Today, I’m please to present another interview with a newly published author! I came into contact with James Hopson through my freelance writing advice work, and I’m please to say that his original, entertaining and colourful story Captain Satsuma has Landed is now in print. Let’s hear a bit about both book and author:
It’s certainly a quirky title! What’s it about and what age group is it aimed at?
Captain Satsuma was created to encourage children to have a good diet and healthy and active lifestyle. The book is for early readers, 5-8 age bracket. It’s a fast-paced fun adventure story with lots of humour.
Did the idea pop into your head or did you have a plan to write about health matters for children and devise a character to convey the message?
I never envisaged ever writing a book. The idea came after spending some time with a lovely little girl with complex health problems. She asked me if I would like to do some drawing with her. When she produced a satsuma for a snack, I decided to create a funny character for her. After that she wanted a story, so I thought ‘Why not’ and perhaps I could help other children too.
Had you tried your hand at writing before you came up with Captain Satsuma?
I’ve never tried really tried my hand at writing before, certainly nothing like this project. I do like moto cycle racing, so did a yearbook once. I was too shy to share it with anyone though at the time. Some 25 years later an ex top rider saw it and really enjoyed it.
I think my favourite books that I read as a child played a big part in inspiring me to write. Was that the way with you?
My inspiration has come from the little girl I mentioned earlier. Her whole taste for life is infectious. I actually worked for my dad in his greengrocer’s shop on Saturdays and school holidays, so I do know more than a little about fruit and vegetables.
The illustrations look great – did you happen to know someone with the necessary skills, or did you do some research to find someone suitable?
I found Russell Becker, my illustrator, whilst doing some research. I visited Russell and as soon as we started chatting I knew he could draw the characters exactly as I envisaged them. He’s so good to work with and really professional.
You have created a very impressive Captain Satsuma website – is it all your own work or do you go to a specialist company?
Russell’s a website developer too so we worked together to produce what you see today. I put the ideas to Russell and he uses his creative skill. It’s a good partnership. You have to keep updating your website regularly.
Er…yes, of course – that goes without saying. [Note to self…] It’s become more and more important for authors to get involved in their own marketing, but I’ve always felt that writing attracts the kind of people who aren’t necessarily comfortable with the idea of self-publicity. How have you found it?
Marketing is something I knew more about than writing if I’m honest. I come from a sales background, so I understand how important is. In the self-publishing world, it’s not easy. Your funding everything yourself. You’re not only competing against established and recognised names and books, you’re competing against their budgets too. I consider every avenue open to me.
When can we expect Captain Satsuma’s next adventure?
I’ve done the drafts for four more Captain Satsuma adventures. If everything goes to plan, then spring 2021 is my goal. I’m having so much fun creating stuff around him. I want to tackle real issues with him, pointing out important things to children. This has its challenges, especially when you’re trying to get messages across in an engaging way.
Do you have any plans for writing something completely different in the future – maybe a different age group, or even the adult market?
I have considered writing a story about the pets we’ve had. I love animals, so it might be a good fit. I enjoy writing for children. Though my story of Captain Satsuma is fantasy, it does contain a lot of reality in it. I’ve written it as I see things myself in today’s world.
Thanks James, and good luck with the book!