Hi, I’m James Rollins.

Thanks for having me on Reddit (again!). I’ve got my 3 golden retrievers at my feet and a Rockstar energy drink at my elbow, so I’m ready to go. I love these no-holds-barred events, these “Ask Me Anything” discussions. So let the questions rip!

Bio: I’m both a veterinarian (with the scars to prove it) and the author of a slew of bestselling SIGMA thrillers about a group of former Special Forces soldiers who have been retrained in various scientific disciplines. My latest, though, is BLOOD INFERNAL, the final volume of a trilogy I co-wrote with award-winning mystery writer Rebecca Cantrell. This series blends vampiric mythology, religious history, and apocalyptic prophecy into an epic adventure.

To learn more, my official site is: www.JamesRollins.com

But I also spend way too much time here:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sigmaforce

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamesrollins

And a big THANKS to coordinator Victoria Taylor for helping me out here today!

Social Media Proof: https://twitter.com/reddit_AMA/status/565284432563961856

Okay, it's been a bit over an hour...and I'd love to continue, but I'm off to get ready for a signing scheduled here in town tonight. Plus I have three impatient Golden Retrievers demanding I take them for a walk. Thanks for all the great questions and I hope I get a chance somewhere down the road to shake everyone's hand! Take care!

Comments: 114 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

crosis526 karma

I'm so happy you're doing another AMA, I've been a fan since Excavation! I've got 2 questions:

  1. I love how your books touch on a lot of history, exotic locations, and cultures. What's been your favorite thing to research?

  2. Who would be in your dream cast for a Sigma Force movie?

Thank you!

authorjamesrollins6 karma

(1) Favorite research: when I get to travel or interview someone who is my idol (like Temple Grandin) (2) Cast: that's a toughie, especially as right now we're (oh, wait, I'm not allowed to officially talk about that yet).

Dunnski4 karma

Hello James! What has been the toughest book for you to write so far? How did you and Rebecca meet and decide to work together?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

I think the toughest was Sandstorm (it's where Sigma was inadvertently born). It was mostly hard because I tried writing that book simultaneously with another book. It felt like stripping gears in my head switching back and forth. As to Rebecca, we met when she attended a writing class I was teaching in Maui. We became friends, I gave her the first blurb for her first published book, and 10 years later, I called her and said "I have this weird idea for a trilogy of books. Wanna write it with me?"

GMCSierraDenali4 karma

Hi James!

I just wanted to say thank you for getting me back into reading.

My entire life I was never really one to sit down and read for fun unless it was for school or work. In July 2012, I was on vacation and stumbled upon one of your books in a National Book Store in Manila, Philippines. The book was Alter of Eden and I bought it off a whim because I was bored in the mall and I thought the cover looked cool (does anyone else buy books because of cool covers?). On the 14 hour flight back home to Alaska, I started reading it and I seriously couldn't put it down.

As soon as I finished Alter of Eden, I went to the local Barnes and Noble and bought everything they had that was written by you. I spent the next few months reading everything from Sandstorm to the Devil Colony. Black Order was probably my most favorite. The later end of 2012 was probably the most books I've ever read in my life. I've been reading a lot more regularly and I never realized how awesome it was to forget about your life just for a few hours so you can dive into the world of a great novel. I've also noticed that it's a lot easier for me to read books and manuals for school or work, probably because reading is so common for me now.

You got me to appreciate reading and I just wanted to say thanks.

But anyways, on to my question - If Sigma Force was turned into movies, which actors would you want to portray Gray, Seichan, and other characters?

authorjamesrollins8 karma

Thanks for your kind comments...Glad you found Altar of Eden! As to movies, I have a firm image of Gray and Seichan in my head that it's hard to place an actor in their place (but it looks like I may have to do that soon...<hint, hint>)

Lokan4 karma

Hello, James. Been an avid reader of your books for years. Started out on your material under the Clemens alias, then expanded into your Rollins-related books.

