MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JIM NEVILLE!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Hello. My name is Jim Neville. My primary genres are science-fiction, fantasy, and romance. Much of I write is often a combination of the three.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
My most recent work, Memories of a Thought Police Agent, is the fourth book in my Crux Series. As always, I strive to ensure each book in a series can be read without the others. The ideas expressed in this book were spawned by my readers’ questions and criticisms. It begins shortly after the previous book, but quickly employs a series of flash-backs which predate all the books. To do this, I employed a pair of fictitious historians who discover the truth behind the Thought Police. As one of them applies their revelations in a book of his own, we get a chapter here and there of the long distant and unknown past. I believe it also explains why on Earth anyone would join the Thought Police, an organization that spies on nearly everyone and occasionally conducts assassinations to solve problems.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
I’ve always been fascinated by the “What If” storylines in sci-fi. Sometimes we are warned while at other times we are awed by scientifically believable fiction. But the most amazing thing about sci-fi is when we’re forced to look at ourselves through a different lens – on a different world or in a different time.
Fantasy can accomplish the same result, but it’s more of an anything goes type of fiction. The only limit in fantasy is the creativity of the author. True, it must be believable, but there’s much more flexibility.
Romance is a genre I simply can’t resist. With so much hate in the world, I like to escape into a world of love and romance. I missed the Hippie era, and never understood why it never came back. The phrase “make love, not war” is valid sentiment in any time – especially now.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
OMG, I think I did more research for Memories of a Thought Police Agent than any other I’ve previously written. I only used a fraction of my notes, but I wanted to chronicle events in a historically accurate environment. Maybe it only seemed difficult because I’ve never been a history buff. I hope those who love history will enjoy everything from the great northeast blackout in Queenston, Ontario to Richard Nixon’s love of cottage cheese and pineapple.
Strangely enough, my time relativity equations were the simplest part of my research. It was necessary to identify the relative age of several characters, but I didn’t want to bore most people with the explanation – so, I put the formulas and explanation in an appendix in the back of the book.
Can you tell me about your Series?
The Crux series is basically a warning. It is my belief that when Virtual Reality includes the senses of smell, taste, and touch, people will become addicted to it. Why bother with the real world when you can spend your time in a perfect fantasy? This level of technology will create even more difficulties beyond that. When the brain is mapped and influenced to degree required for VR addiction, it will also provide a tool for behavior modification.
That’s where the Though Police come into play. Rumors of secret organizations have abounded for thousands of years and the Thought Police is an extension of one of them. Although a fictitious organization, I wouldn’t be surprised if it existed under a different name. The technology is ripe for the picking. All it takes is a few talented and creative people to get the ball rolling … and they won’t need anyone’s permission or oversight to get it done.
To top it all off, I throw in a few psychic abilities. Scoff if you must, but the brain is a mysterious and powerful tool. With a little help from an amazing droid, the main character, Zach Saxon, taps into his psychic potential. He morphs from highly intuitive to psychically powerful. As powerful as he becomes, it’s nothing when compared to the power of love. This is the key to everything. (What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart.)
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I suppose it would be the most recent, Memories of a Thought Police Agent. If I do say so myself, I think I get better with each book I write. Although my first book, Mr. Saxon and the Droid, has some great Sixth Sense type of revelations, I tended to ramble on about technology more back then.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
The whole writing bit was more or less an accident. It all started on Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day (Dec 8th). All my life, I’ve prognosticated the future and trends in technology. For some reason, I was inspired to write a short blurb on LinkedIn. I wrote of a man from the future, who was stuck in the mind of someone from our time. The man from the future compared his daily life to ours.
A co-worker read my short story and loved it. She said I should write more, so I wrote another chapter. Then someone else at work read it and praised my work even more. Everything snowballed from there. The effect I had on others’ spirit and imagination probably kept me going. The next thing I knew, I was writing a book.
Was it always meant to become a series?
