What have you had published?
At the moment it’s just Lost Angeles. I mean, I have had a few short stories published but that’s going back years and I don’t count them. I’m currently working on a few different things and depending on mood one will take precedence over the other but I’m trying to make sure that whatever I put out there I can look at it and not feel embarrassed.
What genre(s) of book do you write?
Lost Angeles is a first person account. It’s almost a confession in it’s style but I find my voice lends itself to the roman á clef genre. It’s a genre style that’s filled with really good writer…and then there’s me dirtying up the place. I’m trying something new in the noir genre and that’s a real challenge as you almost have to change your thought process if that’s not your “natural” genre.
What inspired you to write your first book?
With the genre I write in it’s very much life based. It experiences that you’ve grouped together and moulded so they make sense as a narrative. A lot of them were experiences from my own life, a lot from friends and the rest comes from the land of make believe. I had been playing around with the idea of committing it to paper for a while but could never bring myself to type that first word (probably because I’m lazy and I knew how much work it would be). Then one day it happened and it spewed from me and when I had finished I felt like it was something I wanted to happen again and again.
How long did it take you to write “Lost Angeles”?
The first draft not very long at all. Then you look at it and question whether it’s worthwhile, whether you’ve got anything there and I asked a friend to read it and hoped they’d tell me it was terrible. But they didn’t so I gave it another pass, and another. I’m not entirely sure how long Lost Angeles took because when I gave it to my proofer he make some errors with it and everything had to be redone. The thing I’m working on at the moment I wrote the first draft over the Christmas week between midnight and 5AM each night and I’m about to take another pass at it now with a mind towards it coming out…at some point. Hopefully.
What is the working title of your next book(s)?
Well the one I did the first draft over Christmas, that’s probably next depending on whether or not anyone wants it. It’s called Bone Idol. The part of
North Belfast where I’m from is known as ‘The Bone’ so
it’s set in and around there. Write what
you know and all that.
When and why did you begin writing?
It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but felt conflicted about. I’ll not say too much on the subject as it’s pretty well covered in Bone Idol but suffice to say writing is cheaper than therapy and bottom shelf whiskeys and works just as effectively as the two combined.
Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
Lost Angeles was through a small company but you end up doing most of the work yourself anyway. I don’t know what I’ll do with Bone Idol, all depends on whether it’s any good, whether there’s a market for it and whether anyone wants it.
What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
There’s a moment of transition between the ‘concept’ and initial progression of narrative that feels almost like a change of gear. It comes early on and has been the killer blow for many a good ‘concept’ I’ve started writing before giving up. That’s not the hardest bit though, it only causes the hardest bit. The hardest bit for me is the voice in my head that knows how to push all the buttons, has me questioning everything and drives me over the edge for an unquantifiable amount of time. I swear off writing delete whatever it is I’m working on and promise myself never again. Never again will I make myself do something that drives me so nuts and makes me so unhappy. Fighting back from that is easy because it’s like returning to your true love after a lifetime of drought but the hardest part of writing is that initial wave of doubt and how heavy it is when it crashes down on my shoulders.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’ve a film blog where I write about Exploitation cinema. I haven’t had a lot of time recently to dedicate to it. I also play banjo, I’ve a five string Ozark that’s beautiful and a four string Irish traditional that I use to keep my hand in with the traditional stuff. I also like a drink.
Who is your favourite author?
Charles Bukowski. He had something in his writing that you can’t learn and you’ll kill yourself trying to imitate. Sometimes I’ll read a four word sentence in one of his books and it’s sum up life, the universe and god-damn everything and I’ll wonder how he managed to say so much with so little. Remarkable.
What’s your favourite genre to read?
I don’t know if I have a favourite genre. If I do it changes with my moods. I’m very much a believer in the author. It’s like cinema, an Alfred Hitchcock movie is always going to be great because it’s an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Every once and a while you’ll get a mediocre director like Michael Curtiz and they’ll make something brilliant like Casablanca but by and large their work isn’t that impressive. I know when I read a Bukowski, or a John Fante, or a Bret Easton Ellis book that regardless of genre it’s going to be great because it’s their world and I’m being invited in to play in it. Every once and a while I’ll read something by a writer I haven’t read before and I’ll love it, then I’ll try something else of theirs and decide they’re not for me. I guess my genre is the writer.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I only know two pieces of advice that have actually worked for me. The first is: If someone tells you there’s something wrong with a draft of what you’re working on listen to them but ignore their advice on how to fix it and the second is: listen to the voices in your head. Self doubt will make you a better, braver writer as long as you don’t let it eat too much of your soul at any given time.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Other than a big ol’ thank you for the your time and space on your site I’d probably just ask everyone to buy five copies of my book each so that I can quit the nine-to-five rat race and start living it up a block down from Easy Street but I doubt that’ll happen…so I’ll just say thank you.