Interview – James Walley, author of The Forty First Wink
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by James Walley, author of the soon to be released: The Forty First Wink. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, James. Can we get you anything?
James Walley: Wow, anything? Anything at all? Thank you kindly, I’ll take one of everything please.
SPS: Ah, very clever! For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself, and where your love of writing came from?
JW: Well, I have been hiding in England this whole time. Before I started writing, I’d spent most of my time in the nine to five rat race, although I did become a circus trained juggler too, to try and even out the routine. I think I’ve always flirted with writing, for as long as I can remember. I read like a tiny maniac when I was a kid, took a literature degree at university, and even spent some time as the singer of a rock band, for which I did a good deal of songwriting. I suspect it’s always been hiding away in there somewhere, although originally? I’d have to blame Dr Seuss.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
JW: I am very lucky in that I live in a very quiet little country village. No distractions and plenty of scenic views to gaze out ponderously over. For some reason, I like to do most of my writing when the sun goes down, preferably with a glass or two of something inspirational. If I’m working on something that’s really firing my imagination, it’s hard to tear me away from that, and I’ll normally be tapping away furiously at my keyboard on every free night I get.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
JW: It’s hard to pinpoint, because it wasn’t really in my mind to do that when I started writing ‘Wink’. I had always wanted to write a novel, and it was enough at the time to be doing just that. After a while though, the story started to take on a life of its own, and people started to get really interested. When they started asking me when it was going to be available to read, it started to get real, and not just something I was writing for fun. Although it was still fun!
SPS: Why do you think it is that you wrote The Forty First Wink as your debut novel, and do you see yourself ever writing in other genres?
JW: I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy fiction, and authors who have turned the genre on its head. With fantasy, you really are only bound by your imagination, which can provide a lot of fantastic twists and turns. The humour element just makes the twists even more crazy and fun. Ideally, I would love to try my hand at horror fiction, although it would be hard to keep the tone serious.
SPS: So, tell us about The Forty First Wink.
JW: It’s the story of a guy who physically wakes up inside his own dreamspace, and has to find his way out. Your everyday tale of boy dreams world, if you like. There’s a cornucopia of random bedlam going on, ranging from tiny talking pirate dolls, nightmarish clowns, giant robot birds, mirror inhabiting evil twins, deserted theme parks, Hollywood style car chases in ice cream trucks. You know, the normal stuff that we all dream about. In a word, it’s fun! I had a blast writing it, and I hope that transfers to the reader.
SPS: Where did the first idea for your novel come from, and how long as has it taken to get to this point?
JW: The story came about as a result of a series of random, unrelated conversations with friends. I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, and decided that it would be fun, and a little scary, to be tasked with trying to escape from one. That was about eighteen months ago. I took my time with it initially, since it started out as purely a labour of love, and finished late in 2013. From then on, it was a case of putting it in the shop window, which in itself was a long, but exciting and rewarding process.
SPS: What are you hoping to achieve with the book?
JW: I really hope that people will love it and its characters as much as I have come to. Since its completion, I have been working on other projects, but have also put together a framework for a sequel, which will eventually form part of a trilogy. Ultimately, I hope that people will enjoy the first story enough that they will want to revisit this little world that I have made.
SPS: What can you tell us about Marty? Is there any of yourself in the character?
JW: I really wanted to portray Marty as a flawed accidental hero. There’s a lot of protagonists out there with super powers, winning smiles, and unlimited ammo, and not nearly enough average Joes. Marty is just coping with his predicament as best he can, and that involves winging it, mostly. I think there is more of me in Marty’s character than I dare to admit, so I will just say “a little, yes.”
SPS: He’s assisted by some unlikely allies. How unlikely are we talking exactly?
JW: Since the story takes place entirely within Marty’s self constructed dreamspace, I’d say very unlikely indeed. The cover gives a glimpse of the supporting cast of the story, and even though they are tiny, I wanted to make them larger than life in every other sense of the word. What you see on the cover is the crew of the Flying Fathom, and they will not play by the rules.
SPS: Are there any other characters of interest we should be on the lookout for?
JW: It goes without saying that you should always be on the lookout for clowns, but particularly so in this case. Mr Peepers is the embodiment of every nightmare you’ve had about those loveable giggling maniacs. There’s also The Locust, a vigilante of some repute, and shrouded in even more mystery. I loved writing Oaf most of all, he’s a character that I hope people will be drawn to, simply because he’s a lumbering, well meaning oaf!
SPS: Do you have plans to revisit any of the book’s characters in future works?
JW: Definitely. Book two is already blueprinted, and I am itching to get back to the characters and their various demented antics. Like I say, this is eventually going to be a trilogy.
SPS: What kind of responses have you received from people who have already had the chance to read your debut work?
JW: Wonderfully positive. I’ve been bowled over by the enthusiasm and excitement that people have shown for something that was essentially born inside my head. I hope this translates to wider public opinion of course!
SPS: What’s next on the writing horizon for James Walley?
JW: As much as possible, hopefully! I have a short story entitled “Santa Claus Wants You Dead.” which will be featuring in an anthology from Fireside Press later this year, and I am currently working on a post apocalyptic, sci fi novella called “The Late Outdoors”, which should be finished in the next few months. Then, of course I will be turning my attention to a sequel to ‘Wink’.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
JW: Certainly. Working with Ragnarok Publications has felt close knit and friendly from day one. There’s a real sense that the work that you submit is given time and consideration. There seems to be a lot more scope for niche genres in indie or self publishing too, something that is a massive benefit when you have a story that is not easily pigeon-holed.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
JW: Absolutely, and so much more besides. It’s not something that you can prepare for, and can be best described as surreal. There’s no manual for writing a novel and getting it published, so everything has been very new and exciting. Just to see something that you’ve toiled long and hard over physically manifested on paper (or e-paper) is so unbelievably rewarding.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
JW: Sit down, write your first page, and then just carry on. If you have a good idea, and commitment to see it through, it’s really just a case of telling yourself to get started. Carpe Diem – Seize the carp.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
JW: All my fellow Ragnarokkers of course. I recently read Mercedes Yardley‘s “Nameless” which is superb, to name one. Seth Skorkowski and Timothy Baker also have new books out which are turning a lot of heads. I hope that ‘Wink’ will continue in that successful trend.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today James, and all the best for the future.
JW: You’re most welcome, and thank you for having me!
SPS: For more information on James and The Forty First Wink, please do visit his Showcase Author page here