Tag Archives: James Matlack Raney

Interview with Author James Matlack Raney, Fantasy and YA Author

Today, we have an interview with James Matlack Raney, author of the Jim Morgan fantasy YA series. It’s below freezing levels in Ohio, so I’ve opted to use my imagination and head to the beach for an awesome interview. To refresh your memory about the Jim Morgan series and what Hook of a Book has posted previously, see the links below and then enjoy the interview!

See my review of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves HERE. See my review of Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull HERE. See a guest article on writing fantasy literature that JMR did right here on Hook of a Book HERE.

Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’ve been looking forward for some time to having you on the blog for an interview, Mr. James Matlack Raney! I am sure it will be a treasure chest of fun! Since you just published the second in your Jim Morgan series, called Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, have you had any time to rest or is it all swashbuckling good times? How has the book launch gone?

JMR: Thanks for having me, Erin! I’ve really appreciated your support during both launches in the Jim Morgan series. This current launch has been going well so far, the critical reception of the book being better than I could have hoped, including a 5-Star review from Foreword reviews, and a great review from Hook of a Book! I am hoping that sales will start to pick up in the New Year, especially as I begin my school visits in February

JMKTSecondBookKindleCover

Erin: I’ve given you 5 stars as well. I truly loved the book.  So, what’s your drink of choice? See it’s cold and I’m knee deep in snow here in Ohio, and you’re in sunny California….so I’m thinking that I’d like to imagine being on the beach with a sunset cocktail in my hands. Wanna head out to the sands to do our interview?

JMR:  Haha! Already beat you there! I spent today playing beach volleyball with some friends of mine! But in SD, the beach is nearly always warm enough for a sit down. As for drink of choice, whenever I’m writing I like to drink hot chai tea – in fact, the lovely folks at my local Peet’s Coffee usually have it ready for me before I even reach the front of the line.

Erin: Ah, the warm sand feels great on my toes. Just puts me in the perfect mind set. Let me get started asking you a few questions.

JMR

James Matlack Raney, Author

Q:  When did you decide to become a full-fledged writer of novels that would thrill young readers (and adults as well–*wink*)? How long have you been writing?

A:  I tried to write my first novel when I was about ten years old, a science fiction adventure about astronaut policemen who lived on a space station. It was pretty terrible! But I’ve been writing seriously for over eleven years now. I wrote out the story that eventually became my first novel while bored to tears in a work training, and I never looked back!

Q:  What life experiences have you had that helped you mold the adventures within your book?

A: I grew up in an army family, so by the time I was fourteen years old I’d already lived in three foreign countries and all over the states. I was exposed to different cultures, managed to have some exotic adventures, and all while trying to master that crazy trick of growing up and becoming an adult at the same time. My childhood definitely continues to influence my work, even today.

Q:  You’ve traveled and lived many places around the world. Where has been your favorite place so far? What was your most heroic adventure?

A: I don’t know how heroic it was, but when I was twelve, while on a hike with some friends in Kenya, I was charged by a cape buffalo! I would hardly call it bravery, but I did remember that our camp leader had told us if we were ever charged by a buffalo, to lie down, so that it couldn’t gore you. So I at least remembered that lesson, and it did indeed save my life! But for all the wild and crazy places I’ve lived, I love Southern California the most, the beaches, the warm weather, and the friendly people can’t be beat.

Q:  How did you create the characters within your Jim Morgan series? How did you build them so well and define their personalities and purposes?

A: While there is a lot of me in all my characters, I have to give some credit to my nephews for helping me create the brothers Ratt. My sister has four boys, and they are some of the roughest, toughest, most mischievous and hilarious little guys I’ve ever met!

Q:  Did you have any motivation behind writing your Jim Morgan series other than entertaining fun? Do you use an outline when you write, or do you write as you imagine?

A: Mostly to entertain, but like Jim, I also lost my father at a young age, and I really wanted to share some of the experiences of growing up and learning from my own mistakes without that important influence in my life. So hopefully some of that sneaks through the sea battles, enchantments, and monster attacks!

