Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Micheal Maxwell, and I’m 64.Which is not old for a rock.
Fiona: Where are you from?
We recently moved to a tiny hamlet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California called Twain Harte. It is named after Mark Twain, and Bret Harte who wrote “The Luck of Roaring Camp”.Both men lived not far from where I do, so a nice place for an author to live! Before that we lived in Modesto, California, home of George Lucas, Jeremy Renner, Timothy Olyphant, Gallo Wine andme.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
My wife, Janet, and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage next month! We have three sons, and three grandchildren! I hold degrees in English, Communications and a Master’s Degree in Education, some would same an educated fool! Lol I have had three careers really, I owned a small chain of CD stores, taught high school (in America’s largest Continuation High school, now there’s a story), and started writing!
We have no pets, I frequently diet,hate exercise,don’t watch sports, own too many books, and love large bodies of water.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
The big news is the release of my new novel Dara and Dupree. It is a departure from my Cole Sage Mystery series. I am really excited with the response it is getting. It is kind of part mystery, part romance, part travelogue for people who have never traveled the west coast of the United States. Our heroDupree goes from Los Angeles to almost the Canadian border.He hitchhikes, rides trains and buses,and meets a whole cast of wonderful characters along the way.When he arrives in the town of White Owl, Washingtonhis world takes a real twist.
The other big news is I have started a new mystery series; the first five books are in various stages of completion. We have Dead Beat, Dead Duck, Deadon Arrival, Dead Hand, and Dead Head, see a pattern developing here? They are set in a southern California town, where a mismatched pair of Detectives try and solve a variety of murders. There is a drummer in a Punk rock band, an Ambulance driver, a gambler, a hippie, and a duck hunter. Can you match up the character with the title?
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always written stories. Even as a ten year old I was writing things outside of school. My first real job out of college, I wrote a book dedicated to my eldest son during my lunch hours. So the virus has always been lurking.
True story, I had a job preparing adults for the General Education Diploma. It was a three hour class. I had fifteen minutes at the beginning and end to take roll, assign the work for the day, and check completed work. After that the students worked on their own. I had two and ahalf hours of staring at the top of people’s heads!
I decided to write. I started a short story that grew and grew. I said to myself “Hey, this could be a book!” That story became the first Cole Sage book called Diamonds and Cole. I taught the class three years, and wrote four books.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw my first three books on Amazon!They were all released at once, and it was like an out of body experience! Then, I got reviews from a bunch of total strangerswho liked them, and that was it. I knew I could do it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I am a music-aholic. So in the car, I have to have something playing. One day on the way to work, I heard a song on the CD I was listening to. It haunted me all day, then I put it back on for the trip home. It really caught my imagination. The next morning I played it again and in the time it took to get to work I turned it into a story in my head. I got to work, went straight to my room, locked the door behind me, and banged out the outline for the short story that became Diamonds and Cole. The funny thing is, when I hear the song today, I can’t believe a seven book series, (so far) was born from one or two lines in that song!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Actually, the original title was Cole’s Time. It didn’t seem to fit. The main character’s name is Cole, and the plot revolves around a con-artist leveraging diamonds, into stolen goods, then into cash, so Diamonds and Cole! Now all the books in the series have Cole in the title.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I see movies in my head when I write. I hear the dialog as if the characters are speaking. So, my style tends to hopefully be like reading amovie. I want my readers to see, feel, and hear the story.
As far as genre is concerned, I have always felt like a man without a genre. There are a lot of elements to what I write. There is always a crime of some sort, that’s the mystery part, there is romance, and Cole’s personal journey in life. Cole Sage is a complex character. He is a real person, not a drunk, a womanizer, or loon of some sort, (most people aren’t, you know). He is a real guy, who has a job as a newspaperman and seems to always get involved with other people’s problems. He struggles with the things that real people struggle with, seeing wrong and wanting to fix it, finding and keeping love, his faith, and his family. I think that is the thing that people find appealing about the series. Cole Sage is a real man that people admire, and perhaps wish they could be more like.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are friends of mine that would bet their life that Cole Sage is me! He isn’t, not really. There are obviously things that are based on my life and relationships. I am a real people watcher, so I pick up characters, voices, and even plot ideas from the people I come across in my life. I’ve gotten caught a couple of times, by people saying, “Is that me?” Guilty!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My wife and I have now been to forty-two countries. Cole Fire was mostly written in Ecuador, Heart of Cole was 70% finished in Lisbon, and Dara and Dupree was written in itsentirety on a cruise to Antarctica and the month we stayed in Buenos Aires after. Travel does seem to really get the juices flowing. I can’t imagine my output if I could travel more!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I have been blessed with an amazing artist named Jun Ares that works with me on all my covers. I come up with a concept and we work so well together, he takes my idea, sometimes a crazy cut and paste mock up, and turns them into some of the best covers anywhere! He is the best!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. You matter. We all touch so many lives as we walk this earth, we would be amazed the lasting impression we make on people. So many people think they are of no value, or what they do doesn’t matter. That is just a lie. Everyone matters. We all have people who have touched us deeply, and whether we want to believe it or not, we do the same. The real question is are we doing harm or enriching the lives of others? All my books try to convey that truth in one way or another.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite writer is Robertson Davies, a Canadian. When I read Fifth Business the first book in his Deptford Trilogy, it was as if heliterally was inside my head saying, “You can do this too.” I truly think I write today because of that book.
