Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
James Nettles has a thirty-year career consulting for dozens of clients from startups to Fortune 100’s, media contributor, speaker on privacy, futurism, coming disruptive technologies and their impact on businesses and individual daily lives, and is a science fiction and fantasy author. He is also a founding partner for Author Essentials.
In addition, having started writing in media and journalism, he has contributed to and written hundreds of articles and now develops content and materials for personal and professional development, technology, privacy issues, and Artificial Intelligence. He also is a science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary fiction author, using his background in cultural anthropology and sociology. His current series are the Home Summonings and Longbow Initiative urban fantasy series, and soon to be released technothriller series under the name James P. McDonald.
Wolf: If you could be any animal in the universe, what would it be and why?
James: Given the chance, and it’s a bit of a stretch as an “animal,” I’d love to be Dionysus for a while. Yeah, he’s an old god, but who wouldn’t want to be a trickster deity over wine, ritual mayhem, and the theater?
If I was going the stricter animal definition, I’m going to stick with the tricksters, and go with the fox or wolf. They’re cunning, and willing to fully embrace who they are.
Wolf: I’m partial to wolves myself, but I’ll let you get away with Dionysus. If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
James: A Bat’leth. Granted, in many ways it’s not the most effective, especially in a gunfight, but on the other hand, if someone shows up in a kilt swinging a Klingon weapon, they’re pretty likely to stop and wonder what’s happening. You might even get a laugh before you take their head.
There can be only one! (I might have hopped franchises.)
Wolf: Just don’t hop too high in that kilt. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
James: I gave Grey Forrester a Bat’leth in Pandora’s curse. Not that he got to use it… yet. But if I’m going with kindness, I wrote a short story a few years back for Valentine’s Day. It was for the Bloody Valentine Blog Tour. I wrote a little redemption story for Cupid a few years back.
Wolf: Creepy. What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
James: Kill them? Turn them to stone? Make them babysit a werehamster at DragonCon? There’s way too many choices to make here, but the best ones become spoilers (like letting the ghosts torment the TV ghost hunter).
Wolf: LOL. Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
James: Got to love the pups. My writing partner is frequently my 14 pounds of rescued mini-schnauzer fury. He sleeps on my shoulder while I’m writing, and thinks his little mohawk makes him a badass. But you can find all of our pups scattered through my books. Our grumpy 15-pound schnauzer is the inspiration for Scar, a mopey old hellhound that loves to show up just in time to cause trouble.
Wolf: My neighbor growing up had a schnauzer. Nice dog. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
James: Teleport. I used to travel 48 weeks a year, and I still travel a lot, but it’s a huge pain these days.
But I’d love to be able to pop in and see sunrise at a passage grave in Ireland, have lunch in Ohau and spend the afternoon snorkeling, and have an evening pint and watch the sun set in New Zealand before jumping in to do a convention.
Or just be able to avoid rush hour traffic.
Wolf: I’d go for that. There is a door at the end of a dark, damp corridor. You hear rumbling. What do you do?
James: Seeing as how I’m a future Darwin Award nominee, I’m loading the shotgun, and knocking on the door. Unless of course, I have my Damascus Steel Bat’leth (if you’re going to dream, dream big), you kick in the door, and scream, “Today is a good day to die!”
With my luck, I’d burst in on a meeting of the followers of the Great Old Ones who have now formed a Multi-Level-Marketing company. They’re happy to sacrifice themselves to my blade, as that’s part of how they get advancement in the organization, but you have to listen to their initial pitch first. It lasts 10,000 years, and restarts every time someone comes in the door.
Wolf: Arg. Run away fast. What five items would you want to have in a post-cataclysmic world?
James: 1) A large, sharp carbon steel knife, 2) A full size parachute (it’s a self-contained camping kit!) 3) A mountain bike 4) Flints 5) a Cast-iron pan.
Bonus: A solar powered tank.
Wolf: Good luck with that tank. Which of your characters is your favorite?
James: Melvin. Melvin is a deranged angel in the Home Summonings series that shows up to “help.” Melvin is a little depressed; he’d like to undo the universe because the sky is the wrong color, but has grown to love pop culture, a little too much.
Occasionally, I’ll do a retelling of a story of myth or legend through his lens, but he’s a great deal of fun when you need to unleash some mayhem. And sometimes, he does really save the day, in his own way.
Wolf: Bring on the mayhem. What is your favorite body of water and why?
James: I love moving water, whether it’s the ocean, a river, a stream. If it’s a body of water I can throw a boat into, dive into, or stare at and listen to the water, I’m in.
Wolf: Moving water can be soothing. (unless it’s a rapid. Then it’s exciting.) What story are you working on now?
James: I’m finishing up the next Longbow Novella, it’s a heist story with gnomes. It’s been a while since I’ve had anything come out in that universe, and I’m ready to get it and Book 4 of Home Summonings out. After that, it’s back to the first book in the new technothriller series.
I’m also having fun recording the audiobook version of Business Essentials for Writers, and the video workshops that go with the book.
Wolf: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
James: You’re supposed to do something besides stare at a blank screen and check Facebook?
The work we’re doing with Author Essentials and other projects are keeping me pretty busy (plus trying to get some writing in), and I do a lot of conventions and events.
In my day life, I do a lot of consulting work and speaking, I’m heavy athletics judge for Scottish Highland Games, and love to do hot glass work when I have a chance, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten in some torch time. I’ve also started doing some carving work again, and with the wife we are playing with electroforming, and I’m trying to learn blending that medium with the glasswork.
Wolf: Sounds cool. Thanks for stopping by. You can catch up with James at these locations:
Short stories, fiction and more can be found at: https://www.jim-mcdonald.net/. https://JamesPNettles.com will be live soon (since I was finally able to get the domain) with more nonfiction, and the other stuff I’m working on.