Author is not an alien

Author is not an alien
I write because we had deleted enough

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SAKSHAT 3.0 : A talk with an amazing author- JAMES KING........this one is for the beautiful world of words

Here I am with the third post of “SAKSHAT” , Sakshat crosses borders and reaches US where I talk to a magical author and a wonderful human being –James King (Whom I fondly call Jim).

James king is the author of “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance” a moving story of a Bill’s struggle with a diagnosis that will lead him to loose all the memories he has collected, his efforts to keep his falling family together and through his journey full of hiccups, the readers feel the Bill within or someone they knew. Somewhere we all resemble Warrington family when you put down the book and that is the power of writing. ( go order your copy, you can not miss this wonderful novel. You can order at:

Christopher Hitchens in a speech to young writers beautifully sums up how writing is born, he says 

You were fifteen and standing beside a river in wintertime. Ice floes drifted slowly downstream. Your nose was running. Your dog, panting by your side, As you stood there, watching the river, an imperative communicated itself to you. You were being told to pay attention. You, the designated witness, special little teen-age omniscient you, wearing tennis shoes out in the snow, against your mother’s orders. Just then the sun came out from behind the clouds, revealing that every twig on every tree was encased in ice. The entire world a crystal chandelier that might shatter if you made a sound, so you didn’t. And the beauty of the world at that moment, the majestic advance of ice in the river, so like the progress of the thoughts inside your head, overwhelmed you, filling you with one desire and one desire only, which was to go home immediately and write about it.

Before we hear this amazing writer talk about his own journey at Sakshat ,let's hear about Jim in the words of his daughter Katherine :

"My dad worked from home and woke up every morning before sunrise to turn on his computer.Even though he ran his own business, my dad was never too busy for a hug, to give us advice or to edit our papers for school.When we were very little, my Dad would tell my brother and me stories before we went to bed.They were tales he made up on the spot about little kids our age,flying deer and mischievous leprechauns. may be this was how i first fell in love with storytelling.

I grew up wanting to be just like my Dad. Now that i am also a writer, i still send my Dad stories and pitch letters for editing. He is never too busy to correct my commas."

Thank you Katherine for lovely words and Jim that's a surprise for you :-)( i missed my dad)

Here goes SAKSHAT 3.0 with James King:

Q) Thanks a ton Jim for being my guest on this blog column, I knew that you are such a sweetheart that you will not say a no.

I never say no to a doctor, Doc! And how could I refuse one so committed to the health of children? I admire you and your work. Thank you for inviting me here.

Me: How about some words on your journey from a boy to a youngster and now an author?

Sure. As a boy, I was always reading. I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to someday write a book. I used to write short stories that my father would encourage me to read to my family at the dinner table. I have eight siblings. I don’t know if my brothers and sisters enjoyed the stories—I suspect not—but my father ruled with an iron fist so they had to stay and listen. I would like to now apologize to them for that. J
Anyway, I have a distinct memory of announcing to my mother, at the age of six, that someday I was going to be a “published author.” Little did I know that it would take nearly fifty years and three unpublished novels before I finally realized that dream.

Me: When did you first wrote something or may be scribbled and you thought “Man, I am good at it”

I am still waiting for that moment! But I do remember a couple of times when others, whose opinion I respected, encouraged me. For example, in sixth grade I wrote an essay that caught the attention of my teacher. She suggested that I attend a creative writing class over the summer. Going to summer school was not my idea of a good time—but I took the class and loved it. Much later, during my last year of college, I took a writing course with a professor who was also an ex-literary agent and published novelist. In one of her novels that I asked her to sign (I love collecting author signatures!), she wrote that she had every confidence that one day she would be asking me for my signature on one of my novels. She passed away before that could happen, but her inscription and encouragement continue to inspire me.

Me: It is said that every story ,every novel is inspired, inspired from any experience, inspired from eavesdropping, inspired from grandma’s tales………Do you believe that a work of fiction can be a fiction only?

