Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author James Ross On Writing Backwards

It’s my pleasure to welcome author James Ross here
today as he makes a stop on his Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour with his latest release, PABBY’S SCORE

James is here to talk about writing backwards. But first here’s a brief description of PABBY’S SCORE:
Pabby and Shae, teens with special needs hoping to expand their experience outside Footprints of Hope foster care center arrive at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis. 

Innocence and youthful enthusiasm get caught in an undercurrent of sinister events. Civil injustice prompted by an unethical attorney arrives in the form of a bogus insurance claim. Alcohol and greed taint a dishonest judge. An internet dating site feeds an affair. Shady police work attempts to stain the reputation of head pro, J Dub Schroeder. As the court spins out of control an ethics board investigation and an edgy game of instant messaging tempt the hands of fate. 

Savant-like tendencies, dementia and flying falcons intertwine with Native American customs, thoroughbred racing, and a trip up the river road to Lighthouse Point. A retired barrister hints about a corrupt underground society. 

Can revealing a dark secret settle PABBY’S SCORE?

Now James asks, ‘Have You Ever Tried Writing Backwards?’ 

Have you ever tried writing backwards? I don’t mean that in a literal sense. That thought was what lead me to my first novel.
How can that be? The answer provides an interesting story. 

timthumb.phpA good doctor friend and golfing buddy suggested that the story that I had would make an entertaining movie. With all of the twists and turns and quirky characters he thought that the story was made for the big screen. 

I chewed on that suggestion. One month became about a year and a half. Finally after a golf trip he asked me what I was going to do that night. I told him that I was going to start that movie. 

He had forgotten what he had said. So I reminded him of his suggestion. I went home, searched online and found a screenwriting club based in Hollywood. I signed up, eventually purchased screenwriting software and stared at a blank page. Understanding the commands was like learning a foreign language. 

After a while I figured bits and pieces of the software out and pounded away on the keyboard. Three months later I announced that I had written my first movie which was destined to become a blockbuster. 

Wrong! I had the masterpiece reviewed and there was enough red ink to make two Sharpies proud. Two rewrites later my reviewer and I decided that the story, plot and characters were good enough to get professional help. 

The next step took me to a hired consultant. Eight rewrites later the script got pretty decent. I asked him what would help it sell. He said, “The book.” 

Ouch. I didn’t want to write a book. I thought about that for a couple of months and admitted that it was something that I should pursue. The script provided a wonderful outline for my first novel – LIFETIME LOSER.

Then a funny thing happened. The characters were screaming for another story. FINISH LINE was born. Then TUEY’S COURSE. After that was OPUR’S BLADE. PABBY’S SCORE was recently released. It is the fifth in the Prairie Winds Golf Course series.
Anything can happen when you go to a blank piece of paper. After that aggressive path I’m slowing down a little. One novel a year for five years has been time consuming, but very rewarding. 

I dug the LIFETIME LOSER screenplay out of a buried file. We’re going through that with a fine-toothed comb right now. It has gotten a lot better with every rewrite which is approaching 20 or so. Maybe I can eventually have my writing career come full circle. That screenplay was certain impetus for my first novel. Talk about doing it backwards. 

James, thanks for sharing your story with us. It’s always fun to learn how authors begin their writing journey and how books find life.

Here’s a bit more about James. Known best for living life to the fullest James decided early on that he was going to work to live, rather than live to work. With a persuasive demeanor and a “don’t-take-no-for-an-answer” attitude he embarked on a journey that allowed for him to live life along the way. 

Born in Central Illinois in the early 1950’s James grew up wanting to be a professional athlete. He was the oldest son of a high school basketball coach and a homemaker. Early in his life his dad took a job as a textbook salesman for a division of Doubleday. Soon thereafter the family relocated from the corn fields of Illinois to the Metro St. Louis area. 

He took up the game of golf at the age of twelve when the family moved to a golf course development in the western suburbs of St. Louis. His passion for the game grew from that moment on and with continued practice he became a low-handicap player. 

After a few years of traveling and a two year stay in Los Angeles at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, James returned to the St. Louis area to embark on a career in sales. After turning 50 he decided to get in touch with the creative side of his mind and sat down to write. Three years later his first novel, LIFETIME LOSER, was published. Upon completion the writing bug had consumed him. 

When he is not writing, James is out looking for a golf game around town or traveling to some warm weather destination to enjoy an amazing life. Many of his stories will be centered on a sports theme complete with applicable analogies. Being a native of the Midwest they will also carry references to the heartland of America.
For more on James and his writing, visit his website at

Have you ever written anything backwards? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Remember enjoy a book and share your love of reading with others.


  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting James.

    James - I think that trying something from a different angle can unleash one's creative side and can make for a better story. So I really see the value of writing backwards. Thanks for your thoughts on it.

  2. Hi, Mason and James.

    I think writing in a "different" is exciting to read if we have an open mind. I'll be thinking about writing backwards. :)


  3. James, thanks again for sharing a unique look at writing. Wishing you continued success.

    Margot and Teresa, thanks for dropping by.

  4. Not sure I've ever written anything backwards (although the 20rewrites part sounded familiar), but I think I just found a new gift for my 'golfer who lives in the midwest and loves mysteries husband.

  5. Hi Mason and James .. I liked the sound of the books .. and the interesting tale of writing backwards - the script process sounds fascinating.

    Good for you - cheers Hilary

  6. Funny story. I know someday I'm going to go back and start from my first. It does feel like working backwards but sometimes backwards is best. I hope you have lots of success.

  7. I'll provide a follow-up to those that have been so kind to comment on the original article.

    We tore the screenplay apart, went over every word and redesigned the format of it. The changes have been remarkable. This could be one of those instances where the movie could turn out better than the book. We provided a lot of personality traits to the characters that can actually be seen.

    I've submitted the screenplay into several contests. We should know in the near term what the response is. I'll certainly keep you in the loop as to whether or not something promising materializes.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.