David James goes from GV graduate to series author
Staring up at the night sky as a child in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, surrounded by nature and a warm bonfire, David James wondered what bigger things were out there next to the stars and planets. He dreamt up different ideas and explanations for a bigger picture that seemed so small while tucked away in the woods near his family’s cabin.
Now at age 26, those fantasy-world dreams have grown into something bigger, something that he can share with people around the world in his new book series, “Legend of the Dreamer.”
The first book, “Light Of The Moon,” was published last October, followed by a companion novella, “The Witch’s Curse,” in December. He’s still writing and plans to release two more novellas before the second and final book, “Shadow Of The Sun,” which is slated for release this November.
But he hasn’t always been a working author. And his real name isn’t actually David James, its David Knapp – James is his middle name. He has, however, always been interested in writing. “I always was fascinated with books,” James said. “I blame my parents, I think.”
He started his college career at Grand Valley State University as a journalism student, but soon realized it wasn’t exactly right for him.
“…Originally I wanted to be a journalist, I thought that was awesome, but I like stories better and made up things,” he said. “And you can’t really do that too well in journalism.”
So he switched his focus to English language and literature, and after graduating in 2009, went on to teach for three years before pursuing professional writing.
Publishing a novel was always a goal of his while at GVSU, but it seemed far off and he didn’t have a clear idea of it in his mind. He did have help achieving it, though.
“GVSU has so many awesome professors, but the one professor that really kind of changed things for me was Robert Rozema,” James said. “He was awesome, and the reason that he was awesome for me was that he really let us run with our ideas, and he really kind of guided the students to do things their own way.”
Having Rozema as a professor changed the way James thought and it helped him learn in a different way. Rozema said it’s “extremely gratifying” to hear that James has published young adult fiction, which is what his class primarily focused on.
“I would just say that it is very rewarding to see a student succeed in the way that David has,” Rozema said. “It’s why English teachers and professors do what we do.”
His professors and time at GVSU have stuck with him, even after graduation and moving out of the Grand Rapids area.
“All of the friends that I made there, or most of them, we still talk today,” he said. “All my best friends are friends that I met a GVSU. My roommates – I had the same roommates for the five years that I lived in Grand Rapids – and we’ve all just stayed really close. And I just think that, that’s such a meaningful thing about Grand Valley, that everyone is so friendly and everyone is, you know – you meet so many people there. It’s amazing.”
From his GVSU roots, to now living in a suburb of Detroit, he’s remained humble and achieved his goal with a lot of hard work, writing and time.
“It’s been crazy, I mean I kind of had an idea of the process before I started, but to actually do it is a completely different story,” he said. “It took about nine months, like having a baby, to get from the rough draft, to the final draft, to sending everything to the editor, getting it back, proofing it again, to finalizing the cover stuff, getting that back and doing all that stuff. It’s been extremely crazy and I’ve been very fortunate with the people that I’ve worked with to be happy with each step.”
And when he held the first proof of the physical copy, he said everything seemed surreal.
“It’s very weird to see you, you know, your words in an actual, physical book and to see your face on the cover and see all this stuff you put so much time in,” he said. “It was just very, very, very surreal.”
James continues to write all day, everyday working on several different manuscripts at the same time. He said he continues to do it – no matter how tired his fingers get – based off the one piece of professional advice he still abides by: “Follow your heart.”
“What you really should do, is do what works for you and leave it at that,” he said. “I just say follow your heart. I mean I know it sounds corny, but it works.”
And writing is what works for him.
“Not only is it my job, but it’s the one thing that I really, really love,” he said. “I love creating stories, I love writing, I love kind of playing around with words and making them fit in different ways. I really like that.”