Interview with James Young


1.) What are your current/future projects? My current project is Against the Tide Imperial, the third novel in my Usurper's War World War II Alternate History series.

2.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Understand that this is a process, a particularly long and grueling one. There will be good days, there will be bad days, and you are seldom to the extremes those days will make you feel. Understand that most criticism is not personal (and can usually be ignored when it is). Finally, remember that your reputation precedes you. People's propensity to help you, in ways large and small, will be directly related to how you treat them as a person. You should try to be a decent person regardless, but for no other reason than the person you consider beneath you today could be someone you desperately need a favor from later. My mother went from janitor at the local college to lawyer in under a decade. She has never forgotten people who helped my father and her from the early '80s.

3.) How did you become a writer? By being cursed with a love for reading. Someday I'll find that hag. Wait, sorry, not the answer you were looking for. In all seriousness, I've always loved telling stories (I blame Dad) and have done so since I was little. Then I learned that they tend to be more coherent when you write them down. At some point, I was always writing stories and just started actually submitting them to contests.

4.) Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness? Adam Haynes, one of my protagonists in the Usurper's War series, has a single minded hatred of all Fascism. He's not quite at the "I would sell my soul to Old Scratch if he promised me I'd shoot down 100 Fascists before I die...", but he's close. The great thing about writing stories set in the 1940s is there's not a whole lot of ambiguity about the enemy.

5.) If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be? No matter how good a writer you think you are now, you can always be better...so be better. Also, be gracious about authors who took the time to write you back. It may have seen like blowing you off at the time, but now on the other end someone took the time (and keystrokes) out of their day to send you at least some sort of reply.

6.) What inspires you to write? Mainly it's all the ideas that my muses oh so helpfully pelt me with at random. "Oh, hey, I see you're nowhere near a computer right now and are occupied doing something like driving or cooking. Here, have a distracting idea that you will undoubtedly forget in 5 minutes because Bambi is running across the road." But also the historian in me hates that a popular concept of World War II is "Well, it was all over but the body count once the United States came in..." without A. acknowledging the myriad sacrifices of our allies and B. recognizing the how we came in went a long way towards eliminating any schisms about the why we joined the war. I always propose that if Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had just followed the plan, there's a much better chance at least the first year of the war is vastly different. There's a big momentum change between "Japan has declared war on us because we're involving ourselves in her affairs in China..." versus "They did what? On a Sunday? Have all those folks getting horrible news over the holidays?!" *righteous indignation noises*

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