Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Author Interview ~ Alan McDermott

MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE is DELIGHTED to be supporting the work of Alan McDermott author of GRAY JUSTICE (see below).

Alan lives in the south of England and is married with beautiful twin daughters. When he's not creating clinical software for the NHS he writes short stories for his daughters and thrillers for everyone else. In his spare time he wishes he has more spare time...

--- Interview

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE interview you, it really is a pleasure to support all the hard work that indie authors do! Now for the fun stuff!! If your wife was stopped at the grocery store and someone asked her what your biggest writing quirk was, what would she say?

Alan McDermott: Definitely the faces I pull!  When I’ve written some dialog I tend to re-read it making the facial expressions I would expect of the characters.  By taking part in the scene I can tell if it feels realistic.  I don’t mind her laughing if it gives me the effect I’m looking for.

MWU: Aside from the main character in GRAY JUSTICE, who is your favorite character and why?

Alan McDermott: That would have to be Abdul Mansour.  I wanted to create someone who was dark to Tom Gray’s light and I think I captured that in his character.  This is a man for whom human life means nothing, and he is willing to sacrifice anyone to achieve his goals.  I found Gray’s character quite easy to relate to, but Mansour was anathema to me, so it took a lot of work to create him.  I wanted someone who had a single purpose and was ruthless to a fault, and I think I managed to achieve it.

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in GRAY JUSTICE and why is it your favorite?

Alan McDermott: That would have to be the battle scene towards the end.  I wrote the majority of the book with that scene in mind and I couldn’t wait to get it down on paper.  The book took me a year to write but that scene was done in a day and a half.  I added as much detail as I could and a few readers have commented on how vivid it was. 

MWU: Now that you’ve completed this book, is there a character in it that you may want to go back to at another time and write about them again?

Alan McDermott: I plan to bring Andrew Harvey back in the third book.  He was the MI5 officer tasked with stopping Tom Gray, and while he was doing his very best he was hamstrung by Gray’s excellent planning and the short amount of time he had.  I actually felt sorry for him at the end of the book and he was the first one penciled in for a return.

MWU: Another question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?

Alan McDermott: I had a bad case with Gray Justice and I’m going through something similar with the sequel.  With the first book I didn’t write a single word for ten weeks.  I’d gotten so hung up on maintaining a daily word count that I was trying too hard, and I found that putting it aside and forgetting about it let me come back with fresh ideas.  If I hadn’t taken that break I don’t think Gray Justice would be the book it is today.  In fact it was heading in a different – and not very plausible – direction at the time.

In the current project, whenever the block sneaks up on me I simply close the book and take a step back.  That lets me gather my thoughts and consider the next line.  Once I have that committed to paper the rest of the scene seems to fall into place.  It has meant a longer process than I would have liked but I feel it is worth it in the end.

MWU: What did you learn from writing GRAY JUSTICE?

Alan McDermott: Going back to the previous question, I have learned not to put words down just for the sake of reaching a deadline.  Writing is like chess: you have to think a few moves ahead, and every scene I write has to take subsequent chapters into consideration.  I am constantly revising the outline and I’m not afraid to go back and change a scene in order to help develop a new idea.  This does slow the process down, but I would rather take a year to deliver a great book than spit out something I’m not proud to call my own.

I also learned the value of having a good editor.  With Gray Justice I published it within a few hours of finishing it, and boy did I pay for that!  I have had to upload several new versions as errors have come to light, and I won’t be making that mistake again.  I have an editor lined up for the sequel, a certain Becky Illson-Skinner.

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from GRAY JUSTICE (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….

Alan McDermott: It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, with twists and turns and an ending that no-one sees coming.  The action scenes are vivid, the tension builds throughout and you’ll be carried along in the most original story you’ve read in a long time.  As one reader put it, “Think Law Abiding Citizen and you’ve only scratched the surface.”  While that was a fabulous film, I wasn’t trying to match or emulate that story: I was aiming to deliver a fresh twist on the vengeance theme, and I’m confident I delivered.

MWU: What can your readers expect next and when can they expect it?

Alan McDermott: I am currently working on the sequel, which I hoped would be out in late February 2012, but I recently revised the outline (again!) so I’m hoping to get it on the virtual shelves by the end of March.

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?

Alan McDermott: To new writers: try to imagine your book on the big screen.  The music industry is constantly churning out covers and the film industry is giving us remakes of classics, yet there is so much original material to be tapped in the indie market.  Come up with something never seen (or read) before and you have a great chance of making a name for yourself.  I have had so many people tell me that they would love to see the film version of Gray Justice at and that was always my original dream.  It’s a real compliment when my work has the same impression on others.

To anyone about to read my book, the ideals of Tom Gray are his alone.  I could have had him accept the decision of the court, but that would have meant the world’s shortest novel with a piss-poor ending.  Instead, I ask you to suspend disbelief and indulge him in his endeavors.

To my current fans, I can’t thank you enough for the reviews and messages of support.  When I started out on this journey I was a man alone but now I feel like the father of thousands, with the responsibility to deliver time and time again.

The synopsis for GRAY JUSTICE:
When a son is killed by a career criminal who spends just a few months in jail for his crime, the father can either accept the decision of the court, or make his voice heard: When it happens to Tom Gray he chooses the latter and takes retribution to a whole new level. His five-day campaign reaches a global audience and targets the British government, who need him alive, but four thousand miles away an up-and-coming figure sees the chance to make a name for himself and travels to England with one mission: kill Tom Gray.

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