Player Profile: James Phelan, author of The Last Thirteen

33970James Phelan, author of The Last Thirteen

Tell us about your latest creation:

The Last 13. It’s a new series for kids/teens about a battle between good and evil to control the dream world. 13 books, 13 nightmares, 1 destiny…

Where are you from / where do you call home?:


When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Aged 3 and 4 I used to make up recipe books for juices. Pretty much a list of everything I could put in the blender. I used to say that “one day I want to open a juice bar”… but, that being the early 1980’s, my family laughed and guffawed, saying “As if anyone would ever pay for a fresh juice. What else you got?” Then about aged 9 or 10 I decided I’d be an architect, as that’s what some of my family do. Aged 15 I decided I wanted to be a novelist. But I thought that you had to be old and retired to do that, and so I started off in architecture. I “retired” at 25 to be a novelist.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I always think that my latest project is my best work, as that’s what I’ve been living with for year or more and my writing improves with each outing. So let’s say right now that “The Last 13” series is my “best work”. I also like ALONE: CHASERS, published 2010, which was my first novel for a YA readership. It has the biggest ever twist in the ending. Ever. Twist. Ending. Ever…

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

My local cafe in the mornings, and then my home office.

Other than that, I write wherever I am – whether it’s when I’m on book tour, or following my wife around on her tours (she’s an opera singer). So if you’ve been to a hotel or cafe or bar around the world have had a disheveled guy in a corner typing away – that  was me.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

Good novels! And good magazines: National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Esquire.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Little Prince.
The Jungle Book.
Treasure Island.
Tales of the Punjab.
The Hobbit.
Ender’s Game.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Charles Bukowski. Why? Go read “Ham on Rye”, brilliant book. Or maybe Hank Moody. Hang on – is this “who would I be” or “who do I want to be”?

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Cook. Hang with friends. Blow stuff up.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

Italian and Thai are my fav cuisines. Red wine. Mineral water. Beer. Scotch. Gin. Coffee. In no order…

Who is your hero? Why?:

3-way tie: E Hemingway, C Hitchens, and H Bloom. Legends.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The volume of published crap that has flooded the market.

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Jon Page

Jon Page is a bookseller and author of the Bite the Book Blog.