Monday, July 16, 2012

Jim Woods has a long list of writing accomplishments. He has published more than 400 articles in Outdoor Life, Popular Mechanics, Petersen's Hunting, Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Guns, Southern Outdoors, Western Outdoors, Gun Digest, and other national periodicals.

He’s a novelist and short-story author, with a long list of novels to his credit. When he’s not writing novels he edits other authors' novels and nonfiction book-length works under private arrangement. He conducts writing-technique workshops for authors' groups and writing conferences.

He’s worked as Editor, Editorial Director, Managing Editor, and Field Editor. He has worked as an engineering writer-editor in the aerospace/defense industry, and served, honorably, with the U.S. Navy, four years.

I don’t know about you all but I getting exhausted just listing some of Jim’s accomplishments. Oh and by the way he’s listed in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA 58th Edition, 2004. So before I run out of room ;-) Let’s meet the man of the hour.

Welcome Jim, thank you for joining us this fine day. Please tell us what life is like in your spot on the planet.

Thank you, Cathy. My spot on the planet is southern Arizona, and it’s July. It’s hot, but just one of our 100 days of 100 degrees. (But it’s a dry heat!)

I understand Arizona's dry heat as I too live here. But hot is hot and lately it's just plain hot.

Before we get on to the serious stuff, your books for instance (like that’s why we’re here) let me ask you some of the fun questions asked of me in the past.

If you were a superhero, what would be your name and superpower?

In my comic book literary era, I liked Superman; the man could fly! I’d be him. My real superheroes were the western movie cowboys, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. I was to meet them both, professionally and socially, in later life but even as an adult I still was star-struck. I could be the guitar-strumming cowboy who ropes the outlaws and gets the girl.

What interview question have you never been asked that you’re dying to answer? Answer it now.


I was born in a grassy ditch alongside a deserted Arkansas dirt road, and life just got better from then because it could get no worse. I’m the second of eventually eight children spread over twenty years. With school and work I hardly knew my very youngest siblings and in fact didn’t really get to know them until we all were adults. I’m a current world traveler, a former big game hunter and always a writer. With these background bits forming me, I’ve come to depend on myself for most things and tend to be a bit short with people who demand service rather than offering it, and who are ready to place blame on others for their own setbacks or failures.

I’ve faced and emerged from some uncommon dangers. I rolled three vehicles on the highway; the only contributing influence was a zeal for speed. I detained and turned over two rogue biker/home invaders to the sheriff who didn’t come for two hours because of my remote location. After pursuing a wild boar across Texas with a pack of hounds, I wrestled and dispatched the boar by hand and a knife just to get a story for my magazine. Swimming in Australia, I didn’t recognize the shark bell, never having been exposed to such an alarm before. Finally I realized I had the entire ocean to my self and the crowd lined up on the beach was screaming at me. I got the message and swam ashore, and never saw the shark.

In Zimbabwe, I was handshake-close to being gored and/or trampled by a Cape Buffalo that turned on me when I became the hunted. And, I was taken prisoner by Cubans in Angola. For almost a day, until my release, my total concentration, and I have to admit, my fascination, was locked onto the muzzle end of a nasty-looking AK-47. The weapon was pointed my way by an equally nasty-looking camo-clad Cuban mercenary. It occurred to me his obvious tenseness in the situation could cause him to reflexively tighten his finger on the trigger, and I hoped he had been warned against allowing that to happen to the Americans.

Wow I’m breathless after all that . . . breathe . . . Okay let’s continue. It's always interesting to know what authors read. What are you reading these days?

I have four books open, three on Africa, one fiction and three nonfiction: Wilbur Smith’s latest novel, THOSE IN PERIL, moves away from his more familiar South Africa setting to East Africa, specifically Somalia. It’s a modern day story, released in 2011, dealing with the oil industry. THE OLD TRANSPORT ROAD, published in 1914, is a journal chronicling development of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and the country’s dependence on ox wagon commerce during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899. I discovered it when researching my recently complete novella. A third book, one less serious that I’m reading piecemeal, like when I have a half hour wait when taking my granddaughter to her orthodontist, is THE GARNER FILES, actor James Garner’s ghosted bio. The most serious book I’m reading concurrently with the others mentioned is FEARFUL HARD TIMES, a study of one of the more obscure Zulu Wars incidents.

What aspect of the writing process do you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

The high is the sudden intrusion in my mind of a potential plot and storyline. The low is finishing a story or novel. During work I can be frustrated or exhilarated or simply pleasantly busy, but when I write “The End” I’m completely worn out and somewhat saddened to be done. The Rx is to start the next one.

Would you tell us a little about your books? Please give us a little preview. Tempt us.

In nonfiction, I have a writing tutorial re-titled and published a second time; and a memoir of my world hunting experiences published three times under different titles. I have three current collections of short fiction. Every short story was generated to solidify the concept and characters to be transposed to a novel to come, someday. I have two novels published and a third in work. All three, THE OUTLANDER, ASSASSINATION SAFARI and GEMSTONE are set in South Africa, and my research has been with boots on the ground. Each novel features an American in South Africa as the primary character, and playing on my editorial background in guns and hunting magazines, each story includes use of firearms by those characters:

THE OUTLANDER is an American businessman in charge of his company’s satellite branch office in South Africa. He becomes the prime player in a murder for hire—the rewards being both money and sex—but the situation evolves into one of betrayal, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, cover-up murders, and anxious flight through exotic countryside before culminating in revenge and retribution. This short novel is the centerpiece of the Champagne Books crime collection, GUNSHOT ECHOES.

