I founded Fortiter Publishing LLC in November 2013 as a vehicle to get all these great Science Fiction and Fantasy stories out of my head.
“FORTITER” is inscribed on the MacAlister Clan Crest. The word means “to go forward, boldly.” I am grateful for the Clan Chief’s permission to use the Crest and Tartan in my company’s logo, and to use “FORTITER” in my company’s name.
My name is James Warren McAllister. I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist living near Syracuse in Central New York State. Currently I am employed in Healthcare Accreditation. I have extensive experience in both the hospital and the home care aspects of Respiratory Care, including management in both settings.
I have been interested in science fiction since reading the Lensmen Series of books by E. E. “Doc” Smith in Junior High School. TV shows like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, and movies such as Robinson Crusoe on Mars and Star Wars further peaked my interest in the genre.
My first novel, THE BEST LAID PLANS, has been selected as a Runner-Up in the 2013 MARSocial Author of the Year Competition.
What was the defining event that made you start writing?
I can’t name a single defining event. It was more like an accumulation of them. Way back in college an English teacher (I always hated English. I was a jock/math nerd. I found out later I was also considered a ‘hot football star’ in high school. Probably better that I didn’t know that then!) told me I could be a writer. It took me thirty years to act on that. I think I just got tired of waiting for Lucas, Spielberg, or Harve Bennett to tell the stories in my head. Plus, I had all this time on airplanes, in airports, and in hotel rooms, so I started writing.
What other writing have you done?
I have written three novels; THE TURRET and THE BEST LAID PLANS are books I and II in the Starclan Series; THE PAGE is post Arthurian fantasy set in western Scotland and north eastern Ireland. I’ve also written two novellas as John Martin Adventures; STAGED FRIGHT and RODS follow a hard luck New York City detective who ‘sees’ murders when he gets to the scene of the crime. I have also written several short stories. These are available in THE UNIVERSE WHILE YOU WAIT.
What’s the basic plot of your book or series?
The Starclan Series is at its core the struggle between good and evil. This struggle takes place on many levels. Early in the series it is ordinary people trying to do the ‘right thing’ against the common corruptions we are all familiar with. As the series progresses, we see there is something more behind these corruptions, that personal greed is a tool of Evil. The Starclan develops from ordinary and extraordinary people taking a stand against this Evil.
Each Starclan book tells the story of one person’s life, and those around him. However, book three I think will deviate from that a bit in that one lifetime may span two books.
How do you develop your characters?
I give a little thought to a defining trait or two for a character. I try to illustrate that trait during the background or foundation of the story. An example in THE TURRET would be the character of Dennis Trap, a retired Marine we first meet as he’s buying a space tug to start his business. That scene tells you a lot about the man.
Have you used any real people in your characters?
A lot, but not all, of Dennis Trap is based upon a dear friend of mine. I have used some mannerisms and/or traits from people I know, and occasionally movie characters. I don’t want my characters to be copies of people I know, so I often mix and match to keep within my definition of that character.
Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
Many of the early scenes in THE TURRET are set in Central New York. A lot of places I’ve used for settings I’ve been to. I develop a ‘feel’ for a place, and I try to portray that.
Several scenes I write about actually happened to me. One from THE TURRET is when the soldier is trying to defend a bridge against an alien assault. As he waits prone behind a boulder, the smell of the grass brings back memories. That is taken from my own experience; the grass part, not the defending against an alien assault. It’s a funny thing how a simple sense can be such a strong trigger.
Another scene that comes to mind is in THE BEST LAID PLANS, when the main character is attending a high school graduation party at the house of a friend’s steady girl. The girl’s mother tells the girl’s father that they will get married some day. Yeah, that happened to me, and I’m glad it did.
In one of the short stories I’ve written, “Things Look Different By Firelight”, every character has the name of a character or group of characters in comedy movies from the 1920s and 30s.
I also have dropped a few easter eggs in the Starclan books. They may be a name, or a series of names. Hey, you’ve gotta have fun!
Do you have another job outside of writing?
I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist. For 5 years I was the ICU coordinator at a level 1 trauma center, where I got to do some neat things like teaching doctors how to manage ventilators, assisting with percutaneous tracheostomy tube insertions, and performing partial liquid ventilation. Now I do accreditation surveys for The Joint Commission. This has me traveling three weeks each month. I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled to Puerto Rico and every US state except Idaho.
What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?
That’s easy for THE TURRET. There is a part early in the story were two people develop a special relationship, but one has to leave. The song is in the book; So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams.
What are you working on now?
I’m about a third of the way through the third Starclan book, A MATTER OF HONOR. I’ve been stuck in a bit of writer’s block on it. Either that or I’m just being lazy! I’m hoping to have it finished this year.
How did you go about developing your cover artwork?
The Starclan covers evolved through a couple of versions. My brother is a gifted artist, and sent me some photographs he had taken through his telescope. I used these for the background at first. Then I tried to add a scene from the book in version two. The current version has the MacAlister tartan over a star field with a rendering of one of the book’s Evil soldiers. This way I can have a similar cover for each book in the series. Unless I change it!
How do you handle marketing on social media?
Marketing has never been my strong suit. On Twitter I have built a group of followers who will retweet my ads, and I retweet theirs. On Google Plus and FaceBook I post my ads in groups that exist for that. I’ve tried ads on Twitter and FaceBook, but haven’t had much success. I’ve tried ads on Amazon with a little more success, but not enough to pay for the ads. It could be that I just have not spent enough, but I remain sceptical.
Who’s your favourite indie author and why?
There are several I really enjoy; Brian Larson, Theresa Snyder, LaRae Parry, Ria MacAlister (no relation), and Carol McAllister (no relation) to name a few. But my favourite is Michael R. Hicks. His stories and the worlds he creates are unique, captivating, and well done.
Who would you choose to read your audiobook?
Sean Connery or Harrison Ford.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I love to fish, garden, and build scale models. Told ya I was a nerd! I’m actually building models of two spaceships from THE BEST LAID PLANS.
What’s your favourite pet?
There is only one #JordanTheWonderCat!
Favourite food: Pizza
Silliest saying: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
Best holiday spot: Covewood Lodge; http://covewoodlodge.com
Favourite song at the moment: Take it Easy by The Eagles
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Star Wars
Best superpower: Supersonic flight. You’d save a ton on airline fees!
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Walk on Mars.
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vsKN8aB48Q
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1119956567
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