Saturday, January 24, 2015


After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years. He has had four non-fiction books published.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in 2014.


SS: Tell us a little about yourself.

I had intended to write after college, but soon discovered I could not support a family writing. So, I returned to graduate school in mathematics, beginning a thirty-five year detour. During that time, I received grants from the National Science Foundation, and NASA, and was listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans. But then one day, I said, “The kids are all out of college and self-supporting. I can return to writing.” Since then, I’ve written for a national magazine and published four non-fiction books. But my real love was fiction. In 2015, my sixth mystery / suspense book will be published.

SS: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? Are there aspects of your life that are hard for family and friends to understand? What are they?

I think the most difficult thing for me and my wife is the amount of time that must be devoted to marketing. They (and I once had the same feeling) think once you finish the book, you’re through with it. In today’s world, that rarely happens.

SS: What genre do you write and why? Are there other genres you’ve written or would like to try?

I write primarily mystery and suspense. I write those because those are the genres I most like to read. I view them as a challenge. In a mystery, I must keep the solution hidden while simultaneously planting clues. I believe in playing fair and giving the reader the necessary information to solve the mystery, but presenting it in such a way that most readers will overlook it. I also write suspense novels, where the solution may be known early on, but there is doubt whether the protagonist will survive. There must always be the possibility that the goal will not be reached, or the protagonist, or those close to him, will not survive.

In the last couple of years, I’ve written two non-fiction books on the craft of writing, both at the request of a publisher. Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel is on character development and How to Write Great Dialog is obviously on dialog.

SS: How do you create characters? Are they based on people you know?

I try not to model my characters too closely on real people. But does a real person possibly form the core of a character? Absolutely. I would say in the seven books completed to date, each has some characters whose roots are firmly in a real person I have known. 

SS: Tell us about your current release.

My most recent release is the audio version of my first Father Frank Mystery, Cleansed by Fire. It has been out in print and e-book formats for about two years, but the audio came out just a few months ago. It is narrated by a five time Emmy Award Winner, Jonathan Mumm and he did an outstanding job. The second Father Frank Mystery, Over My Dead Body, is due to release the last week of April this year.

SS: Where did you get the idea for this book?  

The germ for Over My Dead Body came from the Keystone Pipeline which crosses our land in Texas. They were allowed to run it across our land without our permission by means of eminent domain. I thought there had to be a murder mystery somewhere in this.

SS: Tell us about your main character.

The main character is a minister who gets involved when one of his parishioners is found dead. The police rule it suicide. Case closed. But Father Frank and another parishioner can’t see the man committing suicide and begin to look for clues. Father Frank is a devoted priest, but finds it difficult to sit by and watch injustice triumph. When his life is threatened, he knows he is on the right track.

SS: What are you working on now?

I am completing a suspense book titled The Silver Medallion. It should publish in early 2016. A young computer scientist, Crystal Moore, discovers a woman being held as a slave in Dallas, Texas. But the woman cannot escape or even tell of her situation because her two young daughters are being held hostage in a Mexican jungle. Crystal travels to Mexico to try to rescue them, a task she is ill-equipped to handle.

SS: Favorite TV shows?

The only thing I watch consistently is the news. And when we’re in Mexico, we do not even watch that.

SS: Anything special you eat or drink while you’re writing?

I always have a Dr Pepper close by. And when I write at night there is a bowl of ice cream by my side.

SS: How do you celebrate after completing a book?

I don’t write anything (except e-mails) for a week. It’s probably the happiest time for my wife.

SS: Where can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is and my blog is

James is giving away your choice of an ebook copy of his book, an audio version, or a print copy. However, due to his traveling schedule, the print copy won't be mailed out until April. 


  1. These sound like books worthy to be read! Thank you, Suspense Sisters, for introduction to these books, and thank you, Mr. Callan, for the writing them!

    1. Thanks, Janice, for such a nice comment. I hope you will read the Father Frank mysteries and then let me know how you enjoyed them. .

  2. Thank you for the interesting interview with James. I would love to read CLEANSED BY FIRE. :)


    1. Hi Caryl, Thanks for the nice comment and I hope you get a chance to read Cleansed by Fire. I think you'll like it.

  3. i have never read your books, but this one sounds real good, i would love to win\

    1. Hi Shirley. Good luck on winning the book. I think you would enjoy it. The second Father Frank mystery should be out by the first of May - so I'm told.

    2. Good luck in the drawing,, Shirley.

  4. I enjoyed the interview. I'd love to win your book!

    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Cindy. And good luck in the drawing.

    2. Hi Cindy. Thanks for your comment and good luck in the drawing.

    3. Hi Cindy. Thanks for the comment and good luck in the drawing.

  5. I am intrigued by this one! Very interesting cover!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Good luck in the drawing,, Melanie. I really liked the cover also.