Author Interview: Chris James

How long have you been writing for?

32 years

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book? 

Proof reading. No matter how many times you read it yourself, and how many others check it, there will always be mistakes no one picked up on.

What genre do you generally write?

‘Soft’ science fiction – in other words, believable (no flying saucers or aliens)

Do you have a favourite author and why?

George Orwell. For his vision, imagination and, of course, writing skills.

What is your book called and how did you choose this title?

‘The O.D.’ The meaning of ‘O.D.’ is revealed about 2/3rds of the way into the book. The ‘D’ represents the whole premise of the novel.


Unemployed Cornishman Lonnie Pilot is propositioned on a remote lane by a mysterious octogenarian billionaire named Forrest Vaalon. The old man seems to know Pilot’s mind from the inside, sharing his conviction that civilization is galloping headlong towards annihilation. He offers Pilot a ‘job’. Many years before, Vaalon had acquired knowledge that an island would be thrust up in the Bay of Biscay by a magmatic pulse under the seabed. He knows the exact time, location and magnitude of the imminent event and has spent half a century preparing for it. Lonnie Pilot is a crucial element in his plan. Vaalon proposes that Pilot spearhead the colonization of the island, the goal being to create a neutral power base, undiluted by precedent, tradition, culture and religion, and to build it up until it has sufficient weight to inspire a change of direction in the world.

To help establish sovereignty over the new land, Vaalon has devised a way of placing Pilot and his fellow colonists in a flotilla of trussed up barges directly over the continental shelf as it breaks the surface. Part I chronicles events leading up to embarkation, recounts the voyage to the Bay of Biscay and describes the climactic emergence of the new island, which Pilot christens Eydos. Part II covers the island’s first tentative months above water. The bulk of this section of the narrative deals with the sovereignty issues and the measures Eydos takes to repel the various assaults upon her from outside and within. Part III takes place ten years later. After a decade above water, Eydos has become a credible force in the world, and the Armageddon Pilot always knew would come is beginning to manifest itself. An ever-deepening spiral of economic, environmental and social catastrophes tells Pilot the time to act has arrived, and he invites the world to attend a ‘state of disaster’ summit on Eydos.

To a lacklustre and typically castrated conference, with nothing concrete having come from the previous speakers, Pilot puts forward his island’s proposition – that the world constructively dismantles, over a 250-year time span, those elements of the machine which threaten the survival of its prime life form, homo sapiens. This includes a reduction in the human population of 85%, a proposal that is met with predictable outrage. Pilot announces the establishment on Eydos of The Office of Dismantlement – The O.D. – in the only truly neutral place to be found on Earth. Its purpose − to impartially formulate and manage the entire global dismantlement process. Finally, Eydos calls for a vote for or against Dismantlement from all the nations present. The conference effectively ends at this point – with 4,000 delegates from 193 countries cast into mute indecision. Dismantlement is too logical a solution for the conference to reject and too monumentally frightening for it to endorse. The outcome of the vote and the fate of the world is left in the air, and in the hands of a global TV audience of two billion… There is one final chapter in which Eydos returns violently to the depths from whence it came. The reader learns that this event occurs 300 years after the Conference. What isn’t made clear in this future scenario is whether or not the human world ever dismantled.

Has your book been published and how did you go about this?

It was self-published on Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions) in 2014. It was a fairly easy and straightforward process. I spoke to a few people who had already done it, and to Jo Harrison, who I chose to format the two versions. It was quick and painless.

Approximately how long did it take you to finish your book?

I began writing the book in 1987. I finished the first draft in 1991 but couldn’t find an agent willing to take it on. The book went in and out of the drawer for the next 23 years. Many of the events I wrote about in the earlier drafts actually came true (like the financial meltdown of 2008), so I had to think of new projections. By 2011 or so, Amazon’s self-publishing offering was in full swing, so I decided to cut out the middleman (agent) and publish the book myself.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Never give up. If you think your idea is a good one and stands up well against other published works, keep plugging away — and if you can’t find a publisher, self publish.

Do you use social media to promote your book? If yes, then which social networks do you like the most? 

Yes, I use the many Facebook groups that promote Kindle books. Amazon offer various promotion routes like 99cents/99pence sales, or even free, which you can spread out over five days.

What other ways do you market your book/s?

I have my own website and a Facebook page for the book. I also put posts about it on my Instagram account. I entered a book cover competition as well and got all my friends to vote for my book (I won it).

Have you enrolled your book onto Amazon’s KDP Select and how have you found it?

Yes I have. I’ve found it very useful. They even sent me a list of the half dozen or so typos everyone else had missed.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?


What books do you like to read in your spare time?

Biographies and factual books. I tend to go for books about criminals and fraudsters.

What do you feel is the most important stage of writing a book?

The most important element is the core idea, or skeleton. The next most important is how you flesh it out.

How did you go about designing the cover for your book?

I already had an image that a friend had produced in 1998. I doctored it slightly in 2012 and got the same friend to add the lettering. I then sent the image to a cover designer recommended by Jo Harrison and he did the rest.

Are you writing or considering writing a follow-up to your book?

I have written and published a second book under a pseudonym and cannot divulge the title, because the ‘author’ is supposed to have died.

Do you have a day job (if so, what do you do?) or do you write full-time?

I had a day job throughout most of the 27 years I spent writing the book, but I was only able to finish it and publish it after I retired.

Anything else you’d like to include?

There are millions of self-published titles on Amazon and Smashwords etc, but a large proportion of them are vacuous and badly written. If yours is good, it will rise to the surface, so bear that in mind.

Check out Chris’ book The O.D.