By A.J. Colucci
Steven James is the bestselling author of the award-winning Patrick Bowers and Jevin Banks series. James has received wide critical acclaim for his work; including two PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY starred reviews and three Christy Awards for best suspense, and was a finalist for an International Thriller Award. His psychological thriller THE BISHOP was named SUSPENSE MAGAZINE’S book of the year.
Steven is an active member of International Thriller Writers and serves as a contributing editor for WRITER’S DIGEST. Steven lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. You can visit him on his website.
In SINGULARITY, illusionist Jevin Banks returns. This time to search for a killer – and answers to terrifying questions he never even thought to ask.
When his friend is murdered, Jevin is determined to find out what really happened. Drawn deep into a web of conspiracy and top-secret research on human consciousness, Jevin won’t stop digging until the truth is revealed. Soon he uncovers a dark secret that could change the very fabric – and future – of human life on the planet.
Based on frightening scientific realities and bristling with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, SINGULARITY is the riveting sequel to PLACEBO.
“Steven James knows how to tell a story that gets under your skin and challenges the way you think as only the most talented writers can. If you’re looking for a mind-bending tale, strap in and take the ride with SINGULARITY. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” —Ted Dekker, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author
We caught up with Steven for a revealing discussion on his craft, his characters, and the fascinating worlds of science and illusion.
SINGULARITY is the second book in your series with protagonist Jevin Banks, who is an illusionist. How did you research the inner secrets of these spellbinding performers?
Yeah, it’s interesting. I traveled to Las Vegas and Los Angeles and met with professional illusionists and effects (i.e. trick) designers. It was fascinating to talk with them about performing and brainstorming with them illusions and escapes I could include in my book that no one had ever attempted before. I wanted a series protagonist who wasn’t a cop or spy, but who had intriguing skills and a fascinating backstory. That’s how Jevin became a reality.
As an author, you’ve examined the questions of good and evil and have studied the science of consciousness and neurobiology. What startling facts did your research uncover?
We are a lot closer to brain/machine interfaces than most people think. It’s a strange new world out there in the area of bioethics—what does it really mean to be a human? Do you need a body to be a human, or could we upload your consciousness onto a machine and you could just live there? We are moving more and more toward cybernetics and nanotechnology that will be able to help reconstruct cells in our bodies. It makes for fascinating writing—when does life begin? What rights should we afford to computers that become self-aware? Good questions to explore.
The characters in SINGULARITY and all your books have been praised for being so colorful and compelling, but you’ve also been described as a master storyteller. Do you think genre writers should put more effort into story or character development?
Good question. Some people talk about character-driven stories or plot-driven stories, but I believe there are only tension-driven stories. After all, you can spend ten pages describing a character, but until we know what he wants but cannot get, we won’t care. Same with plot—lots of explosions, alien attacks, car chases—but so what? Readers want a character they can cheer for, worry about and either empathize with or admire. To create stories that draw readers in and keep them enthralled you need strong characters, not just more action.
Some of your scenes are so graphic you can almost feel the victim’s terror. Does this type of visual writing come easily to you?
I think novelists tend to be either good storytellers by nature, or good word crafters. For me, storytelling comes more naturally and I have to work on a scene over and over—sometimes revising it dozens of times—until I feel I’m present and it’s happening around me. I wish this aspect of writing came easier for me, but creating visceral and visual scenes challenges me to be a better writer.
Did you grow up with any favorite books or movies that inspired you to choose this genre?
I’ve always loved stories with a twist. I grew up reading short stories, mysteries, suspense, and horror. When I started writing novels of my own, developing memorable twists became one of my goals and I try to include at least one major twist at the end of all my stories.
You’ve been successfully writing psychological suspense thrillers for years with the Patrick Bower books. Does it feel like losing an old friend, and do you plan to go back to the series?
Currently I’m working on Checkmate, the eighth and final book in the series. I have plans to do a spinoff series, but we’ll see how that plays out. So, for now, I haven’t had to say goodbye to Bowers, but yes, I think leaving him for good would be very tough.
You’ve been away teaching writing workshops in India. What has that been like?
India is an amazing place. I’ve been there four times now to teach writing and each time I’ve been simply overwhelmed by the colors, the variety of cultures that come together there (over 700 languages are spoken there, all in the same time zone) and the receptivity of the people to learning how to write better. Most Indians speak at least three languages. I’m still working on one.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Hmm . . . I would say “Don’t fall in love with your first draft.” That ranks up there right at the top.
Steven James is the bestselling author of the award-winning Patrick Bowers and Jevin Banks series. James has received wide critical acclaim for his work including two PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred reviews, three Christy Awards, and being a finalist for an International Thriller Award. Steven is an active member of International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and International Association of Crime Writers. He is also a contributing editor for WRITER’S DIGEST. Steven lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.
To learn more about Steven, please visit his website.