Saturday, February 16, 2013

Folk Tale Inspired Suspense - Author Interview with James R. Callan

A contemporary mystery / suspense novel
Can long forgotten, old folk tales affect the lives of people today? In A Ton of Gold, one certainly affected young, brilliant Crystal Moore.

Two people are killed, others threatened, a house burned and an office fire-bombed – all because of an old folk tale, greed and ignorance.
On top of that, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back.This time he can destroy her career.She’ll need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, her streetwise housemate and her feisty 76 year-old grandmother.

James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing. But when that did not support a family, he returned to graduate school in the field of mathematics. Upon graduation, he worked as a research mathematician, segueing into computer science, and a thirty year detour from writing.

Along the way, he has received grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Data Processing Management Association. He has been listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science, and Two Thousand Notable Americans.

Then one day, he realized his children were grown, self-supporting, and he could return to his original love—writing. For two years, Callan wrote a monthly column for a national magazine. For six months, he wrote a weekly column that appeared in newspapers in four states. Callan has published seven books: three non-fiction books, plus four mystery/suspense novels, one of which appeared in both print and audio. The audio version (by Books in Motion) rose as high as number seven on the publisher’s list. He has had shorter works published in four anthologies.

Callan belongs to writers’ groups in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He and his wife split their time between homes in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta. They have four children and six grandchildren.
You can find James at his website, blog or social media - Facebook and Twitter.
For more information about his book, click here or here.
Ten Questions with Author James R. Callan

What should readers know about your latest release?
First, let me thank you, Morgan, for inviting me. I appreciate this opportunity to visit with your audience. My latest book is titled A Ton of Gold. As with my previous fictions releases, this is a mystery/suspense. It’s a little different in that the initial idea came from an old folk tale.

What was the main inspiration for the new book?
For some time, I had wanted to use an information retrieval expert as the heroine in a mystery and let IR be a crucial component. Then, I read this Texas folk take and I began to wonder, could a folk tale seriously affect the lives of people today. The more I thought about it, I realized that information retrieval could supply the link, and A Ton of Gold was born.

Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
I do feel compelled. I had planned to write after I got out of college, but could not support a family on it. So, I took a 35 year detour in mathematics and computer science. Now, I’m back to my first love: writing. I have written both non-fiction and fiction. But, mystery/suspense is my favorite genre.

How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
The sequel to A Ton of Gold required a reasonable knowledge of parts of Mexico, including the jungles. I’d say that was, to date, the most memorable research.

Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
Fellow writers, such as Jory Sherman, Caleb Pirtle, Stephen Woodfin, Galand Nuchols and many others, have played a large part. Also, I find writing conferences a great source of inspiration.

What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
Platform building. No question. I wasn’t prepared for that.

If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
Start to build your platform early. Do not wait until you have a book out. 
Now to have some fun with travel...
What’s your favorite place you have visited?
Tasmania. While I have found many places very interesting, Tasmania was not only interesting, but an absolute delight. I need to go back.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
I’m always eager to visit places I’ve never been. I’ve visited all 50 states. Asia would give me six continents. So, I guess I’d pick Asia. And maybe a side trip to Tasmania.
And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?
Fun? This is tough. I think I’d pick the mountains, far from major cities, the only noise the wind soughing in the trees. Perhaps I’d call it Shangri-La.


  1. What a fascinating post. Thirty-five years is a long time to wait to fulfill your dream of writing. It certainly encourages those of us who are trying to build a writing career. James, thanks for sharing your journey. A Ton of Gold sounds like an interesting read.

    1. Thanks for stopping in, Carole! It is inspiring! :) Have a great week!

  2. Great interview James and Morgan. As a suspense writer, I love this idea of traveling to an area for research. Or just traveling. Your book sounds like great fun and I am so glad you have been able to grasp your dream. Best to you,
    Cheryl Colwell

    1. Thanks so much, Cheryl! Hope you have a great week! :)