A Happy Friday to you all,
It's a bit of a windy one here in Thirsk, but not quite as wild as the forecast had predicted, thankfully!
Today's interview is the seventeenth since I started this series on the 1st August. Where has that time gone? Officially, it's now Autumn and I can certainly tell as I've needed my central heating on for a couple of hours every night! Anyway, let's get on with the questions for James!!
Eva: Welcome James, and a big thank you for agreeing to take part in my series of author interviews. So let's get started. Tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
James: Hi everyone. My name is, actually, scrap that, because I’m not going to tell you. What I will tell you is that I
write under the name J.C.Michael. Why the pseudonym? Because I write horror stories. I wouldn’t
say it’s extreme, although it isn’t exactly pleasant either, but when I started out I couldn’t face the
fact that my mother might think people were looking at her funny if they’d read anything I’d written!
That was in the early days when I had dreams that I’d become the Yorkshire equivalent of Stephen
King, and things haven’t quite turned out that way (yet, never give up on those dreams eh?), but the
name has stuck and now, a good fifteen years after I started on my writing journey, and as I’m settled
into the wrong end of my forties, I doubt I’ll change it. Other than my name? I’m a Yorkshire lad
born and bred who grew up on the edge of the moors. I’m pretty boring, I watch too much TV, play
too many video games, and do too little exercise, but I work damn hard with a pretty intense job and
have an almost teenage son to run around after. That’s enough about me though, it’s my writing
you're interested in, isn’t it?
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What
genre are they?
All of my writing would class under the broad heading of “horror”, although I sometimes prefer to
go with “dark fiction”. I did self publish my novel, which was called Discoredia at that point, but that
would’ve been around 2008, so before self publishing had become as accepted as it is today.
Eventually it was picked up by a Canadian publisher, but after they went bust it was re-released by
another publisher with a new name, Pandemonium. Alongside that I’ve featured in a fair number of
anthologies, co-authored a novella, and had two collections of short stories published, Everything’s
Annoying, and Old Tales Reborn. Old Tales Reborn may be of particular interest to Yorkshire folk
as it draws on a whole host of legends and folktales that I was told as a child. I’ve given them my
own twist, with a good deal of artistic licence taken with the original stories, but it’s a collection
that’s very close to my heart and has been well received since it was released earlier this year. (Eva: I've just downloaded Old Tales Reborn, James! I love old tales that have been passed down through generations.)
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and
why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to
do it justice?
Well I very much doubt I could write a romance novel, or “chick lit”! I might be able to start
something like that but before long there would be a demonic presence terrorising someone or a
serial killer on the loose. What I would love to write would be an epic fantasy, but when I tried I
couldn’t find the right tone of voice, and nothing sounded authentic. I’d also love to write historical
fiction, as History was always my strong suit academically, but I wouldn’t have the time to do the
research I’d find myself compelled to do in order to be as historically correct as possible.
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books?
What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they
Oh you should see the comments I get from editors in the U.S. Two nations decided by a common
language is certainly true in my experience. I like to use words my grandparents would have used, as
I feel it’s a way to keep some of those words and phrases alive and well. I hate the thought of
watered down English that erases local dialect for some sort of homogenised mish mash that real
people don’t really talk like. I always push for UK spelling too, as all my stories are UK based and
I’m English, not American. Most times that’s fine, but occasionally I’ve had editors insist on changes
because most readers are in the US and might flag what they perceive to be mistakes. Having said all
of that I don’t think I have any particular favourite “out of the ordinary” words, I just like to throw in
things that are a bit different, particularly if it’s dialogue. I don’t go too far, as I don’t want readers to
struggle, but sometimes I’ll “Dee summat a bit queer,” to give readers a sense of how a character
may speak when I first introduce them, and then tone it down afterwards.
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have
or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics
been used at all?
I’m not a singer, no. That would be horrific. The closest I’ve got to writing lyrics would be a twisted
version of The Twelve Days of Christmas I wrote for a Christmas themed anthology. It was flagged
up in a review on Amazon by someone who was particularly upset that I’d taken such a lovely song
and ruined it!
What question would you like to pose, (if you were to ever interview your favourite author),
which never seems to get asked in author interviews? And who is that favourite author?
My favourite author is Stephen King by quite some stretch. He can write doorstop books like IT, or
short stories that can have a massive impact in a few thousand words. He pumps out books like a
machine, and can write horror, thriller, science fiction, and even fantasy. As for what I would ask
him? I’d probably ask him to read one of my stories and give me his thoughts. That or if he was fully
satisfied with the ending of his Dark Tower series, because I wasn’t.