I must credit three other word masters to be fair as well, Charles Dickens is still, to me, the greatest writer in the English language. His ability to bring characters to life is my model and inspiration every day. Then Bob Dylan, who taught me the amazing flexibility of language. His turning and twisting of a phrase is magical. Then,though not a writer as such, Groucho Marx.From a very young age he inspired in me the desire to turn words back on people, and see the unlimited humorous possibilities in our wonderful language.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Without a doubt my friend Wayne Zurl (A great mystery writer)! He believed when I doubted myself. He got my stuff. His encouragement, compliments, and guidance helped me keep going when I was ready to chuck the lot. Then David VanDyke, another writer who literally took me by the hand and walked me through the process of self-publishing a book! And by the way, he now writes a terrific series spun off a character in a Cole Sage book! Nick Stephenson, a brilliant Englishman, said I had the books, but was crap at letting people know about them, showed me how to get people to buy my books! So the three of them made me whatever success I am today. God Bless them one and all!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I spent twenty-five years in the classroom and hated every minute. The restrictions, the refusal of administration and staff to explore new ways of doing things, students who had no interest in the past or where we came from, and parents who didn’t give a toss about their teenager’s behavior drove me crazy! When I wrote Diamonds and Coleand caught the glint of light at the end of the tunnel, I knew it was what I wanted and needed to do the rest of my life.It seems I was right.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My goodness I wish I would have paid more attention in school to spelling and punctuation! LOL Seriously, I am very proud of Dara and Dupree. I think it is a real breakthrough in my development as a writer. I do wish I had made Three Nails a bit longer. Looking back,I think I had more to say.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, indeed. I learned to let go. You always hear Simon Cowell tell singers to just let go. In Dara and Dupree I let go for the first time. I didn’t worry about structural constraints, length, or if my readers of the Cole Sage Series are going to like it. Cole was on holiday! I could let the new characters be who they were. It was very liberating and I think I am going to take that same approach on the new Dead series as well as the next Cole Sage book.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I think Bruce Greenwood, an America actor, would be a perfect Cole Sage. Google him!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t be pretentious! Be yourself. If you have to be Stephen King or Catherine Cookson give it up. They do it well on their own. If you have a good story to tell, people want to read you! Oh, and your mum and auntie are going to like whatever you do, so find someone who’ll tell you if it stinks!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Please leave a review. Not just for me but any author you read. The reviews on Amazon or iTunes sell more books that you can imagine. As an independent author I have a very limited budget for advertising and there are a lot of benefits to reviews on Amazon: placement in side bars, “Other readers enjoyed”, stuff like that. It’s worth a mint! Imagine, my book Dara and Dupree has sold several thousand copies, yet I have fewer than fifty reviews! Same with Three Nails, tens of thousands downloaded yet there are onlysixty-nine reviews. It only takes a minute but means an awfully lot.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am re-reading the great Peter Lovesey’sThe Summons. I just bought a real hardback copy of Paul Theroux’s The Old Patagonia Express. Visiting Patagonia was on my bucket list and we checked it off in January when we traveled there!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Blue Willow Plate by Doris Gates. I read it when I was about ten. Then nicked a copy out of the library when I was a teen! It was my first proper chapter book. Looking back, it was a major influence on my desire to write. Ironically, I just had my wife read it! She loved it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Easy, the Fawlty Towers episode. The Germans will put me in stiches every time!
The brilliant first scene of the first episode of the TV show The Café, I have watched it a hundred times. The writing is absolutely brilliant. “The wheelie one.” (for those who’ve seen it). Also, any episode of Miranda starringMiranda Hart, she is hysterical.
The crying thing, well, the end of the movie Camelot, when Richard Harris does the reprise of the song Camelot while talking to theyoung boy. Gets me every time. This may sound stupid to some, but when I re-read the end of Diamonds and Cole and Three Nails they both choke me up. Shameful!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
T.E. Lawrence. I have been a bit of a nut about Lawrence since I was about 12. I have bought everybook I can find. Funny story, while in London a couple years back there was finally time in the schedule to visit the Imperial War Museum! This was a lifelong dream, and on other trips we either didn’t have time or the hours were wrong. Anyway, I ditched our tour group and hustled off to the Lawrence exhibit. There was hardly anything in the display cases! Then I saw the sign: Exhibit on loan to the National Museum in Sydney, Australia. Sorry for the inconvenience!! I was gutted.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Travel as often as my wife allows. Music, I have a massive collection of everything but Rap and hip-hop.Film, I cannot abide American television, so I am a fanatical collector of British, Scandinavian, French and German detective TV and movies. Anyone seen Spiral from France? Awesome!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
DCI Banks, Grantchester, Scott and Baily, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes,Britain’s Got Talent, and The Voice UK.
As for film; My all-time favorite movie is Our Mutual Friend, Lawrence of Arabia (any David Lean, actually) Tombstone, Four Friends (Arthur Penn director), and more recently,This Beautiful Fantastic.
Do you think I live in the wrong country! lol
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Food: I love Sushi, real Mexican, justabout any kind of meat between two slices of bread, and a proper English breakfast!
Colors: Forest Green and Cream together.
Music: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia solo, Richard Thompson, The Fratellis, anything Jeff Lynn does, Vera Lynn (oh hush!) and we must stop or this will never end, George Harrison (my favorite Beatle).
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Given the opportunity and funds, I would travel and never return home. There is nothing in the world I enjoy more than meeting new people, eating new foods (weirder the better) and just watching the world go by out a bus, train or ship window.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
All things considered I’d rather be in Cornwall.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I’m not much of a blogger, but I’d love to have folks visit my Facebook pages.
The personal one: Let’s be Friends! https://www.facebook.com/michael.maxwell.author
The author one: https://www.facebook.com/michaelmaxwellbooks
Mailing list (lots of news about my writing, freebooks by new authors, and deep discounts on my new releases: https://maxwell.authorreach.com/lead/d7453869 A FREE book as well!