Inspiration

James Davis is the author of 1930’s Soho crime thriller Noho, published in September 2011 by Wild Wolf Publishing.

A keen writer from childhood it was perhaps inevitable that after university James would end up hunched over a keyboard in London’s Fitzrovia, scratching a living from writing freelance magazine commissions whilst working on his fiction. These formative years are a key inspiration for the setting of Noho.

James had a short story published in a travel anthology, “Travellers Tales From Heaven and Hell”, (Eye Books, 1997) and he went on to become a magazine journalist responsible for chronicling the rise of 1990’s club culture for Ministry of Sound’s “Ministry” magazine. Contributions to “The Face”, “Mixmag”, “Seven”, “The UK Club Guide”, “Metro”, “The Times” and many more were to follow.

James is now a highly regarded digital media expert, having launched the mobile device strategies for “The Sun” and “The Times”, and worked for companies such as MTV on optimising the opportunities presented in the digital space.

A keen traveller, James now splits his time between the UK and Ibiza. Noho is his debut novel, but certainly not his last and James is currently working on his next crime thriller, appropriately enough, set in Ibiza.

A common question I’m asked by readers is where I get my ideas and characters from for my books. It seems to be the one thing everyone wants to know, but there are no clear answers, I guess the most honest one would be “daydreaming”.

As I child I loved to dress up, create new worlds in my head, have imaginary friends, sketch treasure maps, and write stories. As an adult I’ve dropped the dressing up and imaginary friends (most of the time), but I’m still dreaming and still writing. Undoubtedly giving rein to your imagination is important, and also having those “what if?” moments and letting your mind wander away. Great to do, though experience has taught me, not so great to do during meetings or intense conversations…

It’s not just imagination though, for me it can be seeing a face in a crowd, watching an event unfold, even connecting with the past.

For Noho, set in 1930s London, the original drive to set a story in that era originally came from a love of Art Deco, which in turn led to my reading more about the 1930s, and in particular about the West End of London, which after World War One became a haven for refuges fleeing the political turmoil that followed peace and was eventually to lead to the Second World War.

A vibrant multi-cultured community sprung up, rubbing shoulders with the already existing London underworld involved in the bar and clubs in the area. Add in a whole wave of new and often opposing political ideals such as Marxism and Fascism, and you had a fascinating environment fermenting.

I then remembered a brass plaque that used to sit on our fireplace at home. It bore the name James Evans, a relation dispatched to the front line of the Somme and killed on the first day of the offensive at just eighteen. I thought about what he had gone through, how he hadn’t really had his chance of life, about the world that followed the war he never got to see, and about the tragedy of another global war following so fast on the heels of the “war to end all wars”.

All this came together to contribute to Noho, but this is just one set of examples of where inspiration can come from, sometimes it’s simple, sometimes less so, but always dare to dream.