James Irving is an author of mystery novels. His experience from his previous work as a private detective inspire him in writing the Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery SeriesE.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I was born and grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America’s first fishing port. It’s an insular community – you have to cross a bridge to get to it and if you travel any further east, you’ll be in the ocean. Because of its isolation and size – a population of less than 30,000 – people interacts with others from all walks of life on a daily basis. I learned tolerance and the willingness to seek to understand a diversity of people.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

You have to be pretty driven to succeed in life, but you have to learn to accept the inevitable setbacks and disappointments with equanimity. Those two traits are difficult to harmonize.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

In both my life as a writer and as a lawyer, many people judge success solely on results. This is a valid and essential goal. Without it – wins as a lawyer, sales as a writer – careers are not possible. However, I’ve found a more reliable source of professional satisfaction in the knowledge that I’ve done my best and improved with each effort.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I suppose that would be when my father died when I was fifteen. Much in my life changed, of course, but many things remained constant due to the efforts of my mother. It took me a while to understand the sacrifices she made and the challenges she faced daily. She taught me courage and patience in the face of adversity.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

The old adage goes that behind every successful man is a strong woman. That has certainly been true in my life. My wife, Cindy, has been a steady source of love and support in both obvious and subtle ways.

What is your morning routine? 

I get up between 5 and 5:30. I get administrative and routine tasks out of the way and create a task list for that day. I catch up on the news, meditate for ten minutes, and then begin working through my task list.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I began meditating about a decade ago. I invest ten minutes each morning in this simple activity. By helping me understand myself, the practice simplifies my life and helps me find clarity.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I feel that organization and discipline are two keys to success. One way to enforce these traits is to create a daily list of tasks – both long-term goals and items to accomplish that day. I make it a point to be flexible and not to be a slave to my list, but having a roster of carved-out goals helps make the hours count.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I read this in high school, at a time when, like most kids my age, I was eager to conform and measure my success by other peoples’ standards. Thoreau taught me to have the courage to make and follow my own path.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with unexpected success in common hours.” (Walden)

Tell us about Friends Like These

Friends Like These begins the multi-volume story of Joth Proctor, an under-employed criminal defense lawyer in contemporary Arlington, Virginia. A former college lacrosse player, this Yankee transplant has had difficulty adjusting to the growing and vibrant business community of suburban Washington DC. He also faces the daily challenge of working with Heather Burke. The county’s chief prosecutor remains the great lost love he’s never gotten over.

After Holly Saunders is found dead on her couch, either Sully, her estranged husband, and Joth’s best friend, or Paul, her brother, and Joth’s college teammate, will become the owner of a very valuable piece of developable real estate. Both men are down on their luck, feel entitled to it, and are willing to lie, cheat and steal to get it. When people start turning up dead, we wonder what else they might be capable of.

In a world where everyone we meet is ethically challenged and the line between right and wrong is not always clear; where drug and alcohol abuse, shady real estate deals, and friends with mixed motives are the rules, rather than the exception, Joth must navigate a world strip clubs, corrupt cops, con men and criminals, and solve the puzzle before someone else does.