Hi everyone! Today we have James Scott Bell with us. James Scott Bell is an award winning and bestselling author of a variety of books including historical fiction, suspense, and speculative, as well as books on the craft of writing. I could say more, but he already did in the questions below, so let’s get started with this interview!
1) Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
I am a native of Los Angeles, third generation. I grew up here and I love it––when I can get through the traffic. But we now have a subway, or what New Yorkers call a toy train. I can hop on it to go into Hollywood or downtown, and I do.
I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I started reading The Hardy Boys and Classics Illustrated comics. In high school I was encouraged by a wonderful English teacher, Mrs. Marjorie Bruce. Then I went off to college and got in a workshop with led by Raymond Carver. Talk about an ego takedown. Here I learned I really didn’t know how to write fiction, and was told by others that you can’t learn it. I spent the next ten years believing that.
One day I went to a double feature with my wife. Wall Street and a movie I didn’t know much about, Moonstruck. Moonstruck knocked me out. I came out of there saying to myself, I want to write something that makes people feel the way I feel now. I’d been through law school, so I knew how to study. I decided to study the craft, hard, even if it was futile to do so. But lo and behold I found out you really could learn to write. I’d wasted ten years believing the Big Lie.
2) What kind of books do you write?
My favorite genre is suspense. But I’ve written historical romance, satire, boxing stories, and a series about a vigilante nun called Force of Habit.
How did you come up with the idea for these books?
When Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out, zombies got “hot.” A year or so later I was sitting around wondering what I could do with zombies that was different. Since I had written several legal thrillers, I thought why not combine those genres? And have the zombie be the hero for a change? She doesn’t know why she’s a zombie, doesn’t want to be, but she’s also a very good lawyer. She defends the true outsiders, like vampires accused of murder and werewolves fighting for custody of their kids.
So I invented the zombie legal thriller genre. That should be in my posthumous biography.
4) How did people react to your Zombie Thrillers? Family? Friends?
I first pitched it to my agent, as a hoot. But he loved it. He said he thought he could sell it. And he did. Everyone I’ve told about it loves the concept. I will say some people at church have declined to give them a try. It’s not everybody’s cup of brains, as they say.
5) What were some of the challenges in writing and publishing Zombie novels?
Well, I didn’t want them just to be high-concept throwaways. So I designed a real trilogy. The background is that Los Angeles is suddenly being inundated with demons and other paranormal folk. (Pat Sajak makes an appearance in one book as a werewolf. Did you know Pat Sajak is a werewolf?) The idea is that Satan is setting up a war headquarters in Los Angeles, to get ready for a new assault on heaven. So at the same time Mallory Caine, Zombie-at-Law, is trying to regain her soul and defend the downtrodden, she’s caught up in the middle of this cosmic war.
6) Are you saying these books are spiritual in nature?
Let’s put it this way. In the first book Mallory says the that things she wants to do, she does not do, and the things she doesn’t want to do are the very things she does. I think many readers will understand what that means.
7) What can you tell us about any future releases you have planned?
I have just released a new book on writing, an approach that is quite unique. It’s called, Write Your Novel From The Middle. It has really caught on with writers, so I plan to do other books of this type.
8) Didn’t Final Witness win the first Christy Award in the Suspense category?
Yes. Which came as a complete surprise, since I had no idea there was such an award.
9) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Winston Churchill, G. K. Chesterton, Blaise Pascal
10) Star Wars or Star Trek?
Have Gun, Will Travel.
Thank you so much, James, for stopping by!
You can stalk, er, find James Scott Bell in the following places: