Lida James

About Me

Long and Winding Road

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and pursued ballet until it broke me. So I went to college instead to be a writer (I kept a journal  6th grade through age 24). I earned an BFA in English at Vassar College. While I was there, I competed on the X-coungtry team and the swim team. After i graduated, I worked as a motion picture camera assistant on feature films and hour tv. I married another camera assistant and we moved to the North Carolina coast for five years. When I wasn't on set, I wrote and windsurfed! We moved to Los Angeles and I sold two screenplays (never produced. :-( ) while my husband became a cinematographer. Then we had kids.... I sold Beautiful Girl to Paper Lantern Press two years ago. It's fiction, but a lot of it comes from my struggle to recover from an eating disorder that plagued me from thirteen to nineteen. It takes place at a small liberal arts college similar to Vassar. The main character, Nico, is a runner, too.  I am currently working on a late middle grade/YA series about sports (as I am semi-obsessed!) The main character is a 14-year old swimmer who gets the chance of a life time -- or is it a trap? 

My writing roots

I was  a slow learner when it came to reading -- 3rd grade -- but once I caught on, I was hooked.  I loved Narnia, and The Pigman and Flowers in the Attic (of course!). As I mentioned I started keeping a diary as young as 5th grade. My parents split when I was 6 -- divorced when I was 9. I remember waking up at dawn and sitting in my grandmother's rocking chair trying to write through how I felt as the sun rose over the tops of the row houses across the way. 

I loved writing assignments in school, especially short stories, and I LOVED all the books we read and the books I plucked off my mom's shelves to read on the subway. When I was dancing, I always thought about how I would write out the scene (I imagined the boy of my dreams watching from the door, understanding me...) Then I wrote about that day and every day in those journals, When I quit dancing, I switched gears immediately, returned to my regular high school (I had to go to Professional Children's School to allow for ballet classes all day), and focused on getting into a school with a great English department. While at Vassar, I also studied film, which allowed me to get a paying job right after college, but also, took me off course. Yes, it has taken me longer than I expected and I'm still not there.  My life hasn't been a straight line. But I can't stop. I have so many stories in my head (and jotted down in journals and on my computer) I hope I can get to all of them. I strive to get the words on the paper and to write them half as well as I imagine them in my head. 

My Writing Style -- Personal

I center a lot of what I write on my own experiences. The Life after Mia Blog on this site is about my struggle with bulimia. I write about divorce, because it was such a significant part of my childhood. Beautiful Girl and the series I'm working on now are both in the first person and present tense. I like how intimate that is and also, especially in Beautiful Girl, I move back and forth in time a lot, so that makes the transitions smoother than in past tense. I like stories that are not told in a straight line -- maybe I'm just prone to zig-zagging? I am simultaneously working on an adult novel that's third person past tense and dealing with the past perfect, but trying to make it work. It's also fiction, but draws from my marriage and my children and my life in LA (with a thriller plot that starts with an unexpected run in with someone from the main character's past.) My themes are mostly about perseverance and survival. I don't know if I always get this across, but my main characters always have a lot to overcome and a lot of flaws. I want them to find their way out, to become better people, to be kinder to others, to be kinder to themselves. I aim for them to succeed, but not without a few stumbles along the way. I don't like tricky words or serial commas or adverbs or exclamation points (though they occasionally sneak in!) I love a lot of writers and genres and read everything from YA to Faulkner. I love movies and now cable TV -- documentaries and non-fiction, too. Riveting stories.... especially ones that make me cry. 

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