When I finished “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance,” one of the things that I was most excited about it was that it was, in my estimation, absolutely a pure fiction. It deals with dementia, and nobody in my family, other than my grandmother who had it for a short time before she died, suffered from this cruel disease. But after the book was published and I started doing reading at libraries and bookstores, some of the passages I selected to read made it clear to me that I relied on my past more than I thought. Even if the situations are different, there’s no escaping the “you” in what you write.

Me: How did “Bill Warrington’s last chance” happen? You were confident enough that this book will be such a success?

Bill was inspired by the personality of a neighbor I met when my wife, Joanne, and I moved into our house 30 years ago. He was an older man who had, two weeks earlier, lost his wife. He was a gruff but kind-at-heart sort of guy who was reluctant to accept help from me—even as the house he had built with his own hands as a wedding gift to his wife sort of crumbled down around him. I was hopeful but not entirely confident the novel would be published. In fact, it was rejected by more than 50 literary agents. In fact, the road to publication was via a writing contest. No one was more surprised that I won it than I was.

Me : Jim ,I have found you as one of the coolest human being I have interacted with, a person who can be your best buddy. Writing may be a loner’s job but the people who love you are behind every great piece of art. Tell us about these people in your life that make you such a warm and affectionate person.
(P.S.- We want to hear the love struck stories too)

I’m not sure those adjectives are accurate descriptors of my true personality, but I thank you. I credit my mother with any empathetic characteristics I may have inherited, and my father for my stubborn determination—which I definitely inherited. They are both gone, but remain a very real presence to me.
The people who continue to stand behind me and inspire me are, first and foremost is my wife, Joanne. Nearly thirty years ago, when I told her that I had just quit my job (and steady paycheck) to become a freelance writer, she was just two weeks away from delivering our first child. I was in Chicago on a business trip at the time. Instead of questioning my sanity or hiring a divorce lawyer, she said, “Okay. Come on home, then.”

My daughter, Kate, and son, Dan, continue to motivate me. They provide encouragement when needed and a (verbal) kick-in-the-butt when warranted. They are excellent readers and have provided me with insightful feedback on my work. I’m incredibly proud of both of them, and work hard in hopes that they’ll be proud of me and what I write.

Me: Who is your favorite author? I know you read a lot but when you pick up a book, a completely unknown book, what is your insight in picking up the same?

An impossible question to answer,  Doc. The authors that spring to mind are Philip Roth, John Updike, Richard Russo, Margaret Atwood… I could go on. I do love reading debut novels. I pick books that are more character-driven than plot-driven. I find relationships fascinating: how they develop, how things go awry, and how (and if) they are resolved.

 Me: Have you read any of the Indian writings? Have you visited India? Tell us about your experiences.

I am the proud owner of a signed copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies,” which I loved. Other Indian writers I’ve read and admire include Aravid Adiga, Amitav Ghosh, and Arundhati Roy.

Back in the late 70s, I was one of those skinny, scruffy backpackers wandering around India. I traveled mainly in the north—Amritsar, Delhi, Varanasi, and Calcutta. I also spent two memorable weeks on a houseboat on Dal Lake in Srinigar, up in Jammu and Kashmir. I loved the time I spent in India. The people were warm and friendly. The food didn’t always agree with me, though—hence the two weeks on a houseboat, recovering from an intestinal situation I’ll refrain from describing. My system has since adapted, though. One of my favorite local restaurants is Indian. I’ve gotten very daring with the spice levels—I’m up to a six on a ten-point scale!

Me : With the ubiquitous presence of social media around, there are two schools of thought occupying the centre stage of debate, while one group of writers find them distracting, there are others who are doing it for a wider reach and think that it is a boon for writers. Which School of thought you fall in?

Both. On a personal level, social media is a great way to re-connect and stay in touch with friends and family. It’s also been a great way to meet new friends—such as a certain physician in India. On a professional level, however, I have found it to be terribly distracting. I don’t blame the media; I blame myself. I need to get more disciplined about when and how often I check in. (I have several computer programs designed to keep me off of social media during my writing hours.) I’m also not very good at using social media to promote my book. I think this is common among writers.