As for the writing process, while I do outline, I also like to leave room for sudden inspiration to strike. That’s how Cornelius Darkfeather learned to speak, in fact. I was just planning on having a raven as Dread Steele’s pet, but then I was writing and all the sudden decided it would be awesome if Cornelius could speak!

Q:  How long does it take you to write your books? Do you hope to write one every year?

A: One a year would be great! I do have a full-time job, so that goal might be a bit ambitious, as It took me about thirteen months from beginning to end to finish Pirates of the Black Skull. I start work on the third book of the series in February, so we’ll see what kind of pace I can keep.

Q:  Do you enjoy writing anything else? Have you thought about writing another genre or will you stick with the fantasy adventure?

A: Fantasy adventure is my favorite by far, but I have some ideas for more mature stories, including a YA and a thriller aimed at older readers. Hopefully I’ll write long enough to see them all in print one day!

Q:  Who are some of your favorite writers? What do you hope your novels will leave behind for readers years later as some of them did for you?

A: I’m a huge Stephen King and Neil Gaiman fan, and I’ve read almost all their books, but I’m really looking forward to more Ernest Cline after reading Ready Player One this year. As for my own books, if they can leave behind a smile, and that child-like sense of wonder that leads people to shoot for the stars, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Q:  I enjoyed how this second book including sea monsters, talking reptiles, a vanishing island…it was so exciting. What is your favorite myth or legend of the sea?

A:  Gotta go with the Bermuda Triangle…because it might just be real!

Q:  What else do you enjoy besides writing and going to the bookstore (oh, I know you do!)?

A: Those really are my favorite things to do! But between that and work, there’s not much time left. However, when I can squeeze it in, I enjoy working out and playing guitar, though this year, I’d love to somehow add some surfing into the mix.

Q:  What is your favorite type of food and what do you eat to relax after either a stressful work day or a long writing session?

A: Don’t tell on me, but I have an unconquerable weakness for hamburgers! I can’t get enough of them!

Q:  What was your favorite movie of 2014 and why?

A:  I thought Rush was the best movie of the year, even though I also enjoyed several others, but I thought it really got to the heart of these two men, and what drove them to put their lives on the line every time they got behind the wheel of a racecar. 

Erin:  I could go on and on with the questions, but we’ll need to go grab you a hamburger to eat, and me a turkey burger (I don’t eat red meat), so we’ll finish up our interview and you can continue on with the rest of your blog tour!

Q:  Where can readers connect with you?

A:  The best place is at my author Facebook page, at www.Facebook.com/JamesMatlackRaney, or on Twitter, @jmraneywriter.

Q:  Where can your book be purchased?

A: Amazon.com is probably the easiest, as well as on Barnes & Noble’s website. But if you live in San Diego, visit the good folks at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, who carry both of my books!

Erin:  JMR, it was such fun walking on the beach and discussing your interests and books with you. I wish you so much continued success with your series and your future writing endeavors! You’re such a joy of a person and you write such fabulous, fun adventures that any young adult will enjoy.  Feel free to stop back by the blog anytime you wish!

JMR: Thanks for having me, Erin! Hopefully we’ll talk again when I’m releasing book #3 in the Jim Morgan series!

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, Synopsis~

JMKTSecondBookKindleCoverOver a year has passed since Jim Morgan outwitted the King of Thieves and escaped from London with his friends, Lacey and the Brothers Ratt. Now, at long last, Jim is ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

But a dark vision haunts Jim’s dreams – a Crimson Storm with the face of a black skull. Soon, Jim is thrust into a deadly race against his father’s old enemies, Count Cromier and his son, Bartholomew. This time, he will face terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers, and sea monsters.

New foes and magic forces will tempt and test Jim. For there are terrible secrets he has yet to learn, secrets about his father, the Treasure of the Ocean, and his own incredible destiny…

Adventure has a new name – Jim Morgan!

James Matlack Raney, Biography~

JMRJames Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Now he calls Southern California home, writing adventures and occasionally living a few of his own.

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Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull is a Magical Adventure on the High Seas!

