Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
From one “Mc/Mac” to another, hello!
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Andrew Mackay, from the UK. I’m 40 in October.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Edinburgh, Scotland, originally. Now I live in Hampshire, UK. Grew up in London, so know that whole city very well.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a former teacher of college and high school. I quit to become a full time author. I’ve just finished my eighteenth book. I write comedy, satire, horror, crime, some romance and, now sci-fi for young adults.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
The third book in my STAR CAT series is out on July 6th. The first book became a best-seller and the series is extremely popular. It’s about a cat in space. Some say I cheated. Fair enough. I say I got there first.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
All my life, I guess. I am also a screenwriter, and have been for twenty years. I published my first novel in October 2016 after I jacked in my teaching job. I’m a storyteller, first and foremost. I’ll be one until I drop dead over my keyboard.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was eleven-years-old when my English teacher gave us all in the class the first half of a story and told us to finish writing it for homework. Everyone wrote about half a page along the lines of “David slayed the dragon and went home.”
I finished the text book. Threw in a few car chases, sex scenes, and a huge climactic ending. My teacher loved it and gave me an A+. I just let my imagination loose on it and wrote what I wanted. I think that’s where my entire life changed- right there, and then.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book, In Their Shoes – The Teacher is a satirical quasi-documentary about a journalist who follows a high school teacher on her job for the day. In reality, it was my expunging of the profession. In that book I reveal all my tricks of the trade. All the horrendous and uplifting stories. My swan song to the profession, if you like. The teacher, Rachel, is really me. I was going to write a non-fic book on how to survive teaching – including cutting corners etc, but I wanted to my real name. And couldn’t. So I fictionalized it. It became the start of a six-book series, four of the titles became best-sellers.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I think my previous answer answers this question lol
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Oh yes. My style is very unique. At the risk of sounding arrogant, it’s possibly to other works what Tarantino’s movies are to similar films in his genre. I jump back and forth in time. I write what I think needs writing. It’s never what a book or story is, but how.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In Their Shoes – The Teacher is very true-to-life. Others, less so. My horror series PURE DARK is about a heroin junkie in a coma having a series of nightmares he can’t escape from. I don’t get nightmares and I’ve never overdosed on heroin. But some of those stories contain things in real life which scare the hell out of me in theory. So, there’s a good chance it will scare the reader. I don’t do vampires and werewolves etc. Any monsters you find in my horror or sci-fi are my own inventions. I can’t waste an opportunity to be creative like that, writing about monsters we’ve already seen. That’s just easy, lazy and, to be honest, a bit boring.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’d advise any writer to travel. I’m a world traveller – and am married to a Korean. It’s not until you’ve left home that you really know about home.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My illustrator, Kreacher.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Depends on the book. I’m very satirical at heart. Some comment on society or the government or citizenry will come out somewhere in my books, and often form the underpinning. An example of this is in the STAR CAT series. One hundred years from now, everyone is fitting with something called Individimedia – a tattoo on your forearm you can use to broadcast yourself and call others. Social media has been banned – it created too much upset and made the world a bad place. It might even have started World War Three, because someone left a comment on a stupid dog video. You can’t comment with Viddy Media, only make calls. USARIC is the NASA equivalent in the series. But because they are a private company, they must tend to the bottom line. It has serious consequences for all involved and is the groundwork for what happens in the series.
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 favourite writer is Douglas Adams, who wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s hard to describe why, and where to begin with his brilliance. I publish a 70k book per month now, and have since I started in October 2016. I don’t have much time to read, unfortunately – and anything I do read is usually business-related, like Brian Meeks’s Mastering Amazon Ads, or Craig Martelle’s Successful Indie Author – both of which are great, if you’re an author. I recommend everyone read Steven Pressfield’sThe War of Art, though. Especially if you’re a procrastinator.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My wife. One day I came home from teaching, depressed. Hated the job, and needed a way out. I wanted to start writing novels for a living. And she said “yeah, okay.”
My mom and dad were a bit shocked. They’re old school. Anyway, everyone’s happy now. But if my wife had responded the way most wives probably would (and should, really) then we wouldn’t you wouldn’t be interviewing me right now.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see it as a hobby that makes me money. I love writing. I haven’t “worked” one day since July 22nd, 2016 (my last day as a teacher).
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest book? It’s being read by my advance reader group right now, and they’re just starting to tell me what they think. They’re loving Star Cat 3: War Mage. So, no, I don’t regret a thing. The only regret I have is not starting my author career sooner. BUT… maybe if I had I might not have been any good. Who knows.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
If you don’t learn something with each book then something’s gone wrong. Star Cat 3 taught me that each book must be better than the last. It might be better structure, or story… or pace. The readers will tell you soon enough. As an author, I ask for their favourite part and least favourite part. I also ask where they think the next book is headed. And more often than not I smile when they give me their predictions, because they are usually way off.
