James Shipman – Author


Why I write…

I have always loved to write.  When I was in fourth grade I wrote a poem and the teacher was so excited about it that she had me read it over the intercom to the entire elementary school.  That was an exciting moment for me and the beginning of my love of writing.

I took creative writing in high school and then at the University of Washington.  I had some poems and short stories published. Nothing world changing but I enjoyed writing very much.

When I graduated from law school I ended up being very busy with my family and my new job.  I didn’t do any significant writing for a decade.  I took it back up again when I turned 40 and have published two books since then and am working on my third.  I wish I would have not stopped writing in my 30’s but I am so thankful I have the time to fit it in now.  I find writing a wonderful escape away from the daily grind of life.

Why historical fiction?

I love, love, love history.  My dad started me out reading history books as early as I have memories.  He loved history and used to not only talk about general history but also the history of our family all the way back to the Mayflower.

I majored in history at the University of Washington. Before I committed to law school I did quite a bit of thinking about becoming a history professor.  One of my closest professors at the UW talked me out of it, he told me he was living in an apartment and starving.  He advised me to get my law degree and if I wanted to teach, I could always teach law.  I think he gave me good advice but there is a part of me that wishes I had a Masters or a PhD in history.

My father continued with his love of history throughout his life.  He was a funeral director and at Evergreen Cemetery in Everett, Washington he gave countless hours identifying all of the Civil War veterans and obtaining new government markers for the grave sites that didn’t have them. He also found out through research that President Obama’s grandmother is buried at Evergreen Cemetery.

My dad found out he had cancer in April 2013 and he died on Halloween Day.  I have all of his wonderful history books at my house now, more than 1200.  I’d rather he had the books and was still here.  Thank you, Dad for giving me a love of history and for everything else.

What I do when I’m not writing historical fiction…

I work as an attorney in Snohomish County, Washington, just north of Seattle.  I’m a family law attorney.  “Family” sounds like a great word but it really means all the horrible stuff like divorces and child custody disputes.  I definitely did not sign up for family law in law school and thought I would be a business attorney but the firm that hired me out of law school had extra work available in their family law department and now I’m too old to do anything else!

I have substituted in as a judge and commissioner in my local county and I do arbitrations and mediations, which have given me a nice variety of things to do.  My mediation practice is starting to swallow up the rest of my practice.  I’m doing mediations for other people about 40% of the time now. For those unfamiliar with mediation, it’s a form of dispute resolution where you try to get the parties to work out an agreement instead of going to trial.   I like to help people come to a resolution instead of having to litigate in front of a judge.  Trials destroy relationships and lead to unpredictable and occasionally terrible results.  Sometimes there is no choice but to go to trial, but in the vast majority of cases it is better for everyone involved to come to a settlement they can all live with

The most important part of my life…

I have three wonderful children. My oldest daughter plays soccer and my son plays baseball.  My youngest is going to be a brilliant scientist or engineer one day.  She can fix anything.  I don’t know where her talent comes from in science and math but it’s certainly not from me.  We like to travel, spend time on our little boat out on Puget Sound, go to the theater and movies, and just plain hang out around the house.  They don’t like to do housework or yardwork, pretty much like every other young person on the planet!

Contact: info@james-shipman.com