An Interview with James Michels, author of Icebox, Ice Rising and The Ballad of Jonny Carlo
My name is James Michels, and I’m a crime fiction writer from Michigan in the United States. To date, I have two published novels and one that will be published soon. I’ve always had an interest in the world of crime fiction and true crime and have worked for seven years as a corrections officer in state prison.
What is your favourite dragon in literature?
My favorite dragon in literature would have to be the three dragons from Game of Thrones, Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion.
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
I’m not sure if I have a personal favorite book that I’ve wrote. I’d say that The Ballad of Johnny Carlo would have the most appeal to a wider audience.
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
I actually started writing a story when I was in high school once, but that story is pretty much shelved indefinitely because I didn’t follow through on it back then, and that was when my mentality was different. I wasn’t devoted to becoming an author back then. I didn’t even knew I’d like writing.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
I’d say that the ability to use different words and expressions has improved. I’m working more on my showing/telling ratio.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
I try to get at least one book out a year. My goal is to have at least four by the time I’m thirty. I write as the idea comes to me, so even I don’t know how long it will take me to write a book. Ice Rising took a year to write, The Ballad of Johnny Carlo took maybe a year and a half, and Icebox was less than a year.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I write on my phone, so I can pretty much write anywhere except at my day job. I prefer to write on my recliner at home in the morning on my days off or in the evening during a work day since I work mornings. With three kids, my writing schedule is not always consistent.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
I am lucky enough to have people close to me who will give honest opinions. My betas are usually my wife, my mom, and a good friend which also edits my work. He’s never steered me wrong on my editing, so I trust his judgment.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
There is a local book store that I enjoy going to, but I absolutely love Barnes and Noble. I could spend a whole day there. I do read eBook from time to time, but I prefer paperback.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?
My favorite reading genres have to be true crime and crime fiction. I have picked up urban fiction, romance, some more fantasy, dystopian, and classics over the recent years. Also enjoy horror and dark fantasy. As of right now, the only two genres I have not ventured into are erotica and western.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?
I do manage my own social media. My preferred platforms are Twitter and Facebook. I only spend maybe an hour on them a day, usually to keep up to date on some Facebook groups that have helped me out, post some content to Facebook and Twitter for my followers, and to connect with readers and other writers.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
I think it depends on the question being asked if I recycle my answers. I tend to find out more about myself as I answer them, so there is usually a different variation of answer even if the question is the same.
Thanks for your time today, James. I find it so inspiring that you are able to bust out a book a year as well as a day job and kids! Keep up the writing. ~ Rose