Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: James Eddy, Author

James Eddy, Author
THE DARK ERA (To be published)
James Eddy has written and published screenplays, short stories, and a novella and now is getting ready to publish his first novel THE DARK ERA—inspired by the life of his grandfather, a Polish immigrant who moved to Britain following WWII.  Eddy says the story is largely about father/son relationships but also about self-identification.

Eddy, who currently resides in South Norfolk, UK, likes to listen to a broad range of music. He admits he also likes to read, but finds he can’t appreciate reading without looking at books through a writer’s eyes.  He plans to write more novels, once he launches THE DARK ERA.

Don’t miss the excerpt from THE DARK ERA following the interview.

Q: You have written screenplays (IN DREAMS), short stories , a novella (DIAMONDS) about romantic relationships. What can you tell us about your first novel THE DARK ERA due to be published this year? Is it also about relationships?

James Eddy: It's certainly not about romantic relationships. This is a story that's more about the dynamics of family and friendship. As important as romantic relationships can be in our lives, I feel that it is often our families and our friends which most define who we are as people. With THE DARK ERA the story is largely about the relationships between fathers and sons but it is also a story about identity and how each of the three main characters chooses to define himself. That is seen in relation to each other, to their backgrounds, to the events of their lives, and to the people they’ve loved and lost or are going to lose.

Q: What inspired the story in THE DARK ERA?

James Eddy: The main inspiration for it was my grandfather. He was a Polish immigrant who came to Britain at the end of World War II. We know certain things about what he went through but it's all a bit limited. He had Alzheimer’s in the last years of his life and now that he's gone there's really no way of finding out exactly what happened to him back then.

It was actually at his funeral that I got the idea for the book. During a reading of 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas, I realized that the themes of the poem seemed to fit perfectly with what we knew about my grandfather and also, potentially, with many of the gaps that remained in our knowledge of him. What I wanted to do was to find a way to tell his story as a piece of fiction and it occurred to me that to make his story and remembrances a fantasy was a good way of doing it.
Something else that also stemmed from that and from him was a feeling that I wanted to tell a story that did some justice to the people of Poland. To the men and women of that country who fought and died in the name of freedom during World War II and who were left without freedom at the end of it because the country was effectively swallowed up by The Soviet Union.

Q: What did you discover is different about writing a screenplay, short story, or full-length novel? Which do you enjoy writing the most?

James Eddy: To put it simply it’s mainly about detail and the way the story is communicated. A screenplay is generally sparer in terms of description and much of the story comes through in the dialogue. Short stories are also quite dependent upon brief but telling descriptions of the action and characters. Novels seem to be a bit different in that there is a greater scope for more indulgence. It's less condensed than a short story and the broader canvas is something I've definitely enjoyed, although to a certain extent I’ve tried to maintain my short, concise descriptions.

In fact, that’s probably why I’ve enjoyed writing this novel so much; because I’ve been able to combine the elements I’ve learned from screenplays and short stories and apply them to something a little bit larger.

Q: How do you engage readers to care about your characters?

James Eddy: That’s a tough question but I think the best way to answer is to say that I try to make each character as honest as I can, so their actions and reactions and words within the story are true. That’s ultimately how I think that we, as readers, connect with them. Whether they are positive or negative figures within the story, if what they do makes sense then it will be easier to connect with them.

Q: How important is the concept of “heroes” and “villains” to your stories?

James Eddy: Well, there are definitely both in most of my stories although I’d say that I tend to prefer writing characters that are more ambiguous and avoid being one thing or the other. I have to say though, that I’ve found that easier to do within short stories rather than in a novel.  THE DARK ERA certainly contains a lot more out-and-out heroes and villains than anything I’ve written before.

Q: Do you write strictly to entertain or do you try to educate or deliver a message as well?

James Eddy: I think there’s definitely room for both things, although I can't help thinking that if I genuinely attempted to do only one of them then the chances are that I’d end up not managing to do either. Personally, I always think there is a message in any story. It might be the most frivolous, boring, silly, unnecessary message but it is still there. The difficult part always seems to be in making the story entertaining.

Q: How important is humor and/or suspense to THE DARK ERA?

James Eddy: I’m not going to pretend that it’s a comedy or anything like that but there are certainly a few lighter moments. Most of them were inspired or directly taken from the stupid drunken antics of myself and a group of my friends. There are some exaggerations and distortions to those things for comedic/dramatic effect but they are basically things that happened. They are also things that I feel are necessary to the story because they provide a counterpoint to the darker elements.

And in terms of suspense, I think that the structure of the novel means that it plays quite a large role in the overall story. There are three stories with each of them being told a chapter at a time. This means that when a climactic event happens at the end of one chapter, there is a wait of at least one more chapter to find out what happens within that story. My hope is that I’ve successfully managed to do this well enough to keep readers turning the pages to find out more.

Q: Is THE DARK ERA set in today’s world, the past, in a dream? How do you make the story credible?

