James Strait retired from professional aviation after a career spanning three decades and involving almost every aspect of aeronautical pursuits. His post aviation activities involved him in broadcast radio where he has hosted “StraitTalks” in the Philadelphia market since 2006. In 2008, he was hired to write Weird Missouri, which has maintained categorical best seller status on Amazon and Barnes and Noble ever since its release. When not writing, he can be found cycling through the beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania, countryside where he lives with his artist wife.
Please tell everyone a little bit about yourself, James.
James: My professional career began as a Special Forces soldier, where I became the youngest recruit to graduate Special Forces Training Group. After the military, I enjoyed a thirty-year career as a professional pilot, flying over one hundred different types and categories of airplanes. At the same time, I operated a small business providing a variety of services to civilian companies and the military.
After retirement from professional aviation, I transitioned into broadcast radio where I’ve hosted “Strait Talks” radio since 2006. I began my professional writing career with the release of Weird Missouri in 2008. My most recent book, Déjà vu All Over Again, is an action adventure novel taking place in the final fifty-seven hours prior to the calendar turning 12-21-2012.
My future projects involve the release of my third book, Thomas Jefferson is Missing. I will also be hosting Book Talk Radio, debuting April 1, 2012.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
James: I’ve been writing in one for or another all of my professional life. During my aviation career I’d write manuals and elaborate reports. Following aviation I wrote a couple of busines plans, executive summaries and many commerical oriented documents. But it was after being hired to write the travel guide to lost legends and best kept secrets of the Show-me State, Weird Missouri, where the true creative juices began to flow. Since Weird Missouri’s release in 2008 I’ve had a couple of false starts, but have just released an action/adventure novel, Deja vu All Over Again. Also, I’ve just completed the manuscript for a third book, also an action/adventure novel, Thomas Jefferson is Missing, scheduled for release in Jaunary 2013.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
James: I was under contract, so my first goal was to complete the book within the required one year time frame! But an equally important goal was to make the book unique in a genre that demanded much of the author. Weird Missouri is one of the weird title series, and the books that had been brought to maket ahead of mine had set a high standard.
Having accomplished the mission with Weird Missouri, I then decided to write about a topic where I could draw upon my life experience, so I wrote an action/adventure novel taking place during the final fifty-seven hours prior to the Gregorian calendar turning 12-21-2012. No, I’m not a time traveler, but the characters, machines, devices, and techniques used in the telling of the story are all elements of my pre-writer life.
There are a multitude of messages that I’d like readers to take away from reading my books, which range from their recognition that I’m a thoughtful person, to many observations about human behavior that explain many of our human conditions.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
James: My latest published book is a stand-alone action adventure novel Deja vu All Over Again. The storyline is predicated upon the idea of December 21, 2012 being a date that might portend an End of Days for our challenged planet. Following a proluge that clues the reader into how an ancient Mayan mathematical savant had created a time distortion that is soon to have dramatic influence on our modern timeline, the story picks up 57 hours prior to our present day calendar turning 12-21-2012.
The balance of the story is a roller coaster ride involving a modern mathematician learning of the ancient Mayan time loop, and of her enlisting the assistance of a male compatriot. They then battle the forces of bueacratic agenda, paramiliatary mercinaries, a misguided elite US Army unit, and most challenging of all…destiny.
Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
James: Ana Christensen is a research scientist in the employ of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Her rare facility with mathematics combined with her world class looks makes for a contradictory blending of capabilities. Additionally, her relative innocence about the ways of the world outside of academics make her both vulnerable to, yet counterintuitively resistent to, and resiliant in her handling of the drama and trama faced during the most intense fifty-seven hours ever experienced by any human being.
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
James: My plot line is developed on the fly. I like painting myself into a “storyline corner”, and then having to create a believalbe continuation that makes sense for what came before and alos opens the door to multiple avenues in the future of the story. I like thinking on my feet in real life, and in the make believe world of story telling.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
James: I like to write fast, and not look back very often. I find that if I allow myself to look back I’m too often vulnerable to making changes right then. Looking back too often destroys productivity.
Writing for me is most rewarding, and easiest for me to accomplish if I’m for the largest part the narator. I of course utilize second, and third person points of view, but telling the story as if I were sitting with the reader over lunch is how I like to work.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
James: It’s easiest to write about what you already know intimately, so yes, my childhood and adult professional life heavily influence my writing. My first book, Weird Missouri, required almost 100% research, to the extent of eight weeks in state, 8500 miles of driving to over two hundred venues, interviews with hundreds of people, and taking 2700 photos. However, my second book Deja vu All Over Again required only two elements of the story be researched … which took a total of fifteen minutes utilizing the worlds most popular online search engine.
Beyond the technical aspects, my world view is impossible to disguise, and if I did attempt to hide my insights I think it would ring false. A reader of my books will close the story understanding me a little better … which might be scary prospect for many!
What are your current projects?
James: Having just finished my second work of fiction, Thomas Jefferson is Missing, I’m now going to do a non-fiction biography, and am awaiting agreement from the potetial subject for that to become reality. (Fingers crossed!)
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
James: All of my works can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, select brick and mortar retail outlets, or by using the following links:
Thank you for joining us today, James.
James: Thanks very much.