Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting to know James Callan

This week, we have mystery author, James R. Callan, visiting with us. I’ve read his novel, Cleansed by Fire, a Father Frank mystery, and I highly recommend it. Let’s get to know James.
Patricia:  Where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?
James:  I grew up in Texas, specifically in Dallas.  My parents read a lot, often reading out loud to one another.  My paternal grandfather was a writer, first as an editor of small town newspapers, and later as a syndicated columnist.
Patricia:  Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels?
James:  I now live in rural east Texas and it provides the setting for at least four of my novels.  However, I also spend a lot of time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and one of my novels uses Dallas, east Texas, and Mexico for its setting.
Patricia:  What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
James:  My most recently published novel is Murder a Cappella, which I wrote with one of my daughters, Diane Bailey.  Some years ago, she sang with the Sweet Adelines, an international organization of women who sing barbershop harmony.  One year, her chorus went to the International competition and placed fifth in the world.  Of course, her mother and I went to the competition.  Afterwards, Diane (who writes middle grade and YA) and I talked about setting an adult mystery in the glitz and excitement of an international singing competition.  It was several years before we managed to actually do it.  But, eventually, we did and Murder a Cappella was published this year by Wayside Press.
Patricia:  Do you plan to write a series before or after you write the first book?
James:  I always ask myself if there is series possibility when I start a new book.  For one thing, it affects how I treat the bio of the protagonist.  If a series might develop, it will have a bearing on the bio of the protagonist.  I want to leave myself room for future incidents. I don’t want to have something in book one which will kill opportunities in later books.
Patricia:  Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre.
James:  David Baldacci, Dick Francis, and Donn Taylor –  Baldacci for the intricate plots; Francis for the smooth flow of words; and Taylor for a “good read.”
Patricia:  What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
James:  I am active in a local writers’ organization (Northeast Texas Writers Organization – NETWO – where I ran its highly respected writers conference for fourteen years), but then, I guess that is too closely related to reading and writing.  So, I’ll just refer you to the answer to the next question.
Patricia:  Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go?
James:  Yes.  My wife and I love to travel and we do a lot of it.  We spend roughly half our time in Mexico.  We just got back from a trip to Canada, and in the past have visited South America, Australia and the South Pacific, England, Europe, Morocco, and on and on.  Perhaps more important, we’ve visited all fifty of the United States.
Patricia:  How would you describe yourself personality wise?
James:  Easy going.  Then again, you might want to ask my wife.
Patricia:  What’s your favorite color? Why?
James:  Blue – probably because my mother thought it was a good color for me.  On the other hand, I usually drive a red car.
Patricia:  How would you finish this sentence? If I won a million dollars, I would . . .
James:  Build a school for a disadvantaged village in Mexico.

James, thank you for being with us today. I enjoyed getting to know you. And, by the way, I love Mexico! I hope you win the lottery so you can build that school.

If you'd like to read more about and/or order his books, go to: