ABOUT THE BOOKBenor arrives in Port Naain intent on the simple task of producing a handbook for merchants. Then there is a murder, and a vengeful family who will stop at nothing to silence those who found the body. Suddenly Benor’s life is no longer simple.
This is the first of a series of ‘detective’ short stories (about 20,000 words) featuring the popular fantasy character Benor.
INTERVIEW WITH JIM WEBSTERJim, how did you get started writing and when did you become an “author?”
I’ve been a farmer and freelance journalist for an awful long time now, but it was 2011 when I first started writing fiction. (Some of the more sarcastic might comment that my analysis of the Common Agricultural policy smacked of fantasy fiction so in my defense I will merely comment that life imitates art.)
What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
It’s the journey, the sense of exploration. I sort of have an idea about where I’m going but the scenery on the route is fascinating.
What books do you currently have published?
Swords for a Dead Lady, Dead Man Riding East, The Flames of the City, Learning a Hard Trade. These four are available in paperback from 1st August, having been out as e-books for a while.
The Cartographer’s Apprentice
And for SF with a different publisher:
And now Flotsam or Jetsam.
Can you share some of your marketing strategies with us?
I listened to a lot of people and nothing I’m going to say is new or unique to me.
The first is to have a lot of books out there for people to buy. People seem to like an author who has a number of books. So now I’ve got six or seven.
The second is something new. Rather than full books, I decided I’d try an experiment. I’ve written six, 20,000 word short stories. They’re fantasy detective stories. Together they’re known as The Port Naain Intelligencer. Each has its own title, so the first is "Flotsam or Jetsam." All six have been written, edited and are ready. The cunning plan is that they’ll come out, regular as clockwork, so people can rely on them.
Hopefully this will ‘build momentum.’ I’ll drop round later and tell you if it’s worked.
The third thing is to reach out beyond your obvious audience and work with other competent professionals. An example of this is a slim pamphlet called ‘Lambent Dreams’ I have produced with my editor, Mike Rose-Steel. He borrowed a character of mine and wrote poems for him. I had my character write the social and historical background to the poems and then Mike invented another, rival, poet to write the literary criticism.
It is already published by Spindlebox Press as a slim, 28-page hand-sewn pamphlet. This is traditional within the poetry genre. But as soon as I get time, I'm sticking it on Amazon where it'll be free for a week or so, around and about 1st August. My hope is that by leaving it free and encouraging you to download it, I might just get number one Amazon slot for the same book in fantasy, poetry, and literary criticism. It may not a particularly worthy ideal, but you must admit it just has to be tried!
The fourth is simple: word of mouth. One reason we’ve gone for paperback as well is that you can stand there and show people something, sell them it in the street.
You have a day job . . . how do you find time to write?
Because my two day jobs are farming and freelance journalism, I’m lucky. There are times with farming I have time to think, to plan out a book. Freelance journalism has taught me to write quickly, reliably and not to be precious about what I’ve written, but to accept editor’s comments with good grace.
How often do you tweet?
I confess that about the only time I tweet is when automatic systems from Facebook or Wordpress tweet for me. I don’t actually look at my Twitter feed every month.
How do you feel about Facebook?
It’s okay. You can waste a lot of time there, but it has got me back in touch with people I somehow lost touch with. If you regard it as a way to keep in touch with people and to mention what you’ve just written, it’s fine. If you just want to use it to sell books it’s probably a waste of time.
For what would you like to be remembered?
If they say, “Jim? Yeah, he was a nice guy, I liked him,” then I’ll be happy.
YouTube is . . .
Fun at times
3D movies are . . .
I’ve never been to one. On the rare occasions I go to the cinema, I go with my daughter, and as 3D makes her seasick, we don’t do them. So I’d say over-rated.
If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
Depends how often you’re going to empty it. I’m filling it less quickly than I used to.
What's your relationship with your TV remote?
Lost it ten years ago.
Do you spend more on clothes or food?
I’m male. I don’t buy clothes every year.
What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Just going to the cinema with my daughter. We don’t get to do it more than once a year.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
I asked this lass to marry me. Fortunately, she said yes.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
It’s a comment made by Plato. “This city is what it is because our citizens are what they are.”
What would your main character say about you?
I doubt he’d remember me if you asked him.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I had to do the talk for a Remembrance Sunday service. Writing it and then giving it left me utterly drained.
You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
Richard Hannay. (From Thirty-nine steps and several other books.)
What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
Somebody once described an article I did as "ignorant and ill-informed."
How did you deal with it?
I just went in and banked the cheque. The magazine editor was pleased I’d stirred up discussion.
Who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone in the world?
I’m not a dinner party person, but if we’re allowed anybody, living or dead, I’ve always said I’d love to spend a lazy afternoon in a taverna on a Greek Island with Herodotus.
What's your relationship with your cell phone?
Great. It lives switched off in a drawer because we don’t get signal round here.
How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
What is your favorite movie?
Disney, the animated version of Peter Pan.
Do you have a favorite book?
Bad to be definitive, I like the work of Jack Vance, but Lord of the Rings is probably the individual book that I’d take to the desert island.
How about a favorite book that was turned into a movie? Did the movie stink?
Actually, I thought they did the films pretty well.
How long is your to-do list?
I long ago gave up keeping one.
What are you working on now?
I’m editing a short, 7,000-word short story for the Port Naain Intelligencer series. This one will be given away as a freebie at some point.
Cake or frosting? Cake
Laptop or desktop? Desktop
Chevy Chase or Bill Murray? I had to Google both of them to find out who they were.
Emailing or texting? Email, I don’t text.
Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors.
Tea: sweet or unsweet? Coffee.
Doesn't count! Plane, train, or automobile? Walking.
OTHER BOOKS BY JIM WEBSTER:Swords for a Dead Lady
Dead Man Riding East
The Flames of the City
Learning a Hard Trade
Four are available in paperback from 1st August:
The Cartographer’s Apprentice
Get a free download of Lambert Dreams here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels.
He lives in South Cumbria.
Connect with Jim:
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