Nemo James worked as a professional musician, singer and songwriter for more than 30 years. His autobiography Just A Few Seconds was published in February 2011 and is available from Amazon together with three of his albums. He now lives near Dubrovnik in Croatia. To give any more details would spoil the suspense of his story.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Nemo. Can you tell us what your latest book, Just A Few Seconds, is all about?
A: Just A Few Seconds is a story of one man’s experience in the music business. It is an amusing and true story of a successful freelance musician whose gigs ranged from private parties to the very rich and famous to the roughest London pubs where playing the wrong song at the wrong time meant the difference between life and death. He takes more twists, turns and knocks than a mouse trapped in a pinball machine but the ending shows how the road to success can lead us down the strangest of paths. If you are looking for the usual rock star memoirs full of sex drugs and rock and roll then this book is not for you but if you are interested in a unique insight into the music business that reads like a thriller then this book won’t disappoint.
Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?
A: Yes it is my first book.
Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
A: The only problem I had was writing far too much so it was very difficult knowing what to cut out. There were some sections I really liked and knew were entertaining but as they were off topic I removed them but hopefully I can bring them into another story one day. I have never had writer’s block but do find if I get stuck on a section I write the first thing that comes into my head and then when I go back to it on the next draft the solution becomes obvious. The single best bit of advice I ever heard in my life was “don’t get it right, get it written” which works just as well for music.
Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
A: I have had an excellent reaction from the people who know me and have followed my career as I suppose they were interested to see all the blanks filled in. It is funny to read the surprise from some people who have known me for years but never knew I was a musician let alone half the other stuff I got up to. Ten years ago one work colleague saw me back down from an altercation with a yob that was threatening me and probably thought I was afraid. It was only through my book he discovered that I was a dedicated karate student for many years.
Q: What is your daily writing routine?
A: I don’t have one. I was such a dedicated musician and having put my whole life into trying to make it as a composer and getting so little in return there is no way I am going to let writing dictate my life like music did. If the fish are biting I will get in my boat and fish. If the weather is nice I will go to the beach. Most of my writing is done in my head anyway and where better to head write than laying on a beach? Then at the end of the day I spend an hour or two writing it all down. In the winter I have much more time to write but find I can’t do it for long periods otherwise it all gets very stale.
Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
A: Fish, watch TV, travel, swim, computer programming, DIY. I am addicted to Sudoku and messing around on the computer now that I have it tamed. I am very lucky in that I seem to find enjoyment in some of the most mundane things. On top of all that Federika (my wife) and I have a lot of family and friends so there is always a gathering to go to so I think I have a pretty good Yin Yang thing going on.
Q: What book changed your life?
A: A book of short stories by Somerset Maugham. It was one of the first books I ever read when I was 19 and I don’t think a week goes by when something from one of those stories doesn’t come into my head. I still find myself making decisions based on that book. Emile Zola is my favourite writer but I can’t say any of his books changed my life.
Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would you like the title to be?
A: 40 years to overnight success.
Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
A: I am very happy. Everyone has a fixed expression on their face. Some have a natural smile, some a growl and some a look of hostility. When I am sitting alone thinking about stuff I have a natural look of boredom and people are always telling me to cheer up. It was far worse when I was concentrating on my guitar playing as then I used to look like I was trying to decide whether to slit my wrists or hang myself when the reality was I was having a ball. Fortunately now that I am past the first flower of youth (ok I’m three quarters of the way down the stem) my face seems to have mellowed out a bit but I still get the odd comment which drives me nuts.
Thank you for this interview Nemo. I wish you much success on your latest release, Just A Few Seconds!