Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Jim Webster. He has written three acclaimed fantasy books all based in the same world; ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’, ‘Dead Man Riding East’ and his latest book in the series ‘The Flames of the City’, was released a few weeks ago, in February.
Hello Jim, first of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well I’m Jim Webster. I’m married and we have three daughters who’ve all sort of left home. I farm, write, and my hobbies include history, walking, cycling, wargaming and role-playing.
I confess to being someone for whom the whole ‘social media’ thing hasn’t really happened. My mobile tends to live switched off (because we don’t get a signal here) and I’ve got a face book page (apparently compulsory now if you want to be a writer) a twitter account I don’t look at every day, and a blog I really ought to write more often. But frankly I’d far rather meet people and sit down with a beer or a good coffee and talk.
I see… a man of many parts. And a coffee addict to boot. Nice one. Right then, let’s crack on and find out what items you’d like to see thrown into the rubbish compactor of existence. What is the first item you’d like to put in to Box 010?
Yes! Go Jim.
I’m sorry, I have wasted too much of my life filling in forms whose sole purpose is to provide a well paid job for someone on far better money than me, or to let them cover their back if anything goes wrong. Every day which doesn’t fetch yet another form to be filled in; or yet another inspector from government or some Quango is a good day. And then there are those politically correct forms! I’m married, I have a wife. A bit back I was in hospital and I got a form which asked for ‘partner’s name.’ The lass at the desk looked a bit put out when I filled it in and pushed it back to her and she discovered I’d put down three names for my partners. As I explained to her, I was (at the time) in a legal business partnership with three other people. If she wanted to know who I was sleeping with, she should have asked.
Mmm hmm, I’d say you’ve made your view clear there Jim, excellent. Please tell us what you’d like to hurl into Box 010 next.
Eggs? Are you sure about that? What with Michael and his onions… is this a writer thing, aversion to certain foods?
This isn’t their fault; I’d be just over a year old, my parents were taking me with them to spend a few days with a college friend of my mothers. Back then rationing had finished, but stuff was still in short supply, so when on the 10th October 1957 my parents went down from Barrow to Lytham-St Anne’s they took milk, eggs etc. They got there and were told by worried friends that there had been a fire in the core of unit 1 nuclear reactor at Windscale. All milk and suchlike had to be thrown away. So my parents had to dash out into Lytham and buy milk and eggs for me. Unfortunately the hens had been fed on fishmeal, and I apparently ate three spoonfuls and point blank refused to eat boiled eggs ever again. Even now, I cannot sit at the same table as someone eating a boiled egg. I can eat omelette, but if the egg has the audacity to look like an egg, my stomach heaves.
I have to confess to absolutely loving eggs Jim. I hope they don’t get voted in. OK, what’s the third item you’d like to put into Box 010?
Custard: This is another relic from my childhood that still haunts me. When I started school the dinners were made in some central kitchen and trucked in to be warmed and served. Prior to going to school I hadn’t been a fussy eater, but the custard they served there was just a step too far. It was normally cool and always had a thick leathery skin. Finally the crunch came when we were served ‘Manchester Tart’. This is pastry with a smear of jam and a layer of cold custard, served with a lump of cold custard on the side. I just refused point blank to eat it. I was perfectly happy to sit and stare at it all afternoon, and when I finally cracked and ate a mouthful I was promptly sick. I’ve never eaten it since.
Yikes. I love custard. Hmm… so, item number four on your list of pet hates?
Vampires that sparkle.
Excellent choice! Jim, if you weren’t a married man I’d ask to have your babies. Er hem… Sorry, do go on.
I’m sorry, they’re just so wrong. I’ve let them stand for a whole set of things, like the ‘hero’ of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ who’s just an irritating brat who needed a swift kick on the seat of his pants before being told to grow up and get a life. I confess I am rather proud of being ejected from the room five minutes into the only ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ programme I ever saw, because I burst out laughing at the fight scenes. In a world with forty mil wooden baton rounds, Vampires are no longer a problem.
Nice. Jim, choice number five…?
Snow: Snow has its place. It looks great on Christmas cards; I can admire mountain views as much as the next man. I just object to it where I happen to live. I’m the one who’s got to shift it so we can get to the main road. I’m the one who has to carry water and feed to livestock, and frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion that water works best as a liquid.
Wow Jim, thank you for sharing those with us.
Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Jim’s books, click here for Amazon, here for Apple readers, here for Kobo readers and if you’re in the good ol u s of a, here for Barnes & Noble. There’s also a bit more about his latest book, ‘The Flames of the City‘ below that.
Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off A.F.E. Smith when she puts her five most loathed items into Box 010.
‘The Flames of the City‘
‘The Flames of the City’ is the story of a desperate campaign to hold back the forces of barbarism. With marching armies, pitched battles, bitter fighting, the fall of cities and the defeat of gods. Involves full orchestration and a rather pretty girl, considered the finest hurdy-gurdy player of her generation.