James Rollins–NY Times Best-Selling Cyborg or Human Geek Like Us?

Not an actual photo of Jim, rather a hastily Photoshopped rendition of my warped imagination.

Today, we will be chatting with James Rollins. Yes, you read correctly–JAMES ROLLINS. As in New York Times Mega-Best-Selling Author *swooning*. Whether you have read Jim’s books….*giggle* I totally just called him JIM *squee!*. Okay, being serious now.

Whether you have read Jim’s books or not, there is something about that title–NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR–that takes away a writer’s humanness. For some reason, us mere mortals look upon the NYTBSAs (pronounced Nyit-buh-Saws) as if they no longer eat meals or have to pee. They are the…NYTBSAs and they live in their mansions made of gold while agents deliver big bags of money. Every thought they have is utter brilliance and they write 10,000 words a day of magic. Their biggest worries are what to wear to the book signings.

Nothing with buttons that could get ripped off by hoardes of screaming fans.

Many of us treat the NYTBSAs like some other creature, a new step in writer evolution. We get this weird vision that they start out like us….lowly writing caterpillars crawling along, struggling to say “dangling participle” without giggling. Then one day, they land an agent. Feeling dizzy, they stagger to their offices and cling to their laptops. Paralyzed, a crysalis forms around them and begins to pulsate with life. It is during this metamorphosis that these writer-humans start to change…into NYTBSAs.

Once they break free from their cocoons, NYTBSAs no longer go out in public or even shop for their own groceries because the brilliance of their sheer awesomness could blind onlookers. We believe the NYTBSAs spend their days talking to Hollywood about who should be cast in the movie version of their latest book. There is a part of us that is very jealous because, in our minds, the NYTBSAs no longer have worries or struggle with self-doubt.

They aren’t like us. They aren’t human. They are NYTBSAs, the cyborgs of the writer world–part human, part machine….

…or maybe not.

I actually have had the rare privilege of getting to know James Rollins. It started with fan mail. Jim just kept sending me letters begging to get to talk to me and tell people he was my friend and please, please, please could I sign one of my books for him.

…okay, I totally made that up. 

No, I have been blessed to get to know Jim and find out he is probably one of THE single coolest people I’ve ever met. I now realize that at least one part of the NYTBSA legend is true. Jim possibly could blind others with his sheer awesomeness. But, don’t take my word for it. Here is the interview that proves my point, and you guys can decide.

James Rollins–NY Times Best Selling Cyborg or Human Geek Like the Rest of Us? 

Jim, thank you for being here and agreeing to answer a few questions.

Uh…sure. Who are you? Are we in a van?

You’re so funny.

No, seriously, I think I’m in a van. Why are my hands tied?

Sorry about that. For your own safety. Just answer our questions and we’ll set you free. Back to the interview. It looks like the prophesied Rapture came and went, and yet we’re all still here. Any advice for those of us facing the NEW end of the world date….October 21st? What preparations have you made for the 2012 Apocalypse?

What?  October 21st?  Before Halloween? And I bought all of those discounted post-Halloween decorations last year.  I guess I’m going to have to put them out right now.  The decorations may raise the eyebrows of a few neighbors, but I’m getting my money’s worth.  Man, apocalypses are so inconvenient.  

You wrote the novelization for the most recent Indiana Jones film. How was this fan fic experience? If you could have one piece of Indy’s gear for yourself, which would it be?

One piece?  I already own an Indy hat and a whip. Okay the last is not an official “Indy”-endorsed product (hmm, am I revealing too much about myself?).  As to writing Indy, I had a blast.  I was the biggest fan, so to be able to put on that hat and play Indy on paper was so much fun.  Plus visiting the Lucas studios was like Charlie visiting the Wonka Factory (just no Oompa-Loompas).

Is scuba-diving part of your master plan to be the discoverer of the lost city of Atlantis, or are you just visiting relatives? Why the fascination with water?

I grew up in the land-locked Midwest.  I never saw the ocean until my mid-twenties.  So once I reached that first shoreline, it was love at first sight—and I literally dove right in.  I think one of the reasons I enjoy scuba-diving (and caving) is because this world is so thoroughly mapped and Googled that there are few places “unseen”–but underwater or underground you have a potential to “see” something for the very first time.

Reality television is just more proof that zombies likely will take over. When the zombies do strike, how long do you think you’ll survive? What items would you grab before taking shelter?

Wait?  Are you saying the Apocalypse of Oct 21 is going to be a zombie apocalypse?  Great, now I can’t use those zombie Halloween decorations.  Zombies absolutely hate being teased and made fun of  (and, boy, do I know that first hand…but that’s another story for another time).  As to going into shelter: no way.  I’m going 100% Zombieland during that apocalypse.  I’m going on a cross-country zombie-slaying rampage.  I may do that even if there’s no zombie apocalypse.  I may pair it up with my book tour.

