Welcome on FLY HIGH, James! 
First I want to thank you for hosting me today,  Maria. It is very gracious of you.
Did you always want to become a writer?

I think it was always assumed that I would become a writer. As a boy I moved thirteen times before I was nine. I was always the new kid at school, sometimes more than once in the same year. So I retreated to the sanctuary of books early on.

2    What author or book was  your first literary love?
Tolkien, without a doubt. He was the first one who showed me the   power that language has to stir emotions and elevate the human soul.

 .           What kind of reader are you? 
      Eclectic and vorascious! I have interests from astro archeology (the practice of dating acient buildings based on their relationship with the stars) to zoology. I love mythology, quantum physics, Taoism, history etc. I try to belnd all my interests when I’m writing. For example The Vagabond King weaves mythology, astronomy, religion and the histories of Hungary, Africa and ancient Mesopotamia into a metaphysical mystery. The book I am working on now is a noir mystery narrated by a trickster god that blends baseball, poetry, quantum physics and the history of Chicago.
      I usually read more than one book at a time and frequently don’t finish them.
What books have you got on your night stand?
My house is in a bit of flux because  we are packing for a move. But, there are three books I have out that I will probably pack last. The collected poems of WB Yeats,  the collected works of John Keats and a collection of Irish poetry from over the ages.

       Have you got a precise routine as a writer? 
I think it is good for a writer to be very confused at the beginning. If the writer knows exactly where he is going and how he will get there odds are that the reader will too. Conseqently, I don’t stictly adhere to a plot outline. I do have an idea about what I want to see and what I have to do but it is very flexible and fluid. I might revise a scene that started the so that it now ends the book or is spaced out over the length of the novel.

I find that the night time is the best time for being creative; developing turns of phrase, images, metaphores etc. The day time is the best for actually hammering those gems that the night produces into a coherent piece of writing through the constant process of revision.

 What author/s  mostly influenced you as a writer?
Tolkien as I mentioned before. But I also love Isaak Dinesen’s Seven Gothic Tales because of it’s beautiful use of language and her portrayal of reality in a somewhat fantastic way. I’m also very fond of Italy’s own Italo Calvino because  of his abundant imagination and his creative approach to writing he was always trying new approaches and, while I didn’t always like them, I respect his attempt greatly. I also love One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera by Garcia-Marquez.
What is an author’s most difficult task  these days?
I think it is the same as it has always been. To bring the best possible piece of writing to the reader. This means overcoming obstcles like not having enough time to write, not enough money to pay the bills, managing personal relationships and all that is before you even put pen to paper!

Right now, for example, I have no time to write due to work and the fact that I’m spending all my time trying to promote The Vagabond King. It is my goal to make enough money from sales to quit my job and write full time.

      What is your opinion on the e-book market? What will it bring and where will it lead the world of publishing and reading in your opinion?
I love the e-book market!!!

The Vagabond King is a coming of age story and, while it is not a YA novel, I think it would have a great appeal for teen readers. While it has elements of the Mystery Genre it is not a mystery. While it is not a fantasy I tried to portray reality in a fantastic way. So, because The Vagabond King doesn’t fit neatly into a marketing category it never would have been published by a traditional publisher.  E-books enable me to publish and reach a globe full of readers that I wouldn’t have access to. Also, the fact that you can sell an e-book for as little as 99 cents enables a lot of new writers to be read.  Who wouldn’t be willing to risk 99 cents to discover a new author.

Because book readers enable people access to thousands of books at a fraction of the cost of bound books they are the way of the future. Bound books will still exist, but as a luxery, just the way people still ride horses but use a car more frequently. There is a great danger to this however. If we as a civilization commit the wealth of our shared knowlege to electronic devices it could all be lost in the event of a global energy catastrophe.

      Now let’s speak about “The Vagabond King”. How did you come up to write this story?How long did it take to complete it? And who’s been your fist reader?
I had been toying with the idea of a coming of age novel throughout college. But it was all pretty mundane stuff. Then one day in history class I was asked to write a paper on Napoleon taking one of two points of view. The first point of view was referred to as the “Great man” theory of history. This point of view takes the opinion that, if Napoleon had never existed,  history would have been completely different. The second point of view is known as the “Wave” theory of history which says that even if Napoleon had not lived someone else would have taken his place and history would have happened just the same. I could not write the paper because I saw both things being true at the same time. Well, this might not sound like a big deal but the implications for me were earth shattering. If two completely opposite things can be correct at the same time then there can be no good or evil because surely what one considers good is another man’s evil. This means that anything can be held to be true and, at the same time, that there is no truth. Everything I had once believed to be true crumbled to the ground around me. So this is what I tried to portray through Chris in The Vagabond King. He’s a 16 year old kid who discovers the man he wa raised to believe is his father is actually not about the same time that his mother dies of cancer. His entire world has been destroyed. Over the course of twenty years I wrote The Vagabond King in an attempt to portray the dualistic nature of reality and it’s fundamental unity.

My first reader was a person named TM Romero who posted my first review on Amazon saying that ” if the world and literature survive into the next age, The Vagabond King will probably be a classic.” So that was very gratifying after twenty years of work.

