Don't let writing fool you: it's an incredibly fun, rewarding career, but it's also incredibly challenging. Authors who have worked in the field of publishing for even a limited period of time know this to be true. Some people even give up. Not James McPike. James is the author of a few books, including the EVVY Award-nominated post-apocalyptic novel, Final Outcome. He's authored several other titles, as well, and calls the Central Valley of California his home (hello, Fresno!). James bases his writing on solid research and promises readers an exciting thrill ride in each of his stories. Here is my interview with this California author.
Welcome to Writing Belle! Tell me about yourself.
Hi, thanks for having me! I can’t wait to get started. For those that don’t know I’m a local author. I have two books out so far, and currently I’m working on a third called The Lost Prophet. I really enjoy every aspect of writing, but I also have a day job. I work for a high-class restaurant in Fresno. My background includes paralegal experience and computer development/design. I’m also a paranormal investigator with the IGHS. Anyone interested can find more about me on Amazon or my website www.jamesmcpike.webs.com
Your book, Final Outcome, is a post-apocalyptic thriller. What's the storyline?
The storyline is essentially about a disgruntled U.S. war veteran who embarks on a life-changing journey to find a long-lost Biblical treasure. It’s a wild 700-page epic. It starts out with the main hero taking out the bad guys in the Middle East. He stumbles upon an ancient relic hidden in a tomb and learns that it’s actually a map to a treasure located on another planet in our solar system. He teams up with NASA, a fellow preacher, and an army general to go there and find it. But once they do, things go haywire, as something starts to pick them off one by one. This book won the Readers Favorite silver medal for best in Christian/Fantasy for a reason.
Tell me about Realm of the Unknown.
This book is much shorter than my first one, only 368 pages! It’s a mystery thriller that’s been compared by some to the Da Vinci Code. It’s about a renowned investigator from Israel who tackles his biggest case yet—to track down a powerful adversary who seems to have ties to the supernatural. He gets to follow clues all the way from Italy to France. I tried to create a real page-turner with this one. Red City Review called it “an intense thriller, laced with mystery and Biblical intrigue, reminiscent of the works of Dan Brown.”
What kind of research went into the book?
I always do a lot of research before starting any of my books. Although they’re fiction I like to have a certain amount of realism to rally behind. To me it makes them that more legit. For Realm of the Unknown I read an old book from 1871 that my grandfather owned. It was almost 900 pages long! I learned so much from it—it talked about the ancient Greeks, the Egyptians, secret societies, King Solomon, and so on. The secrets I learned from those pages I reveal in Realm of the Unknown.
Have you always wanted to be writer? How did your interest in publishing begin?
Believe it or not, yes, I have always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been doing it since elementary school. For as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed the thrill and escape of writing. You get to create your own version of characters, paint your own world, and come up with your own interesting plot—to me it’s the ultimate way of letting your imagination turn into reality. I was fortunate enough to win the Ponderosa Lion’s Club Spelling Bee in 1997 and receive an Honorable Mention for a William Saroyan contest a year later. My friends seemed to like what I wrote so I took that and ran with it. I’ve tried to not look back since.
How do you like living in the Central Valley of California? (Read: Fresno!)
I was born and raised in Fresno. I’ve grown to appreciate it more. Most of my family lives here. There’s so much to do. Now that I think about it, it’s not too bad compared to other cities. But if I got my wish I’d move to Vancouver, Canada in a heartbeat. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but it’s an awesome place!
Does your home inspire your stories?
I wouldn’t necessarily say my apartment inspires my stories; it’s more of a place where I can just simply hang my hat and get down to the business of writing. Like other authors, I draw inspiration from going to the coast (my friend has a beach house in Morro Bay), being outdoors, life experiences, and so on.
What is your writing process from draft one to publication?
Good question! It’s always a great feeling to finally complete a novel, that’s for sure. But no matter how good one might think it is, you always have to go back through it again and again. Editing is one main reason, but it also gives you a chance to add or omit things you didn’t think of before. It adds more meat to the bone so to speak. When I’m satisfied it’s the best product I can come up with I submit it for publication.
When did you publish your first novel?
What's your favorite writing snack?
Salt & vinegar kettle chips all the way! Or if I have a sweet tooth I grab a Reese’s.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
I’d tell them to look to you, Summer! After all you made it happen and are a phenomenal success story! Then I’d say to them if it’s something they love to do, then yeah, go for it. It’s a crowded field to be sure. I heard somewhere that 2 million books were printed last year alone. It’s hard to get noticed, let alone be famous. But none of that should matter as long as they believe in their work and it’s a joy for them. Like they say, don’t ever give up. Keep grinding and grinding and hope that one day it all pays off!
Thanks so much for your time, James!
It’s been a lot of fun for me. Thanks for giving me this opportunity. I hope we can do this again someday.
About the Author
McPike's debut novel FINAL OUTCOME was nominated for the 17th EVVY Awards. Only 5% of his publisher's books receive this honor (50 of a 1,000). It also earned the SILVER MEDAL from READERS FAVORITE in the Christian/Fantasy genre. He won the Ponderosa Lion's Club Spelling Bee Championship in 1997. A year later he was an Honorable Mention for a highly-acclaimed William Saroyan writing contest. He enjoys writing action/mystery novels based in Biblical facts. His newest adventure/thriller The Lost Prophet, is a sequel to Realm of the Unknown, and is scheduled to be released in the summer/fall of 2015. Readers can visit his website at www.jamesmcpike.webs.com