ideas and inspiration james hutchings

Interviewing James Hutchings, author of Ideas and Inspiration for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers

This week I’d like to welcome James Hutchings to the Thursday Throng. James is the author of Ideas and Inspiration for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers, a really useful guide and tool for every budding author.

The James Hutchings Interview

james hutchingsWhat is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?

Most people wouldn’t know that I have a third nipple. It looks like a birthmark, but it’s definitely a nipple.

What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?

Someone described me as the heir to Lord Dunsany.

What did the worst review you ever had say about you and your work?

I got a rejection email for one of my poems which said that “There were several amusing parts in this poem, but it’s not consistently funny throughout, which is what I’d be looking for in a humour poem. I think the problem (as I see it) is that you’re often vague or allusive; specific details tend to be funniest.” This would have been a lot more encouraging if the poem was meant to be funny.

How did you choose a title for your book?

To be honest, I chose the title based on what I thought the target audience would search for.

Who would you like to play you in a film of your life?

I actually wrote a poem on that subject once (in another ebook, called The New Death and Others). Here it is (I know it should be ‘were’, not ‘was’, but I was trying to be informal).

If my life was filmed, it would
go straight to DVD
and someone who was famous once
would have the role of me
and if five stars meant ‘excellent’
you’d give it two or three
and most of those who rented it
would watch ironically.

Years later they would track me down
and do an interview.
They’d say “I heard you died,” and I’d
say “Yeah, I heard that too.”
“Is any of it fictional?”
“Perhaps a scene or two.
There weren’t as many ninjas, but
the rest is mostly true.”

Are you jealous of other writers?

I’m jealous of China Mieville in particular–probably because we’re almost the same age, and we write in a broadly similar style.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Some ideas just pop into my head, without me knowing where the idea comes from. An example of that is a recent poem I wrote, called ‘Angel Square’, about a square where angels take the place of pigeons. Other ideas come from experiences in my life. For example a while ago I found three injured birds in the space of a few weeks. I took all of them to the local vet. As I was carrying one of them, I thought that the woman at reception might wonder where I was finding all these injured birds, and that was the inspiration for my story ‘Lost, Feral or Stray’.

I’ve written a lot about cats, based on having been a cat owner. But I’m a lot more cynical about them than some cat-lovers. One reviewer said he couldn’t work out whether I loved cats or hated them.

Other fiction is a big inspiration. In some cases it’s obvious. I’ve done poems directly based on stories by HP Lovecraft and other writers for example. In other cases it’s more subtle: for example the city of Teleleli or Telelee is partly based on Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar, partly on Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork, and partly on Port Blacksand in the Fighting Fantasy series. the dialogue in Lord of the Rings had a big influence on how my characters talk.

Of course, in the case of a non-fiction work, the inspiration is a lot more direct and obvious. The subjects are mostly things I already knew about, although some of them I found on the internet as I was writing the book.

Do you have any favourite resources you would like to share with our readers?

My favourite resource is my girlfriend, but I have no intention of sharing her.


ideas and inspirationWHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT James and his BOOK?

You can find Ideas and Inspiration in Kindle or Paperback format here:

You can also catch up with James on his website here:



These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.

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