Do you think you'll ever re-visit the fantasy genre? And what of the Godslayer Chronicles? Those books remain some of my favorites to this day!

authorjamesrollins9 karma

Third book is done; fourth is midway. Once the fifth is done, the entire series is slated for publication, each book coming out 6 months apart, starting with a re-release of the first two.

bearnphx4 karma

So when are you going to write that sequel to Subterranean?

authorjamesrollins4 karma

I soooo want to write that. I have the book already outlined: someone steals Ashley's child and takes them deeper into the caverns below Antarctica. That said, there is a small reunion of sorts in the last Sigma novel (The Sixth Extinction), where Sigma goes to Antarctica.

ezzkmo3 karma


authorjamesrollins3 karma

Every release is fraught with a bit of stage fright and jitters: what are people going to think of it, how are sales going to be, have I lost all talent? This book--being the climax of the trilogy--is especially nerve-wracking, as not only does this book need to have a strong ending, it needs to top what's come before. But I think Rebecca and I accomplished that...but I'll let all you be the judge. <Grin>

PCS_ME_NOW3 karma

I love your books, and was incredibly excited to see you doing an AMA on Reddit (thank you for putting that on FB!). My two favorite things combined :) My first novel I ever read from you was The Judas Strain, while I never went into disease research as a profession it has always been my first love from college.

  1. How long does it generally take you to do all the science research for your novels? The combination of kick-ass characters and the science keep me completely hooked!

  2. Which character do you most identify with/is closest to your personality?

  3. How did you and Rebecca Cantrell meet up to start the Vampire trilogies? It seems like a strange match up, but it definitely works.

I've gotten my father hooked on your novels too now. Thank you for giving us something to bond over!

authorjamesrollins2 karma

Thanks for spreading the contamination to your father <grin>

(1) I allow myself only 90 days of research. On the 91st day, I have to start putting words on paper...otherwise, I'd just keep researching and never actually get around to writing. (2) I like to think Gray is most like me (but sadly it's probably Kowalski) (3) I've known Rebecca for close to a decade. We met when I was teaching at a writer's retreat in Maui. She took one of my classes (even though her first book was already in the pipeline to be published).

gabri2lm3 karma

What is your favorite research trip thus far? Love your work.

authorjamesrollins1 karma

It was going to the Amazon (as hinted above). It was like falling back in time, a dangerous, wondrous Eden. And the people were so fun to talk to and interview. The stories they told!

SD9872 karma

At what point were you finally comfortable with leaving your job to write full time? Did you wait until it was financially viable or was it just a total leap of faith? Thanks again and love your books.

authorjamesrollins3 karma

It was a gradual process. Somewhere early on I had read "You should expect to have 5 books on the shelf earning money before you give up the day job." And that's pretty much where it happened. I sold my clinic, but still worked there for another year, weaning myself off the practice and fully into the writer's chair.

iamaAMAfan2 karma

Hello James!

What made you give up your career as a veterinarian in favor of becoming an author?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

I've always wanted to be a vet (going back to 3rd grade), but I also wanted to write (mostly because I was an avid reader). Just wanted to see a book of mine published one day, and somehow that became 30 books. Now my writing is my paycheck, and vet med is my hobby.

Katrinkaz532 karma

Do you have a release date for your next Sigma Force novel? A final title?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

The Bone Labyrinth: coming out the last Tuesday of June or the first Tuesday of July

TheOfficialAvenger2 karma

Hi James! What is your favorite salad dressing?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

Blue Cheese (the cheesier, the better)

MyOwnVerySpecialName2 karma

What special treasure would you like to find in a cave, under the sea, or in a long-forgotten temple?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

Some solid evidence that there was a civilization before what is considered standard history of this planet. I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

YenRug2 karma

James, really love the Sigma series and I've, so far, read most of your other thrillers; afraid I've given Bloodlines a miss, though, sadly Vampires just aren't my thing, at least in literary form.

On to my question: do you think you will ever "finish", or have a planned ending for, the Sigma series? Or will it be the proverbial "died with his boots on"?

authorjamesrollins1 karma

I have a vague plan on what happens to each of the major characters in the story...not that new ones won't step onto the stage to fill the gaps. So as long as people like reading them, I'll keep writing them. They've become like family to me.

samc7112 karma

What is your favorite color?

authorjamesrollins2 karma


culshaw2 karma

Will Grey and Seichan get over their emotional trauma and have kids?

authorjamesrollins4 karma

Oh, there is sooooo much in store for those two coming up (lots of unexpected twists in their relationship). Right now, if I added kids to the mix, they would collapse into a black hole.

davec792 karma


authorjamesrollins5 karma

Giving up working with animals everyday. Miss it. Still do volunteer work (spaying and neutering feral cats once a month for about 8 hours). Can still neuter a cat in under 30 seconds!

nanyanwu1 karma

Hello, Mr. Rollins. My name is Bill Scott. What are your favorite books?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

Jurassic Park, the early works of Clive Cussler, Pillars of the Earth, Dune, Foundation Trilogy, Game of Thrones, LOTR, any of Nevada Barr's mysteries, The Shipping News...man, I can go on and on.

