Name & Age:
To borrow from the Highlander movies and TV series, “I am Douglas McLeod of the Clan McLeod. I was born on the Highlands of Toronto 45 years ago, and I wish I was immortal.”
Where are you from:
To borrow from my favorite TV series, “I first came to Florida on the trail of my wife, and for reasons that don’t need explaining at this juncture, I remain attached as an Administrative Clerk at a local university.”
A little about yourself, i.e. your education, Family life, etc.:
I graduated from a community college in Toronto, Canada with what could be classed as an “Associate Degree” in Accounting back in 1994. I lived in the same neighborhood for 37 years before emigrating to the USA to marry my wife in early 2016. We don’t have any human children, but we do have two dogs, or “Fur babies,” as we like to call them: a Pomeranian and an elderly Yorkshire Terrier.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m in the midst of putting some finishing touches on a spin-off debut book from my detective fiction series. I’m torn between making it a standalone, but it still has ties to the original series. I’ve also been struggling to finish the first draft of a sequel to the first romance novel I released back in 2014. (Written under the pen name, C. D. Melley, a persona I created in homage to my late great aunt who passed away in 2013.)
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always had an interest in creative writing since my grade school days. Back then, I toyed with the idea of writing mysteries and detective stories. It blossomed in high school when I wrote the first draft to a story that was the jumping off point to my Gary Celdom character. Alas, my muse fell silent until a friend told me about National Novel Writing Month, or ‘NaNoWriMo’ for short, in 2009. I decided to resurrect my Gary Celdom character for that year’s edition, and I’ve been attempting it every November since. It’s funny, the story I wrote in November 2009 would eventually manifest itself into the second book in my Gary Celdom Case Journals series, Barbadian Backlash.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I considered myself a writer when I finished the original working of what became Barbadian Backalsh in 2009, but it wasn’t until almost three years later when I released my first book that I could truly call myself a writer, or ‘independent author,’ as I refer to myself as now.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I must confess something here, I consider myself a member of a certain fandom. Not the usual mainstream ones like Star Trek, or Doctor Who, but of a Canadian series with worldwide appeal that originally aired in the 1990s, named Due South. I started watching it when it first aired, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s a shame it only aired for four seasons, or ‘series’ as those in the UK refer to them as. As part of the fandom, there have been fan conventions named after an often seen licence plate in the series, “RCW 139.” There have been eight of these fan cons over the years; I’ve attended seven of them. So, to pay homage to the series and the fandom, I set my official debut novel in my Gary Celdom series, Scarlet Siege, at a fictionalized version of one of the fan conventions. Granted, we never actually had a hostage situation/standoff at any of the real life conventions, but I figured playing on the fact one of the main actors had never appeared at any of them was good plot fodder to play with.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I guess for most of my Gary Celdom — and eventually, carry over into the Phil Bennett — books it’s a first person POV and narrative. In the two romance books I’ve written so far, it’s been a third person narrative, but still first person POV. It’s difficult to keep them straight, but I enjoy the challenge. Then, there’s my poetry collections, which are more personal reflections on my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For the spinoff book I’m currently working on, Signed, Stolen, Delivered, I decided to do a play on the name of a classic Stevie Wonder song, and pays a nod to a previous “day job” I had.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess if there is a message in SSD it’s that regardless of one’s personal demons, they can still be a feasible member of society, even if it means you’re putting your butt in a proverbial sling.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In SSD it’s loosely based on a previous job I had as a courier. Like in the book, I did my deliveries via public transit. I like to say there’s some (okay, a reasonable amount) of myself in the MC, Phil Bennett, a guy who is a struggling writer, but wants to make more out of his life.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
While I had explored detective fiction and mystery writing in my younger days, it wasn’t until I was in high school when for a class module, I read a book based on the Spenser For Hire television series, and it just blossomed from there. Since then, I have taken mentoring interest from the likes of Jeff Lindsay — the writer of the Dexter series of suspense books that was later developed into a cable television series, professional wrestler-turned-author Mick Foley — which would explain my “multiple-author persona syndrome” as he used to have three personas when he wrestled, and my good friend, Allison Cosgrove, who I met during my early NaNoWriMo days in Toronto, She, too, writes detective fiction, and has recently ventured into the romance genre, as well.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
As an independent author, I’ve made quite a few friends in the community through the small number of book signings I’ve attended in the past couple of years and through social media. While Allison Cosgrove’s books resonate with me, I’ve also enjoyed some offerings by other authors, like Violet Haze and Jennifer Ammoscato. With Jennifer, I never thought a guy could enjoy something classed as ‘chick lit,’ but the debut novel in her Avery Fowler 2.0 series had a humor and and entertaining story that really grasped me.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
