Thursday, 19 March 2015

Featured Author - James Duncan

Today's featured author is James Duncan. He writes books for both children and adults. His book, 'The Making Of Me', starring 'The Exmoor Yarnies' was a collaboration between James and husband and wife team - Peter and Jeanette Bunt.  James has two adult books in the pipeline. They are satirical adventures with an element of spirituality. They explore modern society and its mores. Moreover, they are very funny and entertaining. James was kind enough to answer a few questions. Enjoy :-) 

Why do you write?

I write because I have always had a vivid imagination. As a child I was always daydreaming and writing. As an adult I found it fun observing strange or interesting characters and putting them into a book. I start with only a basic plot, then what the characters do - they are quite autonomous - drives the plot and the story forward. Writing is also a great release. Stuff that makes me angry I write in a comedic, satirical way and that makes me feel better!

Which writers inspire you?

So many and the list is growing! As a child it was Roald Dahl. I love his magical, wicked, inventive fun. I love George Orwell. He writes about serious and heavy subjects with a light, wry touch. Even though he deals with the tragedy of human existence – poverty, corrupt political systems, war – he always manages to make his writing entertaining. He offers no answers, merely that if we examine ourselves and the world around us maybe that would make a difference. I find that uplifting. Iain Banks I love for his black humour, Paulo Coelho I love for his optimistic spiritual writing.

What is your favorite book and why?

My favourite book is Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell. Orwell, although from a well-to-do background, chose to slum it in these cities and find out what it is really like to be poor by experiencing it himself. What you get is the most authentic study of poverty possibly ever written. You feel his starvation, you are consumed by the desperation and fetid odours. When he manages to get a meal you devour it ravenously with him. I remember to be grateful when I read this book.

What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the most difficult?

When I have my characters and I plunge into the writing and I just know the story is going to progress satisfactorily. That's the easiest thing about writing. The hardest thing about writing often starts at chapter four, sometimes later, when you have to change gears in your writing and come up with solutions to problems posed. The autonomy of the characters, I mentioned, stops working from time to time, and that is when I have to try and come up with good ideas rather than clichés.

From books that have already been published by other authors, which book do you wish you had written?

I would have loved to have written The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. It's pretty sick black humour, but also inventive, hilarious good fun.

How do you market your books?

I use Twitter, Google Plus, just looking into promotion companies, there are plenty of free and pay-for sites you can place your book online. Also join Goodreads where you can get invaluable reviews. I also review books on my blog which makes many more people aware of you as a writer and blogger.

Any new release? If yes, what is it about?

Yes, not long ago, released Crazy On You on kindle. It's a gangster rom-com set in London and New York. Archie Pope, member of London Pope Crew falls in love with New York don's daughter, Isabella Commarata. Such a “crime” is a death sentence, her father, Giovanni Commarata, is a psychopath, and he has anyone with designs on his precious daughters immediately executed.

Book blurb

The worlds of the New York Mafia and the top London crime syndicate are about to collide! The much feared Pope Crew, a bunch of psychopathic criminals, try to pull off a multi-million weapon trafficking deal with the murderous Mafia Don, Giovanni Commarata. Then Archie Pope, a kitten and flower loving softie blows it by falling for Giovanni's daughter, Isabella - a "crime" punishable by death. War is declared between the two factions. The Popes team up with the Zaffutos - a family under Giovanni's control, and vicious and explosive urban warfare breaks out. All Archie wants to do is woo his beloved Isabella. Everyone else wants him to kill her father. Not ideal conditions for an otherwise beautiful courtship! This is a rom-com with a difference. It's probably the most terse, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat rom-com ever written. Touching but deadly.
She moved in for the kiss and our lips met with an urgent force as we necked wildly. A long time passed before we were finished. Isabella opened her eyes and smiled at me. Then her eyes flashed over to somewhere behind me and a look of horror filled her face. 

'Oh my God! Archie! It's Papa!' 

 The main reason why I am still alive is that I have hypersonic reflexes. I dived to the ground, pulling Isabella with me. Bullets whizzed overhead. The bodies of nightclub ravers standing at the bar fell. Several bullets' destination was the optics and it shattered from the almighty impact, hurtling cascades of glass and liquor across and over the bar, glass shards penetrating the backs of bartenders and the faces and bodies of customers. I spun myself around, hauling out my gun as I spun on my stomach. I held it aloft, pushing the safety level down to fire position, my finger straining against the trigger; I would shoot the micro-second I observed my target. The spin completed, my brain registered 6 armed, black ski-masked figures. Giovanni was eminently identifiable, from his stocky body shape and his cold eyes that wouldn't have looked out of place in a cobra's head. I discharged my semi-auto frantically... 
Book excerpt

My heart stopped beating for what seemed like an eternity...

Then it was pounding harder and faster than it ever had before.

A young woman of extraordinary beauty was approaching. Olive skin, raven black hair, exotic eyes, stunning figure – this vision of an angel hardly looked at me. I had to speak to her before she passed out of sight and out of my life forever. No woman had ever made me feel like this before. Do you believe in love at first sight? Well, I never had until this moment. I had never even known what love felt like. In this moment I felt that I knew exactly what love feels like. It was the oddest feeling I had ever had. I felt like one fry short of a Happy Meal. Yeah, there had been plenty of women. I had had some dysfunctional relationships with women who got off on geezers like me, or rather, the geezer I was pretending to be. There had never been a connection with any one of them. It had all been devoid of emotion and feeling, ego driven, superficial, and so unsatisfying and empty, it was always a relief when they finally did a runner.

