Sunday, 18 December 2011

Author Interview: James Hutchings

James Hutchings has written The New Death And Others.

1. What is your name and where do you call home?
James Hutchings, and Melbourne, Australia.

2. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
It's called 'The New Death and others'. It's a collection of short stories and poems, most of which are dark fantasy. 

3. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
'The New Death and others' isn't part of a series. In fact the stories and poems in it aren't necessarily connected to each other.
I'm working on a verse version of 'A Princess of Mars'. This is a science fiction adventure story, now in the public domain, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who's more famous for Tarzan. Disney is also doing a movie of it, called 'John Carter', but that's not why I chose it. I generally work on several things at the same time, so I'm also in the middle of a few short stories and poems. I've been encouraged to write a novel set in the fantasy city of Telelee, which is the setting of a few of the stories in 'The New Death and others'. I have a lot of background for this world, because I blog every day ( and most of it is setting detail. I also have a half-finished novel called 'All-American Detectives', which is a combination of a detective story and a story about superheroes, which I'll probably come back to in the future.

4. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
Yes, I give free copies to anyone who agrees to do a review on any website, whether Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, their own blog, a forum, or anywhere else. Contact me via my blog (details below).

5. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
I designed it, but the picture is by a dead Mexican artist called Jose Posada.

6. How did you come up with the title for your book?
I actually chose the picture before I came up with the title. I went through the contents and found the story that best matched that picture.

7. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
I prefer e-books, purely because they save paper. I haven't made a printed version of 'The New Death and others', and I don't submit my work to any magazines that have a printed edition.

8. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
Yes, I self-published through Amazon and Smashwords. I've never tried to be traditionally published. It seems like traditional publishers expect most of their authors to do their own promotion anyway, so what are they giving in return? Also, of course, it's very difficult to get a contract, and bloggers like JA Konrath argue that it's going to get more and more difficult, because publishers will respond to loss of income by cuting their 'mid-list', or paying them less, to concentrate on a few authors who can make them a lot of money. I was also influenced by not wanting to waste paper. There are publishers who only publish electronically, but I was skeptical about what they'd do for me that I couldn't do for myself.

9. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
I've read 'The Hobbit' several times, and 'Lord of the Rings' more than once.

10. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Nowadays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an ebook on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one's going to stop you. I'd recommend that people get onto Critique Circle ( and/or Scribophile (, put their work up, and listen to what people tell you. Don't 'defend' your work against people's 'attacks'. They aren't attacks, they're helping you. I've found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they're not making the changes they need to make.
My next point doesn't matter if you're going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won't publish work that's already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that's silly, but that's what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because google doesn't index them and you can't see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they're out there.
I'd also say that getting a book out isn't the final step. It's just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you're not  self-publishing: I'm told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn't matter, of course).
There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they're going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they're asking you to pay then it's a scam. Of course if you're self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than ebooks - but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don't know why you'd want to. Preditors and Editors ( is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle.
Finally, I'd suggest learning to touch-type if you can't already. You're going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.

11. Where can your readers follow you?


Goodreads author page:



Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!

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