The Writers Life Interviews Nemo James author of Just a Few Seconds, A Story From the Hidden World of Music and Beyond


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. He now lives near Dubrovnik in Croatia. To give any more details would spoil the suspense of his story.

Website & Blog: www.nemojames.com


Facebook (New Friends Welcome): www.facebook.com/nemojames

Watch his book trailer 




Welcome to The Writer's Life, Nemo.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I have been writing in one form or another for 40 years starting with songs. The big breakthrough for me came when I stopped writing inane pop lyrics and started to tell stories with my songwriting. I then wrote a radio play and some short stories and loved the feeling of people coming to life in my head. It was only when I started becoming disillusioned with music 12 years ago that I started my first book Just A Few Seconds.


Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: Although I was a successful musician, composing was my real love and after 30 years of being unable to make a living from composing I knew I had to change my life drastically. Before deciding what direction to take I had a strong compulsion to write down everything that had happened to me. I suppose it was a closure from the past and avoidance of the future. It was a very uplifting experience during which time I felt myself reliving my past in a kind of parallel egoverse. If I was president I would make it law that everyone who has children has to write an autobiography. Imagine how great it would be to read about what your great grandfather got up to but sadly all the wonderful stories he had to tell have been lost forever.

What kind of research was involved in writing Just a few seconds?

A: Being an autobiography the only research involved was inside my brain and I have to say it is a strange place to spend a lot of time.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

A: I haven’t even tried to get a publisher for this book as no one is going to touch the autobiography of an unknown musician. Besides that, my experience of publishing or record deals is that they are a waste of time unless the publisher is prepared to commit themselves to promoting your work. I am fortunate in having all the I.T. skills needed to physically create a book and loyal fans who were happy to help me with professional editing so I self published. The process was smooth sailing although with 22 drafts it was arduous.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

A: As a self publisher I didn’t bother to sign a contract as I know I am a pretty trustworthy sort of chap. I did call a meeting with me as chairman, director and author and agreed to give myself a 100% share of all future royalties until I sell out to a mainstream publisher who is prepared to give me a big fat advance. It was not only one of the quickest and most amicable meetings in history but I got to drink all the champagne myself. I released my book a few days later.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: No I don’t have an agent. I would love to have one but I need someone who is able to exploit not just my book but also my music and live performances and I don’t suppose such an agent exists.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I was laying in bed one morning when I heard the local church bell tolling to tell us someone in the parish had died. That not only gave me the perfect opening chapter for my first book but the perfect closing chapter which leads into a series called Croatian Dairies. The series follows on from Just A Few Seconds when my wife and I first arrived in Croatia to live five years ago. It tells the story of a not so young Englishman’s life in a sleepy seaside Croatian village. A place where despite nothing ever happening it is full of fascinating stories and amazing characters. I have already finished the first draft and am hoping to release it by the end of the year depending on how good the fishing is.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Most of my writing goes on in my head long before I put keyboard to screen so I have several favorite places to write. One is the jetty just before I dive into the sea for my afternoon swim, I find it the perfect place for inspiration. The trouble is I stand there for half an hour sometimes so everyone thinks I am being a chicken about diving in, especially if the water is cold. I also find a lot of inspiration while I am driving but I do tend to miss a lot of turnoffs. Then there is the innumerable dinner parties we go to when everyone is chatting away in Croatian and I still can’t understand a word of it. I pretend I am listening while in reality I am writing the next chapter in my head.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A: Remember you did say money was no object! I would pay for President Obama to announce publicly that he truly believes the greatest chance for world peace is that everyone sets aside their grievances and reads Just A Few Seconds once a year for five years. To target those who don’t care about world peace I would pay a PR company to put it around that autobiographies are the new breasts so all those places where you once saw half naked women you will see the front cover of autobiographies. As I will be the originator of the campaign I claim the right to expose my book first.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

A: I recently discovered an old friend who has had several books published by Faber but owing to a lack of promotion he hardly sells any of them. He has no website or blog and information about him on Amazon is either wrong or non existent. It’s not rocket science is it. Either your publisher promotes you extensively, you do it yourself or a mixture of the two.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A: I have never given up on anything in my life although several times I thought I had. As everything is connected if you give up on something today, in years to come something will happen that will reconnect you to it meaning  you never gave up in the first place, you just changed course. As for other writers, regardless of whether they are new or old I would have thought the main reasons for giving up is the realization that either they have nothing to write about or are not prepared to write without recognition of their work. Having spent a lifetime without having my work recognized I write simply because I have to write. I couldn’t give up even if I wanted to.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

A: I have two life changing bits of advice for aspiring writers. The first is that contrary to popular belief a writer’s goal is not to get published, it is to sell books. Having a pile of your books in a book store might make you feel good for a couple of days but you won’t feel so good when you go back a week later and wonder if someone has glued them to the shelf. The second piece of advice is in my experience the only people whose advice is worth listening to are those who are least likely to offer it. So I guess that means I have invalidated my own advice.

Thank you for your interview, Nemo.  I wish you much success!

A: Why thank me? You’re the one doing me a favor.



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