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do
you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an
illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
I’ve written a single story for children, and even that was pretty dark and for secondary school aged
children. I couldn’t see myself illustrating anything myself but if I ever did I’d probably ask if
anyone wanted a crack at illustrating it before paying someone. I’d be cool to do something jointly in
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
Hmm, I’m afraid most of my characters are pretty disposable, it comes with the territory! If anything,
the characters in my novel are probably those I have most affinity with. It was my first foray into
creative writing after I was set the challenge to write something myself after criticising one too many
books and TV shows! Because of that the characters tended to represent different aspects of my own
character, but magnified and built upon. There’s a lot of “me” in those characters, but then again how
I feel usually influences what I write so the same can be said of quite a few characters I’ve written
over the years.
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it
because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character
and, with too much work involved to rewrite without that character, think it the easiest option
to have that person die?
I wouldn’t be surprised if I haven’t killed off more than I’ve allowed to survive! It’s always been part
of the story though, I can’t say I’ve ever written a character that I’ve come to despise and decided to
kill them off as a result of that. Of those characters who are despicable, and I’ve written some pretty
unpleasant ones, the vast majority started out that way.
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their
characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they
possessed in real life?
Definitely based on, but changed to suit the story and because I’m writing a character, not a story
about a particular person. A lot of unpleasant things happen to my characters too so I wouldn’t want
to do that to someone I cared about, or if it was someone I don’t get on with too well stand accused
of living out some sort of warped fantasy in my writing! The only exception to this was during
lockdown when I was really struggling to find my creativity, and I wrote a story for a friend where
the main character really was her in all but name, and the story was full of little things that only she
would pick up on.
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
I should’ve worked harder at University and not relied on natural ability, but I genuinely put that
down to a bit of immaturity and the fact that up until then I’d never struggled academically. I still got
my degree, but I know people got better grades than I because they worked harder. Other than that I
wish I’d had more ambition and taken more risks career wise. I’ve done well, and if I’d taken risks
things may not have turned out, but I do sometimes feel I’ve been too sensible and pragmatic at
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR
did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
I’ve always loved reading, and still do. Admittedly I read less these days, but that’s probably because
there are so many other things we can do, binge watching whole series over a couple of weeks, or
sinking 100+ hours into a game like Skyrim or Fallout, whereas back in the day we had four TV
channels and board games. I will add a caveat to that though, as the story telling in a lot of games can
be every bit as compelling as a well crafted novel.
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
My subjects were History and Geography, whereas French, Music, and PE were largely a waste of
Tell me about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had?
Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject?? Or some other reason…kind,
My G.C.S.E Geography teacher was also my form tutor and he was a really nice genuine bloke. My
A Level History teachers were great too. I wouldn’t say I ever had a particular bond with any of my
teachers though, and can think of more occasions I had issues with teachers than fond memories. Not
that I was a bad lad, more, how can I put it, strong minded?
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of
your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
They aren’t writers, no, and we don’t tend to talk about it. They know I do it as a hobby, but it isn’t a
genre they have an interest in. I’d also be a little embarrassed to be honest as my work undoubtedly
covers “adult themes” deserving of an “Over 18’s rating”.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or
The most important thing to be is to be a good father, provide for my son, and set him up with as
much of a head start in life as I can give him. Writing wise my ambition is to feature in an anthology
alongside Stephen King. I’ve been fortunate enough to share Table of Contents with Clive Barker
and Graham Masterton, two writers I genuinely admire, but King would be the icing on the cake.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and
if so, how did you do it?
No phobias as such, but I hate getting things wrong and can be a bit of a perfectionist as a result of
that. I’ve worked hard on that, as you can’t expect perfection all of the time and it can result in
pushing others more than you should.
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body
etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to
I’m actually quite comfortable with my personality as I’ve learned to accept that I am what I am and
that being different is what makes us all human. I’m flawed, but those flaws are a part of me, always
have been, and always will, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Besides, sometimes certain
characteristics can be a burden, but at other times a strength, it depends on the circumstances.
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
I love a coffee and a biscuit, bourbons in particular. I have to avoid buying them as it’s the only way
I can manage not to eat too many (you can add self control when faced with a biscuit barrel to the
personality flaws question!)
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
No pets. I’d like a dog, but couldn’t leave one at home all day by itself when I’m out at work. Maybe
when I retire. As for cats they make me sneeze, and story wise I might have had one or two animals
killed off… it’s surprising how that can bother a fair few readers more than killing off people!
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and
social media profiles?
Thanks again for taking part, James! It's been a pleasure!
Up next week, we have:
Tuesday: Eva Carmichael
Friday: Sarah McMahon
Enjoy your weekend, everybody!