Episode 4: James Huck

Author of The Sick Teacher’s Cook Book

Bobbi: I love the picture you sent for your Bio. Where is it taken?  

James: This is me near the top of Mount Snowdon on my first visit to Snowdonia in Wales. I loved it but couldn’t see a thing in the mist. 

Bobbi: In your Bio you talk about going into a meditative state while walking with your dog Jet.  Do you feel like the walk helps you clear your head of the day and makes room for the characters to build? 

James: Yes, I really try to let the characters become as real as I can by letting them borrow a part of me. ‘I’ put one step in front of the other whilst ‘watching’ the characters interact. I try to become an observer of the story taking place, instead of directing it. Once the next part of the story has played out, I wonder why the characters have behaved as they did. On a couple of occasions, I have performed a kind of interview with them in my head, asking them deeper questions. I think it added a depth to the characters, a believability in the turmoil they faced and allowed them to become vulnerable in a way that made them life-like. I wanted them to seem human, inconsistent and frail, with successes and failures instead of superheroes or stereotypes that know what to do and always save the day.

Bobbi: What do you teach?

James: I have taught children from the age of five to the age of eighteen.  So I am sort of a jack-of-all-trades really.

Kasey: In your Author Bio, you mentioned that you had felt that you were at a point in teaching where you could start to use your own approaches to teaching in an impactful way, but your personal principles would no longer allow you to continue on that path. Being able to hold on to your principles and ethics is not an easy thing to do. Would you say that letting them get “in the way” of your career, at the time, actually opened another door for you?

James: Personal principles, especially regarding education pedagogy, and the corporate reality of working in what has become an industry, instead of a common societal imperative for the common good, will always lead to some form of conflict. Conflict is always a painful process but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing. For me, the conflict made me reconsider the amount of time and energy that I put into my career. I came to the conclusion that I had a lot of creativity that had to go somewhere, and as I couldn’t rely on putting it into teaching and developing others’ who are helping young learners become creative and enquiring, I decided to start writing myself. So the conflict absolutely has opened another door for me, as now I can’t imagine not spending time writing.

Bobbi: How old were you when you decided you loved to write? How old are you now if that’s not too personal? 

James: Reading and writing went hand in hand for me, growing up. Life tends to put obstacles in the way of pleasurable hobbies and ambitions so I have only just begun to try to write with my ‘big boy pants on’ as the Mayor of Philadelphia might put it. At my age I’ve heard it all; I’ve seen it all; and I’ve done it all. I just can’t remember it all. Probably for the best really!

Bobbi: I have to admit that I haven’t had time to read your book, but I am definitely planning on it.  The advertising you have in place, the book cover and the excerpt are all doing their jobs!  I want to read it because of everything  I’ve seen….  Do you have help with your promotion or are you doing it all on your own?

James: I am trying to market and promote the book myself, but not on my own. There is an amazing community of Independent Authors out there. There are so many support and advice groups, with experienced self published authors providing sage guidance that I would never consider myself to be ‘doing it on my own’. 

Bobbi: What can you tell us about the main character of your book without giving too much away?

James: The book hinges on three main characters, although there is an ensemble of equally important characters essential for the plot. 

The story hinges on Aileen Byrne, a Primary – or Elementary – School Head Teacher who has committed far too much of her identity into her professional life. The stresses and strains and the increasing responsibility placed on education staff, especially in the age of mass litigation, has left her an insomniac shell who spends her sleepless nights devouring the endless litany of human suffering delivered by the twenty-four hour news cycle.

Reflecting on her life and her lapsed Catholic faith, she decides that she needs to make a statement, a confession, as she embarks on a week of revenge and vengeance on those who she perceives as destroying her life.

Bobbi: (Bobbi) When I like an Author’s work, I try and find out as much as I can about the Author.  What else can you tell us about James Huck that we won’t read in Bio?  

James: In a wild and crazy youth I decided to become a street entertainer and travelled across Europe with nothing but a backpack and some juggling balls.  I somehow survived long enough to see France, Spain and Italy. The experience made me realise that youth is precious, but short. 

Bobbi: How has COVID-19 affected your life?  Was it hard to maintain creativity during lockdown or did you find it was the break you needed?

James: The Coronavirus has had such a dramatic impact on all of us.  So many people have sadly lost their lives, lost loved family members or have developed long term illnesses as a result.  Our lives before were so fast paced and hectic, being forced to stop and reflect on everything can be a dangerous thing. I am not sure Aileen Byrne would have managed it. I spent a lot more time walking the dog, which is when I feel at my most relaxed. I finished The Sick Teacher’s Cook Book some time in April and edited it throughout May – so for me it was a creative pause.

Bobbi: I am very excited to read your book!  Thank you so much for participating in our IDK The Author interview series!  I hope your book does well and that you find lots of creative ways to advertise during a time that isn’t lending itself to book tours.  Let us know if you publish again!

James: Thank you so much for inviting me to participate! I hope that you enjoy The Sick Teacher’s Cook Book and I look forward to finding out about other authors out there with original and authentic stories to tell.

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