Aj66271 karma

First of all, I love all the books. Just got Blood Infernal in the mail today to start!

Are there any plans to have a book tour stop in Ohio or western PA?

authorjamesrollins1 karma

I haven't seen my summer tour schedule (for The Bone Labyrinth), but I know they are gearing it more toward the Midwest and East Coast, so there's a good chance I may end up somewhere in your neck of the woods.

Obreezy281 karma

Hey Mr. Rollins,

I hate to piggy back off of the dressing question, but my favorite (random) question to ask people is, what would be your "death row" final meal? (Appetizer, entre with side(s), dessert, drink) if there is a specific place or brand of something as well.

authorjamesrollins1 karma

Appetizer: Coconut Shrimp Entree: Beef Stroganoff with a side of beef stroganoff Dessert: banana cream pie Drink: Wine with dinner and a single malt scotch afterward (If I'm allowed two drinks by the warden)

scottg431 karma

Hi Mr Rollins,

I am a big fan of your work and can't wait to read Blood Infernal, I have to travel for work on Friday and have it loaded and ready to go on my kindle.

I was wondering what it is like to co-write a book with someone? What kind of process do you go through together.

Thank you!

authorjamesrollins1 karma

It was a definite learning curve as Rebecca and I had never collaborated on anything before. We took about 6 months figuring out the voice of the character, the style of the storytelling, working out the bugs of the plot, then divvied up the workload depending on who had the best skill set for different scenes. Then every Monday we'd Skype for 4-8 hours reviewing each others' pages, talking about plot, character, about life in general. And somehow it all worked out.

Starbaby771 karma

What 5 books would recommend everyone to read before they die?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

Huckleberry Finn Catcher in the Rye Slaughterhouse 5 To Kill a Mockingbird Dune

Kilgore31 karma

Mr. Rollins, I am a HUGE fan of the SIGMA series, and I was wondering, how much further can/will you take the SIGMA series?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

I will keep writing Sigma as long as people want to keep reading them. Not that the cast will remain static (be warned!): one of the reasons I bases a series on a "group" of characters is that some can die and new members can be recruited.

Jokerang1 karma

Big fan of your books here. Out of all the other writers in the thriller genre, which is your favorite and why?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

That's a tough one. But I'd lean toward Michael Crichton. I love his ability to jump all over the place story-wise, yet still build an equally exciting story each time.

benjaminpio1 karma

Huge fan of all your books. I read in one of your introductions( I think it was The Devil Colony) that you were raised Catholic. How much influence did that have in writing the Sanguine series?

authorjamesrollins1 karma

lol....probably a great deal. Also one of my cousins happens to be a priest, so I had access to some intel that wasn't readily available. Good to have friends in high places.

corvidmortum1 karma


authorjamesrollins2 karma

More fantasy coming! (there's a more comprehensive answer somewhere here about that). And I'd love to go to North Dakota. It's one of the few states that I've never set foot in. That must be corrected.

Guyinthehall81 karma

What would you say is your top piece of advice for other aspiring writers?

authorjamesrollins1 karma

Write everyday (expect to write a million words before getting published) but also READ every night. What ever difficulty you struggle with during the day (how to do dialogue, how to describe a character), you'll see a solution in the book you read at night. And as you write everyday and read every night, both your prose and storytelling will grow stronger.

jkettler1 karma

Hi James! Will anyone from the Sanguine series cross over into your other work? Hoping you make it back to St Louis this year!

authorjamesrollins1 karma

Not that I expect...but I knew knew Kowalski would come back from Ice Hunt. And look at him now. And as I grew up in St. Louis and still have friends there, I'd love to return, too.

redhott11 karma

How do you feel about the characters you write? Do you have trouble killing them off?

authorjamesrollins1 karma

I grow very attached. And yes, killing off characters is tough. Each time I'm always on the fence, fingers poised: "Do I drop this ax or not?"

