Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today, I’m chatting with Jim Bates on the launch of his book, Resilience, a collection of short stories. Welcome to the tearoom, Jim.
Thank you so much for your invite to the tearoom, Paula.
You’re very welcome, Jim. Let’s start by asking did you try to be more original when writing this book, or deliver what you felt the readers wanted?
I will always be indebted to Gill James at CafeLit because she was the first person to publish any of my stories. When I began putting together stories for my single author collection, I chose stories that she had already published. Then I added more that in my mind kept with the theme of the book. Hopefully, if people liked what had been published on CafeLit they will like the stories in this collection.
Did you feel energized or exhausted after writing this book?
I felt completely energized putting this book together. I went through all of my stories and picked my favorites. I made with a chart that listed the stories and their word count. Then I started whittling away. I started with almost one-hundred stories and ended up with twenty-seven. I enjoyed the entire process.
Do you want each of your books to stand alone, or are you building a body of work that are interconnected? Whether that be a theme, a set of characters, a setting, etc. Explain more for our readers.
All of my books will stand alone. “Resilience” is my first published collection. But this could be a big year for me. I have a collection of thirty-one stories right now in the final editing stage with Impspired Publications. It’s called “Periodic Stories”. These are stories of approximately one-thousand words each built around the first thirty-one elements of the periodic table. Chapeltown Books has my collection of thirty-one flash fiction stories and drabbles called “Short Stuff”. It is ready for publication. I have a thirty-two thousand dystopian novella called “Something Better” ready for final editing through Paper Djinn Press. I have submitted a seventy-thousand-word manuscript called “Against the Grain” to The Terror House for consideration for publication. And I won a contest and a publishing contract with Clarendon House Published for a series of short stories entitled “Do You Believe in Magic?” which will be coming out toward the end of this year. All of these collections have the same general theme of my first book “Resilience” in that a character is faced with life’s challenges and somehow finds a way to survive and grow and become, in most cases, a better person having faced that challenge.
How do you balance your demands on the reader with taking care of your readers? In the book did you spell everything out so your reader just had to read it, or did you rely on their emotional response to your words?
My stories are designed to emotionally engaged my readers. Hopefully, they entertain as well! My goal is to have a reader finish a story, nod their head, smile and say to themselves, ‘Yes, I get it. I can relate to that.’ If I can connect with a person on an emotional level like that and leave them feeling something, be it happy or sad or whatever, then I feel I’ve done what I set out to do, and that’s to write an entertaining story that a person can relate to.
Do you hope your book will deliver you literary success and how will this look to you?
Literary success comes on a couple of levels for me. The first one I have already achieved. I have a book in print with my name on it! That, in and of itself, is a tremendous achievement for me since I was never considered a very bright person. Challenging myself to do the best I could and writing stories that people enjoy and having those stories published means the world to me. It’s made me very happy. The other part of success is my readers. Will people like my book? Will they even buy it? What if no one buys it? Putting my stories out there for people to read means I will have to accept all forms of critique and criticism. Worst case scenario is that no one buys “Resilience”. I’d feel bad for Bridge House if that happened. They took a risk with me. I hope I sell enough to at least cover their costs. That would be awesome if that happened. Me? If I make some money, that’s fine, but I’m not doing this to make money, only to get my stories out there and entertain people and, hopefully, make people smile a little.
Was there anything you edited out of this book, you wanted to keep in, but you knew it would be a better book by cutting it?
No. My editor, Linda, was excellent in helping cut extra verbiage or add more to a story if it was warranted. I’m extremely pleased with her input and the final result.
How long did you spend researching this book’s subject matter, or was it a book you had already planned?
In 2015 I started to seriously begin writing stories. Once I made that commitment, they started tumbled out of my brain pretty much non-stop. And they still are!
What was the hardest scene to write in the book?
None of them were hard to write. If I can put myself in the mind of a character, I can write just about anything. Getting into their mind set is the main thing!
How will you cope with bad reviews on this book?
I’m ready for them. I used to work for a company where me and my team wrote training manuals based the requirements set forth by our customers. Everything (everything!) we wrote was scrutinized. Nothing was ever good enough. Changes were always made. Critiques were common and criticism was a way of life. So, with “Resilience” I’m expecting I will receive some less than stellar views. It’s the nature of our business. My stories aren’t for everyone, I accept that. And if criticism is warranted, I’ll accept it, as well. If it’s not, I’ll try not to let it get to me. Too much!
What’s the one thing you would give up to become a better writer?
Hmm. That’s a good question, Paula, kind of like, “Would I sell my soul to the devil?” Here’s how I’ll answer it. I was brought up to work hard and to take pride in a job well done, and that’s the way I feel about my writing. I love to challenge myself to be the best I can be. I love to step out of my comfort zone sometimes and attempt writing in a different genre. I feel I am always striving to be better. I like the work aspect of writing. My brother says that writing is my job, but in a good way, and I go along with that statement. I write every day even if I’m not ‘in the mood’ which rarely happens. I love what I do; it makes my life whole. So, what would I give up to be a better writer? Nothing. I love the process of pushing myself to be the best I can be. If I traded something for it, I’d miss the learning process, and that, for me would be a real bummer.
Congratulation on the launch of your first collection of stories, Jim. I wish you lots of luck with the sales of your book.
If you would like to read more of Jim’s writing please check out the links below.
Amazon Author’s Page: Jim Bates
Jim’s Blog: The View From Long Lake
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.