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Campus News

June 5th, 2023

Garrett College professor publishes first book

James wrote about 'world I was living in, either as a participant or observer’

Boys bought me drinks

Boys Buy Me Drinks to Watch Me Fall Down is available for pre-order at:

There is a perfectly logical explanation for why Anna Dickson James doesn’t know what attracted her to writing.

"I don’t remember not writing," said James, an associate professor of English at Garrett College.

James’ latest published work – and first book – is Boys Buy Me Drinks to Watch Me Fall Down, a collection of short stories from the female perspective centered around the themes of survival in a challenging world. The book is available through Whiskey Tit (, a small indie publisher, as well as Amazon and other major online outlets.

"It's about escaping abusive relationships – relationships with romantic partners as well as relationships with various addictions such as alcohol, pornography, and pleasure of different ilks," said James, who’s had numerous short stories published in various magazines. "There's also commentary on today's beauty culture and on the decline in critical thinking."

Allison Moore, a writer for Disney’s Wish, praised James’ honest yet empathetic writing style.

"Dickson James tells the truth," Moore wrote in the book’s introduction. "The miracle is that she tells it with incredible tenderness."

James said her writing isn’t for everyone.

"You have to find your audience," said James. "My writing is raw and honest. My writing isn’t for The Paris Review, but it’s great for my publisher, Whiskey Tit, who 'attempts to restore degradation and degeneracy to the literary arts.’ "

James is also pleased about the visual artistry that will be part of her book.

"The cover is a collaboration between Eric Pardue, who did the art work, and Brian Pickens, who did the graphic design," said James.

James noted that writers must have a thick skin.

"Not everyone is going to like you. Get used to it. Eat rejection like vitamins," advised James. "But find those who like you. Cling to them. Form groups with them and share your work. Take their advice.

"Give them good advice, too," James added. "Looking at other people's work with a critical eye will help them and you. You can't do this alone."

James said each of the short stories in her book "was written in response to the world I was living in, either as a participant or as an observer." Generally, James said she begins to write when she starts feeling "uncomfortable about something in my life in the micro sense or the world in a macro sense."

James said that in her personal writing process "the lesson unfolds around me."

"I can explore the world around me as a fiction, and then as I'm daydreaming about it at the keyboard – i.e., writing – my point of view comes into focus," explained James.

"This happened with the story 'Sommelier Mort Vivant’ about intelligent zombies being selective about eating only the smartest of brains," James continued. "It revealed my worry about the intellectual rigor in America dying out."

At that point in the process, James said she "puts it out into the world" of her literary friends. Once she has their input, "I have to go back and revise and edit the raw footage."

James offered some advice for fledgling writers in need of some tips for success.

"Write," said James. "Do it daily. Do it badly. Do it full of self-loathing. Do it full of pride. Copy other authors you admire until you find your own voice and your message.

"Read everything you can on how to be a better writer. Then take their advice," she added. "Find a good mentor to read your work and provide feedback. Then take their advice.

"Revise. Edit. Keep your original copy in case their [your mentors’] advice stinks," James said.

James has already written another book.

"It's called The Sky King, and it’s a literary Choose Your Own Adventure about death," said James. "It explores the question: do the choices made in life impact what happens after a person’s body expires?"

James said the book topic came to her when she was going through some medical challenges last year.

"I came face-to-face with my own mortality, so I wrote through it," James explained. "This book is my best writing to date, and I'm really proud of it. I’m not sure of the publisher yet, but Whiskey Tit is interested."

Boys Buy Me Drinks to Watch Me Fall Down is available for pre-order at: