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Local author James uses storytelling background to write his suspense novels

When reading the Patrick Bowers’ novel series by local author Steven James, be warned: Don’t try to second guess him. He may make a move and catch you off guard.
Steven James is a tall, thoughtful man who expresses himself beautifully, so much so that one might never guess what is really going on under that calm exterior.
James is a writer of suspense novels, books filled with complicated situations and bloodthirsty characters. He is also an oral tradition storyteller with a master’s degree in fine art from East Tennessee State University. Storytelling influences his work, making it fast-paced, vibrant and full of imagery.
“My first degree taught me how to think, but my degree in storytelling taught me how to talk,” James said. He lives in this area, but travels extensively teaching writing and storytelling workshops, telling stories and gathering material for his suspense novels.
Believable, and sometimes horrid, characters strengthen his suspense novels. Some are so real that the hair on your neck may rise just thinking about them.
Standing beside those wretched fiends, however, are equally believable people you’ll want to know better — vulnerable characters who want to do right, but find themselves tempted to join the other side at times — all stuff right out of the world of storytelling, which is not just for children.
“Storytelling for me is creating characters that you can care about,” James said. “The struggle is to find balance. My characters are multidimensional people who need to solve both their internal and external problems and I want them to grow into people you can identify with.”
Consider Pat Bowers, the protagonist in the series. Bowers is an FBI criminalist whose knowledge of state-of-the-art law enforcement technique elevates him to an elite status in the world of crime investigation.
He’s also a widower and step-dad to a daughter he loves but barely knows. It’s all very complicated, but when Pat Bowers is on the scene, everything will turn out alright.
“The things that make a great story are characters we want to see overcome struggle,” James said. “I always try to create characters that I care about and want to see succeed, then I take them deeper into the situation they are dealing with. The resolution is a surprise.
“These books (the Patrick Bowers series,) are about death, good and evil,” he said. “But they are also about relationships. I try to keep them believable and still surprise the reader. My task is to climb into the characters, even the antagonists, get to know them and get back out.”
Read about the series, which includes The Pawn, The Rook, and The Knight, which came out last month,at www.patrickbowers.com. The Bishop will be on the shelves in 2010, adding to James’ interesting lineup of 25 publications.
James will teach a ‘weekend of in-depth instruction and manuscript critique’ at Emmanuel School of Religion February 25-28. The workshop will accept only ten writers, so if you have a novel in the works and want some up close and personal advice, go to www.novelwritingintensive.com for more information.