What is the ultimate combination of pizza toppings, not to mention the perfect cheese ratio?

Oh, now we’re getting dead serious here.  The perfect pie is Italian sausage, pepperoni, and green pepper on a thin, crisp cracker crust with extra cheese (the exact cheese to pie ratio is still being perfected in an underground lab in Eastern Europe).  And that pie should be from Aurelio’s Pizza in Chicago.

I hear that you’re a gamer, does that mean you’re hardcore and have an IV of Monster energy drinks and your favorite food is Cheetos, or are you more of a casual gamer (Mountain Dew and pizza)? Since you are a writer AND a gamer, do you consider yourself a connoisseur of energy drinks? OOOH! Squirrel! Where was I?

That’s a lot of questions.  I need to grab another Rockstar Energy Drink before answering that (and yes, I’ve moved from Monster to Rockstar…I mean, it is the afternoon right now.  Monster is a morning drink).  As to gaming, I’ve got it bad.  Perfect day:  Gears of War on Horde, a pizza, a Rockstar hydration drink, and a bathroom close enough nearby to run to between rounds.  And by perfect day, I do mean day…as in 24 straight hours of game play.

What bad habit do you struggle with? What do you wish you could change?

Um, did you hear my answer to your last question?  Stop me before I start wearing diapers when I play.

I see, among your recommended authors, Neil Gaiman, JRR Tolkien, and Roger Zelazny. Admit it! You’re a fanboy just like the rest of us! *ahem* With that in mind, if you were ever able to sit down with JRR Tolkien, what would you ask him (once you got over the fact that you were talking with a ghost or had successfully traveled back in time)?

Admit I’m a fanboy?  I wave my Geek flag proudly. I met Terry Brooks at a writing conference where I all but genuflected in front of him.  I wore a t-shirt all through high school that read “Keep on Tolkien.”  So you think that flag isn’t still flying?  My office looks half like something out of the British Museum and half out of a comic book store.  What would I ask Tolkien?  I would ask him where that secret portal to Middle Earth is and what should I pack.   

You once were a veterinarian, so maybe we can finally lay this question to rest. What is the average air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

European or African?  (Oh, man, now I’ve really shown how much of a Geek I am, quoting Monty Python).

How many pets do you have, and do they boss you around?

At this exact moment, I have a drool-laden tennis ball in my lap, dropped there by my Golden Retriever. She’s very upset that I’m doing this interview versus giving her my full, undivided attention.  I also have a Dachshund who’s only command is:  Feed me now. I hear it every morning at 6 am.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

You’ve got to be kidding.  As a movie buff, just my Top Ten is a Top 100.  I can’t pick just one.  Just off the top of my head:  Jurassic Park, Alien/Aliens, Terminator, All the Indiana Jones pictures, the Star Wars trilogy (and you know WHICH trilogy I’m referring to), Sound of Music (how did that get in there?!?), the LOTR trilogy, Galaxy Quest, and the list goes on an on.

Finally, you have a new novel, The Devil’s Colony, that is about to be released. What was your favorite part about writing this novel? Tell us a little about why you are so excited about this particular story. 

The most exciting part is being able to set a story in the United States.  It took me forever to come up with a story to address the “national” in an “international” thriller.  Even after coming up with the idea, it took a full two years to write.  As to the favorite part, it’s the appearance of the Orcas.  And that’s all I’m going to say—not because it’s a secret, only because that wet tennis ball is soaking through my pants and there’s a very demanding paw resting on my knee.

Thanks, Jim! We can set you free now. Your dogs were most helpful in abducting you. Apparently Chuck Wendig is not the only one who can be bought with bacon.

I was totally kidding about the van, though there are some regular readers who probably wouldn’t put it past me. I hope you enjoyed this interview with James Rollins, and if you have any additional questions for Jim, feel free to put them into the comments. Either Jim can answer or I will try to hack into his computer and answer for him later. Please tell your friends about this interview and offer some writer support to our pal, James Rollins. Apparently even NYTBSAs still need help and do a lion’s share of their own promotion, and I know you guys are an amazing group who always impress me with your enthusastic support.

I love hearing from you! No need to be shy. What do you want to know? Thoughts about your own notions of NYTBSAs? And to prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I HIGHLY recommend his new short story exclusive The Skeleton Key, and also check out this killer video clip where Jim tells us all about his upcoming book The Devil’s Colony (pre-order today!). Was America founded on a lie? Was there a cursed 14th colony blotted from the pages of history?


Also, Sigma to the Rescue. More proof of how super cool Jim really is. Support Sigma, and you SUPPORT THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA! How cool is THAT????? Spread the word and save a life. Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too. Ahhhh.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Happy writing!

