James Ellis is a full-time writer. He has written two novels, The Wrong Story and Happy Family, and has published a number of prize-winning short stories, a travelogue of his journey through Central America and a monthly column for The Gudgeon. James also develops and delivers workshops for fiction writers and is a regular speaker at writers’ events.
James has an MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford and spent his placement as a submissions reader for Felicity Bryan Associates literary agency. He is a member of the Society of Authors and the International Flann O’Brien Society. He is a presenter on Frome FM’s On-Air Book Group and is one of the three founder members of the Cherwell and Avon Book Group.
He is a contributor to Carers UK’s creative writing campaigns and was an ambassador and volunteer for Shooting Star, a children’s hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions.
He is currently writing his third novel.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: I would like to meet PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie or George Orwell. The first two because they mastered the craft of creating a universe into which they could place repeatable and enduring characters. I admire their industry and would have loved to learn from them. The third, George Orwell, because he, more than anyone, embodies the thoughtful, sincere and incorruptible writer; the writer all writers should try to be.
Q: What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you as a child?
A: Well, Janet and John, obviously. ‘Look, look. See Spot. See Spot with the ball. See Spot chase the ball. See Spot get the ball.’ Pace, plot, characterisation, conflict, resolution – those books had it all. More seriously, I was a voracious reader/listener of Paddington stories. I wanted a duffel coat and a suitcase with a marmalade sandwich in it. I still do.
Q: If you could teleport yourself anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why?
A: I would teleport myself to Stone-Age times, where all I needed was twenty hours a week to gather a good vegetarian meal. The rest of the time I would watch unpolluted sunsets, paint on cave walls, tend the fire and try to invent writing and the means of mass distribution.
Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?
A: The pre-writing procrastination. Once I’ve actually started writing or editing, it’s all good. Oh, and commas and semi-colons; I always put them in where they’re not needed, and have to weed them out.
As always, our television is tuned to the all-day news and weather channel. This month is shaping up to be the wettest on record – again. Yesterday was the hottest day this month – also again. Today it is raining – multiple agains. And a storm is blowing in from the Atlantic that is scheduled …