This week’s #SPFBO Author Interview is with James Jakins. James is a South African born writer with an American accent because children are cruel and laughed at the way he said orange. He was the last kid in his class to learn to read, so once that was remedied he quickly made up for lost time and read everything he could get his hands on. He now reads way better than all of them, except that one person who will always be smarter than him. They know who they are.
Eventually, someone said, “Hey, James, read this fantasy novel.” He did, and still hasn’t managed to crawl out of that rabbit hole, though he has found others to fall into. The first story he ever wrote was horrible, but everyone pretended it was great, so now he can’t feel good about himself unless someone is praising his work. He lives in Utah with a dog, and a growing collection of porch cats that he wishes would just go away.
What drew you to Self Publishing?
For a long time, I was hesitant about the prospect because I had bought into the stigma that still hangs around the industry until I read some self-published novels and was blown away. Everything was there, great characters, amazing prose, all the good stuff.
It made me realize that while it was possible for self-publishing to have sub-par writing, it was also possible for top-tier writers to exist in that realm. After that, when I started looking into publishing my books, I realized I was more than okay to be included in the same category as some of those writers.
Why did you enter #spfbo?
A few years ago I read The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble's Braids by Michael McClung, which won the first spfbo, and I loved it. I made sure I followed along the second year and found a lot of great reads. I decided that if the contest returned for a third year, I would have to enter.
What advice do you have for anyone new to self-publishing?
Be ready to pay for everything. Hire a great editor and be willing to pay for a good cover. Artists deserve to be paid for their work, so pay them for it. You want the great cover to draw in the readers, and you need the editor to make sure they stay for the whole ride.
But before either of those, write. Practice and improve your craft. No point
What is your favorite thing about self-publishing?
I love the complete creative control I have when producing a product. My favorite thing is commissioning artists for covers. The fact that looking at awesome pictures online is part of my job now is just amazing to me.
What is your least favorite thing about self-publishing?
Marketing. Just... ugh... Marketing.
Does Writing energize or exhaust you?
A little of both, honestly. Something about starting a new story is so energizing for me. Then the middle of the stories tend to drain me, and I have to find something else to recharge those batteries as I muscle through the story. Until I get to a certain point where the whole story just comes together and starts to coalesce into a story, I don't hate anymore. That part of the process has an energizing effect as well.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Write more, jackass.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My weirdo dog is my mascot. I wouldn't pick anything other than him. He might even be my spirit animal...
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Most of the people I base characters on are friends, so I owe them way more than I can likely ever repay.
I have one character in my Thunder's War series based on one of my best friends, Daniel. The character in the book is named Dan, and a lot of people tell me he's their favorite character in that book. He's certainly one of my favorite to write.
Thanks, James! You can learn more about James and his upcoming projects by visiting him here: