Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Author Interview: James Hartley

Today, I'm interviewing illustrious author James Hartley, who contributed Brigadooned! to "The Temporal Element."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, James.

Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

HARTLEY:  I spent 40 years in the IT industry, moving around the country working for good old I've Been Moved. I spent a lot of time in Poughkeepsie, NY's Mid-Hudson Valley area. But there's too much of that nasty white stuff that falls from the sky, and my wife and I moved to Florida. Still go up there once in a while to visit our daughter and granddaughters, but honestly I like it much better down here where it's warm ... it's February as I write this, and it was 80 or so today.

MTI:  Those are some tempting temperatures, for sure.  Getting right into the thick of it, what first compelled you to write fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

HARTLEY:  I've had the idea of getting into writing for a long time, stories keep floating around in my head. Eventually I got serious about it. I write Fantasy and SF ... or sometimes the boundaries between those get a bit blurred. I describe one book as "Once upon a time there was a spaceship full of witches ..." For a long time I was writing mostly short stories, but lately I have been working more on novels, or at least short novels.

MTI:  If you could name just one author who has influenced or inspired you the most, who would it be?

HARTLEY:  It's very hard to pick just one, but I think I'd go with Robert Heinlein. Close contenders include Asimov, Tolkien, "Doc" Smith, and ... get this ... L. Frank Baum.

MTI:  Good choices all around, though I would also put Heinlein at the top of the list.

The Temporal Element is a Martinus Publishing anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures.  These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?

HARTLEY:  It's very hard to answer that one, but there are an awful lot of things that were once considered impossible to the point of being nonsense, and are now reality. So it could happen. In the meantime, it's a lot of fun to write stories about, and I've done a fair number.

MTI:  Regardless of the probability, if you were given the chance to go back to any point in history, when would you visit?

HARTLEY:  There are lots of possibilities here, but what the heck, pick the ultimate one. Go back a few billion years and watch the Big Bang!

MTI:  I think Bruno Lombardi has a few words of caution about that choice of destination in his Temporal Element submission.  But I digress...  Looking forward now, what futuristic piece of technology would you like to own, or have for your personal use?

HARTLEY:  The obvious one here is the one Lazarus Long used ... rejuvenation leading to eternal life and youth. Given that, what more do you need?

MTI:  Indeed!  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

HARTLEY:  I have a couple of books going, but right now I'm mostly cranking away at a Space Opera novel titled "Beverley Bronte, Space Chick." She's the first woman to serve on a Trans-Planet Patrol ship, and is very busy fighting the evil alien Hexans. Doing Space Opera lets me avoid being too serious and have a little fun with my writing.

MTI:  Other than Brigadooned! appearing in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

HARTLEY:  A Paranormal Time Travel short story e-book titled "Change Partners" is due out next week, a Fantasy novella e-book titled "Fortunatus" (after the old legend of the never-empty purse of Fortunatus) is due next month, and I just signed a contract for "Berlina's Quest," a sword-and-sorcery novel.

MTI:  Your bio lists you as a former computer programmer?  Do you have any fond memories of that life to share?  Did you program anything your readers might have used over the years?

HARTLEY:  I enjoyed working as a programmer, it has sort of the same feeling of creativity as writing. Working for a big company you don't do much that the average consumer would notice. But I did get a chance to work as a contractor to a small company, working on a fantasy Baseball game.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

HARTLEY:  There is very little I would call "good" currently on TV, except maybe "The Simpsons" and "Merlin." But I do have a complete set of DVDs, all eight seasons of "Charmed." And of course there are always reruns of "Star Trek" around.

MTI:  What sort of music do you enjoy?

HARTLEY:  Anything that's at least 60 years out of date. Classical, "oldies" from the 40's and 50's, and folk music from the early 60's.

MTI:  As we near the end of our interview, is there anything special you'd like to say?  Perhaps some words of encouragement for other writers, or a sales pitch for potential readers?

HARTLEY:  For other writers, don't get upset at rejection slips, use them to wallpaper your office. I'm not much on sales pitches, maybe a hypnotic gesture ala Mandrake the Magician to get readers to buy my books.

MTI:  I'm sure our readers are curious about your work.  Before we go, do you have a few fresh paragraphs you'd like to share, perhaps something new that nobody else has seen before? 


The Admiral pushed a button and a side door slid open. Through it walked a stunningly beautiful girl with a tousled mop of curly red hair. She wore a woman's adaptation of the standard Patrol shipboard officer's uniform. Above the waist she had on the tight black jersey and loose open gold jacket, but her magnificent bosom kept the jacket much farther open than it would have been on a man. Below the waist she wore a short tight skirt that reached barely halfway down to her knees, leaving bare skin down to the tops of her calf-high boots. "Captain, this is your new officer, Ensign Beverley Bronte."

The Ensign saluted her new commanding officer, who was so stunned he barely managed to return the salute. He turned to the Admiral and said, "Sir, she's a woman! There are no women serving on Trans-Planetary Patrol ships!"

"There are now, Captain," said the Admiral with a sigh. "There are now."

MTI:  Well, my curiosity is certainly piqued!  Those who wish to read more of James Hartley's fiction can pick up a copy of The Temporal Element.  Until next time, onwards and upwards!


  1. Snort! Damned women keep popping up everywhere, don't we? I'm intrigued by the line of IT to fiction writer. To non-fiction I can get my head around, but fiction? Quantum leap, but you sure have made that leap with no trouble!

  2. Jim, now I know why you always have the answers to all those computer questions, formatting, troubleshooting, etc. on the author forum. If I were just starting a career path, I would choose creating video games. Your fantasy baseball game sounds like a ton of fun!So do your stories. Best wishes. BTW, we stay warm in FL in the winter, well at least warmer than Michigan!