It wasn’t even supposed to be a book, but the characters spoke to me. I loved them so much and in my mind, they were quite real. Sometimes, all I have to do is place them in a room and they take over my fingers on the keyboard. It doesn’t take long for me to miss them after my book is finally edited and published.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
By day, I work as a mild-mannered database programmer. Nights and weekends are the only time I have to write. Sometimes, I scribble down some notes during the day, only to find them on the back of a receipt months later, and too late to use them. As far as a writing goal is concerned, that sounds too much like work. Frankly, I don’t see how that can work. I must be inspired to write and I find little inspiration in a schedule.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I’m actually working on two: Gods of the Mind and Wet Dreams from the Sandman. The first is a psychic explanation of ancient gods, thrust into modern life. The second is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book for adults (much like my Karma’s a Sexy Bitch).
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
It should be easy to pick a name out of thin air. I mean seriously, how hard can it be? For most people, I would guess it’s not so hard, but I’m a little OCD. They all have meaning at the time I make them, but I often forget why at a later date. I’ve been known to spend half a day on a character names. Often, I use the names of friends and family, but the characters barely resemble the people I know. My best friend’s given name, maiden name, and surname were used for three different characters (one of which I killed off). Only one name I used was a tribute. My late Aunt Mabel was a saint, and I did my best to portray her as such in my most recent book.
Where do your ideas come from?
A very warped imagination.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Maybe just plain old fiction, but I don’t think I have the discipline to keep romance, fantasy, and sci-fi out of it.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Finding the time.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I didn’t even know book trailers existed until you asked the question and I Googled it. I keep finding out stuff after the fact (e.g., Amazon’s keywords should actually be keyword phrases.) After checking out a few book trailers, I can honestly say this is not something I will do. If I ever write a story titled This Book Will Put You to Sleep, then I could make a trailer that would do the same. I once tried to narrate a collection of home videos, and if not for my son bouncing around on the couch behind me, it would’ve been less than entertaining.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
That would be my son. He’s a good man with a great wife and two happy daughters. All I’ve ever wanted for him is happiness. All I’ve ever expected from him is kindness. He hasn’t let me down. Although I didn’t do as good of a job as I’d like, I must have done something right.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
The fans. That is, after all, the reason I write. It’s not the praise I desire, it’s the joy the fans express after reading my books. And maybe, just maybe, something I wrote will be remembered.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself bitching about not being able to spend quality time with my multitude of fans. Just kidding. I don’t see that far ahead. I take one day at a time. Maybe I’ll be moving my essence into my robot body by then. Who knows?
Have you always liked to write?
I’ve always excelled at creative writing (if I put my mind to it). I write a rather good performance report, too. But I’ve never written as much as I have in the last few years.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
If you enjoy writing, then write. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Some people can’t punctuate to save their life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t write truly inspirational stuff. Such a person would need an editor before publishing, but they should still write if they enjoy it. It helps exponentially if someone else enjoys reading it.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
Writing is not what I do for a living and book sales are not important. Computers have always been my passion. The logic is soothing. I also like solving puzzles, which is not that far off from computer programming. So, I’m living the dream, doing what I love and getting paid for it. At night, I write to share my joy and wonder with the world through prose.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read all my reviews and consider their words. I used to respond to them, but some people think that’s creepy. Don’t ask me why. The bad reviews can be helpful, but often conflict with each other. What one person loves, another one hates. Constructive criticism is always good, though.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
I completely and utterly loathe promotions and marketing. It’s a necessary evil, though. So I do what I must. If I’m stuck in writer’s block hell, I spend I little time on marketing.
What are you working on now?
See “Do you have a new book in the making…” above.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Excerpt from Gods of the Mind
… The time came for Jack to stand in front of a classroom of total strangers to read his story. Just like every school he attended in the past, the attention of his fellow students was mixed. Some were bored out of their gourd. Some paid courteous attention. Very few were actually interested. Jack began to read.
My Window, by Jack Jones.
