About James Maxwell
James Maxwell’s fantasy novels have sold over a million copies and have been translated into French and Italian. He has ranked in the top 5 bestselling authors, in all genres, on Amazon worldwide.
WHO IS JAMES?
Born in 1980, James was raised until the age of seven in Kerikeri, a town with a population of a few thousand people near the northernmost tip of New Zealand. It was a tranquil place, where children went to school barefoot and he was able to roam unsupervised. He remembers wandering through orchards and pastures and discovering glorious waterfalls hidden within lush forests – with no one for company other than his black Labrador and a few distant sheep.
Economic forces spurred a change, and James’s family relocated to Brisbane, the third largest city in Australia. The transition was difficult, and soon after, his parents divorced. James and his two older sisters ended up living with his mother, and a step-father entered the scene. As always, James kept his head down and read books. He was the ‘boy with the book in his hands’, who developed a passion for fantasy and science fiction classics. He began to write his own stories at the age of nine. At eleven, he was writing lengthy fantasy novelettes, and in the same year that he was awarded dux of primary school, he attended his first writing workshop with published authors.
The week-long young writers’ retreat was transformative. James saw that successful, published authors were ordinary people who were somehow able to create magic with words. The young writers would sit around a tree. They were asked: describe this tree; what kind of tree is it? Initially, the children would say ‘tall’ or ‘green’ or ‘leafy’. The authors persisted, and asked what kind of personality the tree had. What impression did it give? Is it ‘proud’? Is it ‘stern’? Is it ‘unyielding, mighty, and indomitable?’? Is it ‘angry’? Experiences like this opened James’s eyes to the power of language, the idea of a writer’s toolbox, and techniques such as anthropomorphisation.
A (very) young James
A sample of James’s childhood writing
James continued to write throughout his high school years and graduated from Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School in 1997. Aside from writing, he became fascinated with computing and software, ever since the family home got its first personal computer when he was twelve and he taught himself the programming languages Basic and Pascal. Five years later, he finished secondary school placed second in Information Technology.
After enrolling to study Information Technology at the University of Queensland, James dropped out of university to work with software in the professional world. Within two years he had founded a software company at the age of 21 and by the age of 23 he was directing a team of programmers. At 25, he relocated to London and took on contracts from major international corporations. Meanwhile, he continued to jot down notes as he formulated the fantasy epic he would one day write.
Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri, New Zealand
James’s writing desk in Thailand
James’s writing desk in Mexico
At the age of 29, James had been working in software for a decade but he still hadn’t written his novel. He had the title: Enchantress, and within the pages of his notebooks he had built a detailed world full of magic and intrigue. A deep worker by nature, he wanted the space to devote himself completely to writing. He made a decision and moved to a single-room bungalow in Thailand with no Internet and no television. Six months later he returned to London with a completed first draft.
Back in London, James spent the next two years editing Enchantress, making notes on his Kindle on the daily tube to and from the office and working on the manuscript in the evening. He sought feedback from colleagues and writer’s groups. After two years, when he was 31, he decided he was ready to submit Enchantress to London’s literary agents.
Of course, James had no writing credibility to speak of. He had never published anything professionally, and had nothing much to say on his query letters other than that he had a 170,000 word epic fantasy manuscript from a first time author. Of course – nothing happened.
James decided to self-publish Enchantress in May 2012. The book exploded onto the Kindle scene and five star reviews came rolling in. Three months later, James left the software industry, never to return. Well aware that London is both expensive and full of distraction, he rented out his flat in North London and moved to Mexico’s Caribbean Coast, which became another of several writing retreat destinations. He wrote and self-published his second novel, The Hidden Relic, and then moved to the Austrian Alps, where he completed his third novel, The Path of the Storm. A year after releasing Enchantress, he had three chunky fantasy novels dominating the charts.
James was living in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta and working on his fourth novel when the phone rang. James’s books had attracted the attention of an acquiring editor from 47North, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Amazon Publishing. James signed a four book deal, and in 2014 the four novels of The Evermen Saga were re-edited and re-released.
James moved back to London in 2014, and has since published another four book series, The Shifting Tides.
His third series, The Firewall Trilogy, which uniquely blends fantasy and science fiction, is out in 2020.
James lives in Wimbledon, South West London, with his wife, Alicia, and daughter, Evelyn. He can often be found walking through the woods of Wimbledon Common – with no one for company other than his thoughts and a few curious squirrels.
James Maxwell is represented by Robert Kirby at United Agents.
James and his daughter Evelyn