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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author James Horsley talks about his writing career, and the inspiration behind his new book, Family In A Tree.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I interviewed author James Horsley about his life and career, the inspiration behind his new book, Family In A Tree, and his creative writing process.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

James Horsley on The Table Read
James Horsley

I was born on the coast of East Anglia just a few years before the turn of the millennium. I grew up with a passion for art and have embraced it all my life, but I have also been quite practical and physical, and have more recently become a qualified actor and performer, which has been of great significance to my writing.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

It was in my late teens that I had an initial ambition to write material for the screen which I still intend to do eventually. But only several years ago, it occurred to me that the most effective way of gaining writer recognition would be to adapt one of my stories into a novel, this story being the most suitable one for book form.   

When did you take a step to start writing?

In 2013, I took the plunge and penned my first idea, a story I worked on for over a year before my second one, which is the basis of my book.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

As previously stated, writing screen material was what I had in mind to begin with, and towards the end of 2014, I wrote script drafts for a series called ‘Family Tree’. I didn’t know much about scriptwriting despite having trained as an actor, and so, by the end of 2019, I had adapted the story into a book and also renamed it, ‘Family in a Tree’.

After getting the attention of my publishing company in late 2020, I worked with them and the editors to make the book as good as it could be. Now, in 2022, it’s been eight years since my first drafts for the story.   

the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

What were your biggest challenges with writing Family In A Tree?

In terms of overall completion, my biggest challenge with this book was trying to work out where every place on the map would be located and how to draw the map accordingly. But in terms of writing, the big challenge was narrowing down all the original ideas I had and choosing which ideas to keep and which ones to cut out before I was left with a simple and presentable book.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

My protagonist was largely a combination of my own life experiences and heroic movie characters. If anyone reads the book, they will notice how the character changes.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

Family In A Tree by James Horsley
Family In A Tree

There isn’t really any proper antagonist in my first book, only a group of troublemakers towards the end. Sometimes, making the enemy invisible, even only to a certain point is more effective.

What is the inciting incident of Family In A Tree?

Supposedly, the moral is that there are some things in life which you just have to accept and cannot make a difference to, but which you can live through if you have friend and family help.  

What is the main conflict of Family In A Tree?

From the start, I’ve always wanted to create a narrative picture of great power and dynamism, but (and perhaps ambitiously for a ‘modern writer’) by using very little material likely to harm or offend, so that younger audiences can relate to it. I will continue to undertake this challenge with this first book as my pilot. 

Did you plot Family In A Tree in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I knew from the start that I intended to write a traditional fantasy story. I didn’t have much writing experience to begin with and so it didn’t occur to me to think of the ending first. I just worked out what the conclusion would be as I went along.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Family In A Tree need?

I did have some family support, and quite a few suggestions were made by the editors, suggestions which I thought were completely necessary. 

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Be prepared to change your story a great deal from what you originally had in mind, as that is the nature of the craft.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you are planning to write?

This book is the first part of what I refer to as my fantasy literature trilogy. My second book is another story set in a fantasy world, but a large-scale melodrama aimed more at adults and maybe teenagers as well. It resembles historical epics such as Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. My third book is a much shorter one, about a child from the real world who goes to a place of enchantment, reminiscent of a journey to Oz or Wonderland, for example. But I may also write some short spinoffs or backstories about the minor characters in my first book.

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment?

Although I’m constantly dedicating myself to new material, I am happy with my first checkpoint, so to speak; this is just the beginning…

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Website address: www.jameshorsley.com (not yet published)

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