Writer Spotlight: Questions for FR Jameson, Author of “The Wannabes.”

Posted on: October 15, 2009
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This issue author FR Jameson joins us. He talks to Literary Magic about his debut novel The Wannabes. Read the interview for advice on how to create stories that generate emotional responses from and entertain readers.

1. LM (Literary Magic): Your short stories and novel alike are all Horrors. Why? What draws you to this genre, and how do you think your personal attraction to it enlivens the reaction of your readers?

FRJ (FR Jameson): I actually think the short stories are a slightly different genre to the novel. Yes, the short stories are horror and designed to shock, while the novel – because it’s much bigger – has a lot more to it than that. If I had to pick a label for the novel, I’d say ‘supernatural thriller’ – although I appreciate that places it in the foothills of horror.

There are really two reasons why I like writing what I write:

One is that when you’re attempting to scare people, you are guaranteed an emotional response. I like creating a roller coaster ride that will send shivers through the reader.

The other reason is that you can do anything with this genre. If you’re writing a whodunit – for example – then there’s a formula you have to either abide by or subvert. With the type of fiction I write I’m allowed to do absolutely anything, and that gives me a great freedom to tackle whatever I want.

2. LM: What inspired you when writing The Wannabes?

FRJ: In my twenties I did hang out with a lot of people who wanted to be famous. There were would-be actors and film makers, one or two poets, comedians. Some of them were actually quite good, but there were others who’d clearly swallowed the drug of delusion and were going nowhere. And thinking of that latter type – who tended to be the most self-absorbed – was the starting point for the book. Of course, when I was writing it there was the odd dread that I was a deluded wannabe going nowhere myself, but thankfully the book got published.

3. LM: Tell us your favorite thing about your novel. How about writing Horror in general?

FRJ: I like that the book is unpredictable, that the twists and turns make it hard for the reader to guess what’s going on. When I was writing I wanted to maintain a sense of mystery all the way through, and I think I achieved that.

More generally what I enjoy is thinking up those creepy little moments. Incidents that take place which aren’t large in themselves, but draw out the scares. There is something more gratifying to me about a character being scared in a normal suburban lounge, rather than in Count Dracula’s castle.

4. LM: Why should readers choose The Wannabes? What makes your book stand out from the crowd of Horror stories literature being published every year?

FRJ: Because there isn’t another book like it.

I’m the author and obviously proud of this book. I think it’s well written and the characters are good and the plot is strong. But one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that there isn’t another book quite like this one. If someone buys it they’ll get themselves a capital little thriller, but they’ll also go a satire, a tale of revenge and actually a few good jokes.

5. LM: How do you write? When writing Horror fiction, do you advise other writers to outline or to just “jump into” the story with a creative splash?

FRJ: If I’m writing a short story then I’m happy to just jump on in. However with a novel I tend to plan to a certain degree, otherwise there’s a big danger I’ll write myself down a cul-de-sac. There are few things more disappointing than taking a promising idea to a complete dead-end.

6. LM: What is your advice for Horror writers or authors in general to make their stories as frighteningly entertaining as possible?

FRJ: My advice would be to concentrate on the little things. It’s grand to have an idea of a hoard of vampires attacking a boarding school (for example) but look out for those little moments within the larger picture, where you can twist something normal around and then drag it out so that the scares go a higher pitch. That’s what I always try to look for, those little details that give the extra chill.

7. LM: What fills your day? What is your profession?

FRJ: I’ve actually worked in a lot of dull office jobs. Some of them have been temporary, some have been longer term, but none have really been going anywhere. Career driven types would look at my employment history with a horrified shake of their heads (to them it might be the scariest thing I’ve ever done) but I’ve always had the writing and that’s been the main focus of my working life.

8. LM: Give us a brief biography of your life.

FRJ: I was born in South Wales and grew up there and in other places across the world. It was actually a wonderfully happy childhood with no dramatic trauma for me to draw on. I then moved to London and met other creative types in their twenties and then I wrote and wrote and wrote. And then one night I smashed up my ankle and in the months of convalescence I carved out The Wannabes.

Looking back at my life it strikes me as being devoid of great dramatic incident, but then I think I’d find a life of constant drama quite exhausting.

9. LM: What are your dreams? Your goals in life?

FRJ: What are my goals in life? Life is a broad canvass and I’m a capricious cove who can want a different thing on Wednesday to what I wanted on Monday. On the writing front though, ideally I’d like to sell enough copies of my fiction that I don’t need to take on jobs anymore and can just concentrate on it full time. If that ever happens I will laugh for about three weeks.

10. LM: What can readers expect next from you? A new book, short stories?

FRJ: I’ve just finished a new book actually, which at the moment is called ‘Hell’s Secrets’. It’s about a man who’s made an unusual offer by an old acquaintance, and when he agrees his entire life is turned upside down.

It’s probably needs some tinkering, but I’m feeling happy with it at the moment.

11. LM: Has The Wannabes won any awards? What reaction (praise, reviews) has your book received?

FRJ: It hasn’t won any awards (if anyone would like to give it one, please do get in touch) but it has received some good critical praise, which is of course pleasing.

I think the most gratifying thing though has been the response of my friends, most of whom hadn’t seen it before it was published. One friend said he was so gripped it was the first time he’d read a book in a sitting in twenty-five years, while another told me – while emphasising that this wasn’t the kind of thing she normally read – that she’d actually stayed up all night after she got the book desperate to get to the end.

12. LM: In what way do you market your book? Do you use conventional methods, or your own?

FRJ: It’s been a mixture of ideas. I think websites like this are incredibly useful in helping out new authors, and fortunately I’ve had a number of short stories out there to make sure my work is noticed.

Something I have become quite hooked on is the goodreads website, which is a social interaction site for bibliophiles. I have a page there and I write about the books I’m currently reading, some of the films I’ve seen and chip in various other thoughts that occur to me. It’s a good way to get ideas out there away from the traditional cycle of fiction writing.

13. LM: Where can your readers and fans find out more about you? Do you have a Website, forum, or fan page?

FRJ: Well I do have a website, which is www.frjameson.co.uk and that has short stories and other interesting titbits. While if anyone reading this wants to become my friend on goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1566336.F_R_Jameson – you’re more than welcome.

14. LM: Before we end, there is something many readers, myself included, are dying to know: What’s the deal with your mysterious pen name, “FR” Jameson? Is their a story behind that too, or is it too horrifying to let out of the box?

FRJ: It actually is my surname and my initials. When I was starting out I tried all kind of combinations – using my first name and the initial, using my middle name and so on. But I liked just using my initials the best, it has a nice M.R. James feel. I honestly didn’t expect it to become such a mystery, and now don’t feel that I should puncture the suspense by giving away my two rather mundane first names.

15. LM: Do you have any comments on this interview? What do you think of Literary Magic’s Writer Spotlight or the magazine in general?

FRJ: I like the site a lot, not just because it’s been such a support to me. There are always good stories and interesting articles and I look forward to each new issue.

LM: Thank you, Literary Magic. LM.

If you would like to be considered as a future Writer Spotlight for Literary Magic, or if you would like to nominate an author you know, please e-mail our editor at editor@literarymagic.com.


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