James attended school in Gibraltar, Germany and Northern Ireland. His first proper job was working for Barclays Bank. From there he went to work for British Airways, which gave him the opportunity to travel.
When that job lost its appeal – after three years, when he took a long weekend and never went back – he became a sales rep for the Kent Messenger Newspaper Group. That lasted 12 months, when he joined Pan Am in their Crew Operations Department at Heathrow.
That job took him round the world, from Europe to the Caribbean and the USA, the Middle East, Japan, Thailand and Australia.
By this time, he’d got the urge to write and, following the publication of his first novel, Trigger Men, he resigned from the airline to try and write full time. Two more thrillers followed – Crow’s War and Wolf’s Lair. Sadly, the money didn’t, so it was back to the drawing board and legitimate employment. Waterstones were kind enough to step in but after a few years, disillusioned with life, lack of prospects and annual stock takes, he sold up and went travelling again, through the USA and Australia, to visit the bits he'd missed the first time around. Writing went on the back burner.
Upon returning to the UK, he joined Ottakar’s Booksellers as a store manager. It was during this period that he wrote Ratcatcher, the first Matthew Hawkwood adventure. With the success of the second novel in the series, Resurrectionist, it became harder to hold down two full-time roles, so he resigned from Ottakar’s, which, by this time, had been taken over by Waterstones, thus giving James the dubious honour of having resigned twice from the same company.
Three more Hawkwood novels have followed - Rapscallion, Rebellion and The Blooding.
The Blooding (HarperCollins 2014)
Rebellion (HarperCollins 2011)
Rapscallion (HarperCollins 2008)
Resurrectionist (HarperCollins 2007)
Ratcatcher (HarperCollins 2006)
Wolf’s Lair (Grafton 1990; New Edition 2014 Amazon CreateSpace)
Crow’s War (Grafton 1989; New Edition 2014 Amazon CreateSpace)
Trigger Men (Grafton 1985; New Edition 2014 Amazon CreateSpace)
Synopses of books :
1812: Matthew Hawkwood, soldier turned spy, is stranded behind enemy lines, in America, a country at war with Britain.
Heading for the safety of the Canadian border, Hawkwood’s route takes him to Albany where the chance sighting of a former comrade-in-arms - Major Douglas Lawrence - within a consignment of British prisoners puts paid to his plans. For as the two men make their escape they uncover an American plot to invade Canada. If it is successful, the entire continent will be lost. The British authorities must be warned.
Pursued by a relentless enemy, Hawkwood and Lawrence set off across the snow-bound Adirondack Mountains; the land the Iroquois call ‘The Hunting Grounds’.
But they are not alone. Buried deep in Hawkwood’s past is an old alliance –one that could save both their lives and help turn the tide of war…
Hunting down highwaymen is not the usual preserve of a Bow Street Runner, which makes former soldier turned peace officer, Matthew Hawkwood, wonder why his superiors are so concerned by what appears to be a relatively mundane case, even if it did involve the murder and mutilation of a naval courier.
Soon, Hawkwood finds himself pursuing a trail that leads him from the squalor of St Giles Rookery to the brightly lit salons of the aristocracy and the heart of the British establishment. It is only with the discovery of a corpse on the banks of the Thames that the true agenda behind the robbery begins to emerge and a dark conspiracy is revealed. Bonaparte’s agents are preparing to launch an assassination attempt that would crush British morale and bring terror to the seas for years to come…
Cynical and world-weary, Crow’s a pilot and a drifter. His skills honed flying helicopter gunships, he’s now earning a precarious living, ferrying relief supplies to refugee camps along the length of Pakistan’s north-west frontier, until the arrival of a local resistance leader, with a very lucrative job offer.
All Crow has to do is airlift a critically ill Mujahideen field commander to hospital in Peshawar. Nothing to it, save for one slight snag. The pick-up point lies across the Durand Line, deep in Afghanistan. And there’s a war on.
But there’s no denying the money’s good and so, against his better judgement, Crow accepts the contract. The flight in proves remarkably easy; too easy, in fact; and when an unexpected welcoming committee turns his helicopter into a heap of charred metal, Crow finds his exit plan severely compromised.
The only way out is on foot. Beset on all sides by bandits, Afghan warlords, heroin smugglers and Soviet Special Forces, Crow makes his run for the border.
And that’s just the beginning…
Pitch to Publishers & Festival Organisers:
Widely travelled with a varied career in retail banking, airlines, newspapers and bookselling - as a manager with two of the country’s leading book chains, Ottakar’s and Waterstones. He has also presented book reviews on both independent and BBC local radio. He is a lively panel member, enjoys informal settings, panel discussions and signings and is happy to talk and take questions about his books and the characters he has created and the process of writing.
Literary Festival Appearances:
Harrogate Crime Festival, 2007 (Ratcatcher long-listed for Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year) - Panel Member for a discussion on Historical Crime Fiction
Somerton Arts Festival, 2013 – Panel Member on Writers’ Forum
Contact e-mail: ratcatcher[1811@]gmail.com - (remove brackets before using email)