Until next time…


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  1. Well, I must say I really enjoyed reading this post. many places made me smile. especially the bit about the “….lowly writing caterpillars crawling along, struggling to say “dangling participle” without giggling. Then one day, they land an agent. Feeling dizzy, they stagger to their offices and cling to their laptops”

    I really enjoyed the way his answers matched the tone of the article and made all that ‘info’ a pleasure to read.

    well done. And I had no idea that Indy was novelized. Learn something new every day.

  2. Nice to know being a fanboy doesn’t go away if you become successful! I wish my room could be described like James’s.

    And look, you just made me buy another book. This blog is dangerous.

  3. Squeeeee! Love it! This is one of those *shiny objects” posts, thanks Kristen. Thanks Jim! Oh, and Jim…any chance for pix of your fur-kids? Just don’t tell the Magical-Dawg or he’ll want to kibble about…er, uhm…kibble.

    • Terrell Mims on June 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, hilarious interview and it’s good to know James Rollins is now human like us all. One thing, among many, I enjoyed about this interview was the natural, easy going nature of it. I may seem like a total fanboy, but I can go in Barnes and Noble, see a Rollins book, and go “He is so cool!”

    What I want to know is who or what inspired the Sigma Force?

  4. So, does the awesomeness come from the energy drinks? Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong….

  5. Wonderful post and full of squirrels as usual! Thanks, Kristen and James! I shall now scurry off to buy books…

  6. What a cool interview. First, I love your lead-in to it, Kristen. And the banter between you is great. I laughed out loud in several spots. James is witty and funny. Let’s see, a question for him? As far as gaming, what was the first game that got him hooked? Don’t tell me it was Pong! Heehee

  7. He owns an Indiana J hat? (Swoon). Okay, I’ve already chatted a bit to James on Twitter thanks to an intro from Piper. Now I just have to buy his books. 🙂

    Love your interview style, Kristen. Happy weekend, everyone.

  8. Wonderful interview! My kids are wondering why I’m laughing so hard. Looking forward to reading your new book- it sounds great.

  9. Love, love, love James Rollins…maybe someday he’ll be ‘Jim’ to me, too…oooh. I’ve watched the trailer and love how intriguing he portrays the book. I could watch it over and over. I have the Skeleton Key and am about to crack it open. Can’t wait for the novel!

  10. Loved the interview. Your questions are great fun.

  11. What a fab interview, Kristen! Jim, how long did it take you to get published, and how long after that before you started hitting NYTBS lists?

    Thow a bone to us newbies (or a tennis ball).


  12. Great fun! I just bought James’ “The Doomsday Key” at B&N last weekend….I need to purchase his short and I look forward to his new release! I think celebrity interviews may be in your future…

  13. Love this interview, and apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because I didn’t realize he wrote the script for the latest Indy movie.

    I would love to hear the answer to Kathy’s question as well!

    And I had to smile, I have a Golden whose first love is a tennis ball and two mini doxies who are constantly demanding to be fed:)

    1. He wrote the novelization of the script, so no you weren’t that out of touch LOL 😀

  14. Okay, good. I misread. Not hard to do when you have a bored, yapping five-year-old:)

  15. This article cracked me up. Hilarious. I loved the intro about NYTBAs – I think you perfectly illustrated the point that people don’t suddenly turn into super-alien-robot-gods the moment they make The List. It was also great to hear that Jim is “just a geek” like the rest of us. 🙂

    As for a question:
    What happens when duelling fanboys collide? Say your fanboy geekiness fires up on meeting another NYTBA, and then they confess to being a total fanboy of yours – is it like crossing the streamers? Do you have to fight a giant anthropomorphic marshmallow man? (If it hasn’t happened yet, I’d love to hear your theory.)

  16. Thanks for a good laugh, but if you keep getting locked up in the back of a van, I’m going to have to re-think this whole want-to-be-an-author thing. Is in the official job description?
    It’s interesting to see the human behind the name on the books.
    By the way, I know this guy, Benny the blade, reckons he can set you up with a few other celebs – as long as you’re not too fussy on the humane treatment thing…

  17. Awesome interview. Been a major James Rollins fan for a while now. Best moment in any James Rollins book for me – I was reading Ice Hunt after midnight in a Maui Hotel (during the Maui Writer’s Conference, and ironically the night before attending Rollins’ presentation) and reached a climactic scene (in an ice cave – if you know the book you’ll know the scene)…and the full-length mirror fell off the wall of the room and shattered on the floor.

    I almost had heart failure.

    I say it’s the best moment because I actually got to tell him about it after the seminar the next day (when, yeah, I asked him to sign that book). I’m not a big “fan-type” but I wouldn’t miss a Rollins book. He’s one of the best thriller writers there is (and that’s coming from a tough critic).

    Thanks for the interview!

