James Abbott is the author of the epic fantasy The Never King, and other novels under his own name, Mark Newton. Upon the release of his new book, he tells us a bit more about himself. 

James Abbott

James Abbott

I get paid to drink whisky

I review whisky for Whisky Magazine in the UK, which involves getting sent 20 samples once every few weeks, and having to write tasting notes. I’ve written for the magazine prior to this, and I run one of the biggest British whisky websites.

Gardening is very important to me

I spend so much time behind a computer. I write in my day job as a content specialist, and I write in the evenings. So actually getting outside is incredibly rewarding: it’s tangible and tactile, good for one’s health.

I have a freshly minted baby boy

At the time of writing, he’s six and a bit months. He’s an amazing, giggly, smelly little thing with way too much hair. He’s also the reason I’ve not read as much as I’d have liked to in the last few months…

I’ve become a big fan of Anthony Trollope’s books recently

I tried reading Trollope years ago, but never really got on. Last year I started The Warden on audio book, which unlocked the rest of the Barchester Chronicles. I devoured the rest promptly.

My two cats are idiots

This is, I’m sure, standard for every cat owner. They make too much noise, eat too much food, fight with each other and generally make a mess. But they’re ace, wonderful distractions from the seriousness of life, and if it wasn’t for logistics, I’d easily add a third.

Though I’m still under 40, I feel like an old writer

I was first published when I was about 27 years old. I’m now only 36, but it feels like an eternity. The industry has changed considerably in many ways, and not at all in others, but it is a different place now.

I’m worried hardly anyone reads books these days

Are there too many distractions? Social media? Netflix? Are we too busy? Many of my newer social circles read less than a book a month at best – and many don’t read books at all.

Distractions these days make it harder to write

Writing used to be a very luxurious experience, but I’ve found it harder to cope with distractions these days. The number of apps and so forth that keep pinging on your phone, social media, life, children and so on are conspiring against me. But I muddle through.

Running helps me figure out plots

Although I’ve started running to podcasts, I find when I’ve just got some music on to go for a jog, it really helps me unpick parts of a novel. I sometimes like to run to film soundtracks for added inspiration.

The book industry needs more radical characters

We’re too boring, as an industry. Without meaning to sound critical, there is perhaps too narrow a demographic who populate our lovely industry – from publishing to writing. Perhaps literature is a world one can only access through a degree of privilege, but we could do with a few more controversial or radical characters making the editorial, writing and buying decisions. Possibly.