James Palmer is a 2014 New Pulp Award-nominated author, editor and publisher. He has written articles, interviews, reviews, columns, and poetry for Strange Horizons, The Internet Review of Science Fiction, Continuum SF, RevolutionSF.com, SciFiKuest, and Blood Blade and Thruster: The Magazine of Speculative Fiction and Satire, among others. He lives in Northeast Georgia with his wife and daughter, and is currently working on a novel and more pulp stories.
I was wondering where you get your story ideas.
I get ideas from all over the place. Books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, even old comic books and cartoons from my childhood. Sometimes a trip to the bookstore can conjure all sorts of ideas. Most of the time, the ideas come when my mind is quiet, when I’m not listening to music or watching TV, but doing some mundane activity that doesn’t require a lot of thought.
What is the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A little of both, I’m a pantser by inclination and a plotter by necessity. I tend to pants more with short stories than with novel-length works.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
It depends on the project. If it’s set in the present day or is in a completely made-up world, I will do little if any research. But I need at least a vague idea of how the story will end before I can start writing it. Some ideas have to gestate a while before they are ready to become a short story or novel, and I write those down and move on to something else until they are ready.
What is your daily writing time like?
Way too short and sporadic. During the week, I write on my lunch hour at my day job, shooting for a thousand words. Sometimes I write less, sometimes more. It depends on how well I’ve outlined and planned and how well I know the story and the characters. I might get another fifteen hundred words down over the weekend, but not always.
Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision? If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
I am not a full time writer, but I would love to be someday. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but it’s what I’m working toward.
Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher? (Any other publishers?) (Or your self-publishing experiences?)
Working with the New Pulp publishers like Airship 27, Pro Se Productions, and White Rocket Books has been amazing in terms of my output and the kinds of things I’m writing–and reading–now. I wouldn’t be the writer (or editor and publisher) I am today if not for those guys. Other than that, I’m self-published. I created my own imprint, Mechanoid Press, and have published five anthologies and several e-books, the most popular of which is Monster Earth and Betrayal on Monster Earth, about a Cold War fought with giant monsters, created by myself and Jim Beard. Both the New Pulp field and self-publishing has taught me how to think like a publisher as well as an author.
What is your current release and (without spoilers) tell us about the new book or series.
I just released my first short story collection, Into the Weird: The Collected Stories of James Palmer. This book features all of my previously published New Pulp fiction and weird tales I wrote for Airship, Pro Se, and White Rocket, as well as Mechanoid Press, including my 2014 New Pulp Award-nominated story “Mars McCoy and the Curse of the Star Lance” (from Mars McCoy Space Ranger, vol 2, published by Airship 27). It sports an awesome cover by Filipino artist Karl Comendador, and cover layout by James R. Tuck Jr., author of the Deacon Chalk occult bounty hunter novels.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing (fiction or nonfiction) and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
I have a story in Tales of the Rook volume 2 from Pro Se, and I have some upcoming projects from Airship 27, Pro Se, and one other that I can’t talk about yet. And I’m busily outlining some novel projects. May 30-June 1 I’ll be at Alabama Phoenix Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, where Mechanoid Press will have a table.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
I’ve written about this on my blog here (5 Tough Love Rules for Indie Publishing Success), but I think the important things are to define your own success, remember that it isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, and don’t do it if there is anything else you’d rather be doing. Also, to be a writer you have to write. A lot. Whether you feel like it or not.
Who is your favorite author, and can you recommend a book by that author?
I have so many favorite authors! Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison and Robert J. Sawyer and Charles Stross and Dan Simmons–his Hyperion Cantos should be required reading for anyone who loves epic science fiction (my preferred term for ‘space opera’). And I’m continually inspired by what my colleagues in the New Pulp community are doing; guys like Van Allen Plexico and I.A. Watson are putting out stuff as good as anything you’d find from a New York publisher. I’m currently finishing up Van’s Legion I: Lords of Fire, book one in his Shattering universe.
If you would like more information about James Palmer you can find his books on Amazon, and updates about his writing on Facebook, Goodreads , Twitter, and on his website. You can also find out more about Mechanoid Press by Twitter, Facebook, or on the website.