That’s easy: the friends I’ve made through the Toronto chapter of NaNoWriMo have been supportive of me, and I do my best to support them, even if I currently live over 1,700 kilometers away.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Truthfully, I see my writing as more of a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I see some people who make their lives out of it, but I’ve seen how the market can be fickle, and the revenue from their sales dries up to the point where they struggle to make ends meet. I can’t fathom myself putting all of my eggs in one basket like that. I’ll admit my current day job saps some of my creative energy some days, but I do enjoy having the ability to escape behind my laptop, and attempt to tell a story people might be interested in.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If anything with SSD I wish it could be longer. While I know it’s still, in essence a work-in-progress, and could eventually be lengthened when I eventually patch the plot hole later in the book, I think it’s a decent spin-off series debut novella, which might end up being a short novel.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always had an interest in Creative Writing since grade school. I remember liking detective stories in the fourth grade, and I thought, “I’d like to try to emulate that.” It’s come and gone over the years, but it wasn’t until that first NaNoWriMo nearly eight years ago where it decided to come back to stay.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’ll see what I can dig up from Signed, Stolen, Delivered:
It took me a year before I was ready to accept someone into my life in a romantic capacity again. I chuckled at the memory of when I first met Maggie during a Christmas vacation away with my best friend and his companion a few months before. Because of what had happened with Amy, I was hesitant to enter a relationship with my current companion; however, I would get the nudge in the right direction from an unlikely source: the ghost of my best friend’s fiancee, Karen Prairie. Karen helped me see the proverbial light, and convinced me to pursue the relationship with Maggie. But, I was worried about how Amber would think about the new development. I was fortunate to receive her blessing, something I didn’t garner when I was with Amy. It was a weight off my mind when that happened; plus, since it happened on Christmas morning, it was a wonderful gift from the Other Side.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Ah yes, my fleeting muse. Whenever I have the urge to write, my muse tends not to co-operate. It can be a battle to get my drive and muse on the same page whenever I get some free time, but when it does, I can write like the wind.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not so much for research, or signings. The ones I’ve done so far have been local, but that will change in 2018. In September of that year, I plan on travelling to my first ever out-of-town signing, “Show Me Your Books” taking place in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Truth be told, most of the covers of my books are basic templates from Createspace, the self-publishing paperback platform I use. Otherwise, they’re either photos I’ve taken myself, or utilized from WikiCommons’ Image galleries.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
That depends on which aspect you’re looking at. It’s a toss-up between finding the time and drive to sit down and write, or the editing and rewriting portion of it. I’m the type of guy who appreciates any suggestions he could get to tailor his book via grammar and punctuation, but rewriting whole chunks to improve the storyline has never been a favourite part of writing for me. But, I do realize it’s necessary to become a better writer.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
As someone who has been writing for almost six years, it’s looking back, and seeing how much I’ve grown as a writer over that time. I know I still have a lot to learn (and I admit, marketing scares the living crap out of me), but I do know it’s a process, and I have to learn to be more patient with it.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Oh jeez, I never really thought about my books ever being made into a big screen feature. A made-for-TV movie, maybe. As for who would play the lead, I haven’t thought about that far ahead.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write about what you love, and have fun with it. When it becomes too daunting, it’s best to take a breather for a while, recollect yourself, and go back to those core feelings and thoughts.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My apologies for dragging my heels on my two current works-in-progress: Signed, Stolen, Delivered, and The Prairie Fire Rekindled, but I want to make sure I put out decent stories for you, my readers, would enjoy.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
There are a few books in my “To Be Read” pile. The latest ones are the third book in Allison Cosgrove’s Stan Brookshire series, An Insomniac’s Dream, and the first memoir of actress-turned-author, Lisa Jakub, You Look Like That Girl.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I can’t remember the title of it, but I faintly recall it was in the fourth grade about two male boarding school students who would play a variety of pranks on their Headmaster.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Great comedy makes me laugh, and a heartwarming movie always gets me misty-eyed.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Oh, another tough one. I’d have to say one of my writing mentors, Mick Foley. I saw his one-man show a few years ago, and I would love to pick his brain about writing and promotion.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I’ve always had a joke about where when I die, I’d want to be cremated and my ashes spread in Lake Ontario. My reasoning for such a wish was because it was the only chance I could ever be “truly polluted.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Aside from watching television and listening to music, I do collect a few things. I have a couple framed collections of Olympic pins, a hobby I dabbled with when I went to see the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. I also have a reasonable collection of bean bag plush toys I picked up when the craze was hot around the turn of the millennium.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
No contest there: Due South, as it’s the show that brought my wife and I together in the end. I also enjoy watching South Park, and various sports programming (What? I am a male, after all.)
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My guilty pleasure is anything combining chocolate and peanut butter when it comes to food. Color-wise, my two favorite shades are silver and midnight blue. As for music, my tastes vary across the board: pop, alternative, rock, a little bit of rap/hip-hop. But, I confess my all-time favorite musician/singer is Sarah McLachlan.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
It’s funny, in my seventh grade yearbook, it was predicted I would become a sports broadcaster. I guess I would have liked to have been some sort of host for a radio program, a talk show, of sorts.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I sure do. My author blog can be found at: https://celdomelley.blogspot.com