An Interview with James Tullos (Creator Interview)

An Interview with James Tullos (Creator Interview)

I am happy to introduce James Tullos, a Youtube content creator who reviews fantasy and science fiction books, including a lot of YA series that need taking down a peg or too!




Interview with James Tullos

The Interview

I discovered your channel a few years ago, I think around the time you posted a series of videos about worldbuilding in fantasy series. How did you get into talking about books online, and why?

I started in 2017, almost 6 years ago now. I was in college at the time and basically all my time was taken up by either work or school. I used to be a big reader as a kid, in my late teens I had almost stopped reading altogether. And when I got the chance to see my friends and family, none of them were interested in listening to me rant and/or gush about whatever unusual sci-fi and fantasy I had finished recently. I had a camera and some free time, so I just started putting out regular reviews. I never intended for it to be a job, it was just something I had fun doing. That’s probably a good thing, because it took me over a year and a half to reach any real audience and if I didn’t have the passion to do this without any reward, I would have given up. Reviews didn’t get much attention, but eventually I decided to complain about worldbuilding in exacting detail and apparently everyone loves that, so my channel took off.

How have you found being a part of the book community?

I’ve found it to be a great experience overall. I’ve participated in a lot of online communities over the years and the book community certainly has drama and obnoxious elements, but they aren’t overwhelming like they are in say the gaming community. I receive relatively death threats for disagreeing with popular opinion here. At the same time, I still feel like a bit of an outsider. I’ve never gone to any cons or meetups or anything of that nature, nor have I ever met up with other booktubers in the real world. All my interaction with the community has been online, so there’s a part of me that still doesn’t accept it as real.

What makes you pick up a book? Is it the cover art, the author, premise…?

It can be a million things. I tend not to pay that much attention to authors since even the greats have stuff that doesn’t interest me or stuff that isn’t up to their usual standard. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for good cover art, especially if it doesn’t look exactly like every other cover on a shelf when I’m browsing, and I’ve made reading choices based on an intriguing cover. At the end of the day, premise is still king. Even if it’s not done well, a good premise can at least get me to imagine a better story in my head. 

Of course, that’s only if I’m going into something hoping to like it. If I’m reading something terrible to laugh at, then word of mouth about how terrible it is is usually enough to intrigue me.

When did you start reading? And what books/series did you read over and over again?

I don’t remember very well. I could read by the time I was 4 years old, and I read a few picture books around my house repeatedly. I think Harry Potter was the first long series I read in its entirety, then I read a bunch of Magic Tree House books. As for things i’ve read over and over, there’s only one book that I’ve done that with: World War Z by Max Brooks. It came out when zombies were all the rage and it still stands head and shoulders above all competition. Every time I reread it I catch new information, the amount of detail that went in there is just nuts. I don’t reread often, since I have so much new stuff I want to get to, but World War Z is an exception.

What are your favourite books/authors?

The best book I’ve read recently is Orconomics. It’s a fantasy quest story about a ragtag group of misfits going on an adventure, same as what you’d expect from a lot of other entries in the genre. But then it goes into a substantial amount of detail about the business of adventuring and how dysfunctional your average high fantasy society would be. A major plot point of the sequel revolves around insurance companies trying to avoid losing money to monster attacks and it works amazingly well. Going back a little farther, I thoroughly enjoyed The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan and Guards of the Shadowland by Sarah Fine. Although The Dinosaur Lords doesn’t have a proper ending.

My favorite book series of all time is The Demonata by Darren Shan. Bar none. The amount of despair, dread, and fear I felt reading that has never been matched. And there are a hundred moments that will stick with me my whole life. (Spoilers) A woman being eaten by her undead children, Grubbs finally embracing his werewolf side and taking over the pack, Beranabus’ backstory, and especially the finale where the whole universe is torn to pieces. It’s just incredible.

You have read and reviewed quite a few books so that we don’t have to, like Matched and The Fifth Sorceress. I find those kind of videos addicting to watch – do you have fun making them and does it make up for the reading experience?

I have a ton of fun going over bad books unless they’re bad in a boring way. If they’re bad because the story is just complete nonsense and I get to watch it spiral into madness, then I have a grand time going through it. Getting to share all this nonsense with people, such as the villain’s plan in The Fifth Sorceress about populating the world with incest babies, is a massive bonus because I get to see everyone else’s shock at the information I’m providing.

Out of all the “bad” books you have read, which book/series was the most difficult to finish reading or talk about?

That’s a hard one to answer. They’re all difficult to get through in their own ways, some are dreadfully boring, some are bafflingly racist, some have characters that I want to punch repeatedly, etc. If I had to pick one, it would be Throne of Glass. Not because it’s the worst series I’ve read, though it is really bad, it’s mostly just how long it goes. And the fact that it turns into outright porn halfway through. Every character needs to have an extremely long storyline where they find true love and go on for page after page where they repeat the same few conversations and fight a few bad guys not one cares about. To say nothing about how the whole story is only there to show off how cool the author self-insert protagonist is. There are so many moments where, completely out of nowhere, she makes everyone in the series look like a chump without even trying because she’s just naturally so smart, powerful, beautiful, and talented. It’s aggravating, to say the least, and it just goes on forever.

What do you like to do outside of reading and creating content online?

I’ve always been into video games, but only single-player ones because I can’t stand anyone online. I also have a lot of board games that I play with friends.

Who are your go-to content creators?

I’m a sucker for content similar to my own, e.g. people going over bizarre pieces of media with bafflement. So I’ve watched Strange Aeons and Jenny Nicholson more than pretty much anyone else over the past few years. I also love the endless antics of Game Grumps, since I can just relax and enjoy the nonsense on screen.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to start a BookTube/Book Review website?

The only advice I’d give is to make stuff you enjoy making. Don’t chase trends because if you do that, then your passion is gone and it just becomes work. You’ll just be chasing the always-moving target of what the internet thinks is cool and your audience can tell that your content is made cynically, not out of a desire to make it.

If you could be any fantasy or science fiction character, who would you be and why?

I’d be my father, except not an alcoholic.

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Owner and Editor of The Fantasy Review. Loves all fantasy and science fiction books, graphic novels, TV and Films. Having completed a BA and MA in English Literature and Creative writing, they would like to go on to do a PhD. Favourite authors are Trudi Canavan, Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin and Brandon Sanderson.

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