Monday, June 17, 2013

Interview with Jim Callan

Recently, I interviewed author Jim Callan.

Bio: After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his fourth book released in February, 2013. 

James Callan, author


WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?

Jim:  I had intended to write books when I graduated from college, but soon found I could not support a family doing that.  So, I returned to graduate school in mathematics.  After a long career in math and computer science, one day I realized I didn’t have to support a family anymore – they were all out of college and self-supporting.  So, I went back to my first love – writing.

 WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?

Jim:  I like the twists and turns of David Baldacci, the neat stories of Tony Hillerman, and the smooth flowing paragraphs of Dick Francis.  

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS?

Jim:  Write. Write. Read, then write some more.  Do not edit yourself as you write.  When you finish the book, then go back and edit.

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?

Jim:  Haphazard.  I like to write six days a week, even if only for a short time.  Unfortunately, I seldom make that. 

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATEST RELEASE.

Jim:  My latest suspense book is A Ton of Gold.  I asked myself if an old Texas folktale could affect people’s lives today. My heroine, Crystal Moore, would say definitely yes. Because of an old folktale, she faces murder, firebombing, and kidnapping.  And even as she tries to sort out the who and the why of those problems, the man who almost destroyed her emotionally comes back. This time, he can ruin her career.  So, she’s attacked on two sides.  She will need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her street-wise house mate, and her feisty, 76 year-old no nonsense grandmother.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND IN RESEARCH BEFORE YOU WRITE A STORY?

Jim:  Not much before I begin writing.  But I try to identify what I will need to do.  I might note that I need some expert legal advice or medical advice.  Quite often I recognize that I will need to study the locations carefully.  In A Ton of Gold, for instance, I actually drove all the streets that were driven in the book so I would know how long it took to get from point A to point B.  For Murder a Cappella, I video-taped the Arboretum in San Antonio because an important chase occurred there.  That way, my descriptions and actions were accurate.  But most of this will come after I start the story, sometimes after I have finished the first draft.

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR RESEARCH?

Jim:  Most interesting?  Hmmm.  Perhaps the details of flying a powered parachute.  That came about for a book not yet published, the sequel to A Ton of Gold.

HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?

Jim:  I have written eight books.  Three of those were non-fiction.  But fiction, specifically mysteries and suspense, is my favorite area.

Murder a Capella


 HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?

Jim:  I live in the middle of a forest in east Texas. And I find it fulfilling to work on the property there. Then, we spend a lot of time at our home in Mexico. And my wife and I both love to travel.

HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?

Jim:  I have a website and a blog.  The website (www.jamesrcallan.com)  provides a lot of information on me and my books, plus I have included a lot of reviews on various books.  The blog (www.jamesrcallan.com/blog) has weekly posts. Many of these are interviews with other writers I know, so readers can get to know a little about the authors.  Of course, the website has a “Contact Callan” button to facilitate sending me an e-mail.


Thanks for inviting me to visit your website, Heidi.  It has been a pleasure.  

A Ton of Gold


A Ton of Gold
A contemporary mystery / suspense novel

Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.  Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance. 

On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.  This time he can destroy her career.  She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76 year-old grandmother.

A Ton of Gold
By James R. Callan
From Oak Tree Press, Feb. 2013

On Amazon, in paperback, at:  http://amzn.to/UQrqsZ 
Or the Kindle edition at:  http://amzn.to/12PeHJb    
Or from Oak Tree Press at:  http://bit.ly/WJXcWl 


Website:          www.jamesrcallan.com
Blog site:         www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
Book website: www.atonofgold.com

12 comments:

  1. Interesting interview. I enjoyed reading it.

    Debbie Malone

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  2. Very good interview, Heidi. I'd like to know about his non-fiction books as well as his fiction. And while the latest sounds good, a title like Murder A Capella sounds just the thing for someone like me who loves both music and mysteries. (Now if he added a zoo to it, he'd be completely up my alley!)

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Murder a Cappella is a murder mystery set during the international finals of the Sweet Adelines, women who sing barbershop harmony. So, you have a lot about the singing competition. But when two chorus members are killed (opening scene), another member of their chorus is compelled to find out why and by whom when the police think it was a random shooting.

      My youngest daughter sang in the international finals one year. She's also a writer. So, naturally we got to talking about a book to capture some of the glitz and glamor of the competition. But I write mysteries. So we decided to combine the two.

      Murder a Cappella has received excellent reviews from Sweet Adelines members. I think you would enjoy it.

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  3. A great interview! And very inspiring to never give up on your true dream.

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  4. I enjoyed learning more about you, James, and I'm looking forward to your "Mystery of the Month" post on my blog next month.

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  5. Good interview! I can't believe going from mathematics to writing,
    but in this case he Jim made it work. And probably didn't have my
    math grades! Loved Cleansed by Fire.

    posted on behalf of DianeDeanWhite

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  6. Great interview you two. I had the wonderful fortune of reading a Ton of Gold. It was awesome. Highly recommend it to everyone! Keep up the writing!

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  7. Terrific interview, and I enjoyed learning more about you. I have one of your books on my TBR stack and I can't wait to get to it. I have a feeling I'll want to read all of them.
    Marja McGraw

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  8. Going back in history to find the premise for a comtemporary msytery is a great idea. Yours sounds exciting.

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  9. I love that you wrote the book with your daughter's help. I find the idea of collaborating on a book with another writer intriguing, but so far, no opportunity had cropped up. Good interview. Thanks for sharing.

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