When I spoke on the phone with local author James Bowman at the start of lockdown in 2020, I had no idea we would be talking again well over two years later and he would have two more books under his belt.
And not only that, he managed to turn these books into screenplays – which he now hopes to turn into a series of films.
James’ 2019 release The Shard is the main novel in his Seraphim Collective Chronicles series – which he describes as “an anthology of the world’s past – its legends, its stories and how we got there.” It’s all about history and how we’ve interpreted it over the last eight to ten thousand years.
After The Shard was released, James quickly got to work writing its subsequent sequels – Legacy and Trinity.
Explaining how whirlwind the past two years have been, he says, “It was crazy – it’s like running two projects simultaneously. Not only did I finish, print, and distribute the books, but my wife Sue and I created a website where we write short stories.
“Just like how Marvel movies have easter eggs and side stories that all tie into each other, we did the same thing. But instead of superheroes, it’s contemporary mythology. For example, there is currently a short story on the website that is related to the third book,” he says.
Everything in the Seraphim Collective Chronicles series is intertwined – a literary technique that certainly helps the reader immerse themselves in a whole new world and escape the drudgery of reality.
“These stories go back to before the war and shine a light on history from an alternative point of view that people may not have really thought about or considered. These then tie into a future story and create a bigger story,” says James.
Spending the better part of two years writing three feature-length novels, James admits it hasn’t come without challenges along the way.
“I would always like a literary agent to be in our corner and do some work and marketing for us, but they’re kind of like unicorns in the sense that they’re very hard to find. It’s all been a very long process, and we factored in so much ourselves, it’s not ideal, but it’s a way to stand out and retain some of the creative control.
“We never want to be a clone of everyone else, and everything we’ve done has always been in our own voice,” he adds.
With three books to his credit, how did he turn a novel into a screenplay?
“It’s tough, but it helps if you’re a bit of a movie nerd like me, which helped fill in some of the gaps,” he says.
James said he first had to turn the books into script format and learn how to use specialized software to put everything on paper.
“We decided to turn the books into a mini movie-like show that would be about an hour and a half each, so the viewer could really engage and be a part of that world.
“Sue and I dove into this quite extensively, and we managed to create five 90-page storylines for the first book, The Shard, as well as one episode each for the second and third books. We have the content there to demonstrate that it can be transferred from the book to the screen.
With his sights firmly set on the big screen, James began to roam film sets, learning more about the cinematic side of things while continuing to work on his own project.
“I worked a bit more on a film shot in Bentwaters, ‘One Shot’, which stars actor Scott Adkins. I really wanted to see how directors and cinematographers work and how this whole process unfolds. From special effects and visuals to costumes, it’s so fascinating to understand the dynamics behind it all,” he says.
With feet firmly planted in the literary and film world, James has since begun to test the waters for his own film – and hopes to involve local and emerging talent.
“We don’t want to go down the A-list stars route, we want to help create the A-list stars of the future,” he says.
“We spoke to a few factors, including Scott Adkins, because I want him to be the main character, Thomas Walker, and he said he was enthusiastic.”
James has also already had a musical score recorded for his film. Composed by Italian composer Massimiliamo Lazzaretti, it features guest vocals from Deborah Xhako, a former contestant on the Italian version of The Voice. “Massimiliamo is very talented, he worked for the Italian Orchestra and created the tailor-made piece for us.”
As the pieces slowly fall into place, James’ next step is to secure funding for his ambitious project.
“We try to reach out locally, because we want everything to be shot locally. If you read The Shard or Legacy, it’s set on the Ipswich seafront, in the town centre, in Rendlesham Forest and in Hollywells Park, to name a few. I’ve written a lot about Suffolk because we have a lot of great history here, and people don’t realize it. Books and movies don’t always have to be set in New York, or some galaxy far, far away.
“Born and raised in Ipswich, I really want to shine a light on this region. So it would be great if we could find local companies to help us invest in our film project. There are a lot of things we can do, but we can’t do much ourselves,” he says.
To learn more about James’ books, The Seraphim Collective Chronicles, visit theseraphimcollective.com