If you are the sort who enjoys being swept away into magical places, adrift on fantastical seas, and submerged into exciting adventure, then James Matlack Raney’s books are for you! Yes, I’m actually encouraging adult get-aways into childhood fantasies, and why not? I was thrilled to get my copy of Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, the second novel in the Jim Morgan series.  In the society of today, reading about stories of friendship and overcoming circumstances, while being able to utilize imaginations, is a wonderful retreat for adults into the stress-free days of childhood! Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull offers just that kind of entertainment with lots of fantasy at its helm.

JMKTSecondBookKindleCover

Though the books can be entertaining for adults, they are really young adult novels and marvelous for children as well.  If you have higher level middle readers to young adult boys and girls to buy for, both those who like to read or are reluctant readers, then these books is a MUST as they will catch the attention of their action-oriented spirits!

Raney brings great suspense, action, and magic to the page in his sequel. As Jim Morgan heads back to Morgan Manor after he hears his aunt is to be put on trial for crimes against his family, he discovers that danger still has sights on him and his band of merry friends. Jim, the Ratt brothers, and the lone girl, Lacey, head off to sea adventures and battle pirate villans and stormy seas. In Black Skull, he continues to build layers onto each of his main characters, making them continually more endearing to the readers.  He also introduces new characters that fit well into the story and bring the adventures in book two to life! I enjoy all his characters and how he brings a unique quality to each that make them recognizable and original.

Any fantasy loving adult or adventurous tween/teen will get totally mesmerized by a world that features sea monsters, a talisman, merpeople, talking lizards, a veiled island, riddles, and lots of magic! I know I was hooked!  Just imagine Raney’s original novel plot intermixed with bits of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and Captain Hook, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Hobbit….maybe just a tad of a nod to work by Robert Louis Stevenson yet from a more modern imaginative view…..and even a touch of the show LOST and Indiana Jones.

This would make an amazing movie with superb special effects and I would buy my front row seat right now!! Until then, I am going to re-read this book again and enjoy the magical ride with the crew on their ship. I was going to have each of my kids read it too, as when they saw the AWESOME cover, it really drew them in, but I think I might read a few a chapters a night to them instead. This would be a great book to read aloud with the lights turned down (maybe some blankets and a flashlight, or Christmas Tree lights, or candlelight) and a popcorn bowl nearby.

This book gets high marks from me for his narrative prose, his literary maturity, his ability to write suspense that leaves you hanging, and his imaginative details! I would recommend this book many times over to adults for themselves or young adults for which they might need a gift. Beyond its great suspense and fantastical adventures, it’s also a great story of friendship and overcoming adversity, which touched my heart and made me feel happy!

Thanks to JMR for writing a wonderful story that took me to a distant place and eased my stressful week (it’s a few days before Christmas at the time of this post) and I certainly hope that many children will be unwrapping this book under their tree or parents will purchase soon for their children to read over their holiday break! Any time of their purchase though is worth the money as it’s a well-written novel with abounding magical adventures.

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, Synopsis~

JMKTSecondBookKindleCoverJim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull is the second installment in James Matlack Raney’s
critically acclaimed young adult adventure series.

Over a year has passed since Jim Morgan outwitted the King of Thieves and escaped from London with his friends, Lacey and the Brothers Ratt. Now, at long last, Jim is ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

But a dark vision haunts Jim’s dreams – a Crimson Storm with the face of a black skull. Soon, Jim is thrust into a deadly race against his father’s old enemies, Count Cromier and his son, Bartholomew. This time, he will face terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers, and sea monsters.

New foes and magic forces will tempt and test Jim. For there are terrible secrets he has yet to learn, secrets about his father, the Treasure of the Ocean, and his own incredible destiny…

Adventure has a new name – Jim Morgan!

Further Information~

Hot on the heels of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, which was praised by About.com’s Fatherhood Guide, YAReads.com, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and influential book bloggers across the globe as “a rip-roaring good tale for children of all ages,” Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull sees old friends, new foes and magic forces tempt and test its protagonist, who is, one year following King of Thieves conclusion, at long last ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

Faced with terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers and sea monsters – in Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, the formerly spoiled-rotten Jim Morgan must learn to trust new allies, discover the power and magic of true friendship – and, just possibly uncover a hero hidden within him.