The trees stretched their brittle fingers in the cold, brisk wind. Snowflakes danced through their arms like tiny sprites with white, mink coats. The wind kissed the children incessantly till their cheeks and ears flushed red with embarrassment…
As Jack read, he noticed one classmate who seemed enthralled by his silly tale about nothing in particular. It was the ivory girl he spied during breakfast. He saw her again in the halls before class. She seemed to have no friends or enemies. It was if she were invisible to the world around her. Her school clothes were as devoid of color as her features and her cloak. Jack had trouble breaking eye contact to glance back at his paper. When his story was finished, only one person clapped with true appreciation … the ivory girl.
– – –
When school was over, the scene outside was much as Jack wrote in his story, with one exception. The ivory girl from class was twirling in the snow with absolute bliss. Her fluffy, white, hooded cloak danced with her as she spun around in the snow. If it weren’t for her movement, she’d be invisible against the white landscape. The ivory girl continued to twirl until she saw Jack approach. She ran toward him and declared, “I loved your story. I can feel everything just as you wrote it.” She took Jack’s hand and introduced herself. “I’m Kalliope.”
“I’m Jack,” he replied. For some unknown reason he could never explain, Jack asked, “May I walk you home?” This was totally out of character for Jack. He was never so bold.
Kalliope responded by taking Jack’s arm and following up with verbal agreement. “That would be nice. You can tell me your tale on the way.”
Jack told her of the many countries and cities he visited as far back as he could remember. Kalliope was spellbound all the way to the end. When he finished, she asked him, “Of all the places you visited, is there one that stands out against the others?”
Jack confessed something he never told anyone. “When I was in Greece, there was something about it that touched my soul. It’s not a particularly stunning landscape. Nor is it unique in historical significance. But there was something I can’t put into words. At least not words that can do it justice. I felt … a connection … and a sort of tranquility I’ve rarely felt in my life.”
After a minute of silence, Jack asked, “So where do you live?”
Kalliope smiled and asked in return, “I’m curious. What type of house do you think I live in?”
Jack pondered, “I would think you live in an old, Victorian-style house. One that could be haunted if it were vacant, but could also be regal if occupied. Maybe a porch along the front on the first and second floor. It would have a rock wall with an iron gate … no a white picket fence with a squeaky gate. One corner of the house would be rounded where you could sit and eat as you look outside. And there would be a large oak tree to the side.”
Kalliope stopped and smiled. “Well isn’t that a coincidence.” She eyed him suspiciously. “Have you been following me?”
Jack declared, “No. I’m new here. My family just arrived yesterday.”
Kalliope pulled him onward as she explained her shock. “You just described my house perfectly. It sounds much nicer when you describe it, though. Thank you.”
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
Since I write via inspiration, balancing different genres is not difficult. It all depends upon my mood at the moment. If I’m in a romantic mood, I’ll write a paragraph or two, or maybe even a few chapters of romance. If I’m feeling particularly creative, then the fantasy bug takes over my keyboard on another project. Logical thought, mixed with a bit of speculation, usually sparks my sci-fi endeavors.
Where did your love of books come from?
When I was younger, I really didn’t read much. I was a very slow reader because I tend to live the book as I read it. It wasn’t until years later that I truly began to read. And what I read were Star Trek novels. You see, the show had been cancelled, but fans of the show just wouldn’t let it die. The only way to experience new adventures was through books, so I read everything I could get my hands on – even schematics of the ship. There was a long period of not reading again, but for the last decade or so, I’ve been reading more and more.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
My all-time favorite books are the Enchanted Inc. series by Shanna Swendson. Eight books just wasn’t enough, as far as I’m concerned. As far as authors are concerned, I liked Orson Scott Card’s work in the Ender’s Shadow series, but the Ender’s Game books often left much to be desired. I have similar mixed feelings about L. Ron Hubbard. Battlefield Earth was amazing, but the Mission Earth books were slow and tedious.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Chico, the Mech Droid, was a lot of fun. His appearance in my last book, and his personality, sort of came out of nowhere. If I didn’t know better, I’d say my muse had something to do with it. Chico was introduced in the third book of the Crux Series, but he was newly built then and didn’t have any personality. He was just a shell.
