Second Run Reviews is happy to welcome James Duprie to our In the Spotlight feature today. James has been writing since age 10 and 30 years later has decided complete some of his earlier works and share them with readers.
In the Spotlight James Duprie
Welcome to Second Run Reviews, James! Thank you for being In the Spotlight. I appreciate you stopping by and answering a few questions. So let’s get things started
In a tweet (140 characters or less), tell us a bit about yourself.
Writer, surfer, hunter, angler, husband, Cajun cook, adventure seeker & Dad. Looking for a way to pay for my cheeseburger addiction.
That’s quite the description. I imagine that hunting and fishing lead to some really great adventures! As does having kids.
Tell us a bit about your books—why should we consider reading them?
Well currently I have two books published, both which happen to fall into the Historical Fiction/Teen and Young Adult genre. It was really kind of by accident that they fell into those categories. In both cases, I just thought it would always be fun to write a story about the main characters and it just kind of developed from there. Other than some PG-13 violence, there isn’t anything to keep younger readers from reading them, so viola, I was put into Teen/YA. Really I just wanted to write fun adventures.
My first book was the Leopard Rider: An Epic Adventure. It is the story of Marco Polo who gets reunited with his father after a long absence. They are then sent off on an errand across the known world by the new ruler of China, Kublai Khan. The journey leads to him being pursued by other kingdoms in an effort to keep him from completing his task, and sends him to some strange and exotic places.
My other published book is entitled The Thunderbolt, and it is part one of a two part series. It follows Hannibal Barca during the second Punic war, and his growing hate for Rome, and his attempts to rid himself of his nemesis. The second book of the series entitled Africanus is due out this summer, and tells a similar story from the point of view from his rival Publius Scipio of Rome.
In all of my books I try and make the reader feel engaged. I want my stories to be exciting and moving along to try to keep the readers interested, and I always want them wondering what is going to happen next. In both of the books I have taken creative license in telling the story I want to tell, so a history record they are not, but my purpose was to tell a good story, not write a history book.
Historical fiction is actually my favorite genre. Outlander introduced me to that type of book and I have been a huge fan ever since!
Thunderbolt, your most recent release, is set in Rome. While researching the novel what was the most fascinating tidbit you learned? How did you incorporate that into the plot—if you can share without spoilers?
This is a difficult question without giving up some of the story. Let me just say I took some of the places that he went and things that he did, and then I made them my own. I did learn that Carthage used two different types of elephants in their army, including the now extinct smaller Carthaginian Bush Elephant. They also did not have a breeding program in place, but would capture wild beasts and then tame them. Their method is lost to us today.
Wow! I did not know there were any other types of elephants beyond the African and Indian. Facinating!
What was the most difficult thing about getting published? What was the easiest? If you had to go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your stories or getting published that you’d change?
Well, I self-published my books so it was just a matter of finding out what I needed to do and getting it done. I guess the real issue is that there is no set format for that, and even if you have a good product getting the word out after it is published is difficult if you are limited on funds which many indie publishers are.
As for what I would change, I could think of a couple of things I would do differently, but if I only picked one it probably would be having a better copy-editor from the get-go. I jumped around on copy editors on both books trying to find an affordable option. It is probably the most expensive thing if you don’t include advertising. Anyway I took their word that the final work was completed, and I put it out there and it was a disaster. I really didn’t know to what extent until the books were proofed for print on demand, and then I already had a lot of copies out and reviews coming in. I have since had them updated, but needless to say it wasn’t the best feeling have a sub-par finished product out there and available.
From what I’ve learned, self-publishing is a difficult process to navigate and can be an expensive endeavor. It’s great that you didn’t let a bad print run get you down and kept pressing forward to release your books.
What type(s) of books to you enjoy reading most and what three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
Actually I don’t read much these days which may be a little strange for a writer to say. My schedule is so crazy all of the time, especially during the busy season of my other job, that I don’t have a lot of free time, and what I do I put it into writing, family, and my other hobbies like fishing, surfing, hunting, and cooking. Those are things that help me unwind a bit.
If someone asks me to recommend something I usually go with the Leopard Rider of course! It is probably my favorite out right now, but if they want something else and they are big history buffs, I will point them to Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series. If they are just looking for adventure, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls is one of my favorites.
I’ll have to pass along Colleen’s series to my husband. He’s a big Roman history buff.
What’s your current obsession? Any secret obsessions you want to share?
I love to fish, especially salt water, and to hunt. I just started bow hunting this past season. I also love to surf and am an avid sports fanatic. I have followed the New Orleans Saints since I was in high school, and it is where I picked up a love for Cajun food. I also follow hockey and the Dallas Stars, which is weird for a guy from South Texas growing up before there was hockey in the state, but I think when you get hooked on things when you are little you tend to stick with them.
Ah, the Dallas Stars. Well, I fondly remember when they were the Minnesota North Stars. It was a sad day when they moved south to a state that gets so little snow.
Any last thoughts or wise words you want to pass along?
When I got out of college I took a job as a manager at a department store which I hated. I was writing a bit for fun, and an employee who was working part time and going to college knew it. He said he loved to write and asked me if he should change his major and pursue a career as an author. My response was this, “writer’s write.” He promptly was gone the next day and pursuing his writing career. I always thought he was quite brave. It took me two decades to follow my own advice, but I think it translates to this; if you love doing something, do it, and everything else will take care of itself!
Thank you for stopping by, James, and sharing a bit about your journey as an author and about your books. It’s been great having you here at Second Run Reviews.
author interview james duprie