphor for our modern lives. We wander around, groaning, aimless, as we consume the world around us. Writing about them appealed to me for that reason, and because the genre has exploded in the past couple of years. I took it as a challenge to do something a little different with them.
Q: How long did it take you to finish the book? How many drafts did you write before you were satisfied?
A: I started in January of 2010 and was mostly finished with the first draft by May. The first book didn’t have a second draft as much as it did sectional rewrites and general “tightening”. I was functionally finished by November.
Q: Why did you decide to self-publish? What’s involved in getting ready for publication?
A: Self-publishing is easier than the process of hunting and seducing a Literary Agent. I found that dance to be surprisingly painful, and decided to go it alone.
You need a few things to get started. 1. Friends to edit your work and give you unvarnished opinions. 2. The desire to make changes when you’ve received good advice. 3. A book cover designed by a professional. 4. Courage. 5. A computer with internet connection and a word processing program.
Q: How do you feel about the marketing aspect of publishing?
A: Somewhat lost, but willing to learn on the job.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Go ahead and do it. Be prepared for surprising emotions about your work and how it is received. Have a sense of humor if at all possible. Ask questions of people who’ve done this before and LISTEN to them.
Q: Name a few authors who have inspired you and why.
A: Jim Butcher. Richard Kadrey. CJ Cherryh. Mario Acevedo. Cindy Young-Turner. (Aw, thanks!)
Q: Are you working on any other writing projects?
A: Yes. I’ve got 2 or 3 other storylines that I’m tossing around, along with the sequel to “Blood Soaked and Contagious”.
Q: Coffee, tea, or hard liquor? (or all three?)
A: Coffee. Tea. Well, all three, but the liquor in serious moderation.
Q: What books are you currently reading or on your to-be-read list?
A: I’m scooting through James Clavell’s “Gai-jin” at the moment, and am about to start on a couple of web development-related books when Amazon coughs them up onto my doorstep.
Q: And now for the bonus fluff question: If you could be a character in your one of your favorite novels, which character would you be and why?
A: Sandman Slim from Richard Kadrey’s “Sandman Slim”… He’s badass, carries a magical blade, and… HE IS BAD-BAD-ASS!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
You bet, my old friend! Thank you for having me!
Now go get the book! Here’s where to find your very own copy of Blood Soaked and Contagious:
James Crawford is an artist, graphic designer, amateur bladesmith and subversive suburbanite when no one else is looking. He lives with his wife in the Washington, DC area where he pursues hobbies that pay off in cuts, burns, tendonitis, full sketchbooks, and the occasional freaky idea. Once in a while, those freaky ideas refuse to die and shamble off to create lives of their own. Visit his website at: http://www.jamescrawfordcreative.com/.