Could Suffolk writer’s books be the next Game of Thrones?
- Credit: Archant
Writer James Bowman on why he’s based his fantasy saga in Suffolk – and why he’s got his sights set firmly on Hollywood.
With a number of books as works in progress, author James Bowman is a busy man. The Suffolk-based writer is working on his latest series, The Seraphim Collective Chronicles, alongside his wife Sue – and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
You may recognise James Bowman from his previous book, ‘The Adversary’, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Brit Writers’ Award in 2010.
With plans to turn his ever-expanding The Seraphim Collective Chronicles into a television series or a film, James explains where he has found inspiration from, what he hopes to achieve with his saga and where he plans to take it next.
“It’s an anthology of the world’s past – its legends, its stories and how we’ve arrived there,” he said. “It’s all about history, and how we’ve interpreted it over the last eight to 10 thousand years.
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“We’ve joined the dots not-so-correctly, and there’s lots of holes that have brought us to this point in time. Mythology and history had to originate somewhere. Somewhere are the holes we’ve avoided, showing us what we’ve missed,” he continued.
The first book in the series, ‘The Shard’, was released in 2019 and follows protagonist General Ted Yorkbeard as he makes his way through the world of Norse mythology. “Through a series of tragic events, Ted comes across a bit of mythology and it changes him.It introduces him to a world beyond this one, and makes him something more than he was,” explained James.
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“Ragnarok is one story how the gods have disappeared – but we don’t know if that’s been or is coming. A lot of mythology of many other cultures is also vague about back then.”
With the second instalment in the series, ‘Legacy’, due to be released this summer, how does it continue to tell the tale of mythology?
“It’s a big universe that we begin to uncover in The Shard, and there’s a war coming,” James explained. “History is coming back to reclaim this world, a world that was once theirs.
“The Seraphim Collective are an organisation, and this is giving them an origin story. Tomas is our hero for this, as he works for them.
“Fate has a way of tying everyone to where they need to be. When war kicks off, Tomas’ fate kicks off – and his story picks up where The Shard finishes.”
With world mythology forming the basis of James’ book, a lot of his saga is set in and features locations throughout Suffolk including Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Rendlesham. But why Suffolk? “Coming from Suffolk, I figured why does everything have to happen for example in LA, London, New York, anywhere big that’s not here. But why?”
“If you look at the etymology of names, it shows you a bit about Suffolk and how this region was settled,” he continued. “We had Vikings settle here, we had the witches in Bury St. Edmunds and we had Matthew Hopkins and many other mysteries. Why shouldn’t world changing events happen here?
“We also touch on the Rendlesham Incident, one of the world’s biggest UFO incidents. We look at it now in a technological age, but if we looked at it 5,000 years ago, would we have called it something different? It’s all about how it’s viewed.”
So just how did James go about researching and collating the historical and mythological information for his books?
“52 years of living here, and 30 years of reading between the lines,” James explained. “My wife Sue is a parapsychologist and has dealt with ancient cultures and legends. The myth and magic of the country, it’s everywhere and ancient – look deep enough and you’ll find references to your own area.”
So what does James hope to achieve, by rejoining the dots of history as we know it? “I want people to question why things happen here. We want to dig a little deeper and give a spin on it, to make people think a bit laterally. History was written by the victors, so there’s always stuff that we miss,” he said. “Consider what was lost or destroyed.”
“There’s a thing called ‘duality’. There’s two sides to everything – for every story you hear, there’s usually an alternative, a back story. This is not just the standard repeat of information,” James added.
With the third instalment, ‘Trinity,’ planned for release in 2021, James emphasises how the series has a lot of ground to cover, and is nowhere near completion.
“Seven books isn’t even half way,” he said. “It’s a big series and a big universe to cover. It’s open-ended. We need to give it time to get people involved in the characters, so people can scratch away the surface and see more.”
One thing James wants to ensure that The Seraphim Collective Chronicles includes is balance, featuring both male and female perspectives throughout. “It’s more in-depth, exploring duality for the readers. We want it to appeal to a wide range of people. This series covers the male side of things, and the female side of things. When Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings, women were accessories, as that was a sign of that era – it’s why there’s so little female perspective in there, but not here. We are in a new era, one looking for balance.”
With his sights set on adapting the saga into a live-action film or television series, James explains how much extra work goes into turning a book into screenplay. “We are self-taught in Final Draft writing screenplays, as it’s different to writing books,” explains James.
“In terms of screenplays, we have five for ‘The Shard’ and have started the screenplays for ‘Legacy’ and could do a small TV series, then we can make it into a bigger movie easily enough. We’re flexible with what’s going to give us the best coverage.”
With his efforts thus far having been well-received, the shutdown of the entertainment industry has put James and Susan’s plans on hold for the time being. “We were alright until then, and we had spoken to actors and productions companies,” James said. “But we’re struggling now to break into it as nothing is being made at the moment. This crisis couldn’t have fallen at a worse time.”
James remains positive, and adds: “It’s good prep for when things do start to recommence. For something that’s as epic as this saga, the scope and potential for the future looks bright. It looks like The Seraphim Collective Chronicles.”