  18. Hey, I loved this interview. Now I now how to pronounce Nyit-buh-Saws I can practise for the awards dinner. Thanks for the smiles to begin my morning.

  19. Ugh, I spelt ‘know’ wrong. I hate it when that happens.

  20. Awesome interview! Thanks to both Kristen and James Rollins. Lots of fun. And it’s great to know NYTBs are people too. 🙂

  21. Were you? Kidding about the van, that is…:P

    Great interview, very enjoyable to read. Thank you both for the laugh 🙂

  22. Best interview ever! If Jim needs a traveling companion for Middle Earth I’m available, Ent transportation services sounds exciting.

    Second interview I’ve read with James this week and both were awesome. Can’t wait to see more 🙂

  23. Awesome interview, love the bit about Sound of Music lol. My dad would love The Devil Colony, so I’ll get him to buy that one then I’ll read it and I’ll buy the Indiana Jones one 🙂

    1. You guys are such great support! Thank you 😀

  24. Awesome interview! Loved the introduction as much a the interview itself. You guys are great!

  25. Great book trailer, would never have thought this would interest me! Putting on the ‘to order’ list.

    • Holly Froseth on June 4, 2011 at 12:01 am
    • Reply

    Loved the intro! A fun interview like yours helps bring out the “human” side of James and causes us to love him as an author even more. Clearly you are fantastic at doing what your books are about and I need to go buy and read them. 🙂

  26. That interview was great! Very original and entertaining. It’s good to know the NYTBSA’s are one of us… albeit a little odd… 🙂

  27. Definitely cyborg *casts supicipus glance* for that was a ridiculously charming interview-how could a simple man pull it off? LoL.

  28. He sounds awesome! I definitely want to pick up a couple of his books now – I’ve only seen his name around but never actually read anything of his, so I’m going to have to now :D.

  29. Your interview was a hoot! James Rollins, has been a keynote speaker for our PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) writers conference for three years in a row. If he’s appearing in your area, drop what you’re doing, call-in sick and go!

    • Rachel Russell on June 5, 2011 at 1:13 am
    • Reply

    Excellent interview! I really enjoyed reading this. I actually just saw a blurb written by James on the back of a novel, and had to double-check my Twitter b/c “oh hey I’ve seen that guy!” It’s actually one of those deals where thanks to him using Twitter combined with my accidentally noticing a blurb written by him for someone else that I’ll be heading out to buy several of his books now!

  30. So what we have here is a best-selling author with a sense of humor who loves history and movies including Indiana freaking Jones who, by the way, he just happened to novelize. Awesome.

  31. James Rollins used to be a fanfic author? Awesome! He must’ve done a lot of research for Indiana Jones.

  32. That’s a great pic of James Rollins at the top of the post. 🙂 And the story sounds fabulous!

  33. Jim is one of my favorite people. You’re a close second though, Kristen 🙂

  34. Absolutely loved the interview! My hubby read it too (I’m slowly bringing him over to the dark side of reading blogs LOL). Now he’s keen to read James’ books. When he told me I did NOT hold back my “I told you so!” And hubby also said, “These folks sound just like you.” I gave him a solid “I told you so!” about that too. LOL

  35. From all of us James Rollins geek flag waving fan girls (that would be me), THANK YOU KRISTEN. For the abduction. I mean interview.

  36. Gah! I am subscribing right now so I stop missing all this good stuff. You and James should do a skit – take it on the road (er, in the van) you two are hysterical together!!

    I LOVE getting this kind of insider stuff from a super-cool-hardly-human like James Rollins. I have two questions for him – one silly, one serious (ok, they’re both serious: one fun, one craft):
    1. Favorite dive site?
    2. How does he get in deep POV? (I read an interview with him and he said it takes him a couple hours to shake off a character because he’s so deeply engrossed in who they are) I’m still waiting for the James Rollins version of Stephen King’s ON WRITING, BTW….

    All the best on the launch James, we’re #devilcolony partying over at my site until Tuesday! Really excited about this one – probably more than any of your other books, and I couldn’t wait to read those either!! Keep on Tolkien


  37. Omg. I just made a dinaseur-like squal of joy in the library lobby. (Seriously. It sounded like a pterodactyl giving birth to twins!) Oh man, you should have seen people’s faces–priceless! (If you’re wondering I did that at the diaper part.) So… basically I learned a lot about James Rollins from this unconventional interview!

    By the way — Nyit-buh-Saws — this should seriously trend right now. Spread the word about that. 😀 And it’s amazing how I never noticed this, but you actually incorporate the TerribleMinds link in every one of your posts, don’t you, Kristen? lol, nothing wrong with that, it’s an awesome site. Okay, I’m leaving before I think of something else incredibly moronic to say. And I’m taking my pterodactyl babies with me. 😉

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