1) First, tell us about yourself – where you live, your family, and those sorts of details.
Sure. I was born and grew up in sunny Scotland, but Vancouver, Canada, is now home. I’ve got a lovely (and long-suffering) wife and two slightly smelly boys at home who may or may not be reading this (go wash!).
2) How long have you been writing?
In fits and starts for twenty years, but three years ago I decided I needed to commit some time to the cause. I took a year off work to write the book. It wasn’t going to happen any other way.
3) Do you have a favorite place to write?
I can write in any place where I can focus. With kids and pets, that isn’t always in the house. With a pair of earphones I find the local public library relatively free of distractions. It is even better if I can not get an internet signal. I avoid the tot sing-along hour; I’ve made note of its schedule in my phone.
4) Why did you decide to write The Curse of Malenfer Manor?
I have always had a soft spot for dark twisted tales. Gothic books worked for me. Beautiful heroines in peril. A bit of supernatural and a cast of villains to enliven the show. A big mysterious house whose walls are full of secrets. That sort of thing. The war setting was easy: I remember, growing up, my great-grandmother and her daughter – my grandmother – widowers both. Their husbands were buried respectively in Belgium and France, each lost in a separate World War. I grew up with those shadows, but the book isn’t a memoir by any means. I was trying to get a mood for the book and give it a sense of history. The book is a mystery, a ghost story, a war story, a tale of family, corruption and greed, yet it is not without its romance.
5) Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Eee. That’s a hard one. I don’t really have a favourite, in truth. One is expected to say the hero or the heroine, and they remain endearing to me, but after all the editing and revisions I grew increasingly fond of the villains. Perhaps one reason for this is the changes that took place while I was writing the book. You see the hero, Dermot Ward, he’s an Irish soldier, was originally not the main character – the ghost was. Perhaps my allegiances were divided by that. In any case, I have no favourite.
6) How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
There are none that I don’t like, either. I consciously tried to give every character a flaw. I feel that flaws make characters more rounded, realistic, and for me they become more endearing. It doesn’t mean some of the characters aren’t terrible people, but you can like the character and loathe the person.
7) Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Every writer surely edits their own, and I am no exception. When that was done, I gave it to others, including the editor at my publisher, and that is when you learn humility. That’s when you learn if you can take criticism well.
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I answered the question about family earlier? There aren’t enough hours in the day.
9) Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read in fits and starts. I can go a couple of months and read nothing at all, and then read everything close to hand. I mix fiction and non. I read histories and different genres; I don’t play favourites. I like to go on recommendations of people that I trust. I’ve got a fifty-page rule. I’ll give anything fifty pages, but if it isn’t happening for me at that point then I figure life is too short. There are a lot of great books out there. In the last year, the two books I liked best: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. You wouldn’t call either gothic.
10) What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
That’s a good question. It’s a toss up between “What are you going to do with all that money?” and “Do you think Scarlett Johansson is right for the role?” I’ll let you know when it happens.