What a life! In putting this interview together I was struck by how writing and creativity have no age restrictions. Big Jim Williams, and he is quite tall, has led such an interesting life. I hope you feel as inspired by him as I have been. Read on!
|Photo Provided by Big Jim Williams|
* Where did you get the idea for your latest release? What is the elevator pitch for it?
GALLOWS JUSTICE, my fourth Jake Silverhorn novel, was released on Amazon in April 2022. The story: Jake and three other Texas Rangers make a long ride through hostile weather-warped lands from Texas to Arizona’s Territorial Prison in Yuma to bring back three killers for execution in Texas. They face deadly troubles from landslides and explosions to storms, floods, fires, shootouts, angry mobs, and endless attempts by gang members and the leader’s beautiful girlfriend to save the killers. Have also added twists and turns and subplots to make it more interesting.
* Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I generally create one or two characters and then start writing to see what they will do. That works when writing short stories. However, after writing several novels, I’m beginning to outline the plots and scenes before writing. In the past, I’ve ended up wasting time by getting lost in my own story. I’m now outlining my next novel. This should avoid a lot of rewriting, and speed up the process.
* Is there a writing routine you follow or do you write when the muse strikes?
I’m an early riser, often up by 5:30 a.m. and working at my computer. Also, write during the day and often during evenings and weekends since I live alone. However, I’m also known to kick back and not write for several days to recharge my batteries. I’m also good at goofing off when needed.
I wrote publicity copy for years, so try to write “tight” to say what I want in as few words as possible when writing fiction.
* Is there anything else you feel people would like to know or would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a great fan of “The Golden Age of Radio,” when dramas, action, music, and other programs were broadcast on radio before TV came along. I’ve spent most of my life working in radio as an announcer, morning DJ, interviewer, and newscaster. I’ve also been a “news stringer” for the Voice of America, the U.S. Information Agency’s shortwave broadcast service, narrated and acted in industrial, sales, and motivational films, and sang in amateur musicals. Did press releases for years––some bordering on fiction––but prefer writing Westerns and short stories.
Fortunately, I’m in pretty good health and will continue to write as long as I can. I may be the oldest member of the Western Fictioneers. I recently turned 90. I’m also an Army veteran (worked in Army TV), later was in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, have two adults sons, four grandkids, and one great-grandson. My wife, Joan, and I were fortunate to travel in Europe and the Pacific before her passing in 2015. Hope to do more traveling.
* Do you write in other genres?
I’ve written many short stories, including those dealing with crime, humor, California’s gold rush, and ghost stories, which have been a kick to write, several published in Suspense Magazine. My radio drama, “Close Encounters of The Confederate Kind,” aired on over 100 NPR Radio Stations.
* Research, do you find it important?
Now writing a novel featuring a Black Mountain Man, an escaped slave from America’s south prior to the U.S. Civil War. Have read much about wilderness survival, and the Mountain Men seeking beaver pelts in America’s frontier around 1820-40 and beyond. So I continue researching this historic time and the men who lived it. My central character marries a Cree Indian woman and eventually fights in the Civil War to help free his mother and family. The book is not a biography but is loosely based on the life of James Beckwourth, a mixed-race real Mountain Man and former slave.
Also working on a first-time juvenile book that is also fun to write.
* Do you have unique ‘marketing’ tips you are willing to share?
I’m a novice regarding the marketing of books. However, to help sales, I’ve recently hired a publicist. We worked together before. He was a big help. Will see how it goes this time.
I’m a realist. With all the thousands of books published, one does need to be a famous person or household name to get the right media exposure and sell books. If you’re a famous actor, politician, or crook, it all helps. But if you’re a new writer trying to get established you need help. I don’t have an agent, but wish I did.
I now have nine books posted on Amazon. I also have numerous short story credits in online and print magazines, and in anthologies. I’ve been getting published since 1998.
* What advice would you give to those who dream of writing, or what advice would you give your younger self?
Keep writing and never give up. Also, get to know other published writers in your area, take writing classes at your local junior college, and join a writers’ group. I’ve found that most writers love to talk shop, and are also willing to provide help and advice.
* What books or authors that you grew up with that inspired you to take pen to paper?
My favorite fiction writers are Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, O. Henry, and Guy de Maupassant. Their stories, with countless twists and turns, are the best. My favorite Western authors are Zane Grey, William MacLeod Raine, Max Brand (Frederick Faust), Ernest Haycox, and Jack Schaefer, especially for his great novel, MONTE WALSH.
I have wonderful memories of being exposed to great writing when I was in grammar school in Ojai, CA. My sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Herman, read wonderful stories to us every day: TREASURE ISLAND, KIDNAPPED, TOM SAWYER, IN A DARK GARDEN, and so many other books. During those years the teachers would march our class across our one-block town to the library where Miss Harding and other librarians would read to us while we sat on the large Spanish floor tiles. I loved those times, and the great adventure stories that have inspired me to also become a writer.
* If it were possible would you choose to go forward in time or back?
I love the pioneers, the men, women, and children, who had the guts and courage to move West in frontier America. Can you imagine joining a wagon train and traveling (mostly walking) across the U.S. to a new life in California, Oregon, or Texas? What brave souls they were. Would loved to have met those people. However, would miss today’s conveniences of good food, running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, computers, cars vs. horses, etc. So I’ll stick with living in today’s confused world.
But what great stories we could have gathered while living in frontier America, as many writers did.
* Have you considered writing a series, either by yourself or with a group?
I have been writing a series of novels for DS Productions featuring Jake Silverhorn, a young Texas Ranger. GALLOWS JUSTICE was released in April 2022 on Amazon. Other books in the series are BORDER JUSTICE, TEXAS JUSTICE, and, SEEKING JUSTICE. I’m now outlining a fifth book in the series.
I’ve never collaborated with anyone on writing. Have always worked alone, but, under the right circumstances, might try writing with someone on a book or movie.
To learn more and find all the wonderful books along with the anthologies Jim is a part of, check out his Author Page: Big Jim Williams author page
A huge thank you for a fascinating look into your life as a writer, Jim. I look forward to your upcoming stories and I also read William MacLeod Raine when younger. (Hey, he lived in Colorado for a bit.)