Tuesday, 22 April 2014

An Interview - Mark McCann

Mark McCann is a Self Published Author of hard boiled supernatural thrillers and Co-Owner and Senior Editor of Cult Nerd Website Badhaven.com. Star of YouTubes 'The BAD MAN Show' he also contributes feature articles to Bad Haven among other online outlets and news hubs - a habit he formed from his tenure as film critic for local newspapers around his hometown of Belfast.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute? 

I just finished up a few horror shorts for an upcoming Horror/Sci-Fi Anthology called
‘Inside I’m Darkness’ and I’m working on a fairly personal novel based on a lot of my own familial experiences called Return of the Scapegoat Kid.

It’s the tale of two estranged brothers and their awkward, painful, manic and mostly blackly comic journey towards reconciliation. I’m billing it as an Irvine Welsh style commentary meets a family drama - equal parts debauched humour and genuine insight into the dysfunctional family unit.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of your typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

My day is mostly composed of frantically trying to fit everything in. I come home, powernap, drink copious amounts of coffee, put some music on and settle into my chair with my laptop and get started. I usually write down ideas as I have them and always have a mental concept of what I’m going to be writing next.

I then process those ideas into my loose plot outline until something coherent emerges at the end. A lot of writers have a much tighter structure, but I’ve always liked mine loose. I like to surprise myself with twists that might occur to me as I go, and I find those surprises translate well for a reader.

I’d love to pretend I’m more organised and locked down, but truthfully I’m not. When I get going however, I enter ‘the zone’ and type like a champ.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work part-time for an online comic book retailer by day and up until the last few months I was editor on cult website Badhaven.com in the evenings until it became consumptive to the point where I needed to take a step back and focus on my writing again.

I train as a power lifter a few nights a week and I read a lot, whether it be books, articles, graphic novels, comics – the heap. I enjoy nights out to the cinema and the odd bit of travel, but my favourite thing is lazy days with my girlfriend in those fleeting moments when we can just chill out and read together. They are too few.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Work hard, improve your style, take creative criticism well - but don’t listen to small minded or negative people and/or anyone with advice that’s off key.

Trust your gut, take heart in that nobody ever made it by not trying and always finish what you start. But most importantly - never, ever regardless of what anyone tells you or how utterly impractical, financially difficult or unrealistic it may seem – never ever give up! It’s your dream. So it’s up to you to live it.

Writing can be hard, but it’s like Bruce Lee says; don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a hard one. Truer words!

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

This year I’ve mostly been back at the classics - re-treading Hammett and Crumley. But as I write crime with a supernatural edge I’ve always enjoyed Mike Carey’s
Felix Castor series. He makes me feel so fiercely inadequate about my own writing that the competitor in me is continually driven to improve.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

I just finished Markus Zusak’s
The Book Thief and now I’m re-reading Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon along with Peter V Brett’s fantastic fantasy shorts The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Finish my current novel, pitch the anthology and begin the dogged submissions process. And maybe get an artist for a little graphic novel I’m plotting called
That Dame’s Unstoppable! But that’s another story.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

I’d network more. Submit more definitely. I have a tendency of wanting to do things NOW! And with the cold mistress of harsh experience as my teacher I’ve learned to be much more patient.

I always end up doing things the hard way and I have a tendency to jump before I look. I decided to self-publish all of my books and didn’t even try for an agent or publisher past the first one, so I think I’d go back and just be more dogged with submitting the first novel while working on the others and improving my style.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

I don’t think I’ve really had any awful experiences writing. I know that’s pretty boring, but outside of my experience as a writer I’ve had plenty of unpleasantness to act as a counterweight. I’ve been beaten up, knocked out, threatened with knives/ baseball bats, almost killed by a mugger with a crowbar, followed home by paramilitaries, threatened by paramilitaries, almost had my head run over by a car (in a motorbike accident) and had a chunk bitten out of my back by a highly aggressive Alsatian. Writing by comparison has always been a positive delight.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who’s been so supportive of my writing so far, including my dear old mum, my girlfriend, all my pals and the fantastic Crime Scene N.I. And also to give my books a quick pimp: Deadfast, The Generous Dead and The Mog Princess are all available at a great price via Amazon - Hardboiled supernatural horror set in my old home town of Belfast.

Thank you, Mark 'Bad Man' McCann!

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