Recently, OBS staff member Annabell got to sit down with Medallion Press author James Bartolomeusz to discuss his book The White Fox, the inspiration behind his characters and plot, and some fun ways to get to know him better.
Annabell: Why did you decide to name the book The White Fox? Where did the title come from?
James Bartholomeusz: I decided to name all three books after a supernatural element – Inari was the obvious choice for the first one, and the second book is called The Black Rose. As for the third one…
Annabell: Inari is my favorite character from the book. Was his character inspired by the mythological Japanese god?
James Bartholomeusz: Yes, Inari was inspired by the Japanese god and his kitsune familiars. I won’t say anything now, but that choice will become significant later on.
Annabell: The Apollonian and the Cult of Dionysus are wonderful elements to your book. What inspired you to use Greek mythology in your story? How did you come up with the concept behind these two organizations?
James Bartholomeusz: They were inspired by Greek mythology, but also by the work of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche argues that Apollo and Dionysus represent opposing cultural forces: the former individualist and rational, the latter collectivist and feral. I hope reader will have seen the parallels between this and the way I’ve used them in the novel.
Annabell: Why did you decide to dive into the science fiction and fantasy genre for your first published novel? What about the two genres do you love?
James Bartholomeusz: I’m a little wary of the idea of genres. They have a tendency to ignore the complexities of a book in order to pigeon-hole it: For example, the work of John le Carre or Neil Gaiman, who I think are both great literary writers and well as writers of crime and fantasy respectively. I’d prefer to see The White Fox and the subsequent books in the trilogy as young-adult novels first and foremost, but using elements of fantasy and science fiction.
Annabell: There are two more books coming out in the Seven Stars Trilogy. Can you tell your fans the name of the next book and some hints as to what can be expected?
James Bartholomeusz: As I said already, the second book will be called The Black Rose. Jack, Lucy and the other continue their search for the Risa Star, and Alex is still imprisoned by the Emperor. There are new worlds, more supernatural creatures, and just a hint of romance. A lot of the action from the first book comes to a head in the second one, though I think the ending will surprise a lot of people. The third book is fully planned but as-yet without a title, so you’ll have to wait for that one!
Annabell: As the first Young Adult author published under Medallion Press new branch where YA write the novels themselves, how did you feel when Medallion Press agreed to publish The White Fox? Where were you when you got the news?
James Bartholomeusz: It took quite a long time to sink in. I was only days into my first term at university, so it was definitely an encouragement! I texted my Dad as soon as I found out – he and the rest of the family were at my Grandpa’s at the time, so the news spread pretty fast.
Annabell: You live in England with your parents and two brothers. What’s it like living in England? How does your family feel about you being a writer?
James Bartholomeusz: I don’t really know how to answer that question because I’ve never lived anywhere else. And as for my family, nothing’s really changed, which is the way I’d want it – I’m still the same person they raised/grew up with.
Annabell: Since you are a fan of British comedy, what are your top five British comedies?
James Bartholomeusz: The Armstrong and Miller Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look would have to fight it out for first place – other than that, Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You, anything with Michael McIntyre – the list goes on.
Annabell: When you aren’t writing or attending classes, what do you enjoy doing?
James Bartholomeusz: Mostly spending time with friends, reading, watching films, occasionally drawing.
Annabell: Now for your fans to get to know you better:
Favorite Book (at the moment or ever): At the moment, Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up! probably ranks best, though that’s subject to change!
Favorite Musical Artist: Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Florence + the Machine, Arctic Monkeys…
Favorite Food/Dish: Pasta
Most Embarrassing Moment (that you are willing to share): I’ve got a tendency to trip up whilst saying something serious. It’s quite difficult to retain your credibility whilst trying not to face-plant the pavement.
Favorite hangout spot: The Old Firehouse pub in Exeter
If you could have dinner with any author dead or alive, who would you choose, why would you choose said person, and what would you ask: I think it would be most fun to spend an evening with Oscar Wilde: the conversation would be constantly interesting. I’d ask him about his work, and whether or not the rumours were true.
Thank you to author James Bartholomeusz for granting Open Book Society the chance to speak with him and to Medallion Press for granting OBS the opportunity to read The White Fox. To find out more information on James Bartholomeusz, check out his blog at http://jamesbartholomeusz.wordpress.com/ And to find more information on Medallion Press, check out their website at http://www.medallionpress.com/