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DJ: Hi James! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
James E. Parsons: I went from working in art and film and animation production to writing screenplays and then fiction a few years ago. I’ve previously had two SF novel published since 2013.
DJ: What is Northern Souls about?
James: The story focuses on a young man named Eric after his girlfriend has mysteriously died. His feels that he is suspected of killing her and goes to jump from the Tyne bridge. Her ghost comes to him and tells him about demonic tribes which control the people of the North East and have done for a long, long time. This is how she died. She begins to lead him toward how to stop them, save others and her soul.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Northern Souls?
James: Some of the long standing influences on my horror fiction include the early works of Clive Barker, the books of Graham Masterton, Poppy Z Brite besides Poe and Lovecraft an others. Also many horror films such as Hellraiser, the films of Dario Argento, Carpenter, Romero, Hammer horror and more.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
James: Well there are three main characters-Eric, whom at first thinks he may be going mad and then so far into the story he struggles with some immense decisions and fatal actions. There is his best friend Taylor, loyal but there are some crucial secrets which tear at his honesty, and then there is Emma who knew all of them well. She knew Eric’s girlfriend before she died, and she has a kind of pure hope and curiosity which might keep all of them together to get through their nightmare experiences ahead of them.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Northern Souls like?
James: Northern Souls is actually set right in the North East of England where I grew up and lived until my early twenties. The story takes place around Newcastle, but travels all around the North East including Gateshead, Tynemouth, Holy Island, Whitley Bay and elsewhere. Many people have a notion of what the North East looks or feels like from television and film and there may be some element of that in the book. I think I have added in my own depiction and interpretation of what I saw, knew and then how it could all be woven into a slightly gothic and macabre tale.
DJ: There are many different definitions of horror in genre, so I’m curious, when you write “horror”, how is it that you try to scare your readers? Do you go for gore? Shock? Maybe build up tense moments? Or perhaps it is the unknown?
James: Although I have written many short horror stories over the last few years this is my first full length horror novel. I have tried a few different styles and approaches in the short stories. In this particular full length novel, I mixes in a few of the elements that you mentioned. There is quite graphic gore and blood spilled in a number of scenes throughout the book, but I think that there are a good number of moments which depend on where the individual characters are and what they are experiencing to generate different kinds of dread and uneasy terror and chills in the readers. Some of that comes through atmosphere, description of the places and scenes, thoughts and feelings.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Northern Souls?
James: I might say imagining a very detailed horror tale happening in and around the places I walked around and knew for over twenty years.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
James: Hopefully perhaps they might be happy to have found a new horror British horror story that mixes up a good many things that many of us horror fans like to read or see in horror films and books.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Northern Souls? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
James: When I started writing it a few years ago I simply wanted to write my own horror novel. As time went on while I was writing it, I think I was trying to find a story that would seem like my own, something inspired by authors I enjoy but a new original tale with my own style. I think that with the story set in the North of England there is a focus on hope, as that part of the UK has often felt forgotten and left to rot economically or look down upon by the South at times. There are also others themes such as redemption and forgiveness within the tale.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Northern Souls that you can share with us?
James:Let me see…I will try to find a couple that stand out-
‘Of course, all strong men do. All the champions, kings, leaders, revolutionaries are powered by tragedy or clueless faith. We’ll satisfy the anger. Men anger men in this world, fight, kill, use each other, and fool each other for…not much at all. The dictators, leaders, crazy men were all insecure and scared. But you, you’re angry. Now you’re more than the man you were. Tell me your worst, most savage thoughts of hate and anger’ Bruce said.
They were all on him, on his trail, the sinister merchants of torture, sin and death. They would string him up and make him experience endless agony, with only his own fear for comfort. Both he and Eric were on this path until dawn with no certain hope. He thought of her, he thought of Peter and prayed for his desperate soul as he ran through the night to overcome all demons.
DJ: You have also two previously published novels: Orbital Kin and Minverca Century. What are each of those novels about and what did reader/reviewers/bloggers seem to talk about most once they finished it?
James: Yes, my first published SF novel was Orbital Kin. That story was set in the very near possible future here in the UK, as a mysterious virus breaks out over the country. This is linked to some possible alien contact on Mars decades earlier connected with the main characters. That book is in three parts-first in the UK on Earth, then up to a space station, and finally back down to the UK for the end of the story. Some people liked that I split the story up into three parts like this, others did not. That book is very influenced by Arthur C. Clarke but is almost like the three parts are like sci-fi thriller, space opera, and post-apocalyptic tale linked together with the same characters and story.
Minerva Century, my second SF book was set much further into our future-at least a century or more. It is a full blown space opera story influenced by Dune and other more modern space opera books. Besides that I tried to mix in cyborg and A.I. elements, and so it does have hints of Philip k. Dick and Arthur C. Clarke with the deep space mystery and memory tricks and confusion for the main characters. I did have some positive feedback for that book, some comparing it to some of the classic popular sci-fi movies of the 80’s such as Terminator, Robocop and others.
DJ: What had you from writing those first two novels, that you were able to apply in writing Northern Souls?
James:I actually started writing Northern Souls at the same time I started the first draft of Orbital Kin. I got so far and decided to finish Orbital Kin. After writing some short horror fiction I think I soon got back to writing more drafts of Northern Souls. I wrote the very last draft of Northern Souls after Minerva Century was published over a year ago now. I suppose seeing Orbital Kin published lifted my spirits toward continuing to write more drafts of Northern Souls and make it into something very special and original.
DJ: Now that Northern Souls is released, what is next for you?
James: I have been writing the first draft of a second horror novel this year. It is similar but perhaps slightly more mature. Different themes and characters which I am still opening up and developing. I hope to have it done early next year. I also have a good few ideas for another SF novel in the near future and some other projects down the line, more short stories in and around these longer book projects.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/James-E.-Parsons/e/B00EDRWKJA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Northern Souls that we haven’t talked about yet?
James: It is a full bodied living dead horror tale which takes place in the North of the UK. You can possible feel the fear and taste the flowing blood as you read this book.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Northern Souls is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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A new epic fantasy series from highly acclaimed fantasy author, Brian McClellan, set in the same world as The Powder Mage trilogy.
A world on the cusp of a new age…
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place — a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
Sedition is a dangerous word…
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
The past haunts us all…
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
Born in Newcastle, where I then studied art and design at college and then animation/film production at Northumbria university. I worked in animation for a short while while also writing screenplays. This soon led to short fiction and eventually writing books.
My influences in writing and fiction include authors such as Clive Barker, William Gibson, J.G. Ballard, Stephen King, Graham Masterton, Philip K.Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Anne Rice, James Herbert, Shaun Hutson, Frank Herbert, and very many more.
My personal interests when not writing sometimes include reading, cooking, learning guitar/bass, cinema/films, travelling, painting/sketching.