My name is Jamie Stewart. I am currently twenty-eight years old. I live in Northern Ireland with my wife and our two dogs. I have been writing since the age of nine. I’ve written multiple novels and dozens of short stories over the years because it’s more fun than living in the real world. I have recently published a short story called, Insular, that peaked at number 1 on Amazon’s Best Seller List for Horror Short Stories in less than a week. It is available worldwide through Amazon as an ebook. It’s a horror story about obsession, the power of imagination and the joy’s of working in retail, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, Dean Koontz, Shirley Jackson and H.P Lovecraft. I will also be publishing a novel in May called, Mr. Jones, that is a coming of age story about growing up in Northern Ireland, about friendship, books and music and the affect they can have on people.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
My favourite part of being an Author is stumbling upon an idea (ideas are always stumbled upon) and uncovering the story behind them. I firmly believe in the philosophy that stories are found things and that all a writer does is unearth them. That process is my favourite part because the writing that your doing when you get an idea, whether its an image or a what if question, is discovering the story for yourself. That’s all books are discovered stories. Remember that feeling of reading the book that would go on to become your favourite book for the first time? Times that by ten and that is what it feels like to discover a story as you write.
What made you start writing?
I started writing at the age of nine. I loved movies and I liked books but I could never finish reading them. My best friend had a few of Goosebumps books. The brilliant thing about those stories was that they happened to kids that I could empathise with. Suddenly, Dracula could visit the supermarket rather than be in some gothic castle. This inspired me to set the stories that I loved in the world around me. I wrote these along with the friend that I mentioned. His stories were usually a page long, well written and neat. Mine were five pages of sprawling mess. The writing bug had bit me and I was addicted to the white-hot sensation of having a story to tell.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
There are many authors that inspire me. The one that means the most is Stephen King. His work made me love reading and introduced me to the power of books. Yet, it’s not just his work that I find inspiring but his attitude to the craft as well. He loves what does and he takes it very seriously, which is something that I think is an inspiration for anyone in any vocation.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
The best rule is what every writer follows: read a lot and write a lot. Yet, I have always found this answer to be a little vague. It doesn’t provide a method of how to achieve these things because let’s face it life is chaotic, distracting and demanding. It’s hard to find two or three hours of quiet time to sit in front of a computer, especially if writing isn’t your primary source of income. I had a job were I was awake at six am and I wasn’t home until ten pm. I managed to read during those hours by listening to audio books in my car on the way there and back instead of music. I used the notes page on my phone to continue whatever novel or short story I was currently writing on my breaks. I do this on holiday. It gets the work done, it means a part of your mind is always thinking of the story you’re trying to tell and it pushes you to write more. I’ve written on napkins or scarps of paper. I’ve filled notebooks. I found a way to spend my time writing while living. Don’t get me wrong you should also find that quiet time to write. In order to do that you might have to sacrifice some thing such as the television or being on the phone. But if you love writing and you want to make it a success, and by success I mean become skilled at it, you’ll make that sacrifice. That’s my one tip. It’s not just to read a lot and write a lot but also to find your way of doing those things.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I read any type of genre though my favourites are horror, fantasy and general fiction. I think reading multiply genre’s makes your writing better. When I’m writing a romantic scene I recall romance novels, when it’s an action scene I take inspiration from thrillers. It’s the best way I think for you to ensure that it makes every part of your work realistic. If you’re writing a horror novel and your main character has a love interest you should aim to make that part of your story as strong as the rest.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Mr. Jones is fantastic because he says what he wants to say no matter what. Julian Kensi from my short story, Insular, is fun because is so creepy. Daisy Hill is another; she’s from a novel I am currently working on. She has this brilliant resilience to her that allows her to overcome some really traumatic experiences.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
On Writing by Stephen King, it’s a book I’ve read at least five times. It has everything that an author needs to know about being one and taking it seriously. At the same time it is a delightful read and provides insight into one of the most popular writers of our time.
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
I had a section of my novel Mr. Jones that I completely cut from the second draft. It was about twenty pages long and I loved everything that happened in those pages but they had no relevance for the actual story that I was trying to tell. It was a Christmas and I thought I needed to write one because the story takes place in winter yet as I reread I realised that the actual story although it did take place in that season it began after the New Year. If I had kept it in I would have made readers endure twenty pages of people opening presents, having conversations and eating dinner that had no significance to the story. Yet, it was well written and like any writer I enjoyed the time I had spent writing with my characters.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I think I’ve talked enough about Stephen King so I will pick The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s a novel that I’ve reread a lot because the language that the author uses to tell the story is unlike anything I’ve ever read. There is a poetic flow to it that carries you along. It’s both simplistic and yet complex. I’ve found with each reread already I’m uncovering new layers and depths in how the author tells the story. Perfect for a desert island novel.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Neil Gaiman because his writing is beautiful and heart felt. I’d also choose him because he knows how to write about the hilarity of life.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
I haven’t and I think that’s because readers that follow authors do so because of their voice. They don’t just like the type of stories they tell but how they tell them. So when an author does do something different I believe readers will give it a chance. Hopefully, they enjoy it and that chance becomes a gateway to a genre or type of story that they’ve never explored before.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
I understand that writing is subjective and what one person loves can be what another person’s hates. When I receive criticism based on subjectivity I feel sorry that I couldn’t provide that person with a story that suited them and wish them the best in finding it. When it’s criticism based on technique I look at it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
A soap opera with delusions of grandeur.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I am working on a novel that I would love to read. It’s set in 1983 in Kansas, USA and is about a runaway called Joe Cage who gains employment at a travelling carnival and on his first day on the job a little girl goes missing inside the ghost ride. Joe suspects that the culprit is someone else that’s working at the carnival the only problem is he is the police’s number one suspect. It’s in its early stages so far but it is so much fun to write.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
I wish I had read more. Ha ha. In all honesty I’d probably tell my wife ‘I love you’ as she is the most important person in my life. That and I’ll be back.
Thanks to Jamie for his time in answering our questions, really interesting stuff!
You can find out more about Jamie and find the link to Insular on Amazon in the links below.