  Tell us about Chris, the protagonist of “The Vagabond King”. Is he inspired by reality or by other fictional teenagers you loved?
The questions Chris asks himself are the questions I asked myself. So, to a great extent he was me. However, a story about a teenager contemplating his navel makes for a boring read. So I had him fall in love with an older woman to spice things up. I also had to make him a bit of a spoiled brat so that we can see his transition from boyhood to manhood better.

       I like this sentence in the synopsis of your book: Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping blues records, the universe is full of sorrow and the roles we are playing have been played many times before”.  As it always happens in life and in fiction, childhood ends when you realize life is suffering and death closes all. What about happiness? Is there any chance for Chris to find some?

Absolutely! In fact, by the end of the novel he realizes that “to be a single atom in this universe, a single happy atom is to be blessed beyond all belief.” There is a chance for us all to find happiness. It is all around us. We just need to open up our eyes.

       What idea of love and sex do you try to convey in  the stories you write?
I try to portray love and sex sincerely.

        What are the themes you prefer to write about?
Because Chris is reeling from the death of his mother and questioning everything in his life the central theme of the book is the dualistic nature of reality and it’s underlying unity. To portray this I combined pairs of opposites such as Chris (a young man) falling in love with Magda (an older woman) and Chris who is white becoming friends with Atman who is black. Because of the subject matter I wanted to establish a very distinct “voice” for the novel which I did by writing in a lyric style which often mimics Blues music.

        How would you present your book to our readers in about 50 words?
        When his mother dies and he discovers that the man he was raised to believe is his father is not, sixteen year old Chris is haunted by a dark presence that forces him to question his superficial existence and embark on a spiritual quest.

     Thanks James for finding the time to answer my questions and good luck with your writing!

      Leave your comment to enter the giveaway of "The Vagabond King" Kindle e-book. Do not forget to add you e-mail address. The giveaway ends on December 17th. 
      Read an excerpt from "The Vagabond King"

     He was born shortly before the beginning of World War Two and, as a child he watched the planes overhead. All he ever wanted to do was fly. “It seemed like they was thousands of them,” he said. “I would sneaked out of the house and hide under a hay cart to watch ‘em do battle.” He moved his hands through the air like two planes chasing each other through the sky. “It was a couple a times where I almost got killed myself from falling shells.”

    In his bed at night, he hid under the blankets and pretended he was in the cockpit of his own airplane, diving and soaring like a great flying ace until his mother tolerated no more and told him to go to sleep.

    One plane in particular, with its twin tails and its silver fuselage gleaming in the sun, haunted his memory. Years later, after he fled for his life and came to America, he practiced English by reading everything he found about this aircraft. Now, sitting on the edge of his seat like some leather helmeted fighter pilot, with a smoking cigarette gripped between his teeth and a joystick between his legs, he began sweating and spitting with excitement until the imaginary aircraft rattled and roared down the runway of my imagination and he told me all he knew about the P-38 Lightning, pride of the United States Army Air Corps.

    “When the top brass was wanted a fighter,” he said in his thick accent, “that could did all them things that this plane could did, everyone said it was crazy.” He flashed me a cocky grin from the side of his mouth and said, for no apparent reason, “from a crazy hole blows a crazy wind.”

     Over the course of the day, in bits and pieces, stops and starts, I learned that when the first one rolled off the Lockheed assembly line, the result was a plane that could carry more, climb higher, fly farther and faster than any other fighter out there. The heaviest single seat fighter in the war, it still had astonishing turning capability and climbing speeds. You always knew you could out climb any other airplane.
    “And that’s what wins dogfights, Mac!”
     The P-38 lightning quickly earned a well-deserved reputation as a deadly adversary.
    “But, watch the Gs baby, watch the Gs because this thing is fast – too fast!” He banked left and right in his old chair, gripping the imaginary joystick on his imaginary plane.
     Depending on the model it reached speeds of over 400 mph and climbed 20,000 feet in eight minutes. To be sure, the Lightning took skill and patience to fly. It left pilots, young men all, with legs shaking from the exertion of trying to put the brakes on that beast like Phaeton reigning in the horses of the sun.
    “Der Gabelschwantz Teufel. The Fork Tailed Devil. That’s vat the Kraut’s called dem,” The Old Man said with a crazed look in his eyes.
     They flew missions of nine, ten and even twelve hours on a single payload of gas making the P-38, perfect for use as a long range bomber escort. That is when Mick saw them, those beautiful twin tailed birds with their characteristic dog fight tactics of climbing high above the enemy’s reach and then diving back down on them like some unholy angel, fallen from Heaven. They attacked with a burst of fire power and then opened up the full fury of those two supercharged Allison V12s, zooming back up into the sky, completely out of reach. 
      With its four .50 caliber nose mounted guns, it had more concentrated fire power than any other U.S. fighter and an extra 20 mm cannon for that signature punch that sent many a Nazi spiraling from the sky, and dropping many a German mother to her knees, cursing the day her boy conceived of the dream to fly. Yes, The Old Man wanted to fly all right, but who wouldn’t after seeing something like that? “One day,” he said, while coils of gray smoke slithered from the end of his cigarette. “One day I’ll have a chance to fly.”
Follow James Conwoy on Twitter as @JCConway3


Literary Chanteuse said...

I'd love to read this one thank you for the giveaway!


Malvina Beatrice said...

I've heard about this book would the chance to read it. Thanks & Happy Holidays.


maribea said...

Congratulations on such a huge work, James! I'd love to read your book.
Thank you for this giveaway and Merry Christmas.