Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Interview With James Scott Bell
Today I’m privileged to post an interview with James Scott Bell. Jim was the keynote speaker at the recent ACFW meeting and, as usual, was able to teach, inspire, and entertain with his words. I appreciate his dropping by the talk with us now.
RM: Let’s start with the big news, your forthcoming book, Try Dying. Tell us what’s different about this book.
JB: This is a series character, and while the books will all have plots that wrap up, the inner journey of the characters continues over the whole series. It's also different in that it is aimed at the general market.
RM: What factored into your decision to publish in the general market?
JB: A few years ago I was reading some current suspense, and it started to rub me the wrong way. I thought about a lot of the classic crime and suspense novels of the 40's and 50's, and also film noir, my favorite movie genre. All these managed to be gritty and thrilling but without the more, shall we say, gratuitous elements we see so much of today. I think we've moved too far in that direction and I sense a lot of readers agree. They still want a good read, but they don't want the offensive elements. That's how Try Dying was born. I want to provide something that's needed.
RM: Will you continue to write books for the Christian market as well?
JB: Yes. I have a new one from Zondervan, The Whole Truth, coming out next January.
RM: It’s easy to forget that your writing isn’t confined to novels. I have a copy of Plot and Structure on my desk and refer to it frequently. How did you come to write that one?
JB: I was mad. I wasted 10 years of my writing life believing what so many said: Writing can't be taught. You either have it or you don't. When I finally figured out that I had to write, I went about trying to learn because I had no other choice. And lo and behold, I found out writing can be taught! I learned and tried things and figured some things out, and decided to write a book about it so others wouldn't have their writing lives wasted.
RM: You teach at lots of conferences. You agreed to be the keynote speaker for this year’s ACFW meeting. Do you ever find yourself wishing you didn’t have so many commitments, that you could just hunker down at your special Starbuck’s with your computer and write?
JB: I do love to hunker down and write, but I also like hanging out with writers—published writers, soon to be published writers, beginning writers and writers' friends. It energizes me.
RM: You’ve been a great friend and mentor to a slew of writers, and I count myself fortunate to be included in that group. What final words—I guess you, as a “recovering lawyer” would call it a summation—what would you say to the readers at this point?
JB: Be like Doc Mabry. Keep a good sense of humor about yourself and this writing "thing" and, most of all, keep writing. That's the whole secret. Write, learn, and write some more.
If you want to know a bit more about Try Dying, go to Jim's web site and watch a preview, done in the style of a movie trailer. Of course, I'd expect this from a guy who started out writing screen plays and who knows more about movies than almost anyone I know. Jim, thanks for dropping by.