Razz Editor, Kate spoke to James Barty, a third year English student and published author. James’ first book ‘The White Fox,’ a teenage fantasy adventure, came out last year and the sequel ‘The Black Rose’ is coming out December 1st. James tells Kate about his inspiration, E-books and how he manages a degree and a writing career.
Your first book ‘The White Fox’ was published last year, how does it feel to have a book published at such a young age?
It’s a pretty odd experience, but definitely a good one. It’s encouraging having something concrete you can point to saying ‘I did that’…
For those who have not read it, please could you briefly sum up the story…
The story follows two British teenagers, Jack and Lucy, who get dragged into another world when their hometown is invaded by sorcerers. They have to find their feet in the middle of a war, search for a missing friend, and basically find out what the hell is going on.
The White Fox was the first in a trilogy, when can we expect to see the sequel?
The sequel, ‘The Black Rose’, is out on 1st December this year. With any luck, the concluding part should be out next December.
How do you manage to do this on top of a degree?!
I’m not quite sure! Uni holidays are useful because they’re so long, but when you’re working in those too things get a little packed. I guess because it’s something I enjoy so much I treat it as leisure time rather than working time!
Is your style influenced by what you learn in your English degree and modules?
Definitely. The first book was accepted by the publisher right at the beginning of first year, but the final edits weren’t due until that spring so there were things I re-shuffled in the meantime. I don’t like telling people what to read into my writing – it tends to impose something of a dogmatic view on the reader (thank you, Barthes) – but it should be fairly obvious to any English students reading the series that there’s some Marx, Nietzsche, Nussbaum…
That’s a really tough question – it tends to vary pretty regularly. At the moment I’m particularly liking Angela Carter, Allen Ginsberg, Ezra Pound, Kazuo Ishiguro… If I had to pick my overall favourite contemporary novelist it would probably be Julian Barnes, but that’s with close competition from quite a lot of others!
You are taking Digital and Cyberculture Studies.’The White Fox’ can be downloadable as an E-book. Do you think the move towards electronic books and reading online is a good thing?
Like all technological shifts it’s a dialectic between gains and losses. E-books are a lot cheaper, they’re more eco-friendly, and they have the opportunity to reach a wider readership. On the other hand, we’re surrendering more and more to unaccountable and politically dubious corporations like Amazon, at the expense of local bookshops. Plus, I think of lot of people (me included) have an aesthetic and sentimental attachment to printed books – the shape, the texture, the page-turning, etc. But who knows? The e-book phenomenon has only really hit as we’ve been becoming adults – we might be the last generation that grows up reading in an analogue way.
What is your process of writing? Does it come to you in the middle of the night? Where do you find inspiration?
The middle of the night thing is quite annoying, actually. You’re just dropping off to sleep and then an idea hits you – bad if you’ve got a nine o’clock lecture, worse if you’ve got a seven o’clock shift! In terms of a ‘process’, I don’t really have one. I’m lucky enough to be able to write when I feel like it, and I’ve made deadlines like that so far. Inspiration comes from everywhere – books, films, people, paintings, scenery, even just walking around.
In terms of publishing, there’s no hard and fast answer to that – some of it is effort, some of it is quality, but most of it seems to be just pure luck. Someone at my publishers always uses the examples of John Grisham and J. K. Rowling – absolutely huge writers who were on the verge of giving up because of waves and waves of rejections. and In terms of writing, the most important thing is cultivating your own individual vision. There are a thousand other ways that people can get a ‘direct’ representation of reality – what distinguishes you is your ability to present the world in a way that is subjective but one that still manages to connect with and inspire people.
A traditional Razz question now…if somebody asked you to ‘razz their berries’ what would you say?
“Is that a euphemism?”
To find out more, visit: http://jamesbartholomeusz.tumblr.com/
Or follow him on twitter at: @thoughtfox11
Lots of Razz love, xxx