If twenty people say “Oh, I think Dave will kill John in book 4” – then… that ain’tgonna happen lol And the beautiful thing is, none of the twenty know the other nineteen said the same thing. I like to surprise people. I killed four main characters in book 3 – and everyone like WTF?! – I don’t mess around. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, I’ll pull the rug from under your feet. I know it works because it works for me while I write. My fingers have killed characters as I’m typing away, and I’ll stop half an hour later and say “Hey, we never agree to kill her.” You should really be interviewing my fingers, actually. My brain and imagination has nothing to do with it, sometimes lol
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Star Cat’s lead, Kelly Anderson, is a common, domesticated household cat. So, a cat, probably lol. The lead human, Tripp Healy, who’s the captain of Opera Beta – I dunno, maybe Jeremy Renner. I can’t visualize any of my characters’ faces, bizarrely. I can see their bodies. Bonnie, the scientist, has wonderful legs and a cute butt for example. But I’ve never imagined her face. Does that make me sound sexist? Okay, Tripp is also very good-looking, too. Very athletic and charming. Does that make me sound gay? Okay, Jelly the cat is… (I’ll stop there.)
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
1 Before you start, make daaaaaaammnnnn sure you’ve read “Story” by Robert McKee. Don’t waste my and your time writing a story without knowing the rules. I can’t tell you how many authors out there don’t even know about basic stuff like plot points, the rule of three (Google it, and you’ll scratch the surface – it’s not enough) and so on…
2: Stop talking about writing and write. Once you’ve written the first draft, then we’ll talk more.
3: If you’ve done points 1 and 2, congratulations. You’re halfway there. Now, wear this thick skin I’m giving you. You’re going to get feedback – and it’s going to be brutal… sorry, but it’s the only way we get better. People who pay money for your work are serious and brutal. And that’s fair game. And you’re fair game and no different. That’s exactly the way it should be.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I love you all.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m not, honestly. I’m about to read “Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!” by Michael Cooper – because I’m going to be advertising Star Cat now that the third book is out and people know I’m not messing around.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes. Of Mice and men by John Steinbeck.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Not very much, surprisingly. I’ve never cried at a film or a book. I’ve been close to tears planning my own books. Even Star Cat. There’s an event coming up soon which puts a lump in my throat… I’m kinda dreading reaching it.
Not a lot makes me laugh, either. As a satirist, good humor makes me laugh. Outright nasty humor makes me laugh harder. But if I laugh or cry, whoever or whatever made me do it has done a GREAT job. Very well earned.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I want to meet Larry Cohen, my favourite film director. A few of his films made me want to tell stories. I won’t bore you with an explanation as no one will have heard of him. “The Stuff” from 1985, that’s about as much as I’ll give you.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Films and daydreaming. Not necessarily in that order. I’m a movie obsessive. It’s probably why my books read like movies and are different to other books out there, for better or worse.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Honestly, lately, very little has been impressing me. I despise Marvel. Nothing worse than a never-ending, self-perpetuating feedback loop of mediocrity where there are no rules, and anything can happen. Suspense-free nonsense that lasts over two hours every time. And the movie theatres are FULL of it.
Conversely, I went to see Hereditary last week. The first half was great. The second half was terrible. I wanted to hit someone. Such a waste of a good idea.
I think the last movie I really liked was Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO. I don’t do TV. Although I did do breaking Bad, which was great. That series might be the best work about morality the US has ever produced. Apart from Woody Allen’s Crimes & Misdemeanours.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I’m a burger freak. I love bacon. My favoritecolor is purple. I love movie soundtracks. Right now I’m listening to Alan Silvestri’s AMAZING orchestral composition for the first two Predator movies, and it’s helping me plot and visualize Star Cat 4.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Bark at strangers in the park, shouting my stories out loud at passing strangers.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
No, I’m not answering that. You’ll never speak to me again.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“To be continued…”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Sign up to the Chrome Valley Books mailing list. You’ll get Star Cat: Origins for free and you’ll be kept up to dare with all the good stuff! Link: https://www.subscribepage.com/y5c5i8
I believe in compelling, well-told stories. It’s never “what” a book is, but “how”. Especially if you’re a multi-genre author.
Discovering the humanity, emotion and resonance in all the genres is key. I write sci-fi, satire, horror, crime, romance. Emotional resonance and a compelling concept is vital.
I hung up my teaching hat to focus on my writing and set up my publishing company – Chrome Valley Books – in October 2016. To date, my publishing output has been fierce – almost one full-length novel per month. My satire series In Their Shoes became an Amazon best seller a few months later. I’m only getting quicker…
I’m a multi-genre author. My scope of my ideas and what I want to say is vast. My hunger to deliver quality books to my audience is insatiable. I love being a writer.
I love my readers, and I’d love you to become one of them right now!
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