From gritty novels such as Thief
, Pure Sunshine
and Dirty Liar
, the playful picture book, The Shark Who Was Afraid of Everything
, and the CatKid series, Brian James' work spans a number of genres. Born in 1976, he grew up outside of Philadelphia. In 1994, he moved to New York City. Pure Sunshine
was one of the first books published by Scholastic's PUSH imprint. Pure Sunshine
is the accumulation of many events that took place in James' life, all thrown together into a two-day odyssey. "Mostly every scene in the book really happened in some shape or form," says James. He also relied on personal experiences when writing Tomorrow, Maybe
. "When I came to NYC, I didn't know a single person. I wasn't a runaway, but it didn't feel much different. I had left my old life behind and I had no idea what I was going to do here. It was scary," James' states. "Also like Chan, most of the people I met when I first came here either disappeared or turned out to be different than I thought."I'm No Fraidy Cat!
is the first title in his CatKid series. "Kids and cats are actually a lot alike," says James. "They're both very curious and rarely lose confidence in themselves. Both can make me smile by doing the simplest things!"As far as influences are concerned, James draws from both musical and literature for inspiration. "I didn't read much growing up, but I listened to tons of music," states James.. "I was about 15 when I discovered Syd Barrett, the original singer for Pink Floyd. His lyrics were a strange stream-of-conscious fantasy. In a few words, he could create a whole new world. It was amazing. I think I wrote about fifty, three-page stories and poems around that time all trying to capture the feeling those lyrics brought to my mind." William S. Burroughs was a big literary influence. "He is the king. Literary Outlaw," James says. "He can suspend time. rewind it and play it back at a different speed. The first book of his I read, I understood nothing. I loved it. The more I read, the more I learned his language. I never knew words could do that before I read Burroughs."
Brian James lives in New York.