James Garcia Jr. is the author of several paranormal thrill rides set in the heart of the Central Valley of California. He calls the small, Swedish town of Kingsburg home - which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from where I live, too.
James likes vampires. Like me, he knows what he enjoys reading and writes stories about it. Today James stopped by Writing Belle to give us some insight into how he started writing, and why he chose the realm of the paranormal for his books.
Hello, and welcome to Writing Belle! Give us a little background on yourself - who you are, where you come from, and why you're a writer:
I am a husband and father of two teenage sons. During my day job I work for Sun-Maid Growers of California where I am the Cold Storage Manager. We make our home in the California Central Valley near Fresno. I discovered horror novels as a teen - about the same time I discovered hard rock music. I grew my hair long and dabbled with playing guitar and writing lyrics, but eventually gave in to the temptation of crafting my own stories. I like to tell people that I found myself confined by the lack of space with writing song lyrics.
I kept writing throughout high school and junior college, and only stopped when career, family, lack of maturity, etc. caused me to push that to the back burner. I just turned forty-six, but when I turned thirty-eight I really began to feel the regret that I was staring at if I didn’t give writing one last try. I finished the twenty year old vampire novel, found a small publisher of vampire fiction and have never stopped – even after that small publisher eventually closed shop and I was forced to go Indie.
Tell us about your first book, Dance on Fire:
Dance on Fire is a crossover vampire series that is about to see its third chapter published this summer. The first book Dance on Fire changed a lot over the twenty years that it took to complete. It went from hard R-rated material to something closer to Christian, and then moved closer to some middle ground to where it is now. It is Christian-themed, and ultimately a look at the war between God and the Devil; however, it is a Horror novel. It’s just missing the gratuitous sex, gore and language.
Essentially, the vampire Nathaniel longs to be left alone to live his miserable existence. He saves a woman and her children from another vampire. Nathaniel knows the Bible front to back, and is keenly aware that there is no place in God’s kingdom for him. The woman is not so convinced, and causes him to begin a journey to find out. Dance on Fire: Flash Point is the sequel that occurs five years later. The Devil actually makes an appearance in that book because he believes that a vampire seeking God must be destroyed. I am about to release Dance on Fire: Infernal. In this chapter the Devil is a main character now. He ratchets up his attempts to destroy Nathaniel and his extended human family.
My most recent release was a stand-alone ghost story, Seeing Ghosts.
Why do you write paranormal stories - and who inspires you to write?
The quick answer is I write because I can. What I mean is I eventually see the book in my head, as if it was a movie, and I only need to write it down. That’s an oversimplification, but ultimately true. Whether I’m any good at it or not, I leave for the readers to decide. In the meantime, I keep dreaming them up. I read and write darker fiction because I find it gripping and thrilling – like a roller-coaster ride (not that I ride so many of those anymore!) *laughs* I do read other genres and potentially could write other genres in the future, but I always come back to the dark stuff.
How does Kingsburg, California, inspire your writing, too?
When Dance on Fire was in its infancy stages, I had planned to set my town in a fictional place, but a town much like my own. I remember spending so much time doing that it was getting in the way of the plot, etc. Finally it occurred to me that if Uncle Stevie (King) could set his stories in Bangor, Maine all the time, who said I couldn’t do the same with my hometown. I finally changed the setting to Kingsburg and haven’t hardly left! The vampire series is set here. Seeing Ghosts begins in Kingsburg before moving to the California Central Coast and Salinas.
Any upcoming projects?
As I mentioned I am completing the latest installment in the vampire series. In the back of my mind I have a handful of projects that are currently jockeying for position. Ultimately, I think I will do another ghost story, but that won’t start until later in the year. For now it’s all about getting out the word and living the Indie dream!
About the Author
James Garcia Jr. was born in the Central California town of Hanford. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. The family still makes its home in Kingsburg which is also the setting of James’ vampire series.
He was the 1994 winner of the Writer’s International Network/Writers’ Inter-Age Network writing contest in the horror category. Dance on Fire was originally published in 2010 and its sequel Dance on Fire: Flash Point was published Halloween 2012. A third book, Seeing Ghosts, is a stand-alone paranormal romance released in June 2013.
During the day, James is the Cold Storage Manager for Sun-Maid Growers of California.
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