Dennis James is a retired attorney living and writing in Brooklyn, NY. He previously practiced employment law on behalf of employees in Detroit, Michigan. His short stories have been published in Mobius, The Summerset Review, The Griffin, The MacGuffin, and Struggle Magazine. A collection of ten of his stories and the nonfiction, “Algeria Journal,” were published in 2012 in a special supplement of The Legal Studies Forum, a quarterly publication of literature by lawyers. His article, “Cuba: State of the Arts,” was published in 2013 in the quarterly magazine of the North American Conference on Latin America. Dennis and his wife, Barbara Grossman, travel extensively (but not on a Harley). He is currently working on Songs of the Baka, a book based on their travels, to be released by Skyhorse Publishing next year. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you've ever had the urge to pack it all in and just drop out, you'll want to read Dennis's essay, "Leaving Big Sur," in Letting Go: An Anthology of Attempts.
"In some ways non-fiction is harder [than fiction]. Reality is a moving target, subject to the vagaries of memory and vulnerable to challenge. This means fact checking must be rigorous, in the course of which the author can lose touch with why he or she is writing this anyway."
Letting Go is an anthology of true stories. As a writer of fiction, did you find it harder to write a nonfiction story?
Yes. In some ways non-fiction is harder. Reality is a moving target, subject to the vagaries of memory and vulnerable to challenge. This means fact checking must be rigorous, in the course of which the author can lose touch with why he or she is writing this anyway.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
The fun of creating characters and situations that have a life of their own. The pleasure of working with the English language.
What’s the hardest part about writing for you?
Looking at the blank screen on a day when nothing will gel. Struggling with the computer.
Where do your ideas come from?
My life. I am 77
How much time each week do you devote to writing?
It varies wildly.
What are you working on?
Finishing a manuscript that is a collection of essays on my extensive and unusual travel experiences. It will be released in hardbound in 2017, with photos by my wife, Barbara Grossman. The working title is Songs of the Baka: Travel Discoveries After Age 65.
The publisher is Skyhorse Publishing Inc.
What has been the most surprising about learning your craft?
That people like to read my stuff.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Join a good group with a a good editor like Martha Hughes.
Use characters from your own life that you can remember in detail.
Do you think workshops have helped you become a better writer?
Tell us any secret rituals you have for getting started each day.
Then it wouldn’t be a secret.
Any writers you like to read to inspire you to write (or if you're blocked?)
Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, George V. Higgins, John McPhee,
Bacon Press Courses &