Experienced as a writer, editor and publisher, James was responsible for the original editorial blend of the website in his previous role as Editor-in-Chief. Currently based in Bavaria, the Londoner talks notebooks, mojitos and bulletproof fashion below.
You write about a variety of subjects for amexessentials.com, what most inspires you about those subjects?
I’m inspired by anyone that does something in a truly original way. Today’s connected world is increasingly derivative and imitative, so that it’s rare to find people or brands approaching things in a genuinely different way.
What kind of details do you look for?
Any detail that reveals something greater about the ethos of the people behind it. It could be the chef growing his own herbs and vegetables or a designer preferring to do something by hand that could more easily be done by machine.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve covered?
Being shot on a rooftop in downtown Bogotá was a memorable ‘deadline’ for another title. Fortunately the man pulling the trigger was a visionary character called Miguel Caballero and I was the first journalist to be shot wearing one of his ingenious bulletproof jackets that resemble normal fashions, but are in fact completely bulletproof.
What’s the next big thing?
Whatever you want it to be. It’s easier than ever before to seek out the things that you are passionate about and inspired by – wherever they are in the world.
What social media channel interests you most and why?
I still like Twitter. I’m intrigued by its constraint on words and characters, reducing ideas and messages to their most concentrated form. At its best it’s like a haiku, at its worst like a curse.
What website do you check first every day?
I could just ask Alexa, but usually bbc.com. I need my quick news (and coffee) fix when I wake up.
How do you relax?
Ask me when I retire…
Film or TV?
I love film, but like most people probably I’m drifting more and more towards TV. As mainstream cinema becomes ever more adolescent, the best TV dramas are proving that at least one medium is still evolving and maturing.
Books or ebooks?
I hate to admit it, but… ebooks. Nothing beats the tactile pleasure of holding an old book in your hand (or the smell!), but the convenience of carrying an entire library on one lightweight portable device does it for me.
Wine or beer?
Can I say neither? How about a perfect mojito somewhere beautiful and sunny with a gentle breeze…
Street food or fine dining?
Just good food. It could be anywhere. A fancy restaurant can be truly memorable and a real treat, but so can something new and delicious from a food truck on the corner. It’s all about the ingredients and the passion of the chef.
That’s difficult. I could say a relaxing stay at a finca in the Andes or standing on a hill in a London park looking down on the city below, but the true answer is simply anywhere I can hear my daughters laughing in the background.
Your secret travel tip?
That’s hard to say, but I think Latin America is under-explored. International travellers seem to know Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and even much of Africa very well, but look past Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and a few coastal resorts and Latin America is still ripe for discovery for most travellers. The sheer variety of locations and experiences is astonishing.
Your three travel essentials?
A good pen and a stitch-bound, lined notebook (sometimes you just have to keep it old school) and a smartphone.
Your essential luxury?
Good coffee. Life’s too short for bad coffee.