Ripe with fantastical challenges and miraculous victories that will resonate with any young reader who finds themselves in the thick of navigating young adulthood’s complexities, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is a good old-fashioned adventure story fit for a 21st century attention span.

“I wrote Jim Morgan to grab the attention of boy readers who have few options on bookshelves in today’s marketplace,” says Raney of the series. “Contrary to popular belief, I feel that boys actually enjoy reading, provided it’s rich with excitement, danger, and emotional themes they crave.”

A must-add to the shopping list of librarians, educators, parents and relatives of reading-reluctant boys everywhere, among the topics and themes explored in Jim Morgan and the Pirates of Black Skull include:

  • Why exploring the mysteries and adventures the real world has to offer is infinitely better – and more rewarding – than another day behind a computer screen
  • The search for identity on one’s own: discovering a sense of self independently
  • The many shades of grey between the lines of good versus evil and right versus wrong
  • The vital importance of true friendship through the many hurdles and challenges that life throws your way

James Matlack Raney, Biography~

JMRJames Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Now he calls Southern California home, writing adventures and occasionally living a few of his own.

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull is available now on Amazon and in select physical locations.

 Find James Matlack Raney on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and his blog, Storygazing.

 Check out more on his website: http://jimmorganbooks.com/

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James Matlack Raney Offers Tips and Thoughts on Writing Fantasy Literature

Today I am very pleased to introduce a wonderful guy and author! James Matlack Raney writes fantasy adventure in his books Jim Morgan and the Prince of Thieves and Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull! Below is a guest article about why he likes and writes fantasy books, in which he offers some tips for writers who are writing or who want to write fantasy for themselves! I really enjoyed the article; I hope you do too.

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Guest Article:  Hints for Writing Fantasy Literature
by James Matlack Raney, author of the Jim Morgan series

Headshot1More than any other kind of book, I love reading and writing fantasy adventures the most, losing myself in their mysteries, discovering their hidden treasures, and exploring the self-reflective borders between their worlds and mine. I grew up on Lewis and Tolkien, Stevenson and Defoe, and later, King and Rowling, walking the paths of Hogwarts and Gilead, sailing the oceans of Narnia and Middle-Earth in my mind. If you’re reading this post, odds are you have a favorite fantasy world as well, maybe from the old classics, or perhaps among the new ones, such as Panem or the Glade. But how did those worlds get there? Where did they come from? Perhaps you’re wondering how you might go about creating your own. I don’t have the answers to all those questions, nor perhaps does anyone else, but I can at least give you three hints from my own writer’s journey.

The first hint is to open yourself to your muse. C.S. Lewis famously said the entire world of Narnia was born from a single image that popped into his mind, a picture of a faun, walking through the snow, carrying a pile of Christmas packages in his arms. While I am certainly not C.S. Lewis, a single flash in my imagination gave birth to Jim Morgan’s adventures in a world of pirates and magic. I saw a young man, a black crow on his shoulder, standing on the pirate ship’s prow, the sails caught on a morning breeze. I can’t explain how the amazing human imagination works, but being relaxed, taking long walks, listening to music, all those things help daydreams take hold and grow. Close your eyes. What do you see? When you find a picture that captures you, grab hold of it and don’t let go, for somewhere in that image is a story to be told!

The second hint is to learn the language of storytelling. Once an author has a picture in mind, one that has begun to take root and grow, how does she successfully transfer it to the page? Even though most well told stories feel unique and original, the majority of them follow a measured and well-worn road, one travelled by many storytellers before, a specific set of beats and notes, a series of guideposts that aid both writer and reader in finding their way from beginning to end. If you look closely at your favorite books, you may see the pattern take shape. But if you’d like to learn from an expert, try Joseph Campbell’s books or Christopher Voegler, who has helped make Campbell a bit more digestible. Don’t be afraid to learn form and formula! I promise it won’t rob you of your creativity. On the contrary, it will help you more easily shape and mold on paper the world you wish to build in your mind.

