I am delighted to welcome Owen Mullen along to Chapterinmylife today for a Q&A. Owen is the author of the Charlie Cameron series (Games People Play; Old Friends and New Enemies and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead). He has recently signed a publishing deal with Bloodhound Books and just last week found out that Games People Play has been long-listed for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize at this year’s Bloody Scotland
I’m not going to lie, I’m a long time fan of Owen’s books and read the first two before he signed with Bloodhound so I am over the moon for him and his recent successes!
So over to Owen!
Owen, first of all, huge congratulations on your recent achievement – being longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize for the best Scottish Crime Book of the year at Bloody Scotland 2017. May I scrape you off the ceiling to answer a few questions for me?
You have been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize and are up there with some of the top names in Scottish Crime Fiction, how does that feel?
Surreal would be a good word to describe it. I wasn’t expecting it and it still feels as if it’s happening to someone else. We all aspire and I am no different – I have day-dreamed about moments like this. The reality blows the daydream out of the water.
You were recently signed by Bloodhound Books with your Charlie Cameron series; can you tell us a little more about your journey to the publishing deal?
Ok, long story short; writing for ten years with the usual mountain of rejection. Lots of flattery, but still a rejection. When I could take no more rejection I decided to self-publish, even though I was aware of the huge marketing challenge involved in standing out in the sea of books on the market. 1.5 million on Amazon alone! After a short time as an indie, my wife Christine contacted Bloodhound Books and sent them the first 3 chapters of the book I was writing. Betsy also asked me to send her Games People Play – 10 days later I was one of the marvellous Bloodhound Gang. Bloodhound saw something that others had missed, thank goodness!
Your Charlie Cameron series is one of my favourites in Scottish Crime Fiction, what and who lies behind the character?
A literary agent who loved my writing suggested I write about Scotland. Up to that point, those ‘faraway places with strange-sounding names’ had my attention. I eventually gave in and came up with Charlie…I wanted someone who was a little different from the jaded, almost broken down person, who cannot function well as a human being but is superb at his job.
Charlie is a Private Investigator, why this role and not a detective?
I felt a private detective offered me more scope, I could have someone who can operate out with the rules that govern police work. For me, there is something undeniably attractive about the free-spirited gumshoe, an air of suspense, mystery, romance and humour that just doesn’t appear when the protagonist is a policeman. Although I did hedge my bets. One of Charlie’s friends is DS Andrew Geddes of Police Scotland CID.
Can you tell me a little about a typical day in the life of author, Owen Mullen?
If only there was a typical day! That said, at the computer by 9 am and usually write for 5 hours or so. Then it’s editing and re-writes, followed by plotting for next day’s session. I then spend some time answering emails etc. I take a couple of short breaks along the way and then it’s time to play my part in real life – who else is going to cut the grass and clean the pool? I’ve tried and failed to convince my wife Christine how much fun is involved in these tasks. She isn’t buying it!
What have been your highlights and challenges as a writer?
I’ll start with the challenges: the aforementioned rejection – man is that tough! Getting up to speed with social media – had never been on social media in any shape or form. Shell from The Crime Book Club on Facebook was a real friend here – though I think my level of ignorance was a challenge – she was great and really helped me, Thanks, Shell. Another challenge has been the amount of time I have to devote to promotion – my wife is a huge boon here, I don’t know how some authors manage to be honest.
The highlights are great: one of them is, of course, the reason we are here today. Others include achieving a bestseller badge on Amazon on day 1 of Games People Play, and of course getting that publishing contract. But, probably the one that has taken me most by surprise is the kindness and support of all those people I have come in contact with on social media: amazing absolutely amazing: writers, bloggers, reviewers, readers and people who have become friends over this time – I get truly blown away with it.
You live in Crete but base your novels in Glasgow; do you ever envisage Charlie visiting Crete?
Funny you should ask that! In the book I am currently writing, the main man will find himself just along the coast from where I am just now. Chania, he’ll enjoy the break it’s a great town
Who would you cast as Charlie in a TV adaptation of the series?
Some of the people who would automatically come to mind are actually a bit too old to play him, so I think it needs a new face to make this role his own. Any suggestions?
Describe yourself in 5 words
Do you want real, or do you want humble or will you settle for the truth? I’m just… A guy who got lucky
You are stranded on an island – who are the 3 people you would choose to have with you and why (and they have to be 1. a character from your book 2. a character from someone else’s book 3. A famous person)
Well, it would have to be Charlie, because he’s an All right guy to have on your side in a tight situation.
I would also choose Professor James Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes, he would give Charlie a change from Sean Rafferty, and I love his evil humour.
And Bonnie Raitt because she is fabulous.
Thank you so much for that fascinating insight into your life and the life of Charlie Cameron! Wishing you all the luck in the world for September!
If you fancy winning TWO tickets to the gala opening of Bloody Scotland (which is THE place to be on the 8th Sept) then see my blog post below!
Owen’s books are available to purchase over at Amazon