Guyinthehall81 karma

Also! Has anyone ever approached you about turning Sigma into a TV series? Would you rather have a TV show or a movie series?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

I'm contractually not at liberty to say anything about that (read into that what you will). But preferentially I'd take either, though the breadth of one of my novels might take an entire season on television to do it justice.

ChronoTravis851 karma

Star Wars or Star Trek?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

Love both. But lean toward more Star Trek though.

That said, soooo happy we're getting new Star Wars that aren't prequel material

ChronoTravis851 karma


authorjamesrollins4 karma

I would gladly invite either to join on in an adventure. Love everything that Preston and Child write. Of course, they had one of their characters stop at an airport bookstore in one of their novels and expound upon how excited he was to pick up the "latest James Rollins" book. Of course, that character was the insane, murderous villain of the book.

suwithnoe1 karma

You have always stated that friends who want to be in your books will be killed in a horrible, horrible fashion. My question is about your novel Deep Fathom. Is the David Spangler character a friend of yours? How on earth did you come up with using a giant squid as a murder weapon?

authorjamesrollins3 karma

Well, Subterranean was my modern take of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Deep Fathom tackled Twenty Leagues under the Sea (so of course, a giant squid had to eat someone). As to poor Mr. Spangler (along with Craig from Ice Hunt), good friends of mine.

Cammy0140 karma

Hello Mr. Rollins! I want to say that Amazonia was the first book I was ever addicted to. I read the entire thing in one sitting and it's still one of my favorites of yours! Your books are so diverse and deal with so many areas of the world. Where does your inspiration come from for these storylines?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

Seems to be a theme <grin> The inspiration for Amazonia was that trip I took to the jungles. I had no idea of plot or character: just wanted to set a story there. But inspiration comes from so many different directions (often hitting me in the back of the head when I'm looking somewhere else). Sometimes a story builds from the idea of a character (Altar of Eden: wanted a veterinarian as the main character of a thriller); Sometimes from a historical mystery (Devil Colony: because of the mystery surrounding the role Native Americans had in the founding of this country); Sometimes from the science (Black Order: exploring the strangeness of quantum theory).

chcklst0 karma

Hi James,

Love your work. Just two questions: 1. What's the closest scrape you've had in your own rather impressive adventures? 2. What's on your 'to do' list as far as visiting countries/continents that have yet to feature in your novels?

authorjamesrollins2 karma

(1) I was stuck in a crack in a cave for over an hour with no real way to help. Only got free, I think, because I sweated enough to lubricate myself loose (2) Though I've written about Antarctica a couple times, I've never been there. It's a bucket list item. But probably more than that, I have been to the Amazon, but it was too brief (one week). I'd like to explore that region in much more detail.

ChopOMatic0 karma

I'd love to hear how the co-authoring process works. Who does what?

  • Jerry Hatchett

authorjamesrollins2 karma

I somewhat answered that earlier. It took a while for Rebecca and I to work that out: how to talk to each other, how to critique, how to debate plot points, who writes what. But basically it was dividing the book up into scenes best suited to each one's skills (Me: action, bloodshed, science, and monsters. Rebecca: nuance of character, historical accuracy, emotional arcs). Then we overwrote each other until it felt seamless (at least to us).

Reddwarf80 karma

Hello, love your books.

Do you have a favorite "one liner" from any of your books?

(Mine would have to be "The ugly ducking had its first taste of blood." From Black Order)

authorjamesrollins3 karma

That's ONE of favorites. Another close second (and duck related): “Why does that duck keep looking at me?” Kowalski asked. (from Eye of God)

jn5300 karma

I believe in the past you've mentioned being influenced by Michael Crichton. Was there any specific works by him that you'd care to mention as an influence?

Hope to see you in Chico sometime!

authorjamesrollins3 karma

Love Chico! Fun town! Favorite (if you couldn't guess): Jurassic Park. I had a copy of that book sitting above my desk when I wrote my first book (Subterranean). It was my bible for writing my first book.

bearnphx0 karma

You have so many giveaways on your Facebook page, how do you come up with all your ideas that make your page so fun to follow? Looking forward to seeing you again tomorrow night.

authorjamesrollins2 karma

For me social media is just one long party. So I figured there must be party favors if I'm hosting that party. And the more, the merrier. There's a new contest coming up on Facebook that I'll be launching as soon as I finish this AMA.