Friday, 26 March 2010

An Interview - Russel D McLean

Russel D McLean is the author of the Scots noir thrillers, THE GOOD SON and THE LOST SISTER. John Connolly has called him, “stylish and atmospheric”. He has been involved with publishing and bookselling for over ten years, running ezines, working in bookstores, writing reviews and articles for generous editors. He lives every day in fear of the cursed mask that came with his house. Want to know more? Go to

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

Aside from this answer?

... just handed in what will probably be the next novel plus a synopsis and 10k words of one after that to my agent. Completed three short story projects, one of which is giving me the squits because it’s a market I want and because its dedicated to a dear reader. And now I’m about to dive in to properly doing that fourth book. It never ruddy ends.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Russel D McLean’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

When I ain’t at the day job, my writing day is cloistere and sweary. As an expermiment for the Do Some Damage Blog I kept a note of everything I did during a typical day ( ). Obviously, I’m utterly insecure and very easily distr… ooooo, a shiny penny!

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

I read a lot, same as I’ve always done, watch a lot of movies, shoot the shit with friends and have a day job in bookselling.

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

A series of axioms that have served me well: Take it seriously. Develop a thick skin. Don’t expect anything to happen quickly. If it seems too good to be true it probably is. And never stop being a reader. Ever.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

Well, the year is young, but so far Charlie Stella’s JOHNNY PORNO is the man’s best yet, and I’ve been a fan of his work for years since someone slipped me an arc of CHARLIE OPERA in ’05. And Vicki Hendrick’s FLORIDA GOTHIC STORIES blew my socks off; atmospheric, bizarre, unexpectedly touching and surprisingly sensual, she is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers. Also, Tony Black’s LOSS made my jaw drop when I realised what he was doing in that one. Brilliant.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Finished KILLING TIME by David R Dow this morning, so now I’m swithering between Patrick Quinlan’s THE HIT and a just-dropped-through-the-mail arc of the new Connolly, THE WHISPERERS. A tough choice; love both authors.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Keep writing. Try and earn more money. Have another pot of coffee.

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

You do realise you’re asking a philosophy graduate this question, yeah? No, I wouldn’t. Because if I didn’t make the mistakes I made, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Its like those Star Trek shows or Doctor Who, where they go back in time, make one fix for the better, and suddenly the whole world has changed. Nah, I’ll keep me mistakes because I’m bloody happy at the moment, or as much as anyone can hope to be.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

It’s the rejection letter that makes people’s jaw drop. The one that came back in the SAE, and I opened it to find my manuscript shredded and covered in crayon doodles. After searching through the pages for some clue as to what happened, I found a note scribbled on what was left of my cover letter saying, “As you can see, my kids didn’t like it, either.”

As an addendum, I know what happened to the guy who wrote that letter, and it makes me laugh. Heartily.

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

Probably. Twenty minutes after I send this I’ll think of a million things. Like how e-books are grand, but its content not delivery that will always matter. Or how we still need honest-to-God booksellers and librarians in the world before we start to lose the signal in the noise with no means of separating the two.

But instead I’ll just ask that you check out, where you can meet more talented writers with interesting stories to tell and rants to share (I’m there on Fridays, too).

Thank you, Russel D McLean!


Charlieopera said...

Russel is a class act and a hell of a writer ... and now that I own a square foot of Scotland (LaPhroig, you know), we're brothers in booze.

Thanks for the kind words, my man.

adrian.mckinty said...

Nice IV as usual Ger.

Michael Stone said...

An excellent set of answers. Will have to keep an eye out for Mr McLean.