Author Spotlight: James Schannep

  • a purveyor of interactive fiction & gamebooks for grown-ups

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to James Schannep!

James Schannep has a son and a daughter, a cat and a dog, enjoys both running and napping, loves vanilla and chocolate, has a desire to travel but also to stay put and write. He loves horror, comedy, and nearly everything in between. Rather than being torn asunder by his dichotomies, he harnesses these schizophrenic impulses by writing branching fiction with over fifty possible endings.

James, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While 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 always wanted a pet dinosaur as a kid, so it’s going to be really hard not to say dinosaur, but… if we’re talking fantasy, I’m going to have to go with Lying Cat from Saga. Let’s face it, a dinosaur would be a bit much for a lot of life, but a walking, talking lie detector that’s fiercely loyal and gives smugly sarcastic side-long glances? It’s perfect. Purrfect. Oh, my car needs a new transmission? What say you, Lying Cat? It’s time to renegotiate my contract? Sorry, Lying Cat absolutely needs to be in the room for that. I don’t have enough time to get my writing done? Okay, okay, Lying Cat — thanks for keeping me on track. And you’re right, I do still want a dinosaur, if we’re being honest.

Now I have the ‘Dino, the Last Dinosaur’ song stuck in my head. But yes, I could see a cat being friendly and Lying Cat being… so much more helpful.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

A chance conversation with a friend contained the question, “Why aren’t there any Choose Your Own Adventure books for adults?” That led down a Google rabbit hole, a writing experiment, and eventually a passion for a new form of storytelling.

Yay for a new era of choose your own adventures!

What do you like to read?

Part of the fun for me is that each interactive book I take on is in a different subgenre. So, for a few months I become a zombie fanatic. Then, once that’s done, I read all the best mystery writing I can get my hands on. After I finish my detective story, I become immersed in the superhero genre, and on and on it goes.

Love it! I know some authors who are more interested in research than writing…

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

Don’t worry about the details, it’s fiction.

No. No, no, no, no. I love learning; as a writer, as a reader, as a human. So if consuming entertainment can also teach me something? Good! I believe if a detail in a book can be accurate, it should be accurate. In addition to being a small way to improve upon society through microeducation, researching various topics also prevents us from alienating certain segments of our readership. We all know the nurse who hates the way X portrays hospitals or the soldier who can’t watch Y because the details are laughably wrong. Don’t they deserve to be immersed in your stories as well? 

I’m with you one-hundred percent. I’ve heard one of the things you should try to never do is to kick your audience out of the story, triggering their disbelief, and making them stop to think about the story. Getting small details wrong can ruin the story for plenty of people.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

No one can tell the story the way you can.

I’m going to write a haunted house story next. Haunted house stories have been done…ahem…to death, but no one has ever told a haunted house story the way that I can. And if I don’t, who will?

Definitely! I’ve heard writer friends stress out, because a published book sounded superficially like theirs. But, Pocahontas, Avatar, and Fern Gully all have the same plot, but very different styles and moods. And they’re all enjoyable in different ways. Just because a plot sounds similar to yours doesn’t mean your story will be seen as a copy-cat. As long as you’re not plagiarizing, you should be fine.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

New release time! SPIED has just launched. 3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question…Can YOU Crack the Code as a Secret Agent?

SPIED is a suspense thriller unlike any other — YOU are the main character. Recruited from the lower-levels of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to become a field agent (finally!), it’s up to you to break into secure facilities, solve cryptic puzzles, expose potential moles, and suavely talk your way out of any situation before shadowy forces [REDACTED] the world!

Praise for SPIED: “Filled with so many twists and turns, Schannep had me both shaken and stirred.” -Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series

If spies aren’t for you, check out James’s other choose-your-own-adventure stories: Murdered, Infected, Superpowered, Marooned, and Pathogens.

Check James Schannep out across the web!

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Book Trailer | Amazon

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