While many college students dream of one day fulfilling their goals, Slay James, a freshman accounting major from Birmingham, has already found success. His book “Hero” was published in September 2015.
James’ first novel is part of what will become “The Changeling Series,” which outlines the adventures of a new species of human.
“It follows a teenage guy, a senior in high school, and out of the blue he is granted these supernatural abilities,” James said. “It is kind of the ‘what if’ factor. What if you gained super powers? How would you handle them? It goes from there and he decides to use it and fight crime, basically.”
An avid reader in his childhood, James became more interested in writing as he got older. “Everything that I had written hadn’t been finished until this one.”
James first got the idea for the story while in high school. “I started it junior year. I remember I was sitting in the middle of an Algebra 2 class and I flipped to a random page in my notebook and just started writing. I just had that mindset of I’m going to start writing and see where it takes me.”
Over the course of the next two years, James began the process of self-publication through Books-a-Million Inc. in his hometown of Birmingham.
“It took one year to do the first draft, and that is when I took it to Books-a-Million. They asked if I had had someone look over it or edit it. I met with an editor, and she revised it. It took another year to retype it and fix it to where it needed to be fixed. And I finished that earlier in this school year.”
James credits much of the publication of “Hero” to the services available to him in his city, specifically a printing machine at Books-a-Million.
“They have this machine that is the whole reason it got published. It’s called the Espresso Book Machine, which is basically a book-on-demand type deal. You just tell a store associate, ‘Hey, I need this kind of book published,’ and they can have it printed right then and there. They also have the service of self-publication, which is what caught my attention and what I wanted to do with my story.”
After the novel was published, “Hero” found success in the area and amongst other self-publications. “Out of the local authors, it was the No. 1 best-seller for the winter quarter.”
James was not very vocal about the book throughout the writing process, having only one friend read the story. “I showed it to a friend, and she really liked it. She told me not to stop and that she wanted to see where it was going. That one friend is the only one that I tell things to about my writing.”
“No one knew what it was about. I like to keep everything a secret. My parents didn’t know until the day it was released what it was about. They were just really proud that their son had written and published a book.”
James states that much of the book is influenced by his life. “The main character is me, and I have a couple characters that use some of my good friends’ names.”
The book’s main character is named is Sal, and the story takes place in Alabama. “I wanted to keep it pertaining closely to reality. He (Sal) has to deal with his parents knowing.”
Despite his success in the writing field, James stays focused on his accounting major at Troy University. “I know it (writing) is not the best job financially, but it is something that I would like to do in my free time, so I dedicate my studies to accounting.”
James has already begun writing the second book in the series, but has to balance writing with his studies.
“As much as I would like for my writing to be my priority, school is my priority. So I have to push that off to what little free time I have.”
The novel “Hero” can be purchased in-store in the Books-a-Million at the Brookwood Mall in Birmingham as well as online through the company website.