A Quickie with James Austin McCormick

 Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it.

My latest book, ‘Dragon: The Prisoner of Valathia,’ is the latest in a light hearted, action packed science fiction series. The ‘Dragon’ in the title refers to a sentient space craft rather than a mythical beast. If you’re a fan of space opera, then I believe this one will be for you. This latest (and most probably the last) is somewhat different from the others. This time there is as much character development as there is action. Sillow, a chain smoking, somewhat cowardly and neurotic elf, has always been a semi-comic character. This time however we take a look behind the clownish mask of the orphan misfit, at his existential angst, as he sets out to learn about his own mysterious background.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

I think it would be ‘Itchy Feet.’ I’ve lived and worked in a few countries but have been in the same job and back in England for the last thirteen years. The urge to travel again is over-powering but with two young daughters it isn’t as easy to live overseas as it once was.

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

Probably, do you find inspiration in your own life for your books. Almost everything I write is speculative fiction and as far removed from everyday life as one could imagine. For me writing is all about escapism.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

Dead would be Robert E. Howard. If I could visit Cross Plains Flats in Texas and see him typing away on that old type writer, I couldn’t imagine anything better. Alive would be Clive Barker but I’ve heard he’s a very, very difficult person to collaborate with.

Tell me something about you nobody else knows (yet!).

I used to have a stammer and suffered from panic attacks. I only conquered it when I started working in a shop and had to deal with the public.

Finally, please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

1) The Count of Monte Cristo
I love all of Alexandre Dumas’ works but this one is just exceptional and deserves the title of epic. Anyone who’s only seen one of the film versions, trust me, they don’t remotely capture the scale of this 1000 plus page novel.

2) The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham.
I’m always working my way through a list of classics and I’ve just finished this one. Although science fiction (in the fall of civilisation category) there is incredible depth to the book, questions about what society actually is, what it means to be human, is there a point to existence and even whether do we as a race deserve to survive. It doesn’t really give any answers but provokes a lot of questions.

3) Killing Floor by Lee Child.

A while ago I came across Make Me (number 20 in the Jack Reacher series) in my local library and read it in about three days. I just couldn’t put it down. Anyway, I decided that I was going to go back and read the series from the first book. I’m just in awe of Jack Reacher, the man who bullies the bullies.

Who is James Austin McCormick?

I’m a college lecturer from England and a fan of all types of speculative fiction, most notably science fiction, horror & sword and sorcery fantasy. Where possible I try to blend these elements together in my own writing.

H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs were my first writing inspirations and more recently Frank Herbert and Clive Barker whose works I never grow tired of re-reading.

I live in the rainy city of Manchester with my wife and two young daughters, the elder of which is something of a budding writer herself.

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