Partridge Singapore proudly introduces James Stevenson, adventurer and author of The Medusa File. Below, James talks about his book, his inspirations and message, and his future plans as an author.
Please briefly describe your book . . .
The Medusa File is the first book in the Harvey Ashton series and sets the foundation for the continuing story. It is an action adventure novel that will appeal to both young and mature readers. The main character is Harvey Ashton, a teenager who suffers tragedy early in his life, the death of his parents, but their bodies were never found. The chance discovery of a mysterious file left by his father, leads Harvey to question the circumstances around their disappearance. He travels to Japan and becomes involved with an adventure, one that may offer answers to his past but also poses many risks.
From an early age I was captivated by the Tin Tin series of animated stories and the diverse locations they took the reader to. This helped develop a passion in me to explore and discover the world, something I have been doing for over twenty-five years. I have lived in Asia since 1997 and in Hong Kong since 2002 with my wife and two young sons.
I incorporate my experiences from around the world into my writing, preferring to choose locations that I know first-hand. Much of my writing takes place in Asia which has a rich fabric to add texture to my stories. The next book in the series will take readers to South America, offering a window to the thriving culture and diverse landscape found there. I am writing these blog answers from the verdant countryside in Colombia. Last week, I was in the Amazon with my family, soaking up that magical landscape where the jungle constantly lives and breathes and a mighty river runs through it. My experiences here will provide rich material for my next story.
I work in education, teaching literacy to primary students at a local school in Hong Kong. Before moving to Hong Kong, I lived in Japan for three years, teaching English at a senior high school. Previous to that, I lived in Korea working as an English teacher. I am Canadian and have an honours degree from Carleton University and an education degree from the University of British Columbia.
Do you have any particular literary influences?
When I studied Twentieth Century literature at university, the author I enjoyed the most was Ernest Hemingway. I appreciate his clear and succinct style of writing, conveying deep meaning in a brief fashion. I try to emulate this by avoiding long overly descriptive passages in my writing which I find can be distracting and unnecessary for the reader.
More recently, I have enjoyed the Norwegian author Jo Nesbo and his Harry Hole series of novels. Nesbo is able to illustrate the gradual unravelling of the main character’s life like a train wreck in slow motion, captivating the audience along the way. I feel it is important to add texture to the characters in my novels so my readers can understand what motivates them.
I enjoy reading the suspense novels of Robert Ludlum, who has crafted a successful formula for the modern day thriller. He incorporates shadowy organisations and corrupt figures who have secret agendas and antagonise the main characters in his stories. Readers will discover similar themes in The Medusa File.
I have always had a vivid imagination and often remember detailed dreams full of action and adventure. The Medusa File started in a similar fashion, with me describing and building upon the opening sequence in the story’s prologue with the ninjas invading a samurai castle. My oldest son, Tomas, was captivated with the story and helped motivate me to flesh it out into a book.
The original draft of the story took about a year to develop but went through many rewrites and revisions until it was ready to share to cultivate reviews from trusted friends and family. Then I had an editor review it who offered advice to enhance and improve my book. Ultimately, it has taken about four years to publish my novel. This falls in line with my expectations as it is my first novel and afforded me the opportunity to hone my writing style and improve upon my craft. As my writing matures, I expect my next book to be ready in half the time.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
One of the themes in The Medusa File is the importance of family. The main character, Harvey, will stop at nothing to learn the fate of his parents. This is a driving force that motivates him to take risks in his quest for answers.
Are you working on a sequel?
I am actually working on two books at the moment. When The Medusa File was being reviewed by an editor, I had time to start writing a new novel. This thriller is about a mysterious and deadly virus that emerges around the world. The main character wants to protect his family as his neighbours start to become sick and must decide how far he is willing to go to survive.
The other book I am writing follows on The Medusa File, where Harvey Ashton continues to seek answers to his past. This book, the second in the series, continues with fast paced action and will provide some surprising revelations for readers. A sinister character will be introduced who poses a dire threat to Harvey and his friends.
Are there any events, marketing ideas or promotions planned for your book?
I will start to build awareness for my book locally, contacting retail bookstores in Hong Kong and cultivating reviews for my book. I will also plan for book giveaways on platforms like Amazon and Goodreads.
What was your favourite part of your publishing experience?
When I received the original proofs to evaluate, it was a delight to read my book in the format it would appear in both digital and print versions. I knew I was well on my way to becoming a published author. It is also wonderful to also see my book on Amazon, cementing my status as a published author.
What did you think of your Partridge experience?
I have found Partridge to be professional in the services they offer and helpful during the publishing journey. I would strongly endorse them for writers seeking to self-publish.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Take the time necessary to review and revise your book until you are sure it is absolutely ready for publishing. Have an editor review your book and listen to the advice they give; you want to make sure that your manuscript is polished before you submit it.