When I found the need to bring in Chico’s link-buddy, Julie, Chico came with her. As Chico helped Julie clean up an abandoned bunker, his personality suddenly popped into existence. He complained about getting dirty and not long after that, he displayed his narcissism. He is unique and he’s not afraid to let anyone know that fact. If he really likes you, he’ll give you a nickname, like “puny human.” Chico is also an instigator and for some strange reason, kids love him. Chico however, thinks kids would make great pets.
Chico’s relationship with Julie is similar to siblings who argue all the time. They’ve been together for over 100 years and Chico never tires of reminding Julie of the time he saved her life – “Hey, it’s a life debt. I’ll keep talking about it till the debt is repaid.” Ever since his heroic deed, Chico fancies himself a superhero. He often strikes a superhero pose as he declares, “This sounds like a job for Mech-man.”
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It really depends upon what I’m writing. I’ve had a few very sentimental and sad moments in my books that cause me to reach for the tissues. When I start editing, I reach for the tissues again. On the other hand, there are times I write some truly fun stuff that I enjoy reading again when I edit.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
There are times I get way too technical. I try to put all that stuff in the back of the book for those who care, but even so, I still get carried away sometimes.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what comes to mind, but there are times I simply must give the readers what they desire. One of my readers mentioned she was curious how all life on Earth was destroyed. I never went into detail. So, I wrote an entire chapter on the last days on Earth. I’m not ashamed to say, I had to reach for the tissues once again.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I only know one author well enough for extended communication. Simon Brading is a British author who lives in Barcelona. We have exchanged a few stories here and there. We discuss ideas and exchange criticism. We also help each other with final edits. The great thing is how different we are. I’m more of a fairy tale ending type of guy. Simon is not. As a result, there are a few dark moments in my last book. I believe it is better for it.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
The Child of Chaos.
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Question: Is there a character in your book that represents yourself?
Answer: Most of the characters in my books are a reflection of my personality in one form or another. By tweaking an insecurity here and enhancing another trait there, I end up with a new person. For example, Hathor is the most loving person ever born – and the direct result of removing every negative emotion from my being.
The one character closest to myself is Zach Saxon, with an extra dose of charisma thrown in. His Uncle Dan runs a close second with the subtraction of a little morality. In the book I’m currently writing, Gods of the Mind, Eunice (aka Unix) will be me in female form with a sharper tongue and a little more intellect.
Question: Is there a significant emotional event from your life which is portrayed in your book?
There are a couple, but the strongest one is the time my wife was in intensive care for months after suffering a stroke. She wasn’t in a coma, but her mind wasn’t exactly there either. I felt helpless as the guilt trip that played out inside my head. It wasn’t my fault, but the “if I coulda, woulda, shoulda” blame-game is difficult to avoid for most of us. I never spoke of this to anyone. My job at the time was to be the rock of support … and the optimist. At that time, the tears were held at bay by my obligation to others.
When I put my main character in a coma (Sorry, should I have said spoiler alert there?), his wife Rosie verbalizes my feelings of helplessness, frustration, and guilt from that time. I took that significant emotional event and placed it squarely on Rosie’s shoulders. That’s when I finally cried for the first time – over a decade later. Every time I read that scene, tears come to my eyes. I no longer have a role to play, so it’s alright to cry now.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15373887.Jim_Neville) and Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Neville/e/B01H90LRMS) are probably best. I have a blog on Goodreads (that I rarely comment on) and this blog is linked to my Amazon author page. If you follow, don’t expect much in the way of personal stuff. I’ve never understood why anyone would care about someone’s life other than family and friends. Ego boosts are nice, but if I ever become an egotistical, self-centered celebrity, then please feel free to hit me (not in the face, though). After all, it’s not about me – it’s about the tales I spin.
For now, I respond to each and every person who contacts me. If you email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), don’t be surprised if I become friendly in a short period of time. Although not a “chatty Cathy” through speech, I can open up quickly with the written word. For some reason I think of the best things to say long after a conversation shifts in another direction. This is not a problem with email.
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
You’re more than welcome. And to those who read this, let me thank you for your time.