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, mystery/suspense, with his fifth book in this area released in 2013 and two more scheduled for 2014.
How to connect with James....
Author Page on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
--> Preferred purchase links for A Ton of Gold
A Ton of Gold on Amazon http://amzn.to/UQrqsZ
A Ton of Gold on Amazon -Kindle http://amzn.to/12PeHJb
Author Interview | James R. Callan
You and Writing
--> Tell us a little about yourself: How did you start writing?
...First, I want to thank you for having me on your blog site. I truly appreciate this opportunity. Thanks.
...I was interested in writing in my twenties, but soon found I could not support a family on writing. So, I returned to graduate school in the field of mathematics. For thirty years, I worked as a mathematician and computer scientist. And then one day, I said, “The kids are all grown and self-supporting. I can go back to my first love, writing.”
--> Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?
...That’s like asking me if I have a favorite child. They are all my favorites. But, as is often the case, the one I’m working on is most on my mind now and so today, it is my favorite. It is called The Silver Medallion and it is the sequel to A Ton of Gold. I expect it to be published in 2014. About half of the story takes place in Mexico, a place close to my heart. And in it, a young woman travels to the jungles of Mexico to rescue two young girls held captive by a cruel and ruthless bandito. This is not an adventure seeking woman, but a computer scientist who is terrified by what’s she is doing, but cannot leave these girls in captivity.
...The easiest is the first draft. The story is unfolding and it is an exciting time. I’m not worried about any of the details that will have to be refined in the rewrites. The hardest? Initially, finding an agent and publisher. But once the books are published, clearly the marketing and social media are the hardest – for me, a least.
...A Ton of Gold was published in 2013 by Oak Tree Press. I had done some research in information retrieval and had long wanted to use someone in that field as a protagonist. Then, I read an old Texas folk tale about a wagon load of precious metal being hidden in a lake back before Texas became a state. Those two ideas tumbled around in my head for some time and eventually A Ton of Gold came out. Its basic question is, can an old folk tale affect the lives of people today? Crystal Moore is certainly affected as murder, arson, and kidnapping swirl around her, all because of a long forgotten folk tale.
--> Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...A Ton of Gold is fortunate in having a number of great characters. Of course, Crystal is a favorite because she has to grow so much during the book. Her no-nonsense 76 year-old grandmother is a favorite of many readers including myself. Then there’s the former bull rider who plays an important part. And, Crystal’s street-wise friend adds a lot of fun. Plus … well I’d better stop.
--> What is one take-away from the book you hope readers identify with?
...Family and self-esteem are essential ingredients. If you let someone trample your self-esteem, you are in trouble.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...For A Ton of Gold, I explained above where it came from. The sequel, The Silver Medallion, was inspired by a three paragraph story I read in the newspaper. It’s 95,000 words long, so a lot of imagination came into play. But the basic inspiration was from real life.
What is your overall intention with your stories?
...First and foremost, I intend to entertain. If the reader is not entertained, I have failed. But secondly, I like to look at ordinary people who find themselves faced with extraordinary circumstances, and rise to handle it.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing?
...Write, write and write. Then read. Then write some more. And don't give up on a manuscript you believe in. Madeline L'Engle's masterpiece A Wrinkle in Time faced rejection 26 times before being published and then winning the Newberry Medal.
What is your favorite activity during the summer?
...My favorite activity anytime is traveling.
What are you currently reading?
...I have just finished Next Always by Nora Roberts. (I believe you need to read all genres, not just the one you write in.) Next on my list is The Alzheimer's Conspiracy by Stephen Woodfin.
Apparently August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (who knew). What is your favorite dessert?
...Almost any flavor of ice cream. But, if you put a slice of warm pie underneath the ice cream, I’d say that about impossible to beat.
Again, thanks for hosting me. Right now, I think I’m going to go find some lemon meringue pie – and ice cream.
Thanks so much for the wonderful interview James. I love that you are combining the things you are passionate about, using your previous career to influence your writing. Also, the idea of using a folk tale as inspiration for a novel is great! I love when history (even if it's just a verbal tradition) comes to light in modern day.
I hope you enjoy that pie and ice cream, James and as for you, Thinking Thoughts readers, I hope you stop by Amazon today to pick up a copy of A Ton of Gold.