Why publish the book as a memoir? James says that this was not his idea at first.
Watch James talk about his original intention for A Million Little Pieces
To understand why James ultimately decided to publish his book as a memoir instead of a novel, he explains how his writing career began two decades ago. "When I was 22, I read a book called Tropic of Cancer, and it actually changed my life. ... I couldn't believe somebody had expressed themselves in that way and told a story that way, and I couldn't believe somebody made me feel the way that book made me feel," James says. "When I closed that book, I said, 'That's what I'm going to do.'"
From age 22 to 31, James says he taught himself how to write a book. "I didn't go to graduate school. I didn't ever have a writing teacher. I just sat in a room alone for years trying to write a book. Trying to figure out how to write a book. Trying to figure out if I could do it," he says.
After several years, James did indeed write a book and was offered a publishing deal—though he says it wasn't necessarily how he imagined it would be published. "Nobody wanted to publish [A Million Little Pieces] as a novel. At a certain point, I got the opportunity to publish it as a memoir," he says. "It wasn't necessarily how I imagined it, but I wanted it published. I wanted it out in the world, and I said yes."