Welcome to day 3 of #BookWeekScotland and what a week it has been so far!
One of the top guys in the business is the brilliant Mr Michael J Malone; his latest book “A Suitable Lie” is taking the country by storm – Martina Cole has been singing his praises across the UK! It is no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Michael’s so I was delighted when he agreed to take part in this event! Seriously – I have read ALL of his books and everyone of them are #AWESOME – you really need to read them all! Me – I’m just sitting patiently awaiting April 2017 for his next release! And he is an all round top guy!
So without further ado here is a wee bit about Michael followed by his question and answer sesssion!
Michael Malone 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, maybe.
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. Don’t ask.
BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.
He can be found on twitter – @michaelJmalone1
Michael has agreed to be grilled by myself for today’s event so let’s hear what he has to say
- Michael, you have been running a series called “Turning the Tables” on your own blog where you turn the tables on the blogging community and put them under the spotlight; for you what importance/significance does the blogging community have on your work?
MjM – The blogging community have a huge part to play in getting the word out there. Especially for writers with smaller publishers who simply can’t afford to match the marketing spend of the majors. Also, I’ve noticed that over recent years the review sections in print media are shrinking, and to compound that, less and less fiction is being reviewed. However, it feels to me that fewer people are taking notice of what the print media has to say. Blogging is where it’s at, baby!
Discoverability is the catch phrase in publishing. How do we get readers to find the books? In this world, little can match the enthusiasm from real readers – that word of mouth is vital to getting the word out there. (Can I take this opportunity to say a MASSIVE thank you to bloggers reading this who have reviewed my books.) Blogging gives the real readers and book lovers a chance to share their book-loves – and gives writers a better chance of finding their readers
- There has been a massive increase in literary festivals across the UK in recent years (which is brilliant for us readers!) – What sort of pressure does attendance at festivals put authors under?
MjM – Personally, I love it and wish I was invited to more. What could be better than meeting readers and getting a chance to talk about our books!!?? However, not all writers enjoy that kind of promotion, and if you are the shy, retiring type it must be a kind of torture to be expected to get out there and perform.
May I offer a negative? Because we live in a celebrity obsessed culture, a lot of book festivals run the risk of becoming a personality festival rather than a book festival. The problem is that much of the funding for these events is based on bums on seats. Don’t sell the tickets and you don’t get the funding next year. So, the festivals mainly go for famous names; bestselling writers and celebs with books. Meaning the lesser known authors, the ones who could do with the exposure and the book sales largely get ignored.
If I have a message to the readers out there who attend book festivals it’s by all means go and see your favourite celeb and/or writer, but while you’re there, go and try someone you might not have heard of before. You might meet a new writer whose books you will love.
- You are not only an author, you are also a poet – which do you prefer to write?
I haven’t written any poems for ages, writing fiction has taken up all my creative juices over the last couple of years. I enjoy both, to be honest, for different reasons. Sometimes a poem just says what I want to say – and other times it takes the length of a novel for me to get there.
- What has the highlight of your writing career been?
There have been loads, but probably because it has been a more recent happening, I’m going to say the response to my latest novel, A Suitable Lie. Aside from some stonking reviews, I’ve been contacted by a number of Domestic Abuse survivors – male and female – who appreciated the novel, said it was an accurate depiction and thought it would help highlight the issue and help people to understand what they went through. That is hugely gratifying, and humbling at the same time.
- Crime fiction writers seems to be a really supportive bunch – you all get on so well (or maybe you are all great actors too!) but why is this and do you think it is the same across the genres?
You know what? It feels completely genuine to me. Of course there are bound to be “actors” in there, but for the most part the crime fiction writers I have met have been amazingly supportive and generous.
I’ve often heard it said that writers in other genres are less so, but I can’t comment on that as I haven’t been among them that much. I’ve never had an issue while being with “other” writers, and the poets I’ve met over the years have been every bit as supportive and generous as my fellow crime writers.
- If you could have dinner with any fictional character who would it be and why?
Good question. I’ve just had a look at my book shelves and the first one that comes to mind is Elvis Cole from the Robert Crais novels. Mainly because he’s a witty guy and it strikes me that he would be great company.
- If your life was a film who would you see play you?
Tom Cruise. And I’m only going for him because he’s a box office draw. Not sure he’d want to beef up or shave his head to meet the physical requirements though.
- Which book was your favourite to write?
I’m not sure how to answer this one. They all have a special place in my heart. Ok, you’ve twisted my arm. I’ll go for The Guillotine Choice. This book is very different from others on my back list as it talks about a historical crime, and is set in Algeria and Devil’s Island. I knew nothing about the political history or geography of these places and to bring them to life meant a great deal of research. It’s a novel that highlights the evils of colonialism, and the strength of human will over terrible adversity.
I was approached by a young Algerian at an event in Cambridge who said that most of his people weren’t aware of their history, they weren’t taught it in their schools, little was written about it and this was the first time he’d come across such a book. Given the numbers involved – millions of Algerians suffered during the French colonization and subsequent conflicts – he was amazed that this was the case, and he was hugely grateful.
- What is it about Scottish crime fiction that makes it so popular?
I wish it was more popular, to be honest. There’s a huge market south of the border where you’ll find it difficult to buy books in the bookshops written by many of our authors – other than the obvious big names, funded by the big publishers.
Crime fiction written by my country men and woman has such a broad spectrum that it’s tricky to suggest a typical kind of book and therefore why it’s so popular among crime fiction fans. Having said that, it works best for me when it tends towards the cynical and world-weary – where the mystery is not the be all and end all of the novel – where the writer pays attention to word choice and where humour is used to good effect.
- Which Scottish city provides the best backdrop for murder?
I want to say Glasgow, because that’s where most of mine are set. Glasgow has incredible riches, both in its architecture and in its people. And Edinburgh has a wealth of atmosphere and a grand history in storytelling that also lends itself to fictional murder. Glasburgh? Edingow?
Brilliant answers Michael, thank you! I loved your take on the festivals and that is definitely a great point to bear in mind for all! After all if it wasn’t for blogging and online book clubs lots of us probably would have missed out on some of the less well known authors out there! So lets all make a pledge to go along and support an author we have never heard of before!
A wee throwback of my review of Bad Samaritan can be found below:
To purchase yourself a fine selection of Michael’s books then pop over to Amazon and get clicking!