The final hint I’ll offer is to never forget our real world as you create your fantasy universe. To me, one of the most moving moments in all the Lord of the Rings is the death and confession of Boromir, very much the same way that one of the most challenging moments in the Hunger Games is the death of Rue. There is nothing fantastical, magic, or unrealistic about either of those scenes, scenes of loss, of friendship and loyalty broken, of pain. But they are the moments that connect us most deeply with the characters and plots of the stories. The heart of every perfect fantasy is found in earthbound emotions and human experience.

So there you have it! Three hints to the creation of fantasy adventures; I hope they help you on your own writer’s journey, or at the very least, aid in your enjoyment of the great fantasy literature so many amazing authors continue to produce. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, a few of you might add Jim Morgan to your list, and join him, the Ratts, Lacey, and Cornelius on an uncanny adventures full of pirates, sorcerers, and sea monsters.

JMKTSecondBookKindleCoverAbout Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull (#2 in series)~

Hot on the heels of Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, which was praised by About.com’s Fatherhood Guide, YAReads.com, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and influential book bloggers across the globe as “a rip-roaring good tale for children of all ages,” Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull sees old friends, new foes and magic forces tempt and test its protagonist, who is, one year following King of Thieves conclusion, at long last ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

Faced with terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers and sea monsters – in Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, the formerly spoiled-rotten Jim Morgan must learn to trust new allies, discover the power and magic of true friendship – and, just possibly uncover a hero hidden within him.

Ripe with fantastical challenges and miraculous victories that will resonate with any young reader who finds themselves in the thick of navigating young adulthood’s complexities, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is a good old-fashioned adventure story fit for a 21st century attention span.

“I wrote Jim Morgan to grab the attention of boy readers who have few options on bookshelves in today’s marketplace,” says Raney of the series. “Contrary to popular belief, I feel that boys actually enjoy reading, provided it’s rich with excitement, danger, and emotional themes they crave.”

James Matlack Raney, Biography~

JMRJames Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, including Europe, Latin America and Africa. These days, he calls Southern California home, and spends his time writing adventures…and occasionally living a few of his own.

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull is available now via Amazon and in select brick-and-mortar retailers.

Find James Matlack Raney on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and his blog, Storygazing.

Website: http://jimmorganbooks.com/

STAY TUNED FOR A REVIEW AND AN INTERVIEW COMING UP OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS!

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Jim Morgan is BACK in Even More Adventurous Pirate Action: Book Launch for James Matlack Raney

Congratulations to James Raney today as he publishes the second book in his Jim Morgan adventure series, called Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull!  I LOVE the cover and am so ready for some swashbuckling, imaginative, fantastical adventure! Can’t wait to get my copy, but wanted to tune readers in on launch day (though I’ll be posting a review and interview with James over the next month) as this series would make a great gift for a boy OR girl for Christmas! I read Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves back in May, which is his first book in the series, and you can read that review HERE!

Now check out this fun cover……makes ME want to jump on that ship!

JMKTSecondBookKindleCover

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, Synopsis:

Over a year has passed since Jim Morgan outwitted the King of Thieves and escaped from London with his friends, Lacey and the Brothers Ratt. Now, at long last, Jim is ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

But a dark vision haunts Jim’s dreams – a Crimson Storm with the face of a black skull. Soon, Jim is thrust into a deadly race against his father’s old enemies, Count Cromier and his son, Bartholomew. This time, he will face terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers, and sea monsters.

New foes and magic forces will tempt and test Jim. For there are terrible secrets he has yet to learn, secrets about his father, the Treasure of the Ocean, and his own incredible destiny…

Adventure has a new name – Jim Morgan!

Amazon Purchase:  http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Morgan-Pirates-Black-Skull/dp/0985835931

James Matlack Raney, Biography~

Headshot1

James Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Now he calls Southern California home, writing adventures and occasionally living a few of his own.

http://jimmorganbooks.com/

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