Monday, March 12, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with James Conway

1.Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

The Vagabond King is a coming of age novel.
When his mother dies and he discovers his father is really not his father, teenage Chris is haunted by thoughts that force him to question his existence and flea home.
2.How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
The title comes from a poem called A Vagabond King by a woman named Rose Gondar. Her husband served as the inspiration for one of the main characters who is a Hungarian immigrant who escaped the Communists in 1956. So it just seemed fitting. However, the title worked better and better as the story gradually unfolded itself.
3.Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Interesting question. You would think that because the main character, 16 year old Chris, is working through the same questions I was working through it would be him. But, I think it is Llaslo Mihali, usually just referred to as The Old Man. As I said above, he is based on a real life human being who was tortured and suffered under the attrocities of the Communist regime in Hungary. When I first met him I felt that this was a real hero, not just some hero held up in front of the camera for public consumption and I wanted to celebrate him. There is a great deal of humanity to the man and the character he inspired.
4.How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
I guess a writer needs to love all his characters to one extent or another no matter how foul they are. But, there is a minor character, named Hanrahan, who I used as a foil to investigate the sub theme of rascism. I don't care for rascism.
5. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
I have been fortunate to get a number of 4 and 5 star reviews. However, when I get three star reviews it seems to be because people dislike the main character because he is such a spoiled brat. But, this is a coming of age novel so he needs to mature from somewhere. I guess I'd make him less of a primadonna, however, I don't think I'd be able to show his maturation process as well.
6. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
I wrote The agabond King over the course of twenty years in the nooks and crannies of my busy day. Because Chris is questioning his existance after losing his mom and discovering his dad really isn't his dad, it could very easily have boon a book about a kid contemplating his navel. This get's pretty boring pretty fast. To avoid this I developed a love affair between Chris and an older woman who is the daughter of The Old Man or Vagabond King. To portray his questions about "the meaning of life" in an interesting way I did a lot of research into ancient mythology and astronomy as well. I did a lot of research into other themes as well. For example, I didn't know anything about the history of the Communist regime in Hungary is that The Vagabond King weaves mythology, astronomy, religion and the histories of Hungary, Africa and ancient Mesopotamia into a metaphysical mystery as Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping blues records, the universe is full of sorrow and the roles we are playing have been played many times before.
7.Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I taught myself Russian and can roll my tongue.
8. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Twitter @JCConway3

9. What can we expect from you in the future?
It is difficult to describe so please bear with me.  I'm currently working on a novel I'm calling The Mythological History of Chicago that is narrated by a trickster god and covers over 300 years of history in what Quantum Physics refers to as "the eternal moment of now". It will portray the poet Carl Sandburg in his role as a reporter as he tries to discover the real cause of the Great Chicago Fire while composing the poem Chicago in his head. Simultaneously, some time in the future The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are playing the 7th game of the World Series in Wrigley Field and some time in the past one of the of the early discoverers of the region slowly goes mad trying to establish an empire for France. It will be quite a feat to pull this off so one of the characters is a witch and the book ends, as must inevitably happen if the Cubs and White Sox end up in the World Series together, with the end of the world. Whew!
10. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
For authors I would highly recommend going the Indie route. I was hesitant for years and then I discovered that there is such a vibrant and enourmous Indie community and market. There's no need for you to wait for a publisher to say yea or nay. You are the master of your own fate.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Nothing except thank you so much for hosting me today. I wish you every success with your blog.
12. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
But each evening, while The Old Man’s scratched and skipping records spun round and round filling the tiny house with the sound of the Blues, those thoughts vanished from my mind. The Blues. Boom. The Blues. Like the contents of a Mojo bag, the Blues contained a magical mix of black cat bone and crossroads dirt, of loves that were lost and loves that were never meant to be, of notes that floated like cigarette smoke and sounds that washed away the memory of my working day.
Peppered with images of the bordello and the Bible, those songs were flavored with all the passions of a Baptist preacher who still savored the sins of the flesh. It was a blend of back talkin’, butt shakin’ and cat callin’ and, as Magda swayed seductively back and forth before the stove, stirring her magic pot with a large wooden spoon, tongues of steam billowed up and swirled around her body like spirits from the black abyss. Sometimes the delicate strap of her black lace bra slipped from underneath her sleeveless blouse on her bare white shoulder like an invitation for me to see. All I thought of was humping as the thump, thump, thumping of the Blues mimicked the beat of my heart, pumping my blood until it bubbled through my veins like bootlegged corn whiskey. Oh, I imagined myself licking her willing breasts and neck like those lucky tongues of steam until, with a single wisp of hair hanging undone upon her forehead, like the swaying tail of a witch’s cat, she was ravished.
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Thank you James for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview!  I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

1 comment:

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