I stepped into her path, grinning broadly.

‘Hi, I’m Archie – what’s your name?’

She gave me a nervous little look, before replying, ‘You must excuse me, I’m in a hurry.’

And then she rushed to the other side of the foyer. I, of course, followed her. She walked towards the glass-encased wall and leant staring out at the bright sunny day. I crept up behind her.

‘You still haven’t told me your name,’ I whispered in her ear. She jumped practically out of her skin.

‘Isabella,’ she murmured as she clutched her chest, panting.

‘You’re very pretty, Isabella,’ I said with my charming Pope smile.

‘I’m sorry, I really must go.’ She turned to walk past when I placed my hand on her arm gently. A tingling shiver swept through my body, causing a light moan to slip from my lips.

‘Why, where are you goin’, babe?’

She looked at me properly for the first time. Her eyes widened and she blushed deeply.

‘Well, nowhere’s just that...why are you here?’

‘Doin’ some business with Giovanni – blimey, that geezer is so uptight!’

She looked nervously around the foyer.

‘You’d better believe it. He’s my father.’

‘Yeah? Well, my old man’s a nutjob but that geezer makes him look like Mary Poppins!’

She looked puzzled.

‘I’m sorry, I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about.’

I decided to focus on more important matters.

‘So what about you? Do you have a boyfriend?’

She smiled sadly and laughed harshly.

‘Oh yeah, I have many would-be boyfriends in the cemetery!’

That statement perturbed me somewhat.

‘What, you mean you go on the pull around hospices? ‘Darlin’, I’m too fragile to even kiss you!’ And the next day they’ve croaked?’

She frowned. ‘You make no sense. Much of what you say isn’t even English.’

‘Excuse me, love,’ I said, slightly affronted by this slur. ‘But I speak proper English. After all, my country invented the bleedin’ language. It’s you Yanks who don’t speak proper English!’

She laughed at that. She smiled at me warmly before her eyes did another nervous reccy of the surrounding area.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘What you so para about?’

‘“Para”? What’s “para”? Would you care to translate?’

‘It means “paranoid”. Para is short for paranoid.’

‘Well, stop being so lazy and use the whole word,’ she scolded me. Bloody hell, did I like being scolded by her! It sent tingles down my spine!

‘Yes, I am para about Papa or his henchmen finding us here talking. He will kill you immediately and that is a fact. Walk away now, Archie.’

‘No, I won’t walk away,’ I replied stubbornly. ‘Your old man must be bonkers!’



Isabella sighed deeply. ‘Yes, he is crazy.’

‘And you’re a right little sort.’

‘Are you being offensive?’

‘No, not at all. I mean I think you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen!’

She blushed again, looking very pleased.

‘Would you like to go on a date with me, I mean, if you could?’

‘I would very much like to. But it’s impossible – it can never be.’

I looked down, feeling absolutely gutted. I must have been looking very sad, because Isabella touched my arm gently and said, ‘I would like to go on a date with you more than anything else, Archie. You’re a lovely man, I can tell. You’re different. You’re like me, trapped in a world you don’t belong in.’

There was something about her, something that tugged so deeply at my heartstrings, drawing me to her, needing her, wanting her. I knew now what love at first sight felt like, because when I saw Isabella for the first time, I was hooked completely and hopelessly taken in by her.

Our eyes met and we shared a communication of emotions that told us both everything we needed to know. It was like telepathy. It was a moment I would treasure for the rest of my life.

‘Hey, you! Get away from her!’

Commarata’s henchmen had appeared and they closed in on us, guns drawn. One of them shoved me away from Isabella, knocking me off my feet. I scrambled to my feet, overloaded with rage, ready to punch the asshole’s lights out. He put his revolver against my temple and shook his head vigorously.

The conference room door flew open and Giovanni and my family came out; guns were immediately pointed at my crew.

‘What the hell is going on?’ yelled Giovanni.

‘He was talking to your daughter!’ shouted back the henchman who had discovered us. ‘There was physical contact!’

Giovanni’s face contorted into a horrible visage of twisted hatred and anger.

‘You!’ he screamed at Isabella. ‘Upstairs – now!’

No!’ screamed back Isabella. ‘You’re not to kill them! Do you hear me? No more killing!’

Giovanni raised his arm and belted her around the face. The force of his blow sent her reeling. I lunged forward.

‘You dirty, filthy motherfucker – I’ll kill you!’ I bellowed, trying to reach Giovanni, before one of his men pistol-whipped me and I fell to the floor.

Isabella ran upstairs sobbing furiously.

‘Giovanni – surely this is not that serious,’ Charlie appealed to him. ‘I mean, they were only talking. It doesn’t have to affect business. I promise you that you’ll never see Archie again. I will discipline him for disrespecting you. I won’t let him off lightly, I promise you that.’

‘We have no business,’ said Giovanni coldly, icily calm. ‘Boys, kill them all – dispose of the bodies in the usual way.’

He walked back to his office, negating us all from his mind. He closed the door.

‘Now, fellas,’ said Charlie, unable to keep the tremor out of his voice. ‘How much is Commarata paying you? I’ll bung you a few million each if you just let us go.’

‘Which one first?’ said a henchman, cruelly oblivious to Charlie’s entreaty.

You can also connect with James:

Facebook: James Duncan

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