Smashwords interview James Pitter
Interview with writer and author James Pitter
What is your writing process?
It starts with an idea, something that captures my imagination and makes me want to explore its possibilities. I have to be able to engage with the concept in some way and see its potential. Once the idea is safely through bootcamp, I set about planning the structure of the story, its plot and characters, before adding flesh to the bones and bringing the characters to life.
How do you approach cover design?
I’m fortunate in that I’m a professional graphic designer which simplifies things a little. I begin by drawing concepts that have relevance to the subject of the book which might be explicit in nature or abstract. The concepts take into account the final size which is generally that of a postage stamp – this is an essential consideration to make sure important information is readable when reduced down. Once I’ve chosen the design, I then create the artwork on the computer ready to upload.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Somerset Maugham – His beautifully-crafted, descriptive prose encapsulates a moment so perfectly you can almost imagine you are there. Through his narrative, he had the ability to transport the reader to a specific place in time that’s so vivid, you can almost feel the stifling humidity of a balmy night in the tropics of South East Asia or smell the delicate scent of flowers in spring and feel the wind gently blowing through your hair.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Having the opportunity to escape into another world and explore the endless possibilities of my imagination. It’s a world where I can feel safe, where nobody will question or judge me. I can immerse myself completely in my own thoughts and create an imaginary world only I can see. But when my characters finally come to life and start dictating their own story, that is the most joyous part of writing for me.
What first inspired you to write?
I can’t think of any one thing that made me first decide to write, I just instinctively knew that it was something I had to do. For me, writing has never been about choice, more a way of life, as natural as eating or sleeping.
What do you look for in your characters?
The qualities I try to instil in my characters are generally defined by the needs of the narrative. I’m particularly interested in exploring the psychology behind the actions of a character – what motivates them to act the way they do. But, above all, the most important thing for me is authenticity. Because if I don’t believe in the characters, how can I expect the audience to believe in them.
Aside from writing, do you have any other great passion?
Yes, hill walking. Whenever I’m near a mountain range I’ll often try and don my walking boots and head into the hills. Maybe it’s the solitude I crave, much like the solitude I need in order to write. For me, being at one with nature is a very humbling, almost spiritual experience that gives me a sense of connectedness with all things.
What genre of book do you most enjoy reading?
I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to genres, although I’m particularly drawn to stories with a strong psychological narrative or a moral dilemma. But I like to read a cross-section of genre encompassing both classic and modern literature.
Name one of the most inspiring characters you have read in a book?
The maverick architect Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. Howard’s uncompromising approach in keeping to his principles and his indifference to the assumed standard architectural practice of the day has some resonance with my own principles in relation to writing. Despite watching his friend from architectural school, Peter Keating, win accolades and earn a good living with his ‘safe’ and popular architectural designs, Howard preferred to risk destitution rather than conform to the expectations of his contemporaries. The essence of the story is universal and still relevant today.
What are you working on next?
I plan to write a further book of short stories plus, maybe, a series of essays. I’m also working on the first draft of my first-ever attempt at writing a novel which is pretty scary.