Monday, November 15, 2010

Interview with author James Hartley

Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, James Hartley, who is talking about his book, Magic Is Faster than Light, scheduled for release in May, 2011.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
Once upon a time there was a spaceship full of witches ... Actually, it's set in a slightly future world where limited space travel takes place, and some attempts at interstellar travel with a "generation ship" are being worked on. A religious crusade discovers a way to round up witches and place them in a concentration camp, then sends them off on the experimental ship. But problems arise, and they must use magic to achieve faster-than-light-travel if they are to survive, hence the title "Magic Is Faster Than Light." The book is scheduled for May 2011.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
This one was kind of funny. I was doing a flash story about a witch who wanted to be a writer, and I threw in some titles, including "Cauldron to the Stars" about using a magic potion to get an FTL drive. Then I said,"That title is too good to waste" so I wrote it as a short story and sold it. Then I said, "Well, that's still too good to waste on just a short story," so I did a much longer version, which is what is scheduled to be published as "Magic Is Faster Than Light."

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I'm sort of an almost-full-time writer, I do some other part time work. As far as organization goes, I'm on the near side of chaos.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I've tried writing off and on, along with other creative impulses, since I was maybe 11 years old. But for a long time, typing was a major obstacle, only overcome when computers became common.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
Most of my writing is intended primarily to provide enjoyment to my readers. No deep philosophy, no major enlightenment, just a good read that I hope will please my readers.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write almost all Fantasy and Science Fiction. A large part of it is because that's what I read, that's the majority of what I have been reading all my life. I have been thinking about branching out, though. My wife likes mysteries, so we get her some out of the library, and since they are lying around, I sometimes pick one up and read it. Usually I go for the "cozies." But now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should try writing some of those myself.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Sometimes I get hung up, usually between projects when I'm not sure what to write next, or occasionally at a rough spot in the middle of a story. I don't let it worry me, I just go off and read, or watch TV, or something, and sooner or laterI'll get back to thewriting.

8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event?
If so, tell me about it. Not in this one.

9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
My protagonists are usually distinct individuals, and seldom very much like me. Oh, there are little things, like having a protagonist drive a Mazda Miata because that's what I drive, but no major similarities.

10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
The nice thing about writing Fantasy is that little research is involved. SF calls for a bit more, and since this story is in an SF setting, I had to do one major piece of research ... I had to plow through astronomical data to find a star of the proper type at a suitable distance from earth. I also had to do some calculations of speeds and distances and juggle the spaceship's operation to get things to come out the way I wanted.

11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Writing such scenes doesn't bother me too much, but I try to avoid it ... it might bother my readers! I try to keep my writing to a level which will be acceptable to most adults, and probably older teens.

12) What about your book makes it special?
It's special because I wrote it, of course! Isn't that obvious?

13) What is your marketing plan?
I'm still learning this marketing stuff, and I am trying to go along with the publisher's marketing plans while I learn. I am looking for opportunities for things like conferences and book-signings, but haven't gotten too far yet.

14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a website at with writeups of my published and forthcoming books, and a short bio. It also has some links to short stories which are available online and which can be read for free. I have a blog page at, but I'm forced to admit that I'm not a very active blogger.  MuseItUp has an author's page for me at

15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
If you want to write Fantasy and SF you better have an active imagination, much more so that if you write more mainstream material. And I would say you should enjoy what you are writing. I guess that holds true for most any genre, but I think it is especially true in Speculative fiction.

Jim thank you for stopping by and sharing a bit of your writing life.


  1. Nice interview. I found it interesting how the book came about.

  2. Susanne, thanks for stopping by. It's always interesting how books are created.

  3. I enjoyed the interview, because this is a genre that I have not written in and I was interested in the kind of research you did, Jim.

    Thank you for a great interview as always, Penny.:)

  4. Sounds like a great book, Jim. Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing your writing experience. Always interesting hearing another author's process.

  5. Barbara, glad you enjoyed the interview. Personally, I love writing fantasy and found it interesting how Jim combined the two genres--science fiction and fantasy.

  6. Kay Dee, thanks for stopping by. I agree with you. It is interesting to hear how other writers work.