James Eddy: It is set in today’s world and also within a coma, and it takes place over the course of three days. In terms of making it credible though, I’m not really sure. I think when you undertake a story like this you have to commit to it completely and hope that the quality of your writing and your characters are enough to make people care.

Q: What’s next? Will you write more novels?

James Eddy: Yes, definitely. At the moment I’m running a crowdfunding campaign for THE DARK ERA to raise funds for a front cover and the promotion and marketing of the book, so I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like. What I do have are ideas and there are two or three of them that I think will work well as novels. I’ve also got a few collaborations in the pipeline including a series of children’s books and a trilogy of dystopian fantasy stories that I’m planning to write with my brother. There may also be some short stories and screenplays somewhere in amongst all that too.

Q: Tell us about James Eddy. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

James Eddy: When I’m not writing I like to listen to music. My taste is fairly broad. I like Rock, Folk, Hip Hop, Jazz, Blues, Hardcore Punk, Metal, Country. For the most part it’s the words to songs that grab me and they can often inspire the feelings within a scene or the imagery that I write about. In many ways I find songs more inspiring than books in this way. That’s not to say that I don’t love to read because I do but, as a writer, I can sometimes be too much in awe of the quality of great writing in a book. It can be intimidating and has been known to make me wonder why I’m bothering to write at all. Songwriting and, to a certain extent, movies aren’t the same. Because they are a different medium, I can appreciate a great song or a great movie in a different way. In a way that’s purely about what it is. No intimidation, just appreciation of a craft that I'm not trying to emulate.

About James Eddy

James Eddy was born in Braintree, Essex. After moving first to Colchester, Essex, his family settled in South Norfolk and James has been able to call it home more or less ever since. Following University, he began writing scripts for films and drinking far too much. Eventually, he managed to focus long enough to write a collection of Short Stories called DIAMONDS. His most recent release is the Novella IN DREAMS and a Novel called THE DARK ERA is set to be released in 2014.


Sometimes the first thing on your mind is the last thing you remember.’

When Stanislaw Gombrowicz falls into a coma, he finds himself inside a fantasy world that has some striking similarities to the conflict and experiences that had brought him to England from Poland in 1945. Meanwhile, in the real world, his son, David, is trying to come to terms with the past and the difficulties in their relationship as he races across the country to be at his bedside. At the same time, David’s son, Jonathon, is also struggling to put together a story about his grandfather’s experiences during World War II; hindered by Stanislaw’s Alzheimers ravaged memories, the distractions of his own life and his attempts to avoid seeing his father; unaware that between them they may possess the means to keep Stanislaw's story and past alive, even as he is slipping away from them.

Taking place over three days in May 2010, The Dark Era is three stories in one that are all about history, memory, fantasy, reality, family, and the attempts to both preserve and let go of the past to create a better future.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of THE DARK ERA

Karski opened his eyes and tried to breathe. He couldn’t. Something was blocking his throat and nostrils. Fighting for breath, he felt his heart beating. His limbs flailed. Ineffective. Useless. He surrendered to it and drank it down. Slowly allowing himself to become one being and one essence. And all of it was liquid and choking darkness and then it was nothing at all. Fear grew within his chest and the world seemed to slip away.

Karski saw glittering shades of blue, purple, yellow, and orange within the clear liquid, which was also the closest thing to air in this place. The ripples of coloured light and warm bubbles of luminescence were the imperfections in something that was absorbing and being absorbed by his body.

And in an instant it was all over and he was plunging beneath the surface of a liquid that was much more familiar. The water was freezing but he hardly felt it at all. His earlier struggle had already weakened his body, if not his spirit. He was exhausted and drowning again until two hands grabbed his arms and pulled him up onto a river bank.

He was barely conscious but, as the light gradually returned to his eyes, his mind went somewhere else entirely. Images went flashing through it like a parade of horror emanating from the future and the past at the same time. He was shown a great city in ruins; a blonde woman in a red dress; exterminating angels with black wings and eyes filled with flames; and three sad indentations in three empty mattresses. He didn’t recognise or understand any of what he saw.

“Are you all right, friend?" he heard someone say.

The voice cut through the disorder and brought his mind back. By then, the water had been absorbed by his skin and he got to his feet feeling nothing. There was no cold, no warmth, no pains, cuts or bruises. Only emptiness remained.

"Yes I think so," he replied, without looking at the man who had just saved him.
Instead, he looked everywhere else. The most noticeable thing then was that there seemed to be no sun in the sky. What remained was a low-powered light in the form of a misty blue haze that was coating the entire world around him. It was a haze that was only distorted by small ripples he saw every time he blinked his eyes.

It briefly looked like the only other source of light was the glistening silver lava shining on the snow covered ground and trees. Except that it only lasted until Karski blinked his eyes again. Just another distortion in what wasn’t quite the air.

Suddenly, a bullet buzzed past his right ear and he instinctively threw himself onto the snow.

"GET UP QUICK!" the other man shouted, grabbing him roughly by the arm and dragging him onto his feet.


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