- award-winning, genre-hopping author and editor; who has never met a dog he didn’t like
Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to James Chambers!
James Chambers received the Bram Stoker Award® for the graphic novel, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe and is a three-time Bram Stoker Award nominee, with nods in the Anthology and Short Fiction categories.
He is the author of the collections On the Night Border, described by Booklist as “a haunting exploration of the space where the real world and nightmares collide,” and Resurrection House as well as the Corpse Fauna novella series and the dark urban fantasy novella, Three Chords of Chaos. Publisher’s Weekly gave his Lovecraftian collection, The Engines of Sacrifice, a starred review and called it “…chillingly evocative.”
He writes crime, horror, fantasy, pulp, science fiction, steampunk, and other kinds of stories and enjoys stretching different writing muscles in the process.
James, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
I already have the greatest pet ever, a boisterous Boston Terrier named Ace (after Batman’s dog, Ace the Bat-Hound). He’s sixteen pounds of pure personality and playfulness and the most affectionate dog I’ve ever met—and for such a small guy, he’s amazing at catching a frisbee. If had the opportunity to add anything imaginable to the home menagerie, I might go with a giant eagle, like those in Lord of the Rings. It would certainly save on airfare and would probably keep the neighbors at a comfortable distance. Of course, we’d have to reach an agreement about what small creatures it could and could not eat.
He sounds like an amazing dog! High energy, though. A sentient eagle transport is never a bad addition, though!
What do you write?
I write short fiction, novellas, and graphic novels in crime, fantasy, horror, pulp, science fiction, steampunk, and other genres. I started writing way back in childhood and simply never stopped—and then editors and publishers started publishing my work, and here I am today!
Along the way I’ve done plenty of editing, which has helped me as a writer, but once I started selling stories, I got hooked. Early on in my career I wrote a lot of non-fiction articles covering the comic book industry and then went on to write and edit comic book series such as Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals, Gene Rodenberry’s Lost Universe, and Isaac Asimov’s I*Bots before I shifted to writing prose fiction.
What an amazing mix of genres and mediums! That’s got to be fun, always switching it up and expanding your skills.
What do you like to read?
Anything and everything. I try to keep up with what’s going on in the genres in which I write, but I read widely and often read outside of those genres. I read a lot of history and non-fiction as research for my stories and out of general interest. The more random facts a writer has at their disposal, the better.
I’m partial to dark fiction, crime and horror in particular, and I read a lot of graphic novels and comics too. I’ve never been afraid to pick up a new author or a new type of genre mix, and if you left me alone in a room with a hundred-year-old newspaper and tube of toothpaste, I’d read the news and the ingredients with equal interest.
What a great attitude, although I fear for the size of your to-read list. I know what mine looks like. I have to admit, I read the ingredients off a tube of toothpaste last week, for a bit of nostalgia.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.
Write what you know.
I get the overall, non-literal sense of that advice, but when I’m writing a fantasy or horror story, especially one that involves supernatural elements, there’s not much I can “know” about that stuff. It’s a good piece of advice that clashes with the requirements of writing fantastic fiction.
The idea is to draw on real life as much as possible to create a sense of authenticity in your characters and worlds, to find themes and emotional story points that will resonate with readers. At some stage, though, one must branch out into pure imagination.
You said it for me! Great intention… as long as you don’t take it too literally.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.
Write every day.
It’s not for everyone. I know excellent writers who only write when the mood strikes them or during certain times of year when their schedule permits it.
For me, especially when I have an active project, sitting down at the keyboard every day and making progress, however great or small, works wonders. It keeps me engaged and keeps my mind focused on the story. Writing every day keeps me energized. If a take a break, even after a long stint of sticking to a daily schedule, I start to miss it and get anxious, and find myself back at the keyboard pretty fast.
You’ve got excellent self-control. I’m definitely motivated by the goal of “not loosing a streak.” Although, I do try to do something for my writing several times a week, but excluding NaNoWriMo events, typically do a more metered approach.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
On the Night Border
Dark things stir in the night. When the world sleeps and quiet settles in, shadows assume sinister shapes, guilt and regret well up from the mind’s deepest recesses, and the lonely face their greatest fears. Darkness bares the secret truths whispered on the lips of the lost and the desperate. At night, terrors come alive. For those who journey too far into the dark, no escape remains—but there is a place from which to view these nightmares, a place…on the night border.
The fifteen stories collected here come from the last edge of the light and deliver glimpses into the dreadful, the mysterious, and the strange. These stories offer readers unsettling and weird visions from across the border, visions out of history and from the world around us, visions of cosmic horror, personal madness, and agonizing heartbreak, including, by special arrangement, stories of Lin Carter’s Anton Zarnak and Kolchak, the Night Stalker.
“…a haunting exploration of the space where the real world and nightmares collide.”—Booklist
The Dead in Their Masses
Volume Three in the Corpse Fauna cycle of novellas and stories.
Cornell, Della, and Mason broke out of a prison overrun by hardened criminals, religious fanatics, and the walking dead. But what kind of world did they escape to? Seeking refuge in a forgotten corner of the Everglades where they hope to live out their lives away from the hordes of animated corpses, the trio faces a long, lethal road, where the dangers of the living pose as much a threat as those of the dead. An out-of-the-way community offers what appears to be safe haven until its dark secrets come to light… and open the way to the even more shocking secrets of what has brought the lifeless back from the grave. Soon the dead gather in their masses and the mysterious Red Man arrives to exert a strange influence over them. Cornell, Delia, and a scientist named Burke, must face a horrifying new chapter in this bleak new world, if only they live long enough to make sense of it.
“James Chambers breathes new life into the zombie genre with the riveting THE DEAD BEAR WITNESS! Weird, heartbreaking, funny, and exciting! Two decaying thumbs up!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of PATIENT ZERO and ROT & RUIN
And funding right now on Kickstarter, I am also a contributor to Horns and Halos, edited by John L. French and Danielle Ackley-McPhail, with stories by myself, Michael A. Black, Russ Colchamiro, Hildy Silverman, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Megan Mackie, Jenifer Purcell Rosenberg, Robert E. Waters, John L. French, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail.
Check James Chambers out across the web!