Me : Any words of wisdom for struggling writers aspiring to be authors?

Yes: Please quit now—I have enough competition.
On a serious note: Don’t give up. It took me decades to get published. It probably won’t take you as long.

Me: Ok Jim , I would give you a few words, tell me the first word that comes to your mind when you hear these words………..and you don’t have to think. Be spontaneous

Life – a feast; most of us are starving. My father used to say that a lot. (Oops. That’s more than one word. Sorry.)

Love –Yes.

Writing-  Not for the faint of heart. Keep your day job.



Failures-Get used to them. (I keep breaking the one-word rule, don’t I?)

Critics-Everyone’s entitled. Be fair.


Daughter-Truly a gift—as is my son!


Castle –(Drawing a blank on this one, Doc.)


Tears-Good if the result of good writing.

Church-the world.

Blogging-Another writing failure of mine—thanks for the reminder. (Just kidding.)

Me: Thank You Jim for being you. You are a great writer and an amazing person. Lastly any words for the “Sakshat” column on my blog where I write about people who have taken a road less travelled and who live their passion.

Thank you, my friend, for tolerating the American penchant for nicknames and allowing me to address you as “Doc.” Thank you also for this opportunity to participate in your blog. And thanks to all for reading. I wish you the best on your own writing journey.

James is a full time writer based at Wilton,Connecticut with his family. You can connect to him at 


  1. Wow, what a tremendous interview. Jim is a huge talent. I have had the honor to read not only Bill Warrington, but his next raw manuscript and he is a writer worth reading.

  2. Thank You Sehar for coming up with such beautiful interviews. For the people who haven't read James King, this is a real motivation to do so and do it quickly. Excellent background work done. You are setting new standards for interviewing the 'already interviewed many times' celebrities. The fresh and original frame of questions make your interviews creative pieces of work. In the process you are also on the way to be interviewed. Accept my best wishes for your writing life( I didn't say 'writing career' !)
    P.S: The message from Katherine has added immense value to the interview.

  3. I agree with aawaz. Thank you for inviting me onto the blog and for making it such a fun interview. My son just told me he learned something about me he never knew before!

  4. And something happened to my thanks to Gae for her kind words--which come from a writer I and so many others admire.

  5. Dear Gae- You are a great friend of Jim's and that reflects. You both keep inspiring us with great work of literature.Love you.Thanks for the comment

  6. @Aawaaz- For being such a flattering reader, for always appreciating my writings and for reading about Jim's interview, i won't thank you
    Thank you for being an inspiration in writing and sharing the love for words.

  7. Hey doc!haha.....i enjoyed the innocence in katherine comment of how her father never too busy to correct commas n she aspiring to b like her father.imagined nose running, dogs panting.felt good while reading.tears good if result of good writing yeh wala mast tha......thanks jim,katherine (love u) n my doc.keep writing.keep inspiring.

  8. Hey doc!haha.....i enjoyed the innocence in katherine comment of how her father never too busy to correct commas n she aspiring to b like her father.imagined nose running, dogs panting.felt good while reading.tears good if result of good writing yeh wala mast tha......thanks jim,katherine (love u) n my doc.keep writing.keep inspiring.

  9. Sehar and Jim, thank you for sharing your wonderful conversation, insights, and pictures capturing the moments of a special journey. This third post of Sakshat was a delight to read. As Rahul wrote: "fresh and original ..."

    I loved the personal note from Jim's daughter, Katherine, sharing her story about her father. Loved the weaving of Christopher Hitchens's insights with Jim's writing journey, bringing us back to our own memories of why we write...

    Jim, so glad you didn't give up on your writing. Otherwise we would not have the great pleasure of reading your excellent novel, BILL WARRINGTON'S LAST CHANCE. I am with Sue Monk Kidd when she said this about your novel: "Perhaps one of the best things you can say about a novel is that the story lingers after you finish it. I have gone on thinking about this one without trying." I look forward to reading your next book.