My name is… James Ponti. Always James, never Jim or Jimmy. My mother insisted on this when I was little and it stuck, although there have actually been three exceptions. One was Father Heslin, the priest I was named after. One was Abraham Polonsky, a blacklisted film director who taught at my college. I was his teaching assistant and he called me Jimmy and I was cool with that. And there’s David Feherty, the golf commentator and television personality. I produce his tv show and he calls me Jimmy. I think it’s an Irish thing like it was for the priest. I was born in Italy and the thinking was to have one English and one Italian name. They went with James Marco instead of Giacomo Marcus (which would have been the reverse.) I don’t know if I could’ve pulled it off as a kid, but Giacomo works now. So you can call me that if you’re daring.
I am… an upbeat and optimistic person. I think this has been essential throughout my life. There have been a lot of setbacks and some real heartbreak, but I’ve always felt really fortunate to have the life that I do. I’ve been surrounded by amazing loving people who believe in me and no matter what’s going on. I always feel like there are great things on the horizon.
As a kid, I was… a terrible reader. I really struggled with it. In my first grade classroom we had poster with all of our names on it and every time you finished reading something you got a star to put by your name. I only got one star all year and I was so embarrassed. I almost never read for pleasure and now try to write books that I think would’ve engaged me when I was younger.
Writing is… so much fun. I’ve always loved it. I decided to become a writer when I was in Mr. Prothro’s fifth grade English class and I have literally never wanted to be anything else. It’s been great and introduced me to amazing people. It’s taken me all over the US and to nearly a dozen countries. What I love about it most is that it’s universal. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone’s story is unique to them. It doesn’t take money or special equipment. Just your imagination and some paper. (Oh, and something to write with. But that’s all.)
Reading is… something I’ve grown to love. Although, it’s a bit of a luxury. I have so many deadlines and while I love reading, it’s still not a very fast process for me. I’ve always joked that I could write a book faster than I can read one. My favorite books are mysteries as well as books by friends like JARRETT LERNER!!!!
Books are… passports. They take you everywhere real and imagined. But most of all, they connect us. I love the fact that I can write a book all alone in my office in Florida and some kid in Minnesota who I’ll never meet can pick it up and read it and connect with me. It’s a two way street for writer and reader. And when you read a book you complete that connection. And when you recognize yourself in the manuscript both you and the writer are elevated.
Did you know… I worked for a long time writing scripts for shows on Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and PBS. I actually wrote on the Mickey Mouse Club when the mouseketeers included Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. They were just kids I saw and talked to every day and it’s crazy to see them as superstars. One of the shows I wrote for PBS was Clifford’s Puppy Days and that was a lot of fun too.
You can find me… hanging out with my family, going to the movies, traveling to some interesting location or at my desk writing. As for my books, you can find them almost everywhere books are shelved. I have a trick to find them quickly when I enter a bookstore by looking for the huge James Patterson and JK Rowling sections. I’m alphabetized right between them!