When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in my mid-teens, I think. I used to have stabs at writing stuff, mostly scifi or thrillers, but I never got much past the first scene or so. In terms of actually finishing something, then it would be at school. In Scotland, the main qualification we sit is the Higher (equivalent to the first half of an A-Level in England) and we go to University for an extra year to make up. For my English Literature Higher, I chose to write an ‘Imaginative Essay’ over a ‘Discursive’ one, and it was a RESERVOIR DOGS-esque thriller with characters named after the Beatles who swore and got killed. It might have been set in London. I remember my English teacher loving it, but saying that it might get marked down for the swearing if a teacher in a convent got hold of it…
I think I’ve still got an Amiga in my parents’ attic that has the very first Ed James work…
When I decided to start writing was about eight years ago, when my nascent music career fell apart. Nobody was interested in signing us, and the prospect of working in an office for the rest of my life was too depressing, so I started writing a novel. It was bad, but I persevered, learnt my trade and I’m doing okay just now.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The first book had a difficult gestation period and ended up taking about three years, but most of that was off time. Since I published GHOST IN THE MACHINE in April last year, I’ve released three sequels - the first six months later, then another three months, then another six months. I’m just away to release the first in another series, SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, so that’ll be four books in eighteen months - four and a half months, on average. And that’s from idea, to outline, to first draft, to alpha edit, beta edit, line edit and proofing.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Sadly, I’m not doing it full-time, but I do write in my off time. I had a fair amount of publicity last month by talking about the fact that I used to write in my daily commute to Edinburgh and now write in my weekly commute to London. I must spend about 15-20 hours a week writing - I’d love it to be more.
How many crime novels have you written?
Four in the SCOTT CULLEN series plus a supernatural thriller with a bit of crime in it…
Which is your favourite and why?
I’m most pleased with DYED IN THE WOOL, the fourth CULLEN book. It is the most professional, both in terms of editing and the plotting and so on. It’s my most mature work and covers a lot of ground - it’s over 110,000 words and was a monster to edit, but I think it’s come out really well.
Where do you get your ideas?
All over the place. Sometimes from conversations with friends which spark off ideas, sometimes from newspapers or sometimes just from my imagination. I don’t sit in front of a blank sheet of paper and try to come up with ideas - I’ve usually got something that I’ve wrestled with in my head for weeks before I start attacking it properly, and then it’ll change drastically as it forms itself, completely out of my control really.
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
I enjoy writing DI Bain the most, perhaps a bit too much. I’ve had to consciously rein him in. While he may seem unrealistic, I’ve known and worked for people like that, with that sort of vocabulary. I’m proud of the protagonist, Scott Cullen, as he is just a really annoying and frustrating character. We share a fair amount, but not too much, and hopefully I don’t have much of his worse characteristics, though he’s probably got mine.
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
I’m a massive comics geek and I’d have to say BATMAN. There’s something I attach to really strongly about him. There’s a real depth to the whole mythos that I just love. There’s an incredible set of stories, not in the main continuity of the DC Comics line which is average at best, but in standalone works like THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS which are just timeless and tell a lot about the human condition.
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Not quite answering your question, but I probably like to have been someone who really innovated in a particular field, such as using fingerprinting, DNA evidence or establish grid searches, etc. The why is that I’d like to have effected real change to the world and add some justice back.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished with a book so I’m at that brilliant stage where I’m consolidating all of my ideas for the next Cullen book, BOTTLENECK, ready to start writing it hopefully this week or next.
Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians - the first four are available now, starting with GHOST IN THE MACHINE which has been downloaded over 100,000 times and is currently free. His next book - SHOT THROUGH THE HEART - features vampires and werewolves but not Scott Cullen and is out on 31-October.
Ed lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue moggies, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and eight rescue ducks across two breeds and two genders (though the boys don't lay eggs).
He works in IT for a living, commuting from Edinburgh to London every week (not every day) and writes mainly on public transport.
His blog - edjamesauthor.com - is a log of his work, his thoughts on his writing, and a place for his word count OCD to express itself. His music tastes will creep in now and again.
Blog & website - www.edjamesauthor.com
Twitter - @edjamesauthor
Facebook - edjamesauthor
THE SCOTT CULLEN SERIES
1 GHOST IN THE MACHINE
2 DEVIL IN THE DETAIL
3 FIRE IN THE BLOOD
4 DYED IN THE WOOL
5 BOTTLENECK (coming 2014)
1 SHOT THROUGH THE HEART
2 CRASH INTO MY ARMS (coming 2014)