James Weems

James Weems was born in Atlanta, Georgia, at the site where the first Atlanta Braves second baseman played defense. True story. Before Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium occupied the space, there was a hospital located there, and James came into the world in 1951 at that precise spot. As a child, he was more interested in books than in sports; it was only after his brother and their friend pressed him that he agreed to play their version of "backyard baseball." Still, books and writing were his first and greatest love - and no subject was off the table. One of his earliest writings, lost to the ages, was a short skit about how blood flows through a human heart. Heady stuff for an 8-year-old. He and his 6-year-old brother played blood cells traveling through a large illustration of a heart, showing all four chambers and the arteries and veins attached. The parents watched, riveted with suspense. (More likely, trying their hardest not to laugh or yawn.)

Fortunately - or unfortunately, you can decide - James turned to poetry and produced copious amounts of poems in many different styles. He was as comfortable doing limericks (naughty or nice) as sonnets, as happy doing rhyming stanzas as freeform verse. Through it all his sense of humor always bubbled through - never quite exactly what you would expect; there was always a hook or a "zing" somewhere.

Next stop was, of course, short stories; the very first short story was actually a theme turned in for an English class at the beginning of a school year in high school. The theme itself got lost over time, but not before its success caused James to write a short story about the theme - in the "style" of Mark Twain's The Private History of a Campaign That Failed. The title of James's story was, obviously, The Private History of a Theme That Passed. Still finding his "voice" as a writer, James wrote a story in 1987 entitled An Unusual Day with a semi-historical setting, with a definite plot twist at the end. The only other surviving short story James has written is entitled The Interview Game (Or, This Way to the Unemployment Line), which James describes as a true story which has been fictionalized to protect the guilty.

James and a friend collaborated on what was to be a series retelling the Arthurian Legends as a musical trilogy from the vantage point of the sword Excalibur being the central "character." The trilogy was named Y Cylch am Y Cleddyf (The Circle of the Sword, in Welsh); part one, The Sword, was completed and registered with the Library of Congress, but James's friend - the musician who put the fire behind James's words, died before they could begin work on the second and third parts, and James's muse went silent until late 2020.

In October 2020, as he was preparing to go to bed alone in his bedroom, a voice with a distinctive British accent said, "So, mate, when you gonna write me story?" It was at that point that Ravynn St. John introduced himself to James, and over the next few weeks, the rest of the group, Phoenix Rising, were introduced as well. Since then, the novel has started taking shape, first as a contemporary romance - but it didn't fit James's humor, so a slight revision was made and the novel is zooming along as a Romantic Comedy, having spawned a prequel (Benji's Bayou Birthday Bash) and a Christmas short story (Christmas Bonfires). As of late February 2024, the novel is being prepared for ultimate publication with the working title Phoenix Rising Book 1: Band on the Run.