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Ordinary People Made Extraordinary: An Interview with James Stenhouse

Ordinary People Made Extraordinary: An Interview with James Stenhouse

 |  Author Interviews

We spoke with "CONCORDAT" author James Stenhouse about how he conceptualised his fascinating new novel, how his life experiences informed his writing, his approach to writing, and his forthcoming sequel. 

James is a retired Marine Engineer. "CONCORDAT" is his first novel, but he has written poetry and prose for many years. His hobbies include multi-day hiking and working on the restoration and maintenance of antique automobiles. "CONCORDAT" is the first book of a trilogy. James is presently working on book two.

James lives in Nova Scotia with his wife Joan.



They look like everyone; they can be anyone.

You have no way of knowing what they are, or who they work for.

They know everything about you.

If you do bad things and cause harm, then be warned.

They are coming for you.

Get "CONCORDAT" here.


1). You describe “CONCORDAT” as being” about a group of ordinary people who are given the abilities to do extraordinary things and bring a form of controlled vigilante justice to this planet from a parallel universe.” A very interesting concept indeed. Where did the idea for the novel originate?


JS: I messed around with all sorts of ideas and scenarios until one in particular appealed to me. This idea asked could a group of people from Earth who already have particular skills and/or life experiences be transported to a parallel reality and given specialist abilities that allows them to pass between the two realities for the purposes of punishing wrongdoers. The group is bound by a CONCORDAT that forbids them to step outside customary moral boundaries until all other law enforcement, legal and judicial avenues have been explored and proved to have failed and any punishment must be appropriate to the crime. Hence ‘controlled vigilante’ justice. They are incapable of being vigilantes in the broader sense of the word and cannot kill or maim out of revenge or a misplaced sense of justice as so many fictional large V vigilantes seem to do.

2). You mention that your travels and life experiences informed the writing process for the book. How did your own life inspire your work?


JS: I was having trouble developing the characters central to the story until the day my wife, having just finished reading yet another batch of character outlines, handed them back and told me, ‘Write what you know. Write about the places you’ve been and the people you’ve met. Write about your life experiences and relationships. Do that around the idea for your book and the characters will fall into place.’ That’s what I did. Richard and the other main Concordat characters are very personal to me.

3). Your previous writing experience largely entails poetry and prose. How did your desire to write poetry come about, and is it something you still do/would consider doing again?


JS: I began writing poetry and prose after reading the ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ at college and it has remained a favourite of mine. Such a wonderfully lyrical story about the brevity of life. During my sea going career I found the times between watches on board perfect for writing poetry and prose and to this day I find putting my thoughts and experiences down that way can be very therapeutic. I recently sent a selection to a publisher who has shown interest. I will pursue that when I have finished book two of the Concordat trilogy.

4). As an author, how do you personally approach writing, i.e. what kind of environment do you put yourself in when you write?


JS: I’m an early riser, usually before six, so most of my writing gets done between then and noon. I treat it like a job. I get up and go to work. Often the writing goes well but sometimes I might only get a few lines down. That doesn’t matter because it’s important that I write something every day. During the afternoons I take time to exercise (what form that takes depends on the weather) then I spend an hour or so editing/revising.

5). “CONCORDAT” is the first instalment in what you intend to be a trilogy. What can you tell us- if anything at all- about the next instalment in the series?


JS: Book two brings the entity known as Discord into focus and those who are pitched directly against the Concordants are introduced. The Concordants have come ‘Down To Earth’ and brought all their Concordat abilities with them. Some of the constraints placed on the Concordants by their overseers, the Solons, have been eased and they are able to act more forcefully against the Discord Despots and their disciples.



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