His first couple of books are about parenting and are have wonderful titles such as: How to Save Your Child From Ostrich Attacks, Accidental Time Travel, And Anything Else That Might Happen On An Average Tuesday and Bare Minimum Parenting: The Ultimate Guide to Not Quite Ruining Your Child. I have not read either yet but from everything I’ve heard they are both hilarious. He also has one interactive children’s book published: Prance Like No One’s Watching: A Guided Journal for Exploding Unicorns. For a wonderful dose of ridiculousness head over to his website.
His newest book is for adults and is titled: How to Be a Man (Whatever That Means): Lessons in Masculinity from a Questionable Source. This title is released June 1st, 2021.
There’s no wrong way to be a woman. There are countless wrong ways to be a man.
James Breakwell should know. He’s tried just about all of them. Journalism. Pig ownership. Felony lawn gnome theft. Whatever masculinity is supposed to be, this can’t be it. But can you really fail at something no one can quite define? Apparently.
Now, in a series of funny, sharply observed, and occasionally poignant essays, everyone’s favorite internet-famous father of four daughters lays down a lifetime of lessons in what it means to be a man. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll wonder what really happened to those creepy lawn gnomes on that deserted country road. (Spoiler alert: They’re right behind you.)
If you ever wanted to know how to fail at altruism, dodge the priesthood, and stumble your way into unexpected wisdom, this book is for you.
How to Be a Man (Whatever that Means) presents a vision of manhood that looks very different from what you’ll see on TV. And that’s a good thing. Probably.
For people that have never heard of you before, what is your elevator pitch to get them to read your books or just follow your social media?
I’m a professional comedy writer and amateur father of four girls, ages ten and under. You should follow me on social media and read my books because it’s more fun if all this crazy stuff happens to me and not you. Disasters are best enjoyed from a safe distance.
How did you end up becoming a writer?
Like most normal high schoolers, I killed time at the end of a computer literacy class by writing a fake book of the Bible. I emailed it to a few of my friends, and they laughed. From there, I was hooked. I wrote a comedy column in college, made a brief foray into professional journalism as a newspaper reporter, then bailed and wrote a comedy blog for a decade. From there, I moved to Twitter, which is where I first had success at building an audience. People like me a lot better in small doses.
What made you comfortable writing about your life and experiences?
I’m comfortable writing about myself because it’s better than the alternative, which is writing about somebody else. That would require research, which is a lot of work. It’s more fun if I just write about the things happening in my life everyday. Usually, enough things go wrong that there’s no shortage of content.
Between the chaos of your children, pigs, dog, day job and daily life, how do you find time to write?
The key is multitasking. When I’m hanging out with my kids and keeping them from killing each other, I’m also keeping my ears open for inspiration for my next joke. Children are an endless source of both frustration and free content. It’s the same situation whenever I’m doing anything else. I’m always thinking about the next book or the next newsletter. That’s probably why I’m perpetually distracted. That’s true for most of us. Paying full attention to something is so last century.
What does your wife think about you as a writer and your books?
My wife has always been supportive of my writing career. She knew right from the start that I wanted to be a comedy writer, and she married me anyway. I love her poor judgement.
How do you use social media as an author?
Social media for an author is like water for a fish. You can’t survive without it. Unless you’re one of those weird lungfish that can crawl on land. This analogy is getting off track. Publishers expect you to come to the table with a built-in audience, and the only way to really do that is to put out free content and engage with prospective readers. That’s why I’ll be on Twitter till the day I die. Make sure my phone is fully charged before you put me in my coffin.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of publishing?
My favorite thing about publishing is the freedom. After a publisher signs you for a book deal, you can write pretty much whatever you want, regardless of what the contract said. By the time they realize it was a mistake to trust you, it’s way too late. My least favorite part is promoting the books, mainly because it takes away time from writing the next one. Also, book promotion never ends. I’ll be using that fully charged coffin phone to tweet sales links from the afterlife.
How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
Counting this one, I’ve written five: four for adults and one for children. The current book, How to Be a Man (Whatever that Means): Lessons in Modern Masculinity from a Questionable Source, is my favorite. It has all of my best, funniest stories that I’ve been saving up for just the right time. That time is now, assuming “now” is sometime after the release date of June 1st.
What insight will you give us into your latest book, How to Be a Man (Whatever That Means)?
This is a book thirty-five years in the making. There were so many random anecdotes that I never thought I’d be able to tie together in a cohesive way, and they’re suddenly all in one book with a central premise that actually makes sense. I didn’t see that coming. Nobody has lower expectations for me than me.
In writing this latest book, have you learned anything about yourself?
I learned that memory is collective. There were so many stories where I thought I knew what happened, but, when I checked with the people involved, I found out there was much more to it than that. The story about the lawn gnome heist in particular was much more intricate than it had any right to be. That could be a true crime series on Netflix.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
On the night of the release, I like to do a live video with my fans where I have a drink (or three) and just chat. It’s a relaxing way to celebrate and thank everyone for their support. Plus, if I’m interacting with people online, I’m not drinking alone. Or so I tell myself.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?
It’s both. First drafts are exhausting, so I try to get through them as quickly as possible. The more polished a later draft is, the more energizing it is for me to go through it. It’s easy to make that final push. Probably because I’m just so desperate to be done.
Do you have any advice for people that want to write about their own lives but still have some anonymity?
It’s never been easier to write anonymously. The internet gives you the chance to share as much or as little about yourself as you want. For me, I just make sure not to give out enough information that you can figure out my home address or where my kids go to school. I’d very much like for us not to get murdered. I’m old fashioned like that.
I hope that you enjoyed my first author interview as much as I enjoyed writing it! Make sure to check out James’ social media and his books! Happy reading!
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2 comments on “Author Interview: James Breakwell”
Great interview! And very nice to meet you, James : )
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