Wednesday 14 December 2016

A Conversation With by Michael J Malone

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers.

Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; and Beyond the Rage. His poetry includes: In The Raw, Running Threadsand Lip Synch. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. A Suitable Lie was recently published by Orenda Books in September 2016.

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she's his perfect match ...and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland's finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them...

A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland's top crime writers. We'd like to thank Michael for A Conversation with... and wish him huge success in the future.

Tell us of your journey as a writer

I remember holding a book as a small child and dreaming of the moment when I would hold one with my name on the cover. That dream was put on hold as life got in the way, but re-surfaced in my early thirties. I found myself saying over and over again – when I retire I’m going to write a book. And when I noticed what I was saying, I thought – why am I waiting? So, I began to practise and learn everything I could about the craft of writing. The full story of my road to publication would take way too long, so I’ll give you the abridged version.

I joined my local writers club, had a go at various disciplines and found I had a facility for poetry. Over the next few years I had over 200 poems published in literary magazines, but the drive to see my name on a published novel didn’t subside. I started my first attempt at a novel in 1996 and eventually found a publisher in 2010. That novel, Blood Tears was released in 2012. It was a long and emotionally charged road, but well worth the sweat and tears in the final analysis.

How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

I’m a storyteller. My job is to entertain, primarily - to remove someone from their everyday into a world where their wants and needs are temporarily on hold while they are engaged in my fictive dream. If, while they are being entertained, they are gaining insight into other peoples’ lives, then that’s a bonus.

What I like most about it are the days/ hours/ moments when I lose myself in that dream – wake up and find I’ve created something with just a few lines on a page.

Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

I think writing is an exercise in empathy and although I write crime fiction and there are a few “bad” people in there, I like to think there’s enough humanity in them to reach the human in me.

What has been your experience of writing about diverse characters?

I’ve written a series of novels about a tough Glasgow policeman and his criminal sidekick. Because it is such a masculine world I’ve been careful to ensure that my female characters are every bit as capable, perhaps more so, than the men around them.

If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

I’m a bit of a Francophile, so somewhere in France. I’m not fussy where to be honest. A location where I could ski in the winter and hang about a beach in the summer would suit me just fine.

What is the one book you wish you had written?

The answer to this one will change on an hourly basis. I’ve just cast my eyes over my bookcase, and I’ll go with The Power of One by Bryce Courteney. A brave little boy is brought up in an institution, he’s badly bullied, but never loses sight of his dream to be a world champion boxer. It’s a real Boy’s Own story and an inspirational tale.

What advice do you have for would be novelists/writers?
Just do it. I meet lots of people who say they’d love to write a novel - if only they had the time. If they really wanted to write one, they’d find the time. One writer I know had four kids and a demanding full-time job. He had forty five minutes for his lunch break and that was the only free time he had to himself throughout the week. Over the years he wrote 5 novels in those lunch breaks. That was a lesson to me when I met him and convinced me to somehow carve out the time, set up a work pattern and just do it.

What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a couple of unrelated novels. One is a part of the series I mentioned earlier. It’s called Dog Fight and concerns my characters getting caught up in an underground fight club. The other is a gothic mystery about a lonely young man who inherits a sprawling mansion from a side of the family he had no idea even existed.

Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why?

I wanted to be Sparrowhawk – or Ged – the young wizard from A Wizard from Earthsea. I was such an ordinary wee boy, with nothing remarkable about him that I couldn’t fail to be drawn into a world where one such as I was harbouring such extraordinary gifts.

Thank you to Orenda Books for the review copy.
You can follow Michael on Twitter: @michaelJmalone1

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