We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Jim Bates, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of December 2019.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
It means the world to me. Seriously. To be included in the same class as the other fine authors who have been selected in previous months is truly an honor. I’m humbled to say the least.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
Yes, absolutely. My writing first and foremost has to do with relationships – between lovers, husbands and wives, friends, parents and siblings and just about any other kind of relationships you can name. My family and friends often times become the jumping off point for my imagination to begin to go to work for many of my stories I end up writing. It’s great fun and sometimes quite painful to see where those situations take me.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired to write by the challenge of creating an emotionally compelling story that is interesting to read. If I finish a story and it sends a shiver down my spine I know I have succeeded.
What was your writing catalyst?
In 2011 I was the primary care giver for a close family member. It was during those months that I decided to begin writing, something I’d always wanted to do but found a million reasons to delay starting. As my relative slowly approached death, I realized how finite life was. The day after that realization I began writing and I haven’t stopped.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I do a lot of walking around outdoors and thinking. When the idea of a story comes to me I start writing it out immediately and muscle on through until I finish. Then I read it and start the editing process, which to me is when the story is fleshed out and develops what I call its personality. I know when I’m done when I feel an emotional connection with the ending. I have a comfortable room in the basement where I write and usually have ten stories I’m working on at any one time.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
I am very attached to my stories because I put my heart and soul into them. When I send a story out and it’s accepted for publication and people like it, I’m thrilled. That validation, for me, is the best feeling in the world.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Yes. When I first started writing I wrote a poem a day for a year. Then, I wrote a haiku a day for a year. Then, a four line stanza a day for a year, and then a six line rhymed verse a day for a year. I taught myself to use imagery to convey the thought or feeling or scene that was in my head. I try to use that process in my short stories, hopefully to a more successful degree than not!
What is your favorite reading genre?
If you were to have asked me this question six months ago, I would have said that I was partial to contemporary literature and mysteries, and that my favorite mystery writer was James Lee Burke, and my favorite contemporary literary author was Anne Tyler. That being said, lately I’ve been stretching myself. I’ve recently read three books written by friends of mine, a paranormal horror story by Steve Carr and two dark fantasy novels written by P.C. Darkcliff, all three of which were brilliant; well written and highly entertaining. So I guess I’d answer by saying I’m staying open to pretty much any reading genre, especially if it’s a book written by someone I know.
What human being has inspired you the most?
By far and away my mom. She raised three boys (I was the eldest) as a single mother during the sixties at a time when not many women did that. She was strong willed and fair minded and she taught me to look out for others less fortunate than myself. She also instilled in me a strong work ethic. She passed away many years ago and I miss her and still think about her every day.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all those who voted for me, especially since there were so many talented writers to chose from! I’ve been submitting short stories for publication since 2018 and only to Spillwords since the middle of 2019. Up until now I’ve never won anything in my life. I think Spillwords in a fantastic publication. I love how author’s stories and poems are matched up with the accompanying photos. The presentation is excellent. To be selected as Author of the Month is both thrilling and humbling. I am truly honored. Again, thanks to everyone who voted for me.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
I would like it to be said that my stories made the reader feel something: made them happy, or sad or contemplative or whatever, and that my stories had an emotional impact on the reader. If my stories succeed in doing that, I will consider myself a happy guy.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to thank the Spillwords staff for supporting my writing. I write a lot and submit a lot of stories to a lot of publications and because of that I get a lot of rejections. I know getting rejected is part of the process, but sometimes, frankly, it’s soul crushing. I’m honored that Spillwords thinks enough of my writing to feature my work as much as you do. Whenever I have a story accepted, it’s a tremendous confidence builder and definitely gives me the impetuous to go on. Thank you so much!! Look for more stories from me in the future.
DECEMBER 2019 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared online in CafeLit, The Writers' Cafe Magazine, Cabinet of Heed, Paragraph Planet, Nailpolish Stories, Ariel Chart, Potato Soup Journal, Literary Yard, Spillwords, The Drabble and World of Myth Magazine, and in print publications: A Million Ways, Mused Literary Journal, Gleam Flash Fiction Anthology #2, The Best of CafeLit8, Nativity Anthology by Bridge House Publishing and Gold Dust Magazine. You can also check out his blog to see more: THE VIEW FROM LONG LAKE.