Jim Ody, 40, is the author of two self-published thrillers, Lost Connections and The Place that Never Existed. He recently had a story printed in an anthology called Dark Minds, sold in aid of charities Hospice UK and Sophie’s Appeal, where it appears alongside works by other authors including Amazon best-seller Louise Jensen. Jim, a business analyst, is married with three children and lives in Abbey Meads

JIM Ody’s philosophy about writers and writing is simple and refreshing.

“People don’t have to take courses and read classics to become writers,” he said.

“You just need the desire, the drive to better yourself, to learn. Anybody can do it.

“Me? I write because I write stories I’d like to read. You could say it’s a personal thing to do.

“I don’t always enjoy making myself sit down and write something, but the part I do enjoy is reading through it at a later stage.

“As long as I’m re-reading something and liking what I’m reading, I’ll carry on writing it.”

Jim comes from a long line of farmers and did much of his growing up on a farm near Royal Wootton Bassett.

His father actively discouraged him from carrying on the tradition.

“My dad stopped farming in the late seventies because he could see there was no money in it. It was long hours and a lot of work for very little reward.”

Jim gained his love of books early “My mum reads constantly, and she would always encourage me to read. She’s very much like me. My dad goes through stages of reading, and when he starts reading a book he has to finish it.”

The young Jim was a bookish child, although not stereotypically so as he also loved sport. Early favourite authors include Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, and he was also a fan of the Hardy Boys mystery novels.

Jim remembers being a fan of the early Scooby Doo cartoons as well as adventure stories; he has been intrigued ever since by mysterious and sinister places filled with secret doorways and deadly traps.

The motifs frequently pop up in his fiction, and a positive review of one included the observation that parts of it were like a Scooby Doo investigation for grown-ups. Jim regarded that as fair comment.

By the time he became a teenager, Jim had moved on to horror authors such as Stephen King, James Herbert and Shaun Hutson. These days he favours authors including Kinky Friedman, Joe R Lansdale, Harlan Coben and Dean Koontz, who produce thrillers whose dark edges are sometimes tempered by humour.

An insatiable urge to read was soon followed by a similar one to write.

“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I remember a battered old exercise book in about 1983, so I must have been about seven.

“I wrote a haunted house story, monsters, werewolves, fake doors, chutes, all that sort of stuff.

“Not long after, I wrote a Rupert Bear book. I was dismayed when Mum told me about copyright – that was when I first learned that you can’t write about other people’s characters!”

Later, a school English assignment to write a modern version of Macbeth produced the usual few pages from most of the class but about 40 from Jim.

“I had an idea and I wanted to flow with it.”

The teacher, presumably alarmed at what might happen to the marking schedule if every pupil did the same, marked Jim’s piece down for being too long.

By the early 2000s Jim had a first novel under his belt, but decided it wasn’t good enough for publication. He was still learning, and he sees that as an ongoing process.

“You have to understand that you have to grow as a writer. I write and write and write and I read about a book a week – every different type of author and different genres.”

Jim’s main focus is on writing stories he would like to read, but he readily admits to having an eye on current market trends and tailoring his work accordingly. “If I want to sell, if I want to be a full-time writer, I have to understand what sells.”

There was a time when writers wanting to break into the market were obliged to send their work to literary agents or directly to publishers and hope for the best, but the internet has changed that.

Self-publishing, once thought of as a niche activity for specialist non-fiction writers and the odd poet, has crossed into the mainstream. A number of self-published authors have become very successful indeed. They can choose their own schedules, their own jackets and their own royalty rates.

“Somebody I give as an example is Adam Croft, who’s expected to make more than a million pounds this year.”

Jim has had inquiries from conventional publishers, but is still committed to self-publishing.

He is firmly convinced that anybody with the determination to write can at the very least improve their work if they are sufficiently dedicated. He is also a great believer in seeking out the help and critiques available in online writers’ circles on Facebook and elsewhere.

His advice to would-be writers who aim to sell their work?

“What I would say is to read as much as possible, and understand the market that you’re going for.

“Try to get yourself in a position where you know the types of books that you want to write, and then write in similar styles.

“People are publishing and selling for a reason.”

Jim’s work is available on Amazon.