In ASSASSINATION SAFARI, also by Champagne Books, an American becomes embroiled in South African white supremacist politics in the role of hit man. His day job income doesn’t permit as many safaris he would like, so he becomes susceptible to a proposal to become a paid assassin. His recruiter is a professional hunter by trade but also the clandestine leader of a white supremacist organization in post-Apartheid South Africa. Once reluctantly on board with the plan, enticed by hunting Africa’s most cunning quarry—man—my man stalks and studies his prey much as he would a trophy animal in the wild, locating where he roams and lays up and the confines of his territory. A subsequent assignment causes him conflict; the intended target is a friend. Once again the hunter must study his quarry’s habits and bring him to bag. He just didn’t count on the intervention by a determined investigative reporter.

GEMSTONE is fact-influenced fiction. Safari operators of the very early years, the literary and legendary “white hunters,” were isolated adventurers. The start of major changes from a cottage adventure trade to an industry of global influence can be traced to the mid 1960s. About that time a professional hunter in South Africa, revamped the fragmented safari business concept to include capture and relocation of huntable species, game ranching, worldwide marketing, and perhaps most importantly, creation of a professional organization whose creed was to foster conservation of wildlife resources and promote ethical and lawful hunting. Enter the fictional protagonist of GEMSTONE: The forward-looking prophecies of the real safari outfitter are transferred to a young American in South Africa in the 1950s. Jim Stone, as Gemstone Safaris, becomes the visionary force that builds the region’s modern-day safari industry. In so doing, his influence throughout the GEMSTONE saga is reflected in the economic, social, racial and political facets of the country. Like South Africa, the country, GEMSTONE, the novel, is a work in progress.

Which are your favorite books you have written and why.

I’ve written sixteen books in all, some in e-book but most in paper-print. My current favorite novel is ASSASSINATION SAFARI but I suspect GEMSTONE will move to the front, when I get moved to finish it. In nonfiction, it’s a tossup between my writing tutorial and my big-game hunting memoir, but since I’ve hung up my guns I re-read my own safari experiences regularly.

What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

With GEMSTONE consuming most of my time, and that effort expected to continue for another year or so, I interrupted work on it with a couple of shorter works to keep my name in front of my publisher and my readers. The novella, SILVER SPOON, a modern day drug running story set primarily in Bolivia, is slated for release from Champagne Books early next year. The other novella that broke my concentration, OXWAGON, is a historical, circa 1900, set in colonial Africa. Unfortunately, it did not pique the interest of my publisher, so I’m pitching it elsewhere but I’m hopeful to see it available later this year.

If you could trade places with a secondary character in one of your books, who would it be and why?

In ASSASSINATION SAFARI, the bad guy is brought down by a newspaper reporter. I’d be him; a hero with a literary bent.

Why should readers read your books, what is it you Jim Woods have to offer them?

My unique strong suits are my passion for and knowledge of southern Africa. While on staff with Guns Magazine in 1983, I was presented with an invitation to an advertiser-subsidized safari to Zimbabwe. The sponsoring company, Zeiss Optics of Germany, wanted promotional coverage on a new line of riflescopes. What better way to get effective marketing press than to have well known gun writers favorably report on the products in the field? I was one of four national outdoors magazine writers asked along on the junket. Two years later, a similar invitation came from the South African Tourist Board. They wanted press coverage of the recreational opportunities in their much-maligned country, and planned on good press to counter their politically tarnished image at the time. I was one of seven international writers, three of whom were hunters, which included me, and four fishermen, participating in the event.

Those two fixes of Africa hooked me. I bragged on it too much and my wife declared the next time she would go too. Next time came the following year and we spent six weeks on our own budget—no more press promo free pass—driving through South Africa. We’ve been back several times since, once more to Zimbabwe, and several times to southern and central Africa. We even entertained the notion of immigrating to South Africa, but too many of my new friends there were bugging out for Canada, Australia and the U.S. We figured they might know something we didn’t, and dropped our plans to move there, but I’ll still go to experience the country again as a temporary explorer. But if I never return physically, I’ll continue to educate and entertain my readers with tales of the Dark Continent.

Thank you for joining us today Jim, now before we leave tell us where can you be found on the web? (Website, blogs, social network links)

Thank you. My pleasure. My personal website is

and my publishers are:


January Bain said...

Wow, that was some itineraryy of accomplishments! Rather humbling...

Anne said...

Goodness that an amazing interview James. All parts. Am proud to know you and to have read and read your books. Keep going friend and thanks for sharing.

J.A. Garland said...

I agree with January! So, Cathy and James, I need to pick your brains about Arizona. My current WIP has a big scene set in Arizona. I've been googling away, but I'd love to get my info from someone who lives there. What can I bribe you two with for some help?? :)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Always something new with you, Jim. I think you can fly!