“My family is from Mississippi (mother’s side, Natchez around 1809, in First Families of Mississippi); father’s side – Brandon and a little community in the delta). I visited Natchez often growing up, went to school there for 9th grade, worked there summers, and we lived there 2014-2015 (then Starkville 2015-2016 – our youngest daughter is now a senior at State). Natchez is a one-of-a-kind place, almost magical. Incredibly inspirational for writing. ““Mississippi is the most inspirational place I’ve found to write (we live in Texas), bar none! Especially Natchez. As I told someone recently, if any town in America has a soul, it would be Natchez.
“My latest book has been just published. Tales From The River (33 short stories and vignettes) “sprang” from my early-morning walks in Natchez and Starkville.”James Wallace grew up on a farm in the Mississippi River delta. The oldest of four children, he roamed the backroads on a motorcycle (after figuring out it was way more fun than riding a horse), hunted and fished, scuba dived in muddy lakes, dug tunnels in sandy ground and through wheat fields, canoeed the rivers, explored uncharted East Tennessee caves in the days of carbide lamps, survived it all somehow, went to Vanderbilt and The University of Texas School of Law, did well, joined a big law firm (twice), left the big law firm (twice), married a beautiful Texas girl, with whom he raised five wonderful children (still raising the 5th) and embarked on a series of family adventures and misadventures (which are still continuing to this day).
James and his family love everything Southern, especially his family’s native state of Mississippi. James’s latest book, Tales From The River, has just been published.
He and his family thank God daily for His amazing blessings in their lives.
When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote a lot of papers while at Vanderbilt (English major). I began writing my Ghost Eagles series in the late 1990s. I had an idea for a team of teenagers modeled on the Navy SEALs and some great settings (Tsunami Ghost Eagle 1 – Kauai, Hawaii; Fryingpan Ghost Eagle 2 – Rocky Mountains). I wanted to offer fun, exciting, adventure without the banality and inappropriate content that so often dominates the YA space (and even middle school books). My goal was to encourage boys (and girls) to read more.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Lots of dialogue. Shorter, more direct sentences. Intense editing. High readability score on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Action and characters that seem very real. Humor. Not pretentious. Stories in which the reader can envision himself or herself in the scenes. For non-fiction (Walking With God – How a Simple, Daily Habit Can Change Your Life), connecting with the reader emotionally and writing in a conversational style.
Is there typically a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
Ghost Eagles books – live life as an adventure, including vicariously through reading!
Walking With God – slow down, take in the world around you (God’s creation) as you walk through it; be cognizant of God’s blessings in your life; laugh, smile, be happy and neighborly; be a positive force for good; and discover and use your God-given talents, shine your light, and make a difference while you have the opportunities to do so.
Tales From The River – be creative and use your imagination; there are fascinating stories hidden in almost everything we observe in our daily lives (but we have to be looking for them). Tales From The River is a collection of 33 short stories and vignettes that “sprang” from my sunrise walks in Natchez (through the old downtown and along the Mississippi River bluffs) and in Starkville (along a wooded lake shore).
What book or are you reading now?
Too many to list (see my Goodreads page). My problem is finishing them!
How do you help new writers?
I donate books to libraries and encourage people to tell their stories. Beyond that, I’m open to more suggestions.
What are your current projects?
I just finished Tales From The River. Next up may be a novel or the next book in my Let Us Meet At The River Christian-living series. I also like creating short stories.
What has been your route to publishing and marketing? Comment on the process and your feelings regarding it.
I self publish through Amazon KDP (kindle and paperback). Very easy. I use a professional (in England – have to love the internet) for formatting the interiors and creating the covers. [If anyone needs help, I’m happy to share his contact information.]
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes! Making the time to write. It’s all about discipline and habit. Help!
Who are some of your favorite authors? What really strikes you about their work?
Preston and Child – page turning adventure mixed with science, science fiction, and supernatural. It works.
Mark Twain – incredible humor and wit.
Thackeray – satire at its finest (Vanity Fair).
Billy Graham and Charles Stanley – insightful and always personally relevant.
Shakespeare – amazing literature; many passages have two to four levels of meaning.
Who designed your covers?
I rough out what I want then have a professional graphic artist pull it together; then we tweak it until I think it’s perfect (lol).
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just start, and then keep writing. First drafts will need a lot of editing, but crank it out. Write something daily or weekly. Look around you for characters and ideas. Take notes. I don’t do extensive outlining. There is no one perfect method. Just go for it.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Fiction – I hope you are entertained and that the deeper stories connect with you and spark reflection on friendships, family, love, and life itself (and what we make of it).
Christian non-fiction – I hope it inspires and motivates.
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TALES FROM THE RIVER sprang from the author’s sunrise walks in Mississippi. Who would have imagined fantastical creatures, perilous adventures, mysterious people, and tales about friendship, love, and life itself were hiding in everyday scenes?
These stories cover the waterfront – from read-alouds for young children, to stories for older children, teens, and the rest of us.