Interrogating Michael Cargill, the author that doesn't have 50 of them.
Hello, The Joo!
Here be thy questions, answereth.
How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
*Head explodes* To honest, writing is still a new thing for me, so I haven't really come up against anything like this. I think that the only 'constant' that has existed across my work so far, has been the humour element. I don't really have any plans to change that, so my fans have no real need to fret yet. Mind you, I am planning on doing another WWII-based story once my current WIP is finally shoved out the door - I'm not sure if humour will be very appropriate to it, but it's far too early to say at the moment. You know what they say about plans? No, me neither, because I never stick to them.
What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
The squishy, fruity bits. Although most of my work has been thriller/suspense type stuff, it's not really been on purpose. It's my favourite genre to read, so I think it's a case of just doing what I know. I also do a lot of reading about WWII, so I think my work will be punctuated with bits of historical fiction as well. So, um, yeah, it's basically a case of doing what I know.
Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
I have nary a scribble, a note, nor a drunken answer phone message with ideas for the future! Everything is stored up in my head, including the silly articles I write on my blog.
It's the same when I am at work, and go into a meeting. Notepad, schmotepad. I'm an artist, a free spirit, and I reject your shackles of organisation.
It's probably why I always forget the milk, when I go shopping.
How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed like...er...bunnies)?
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Actually, scratch that idea, it's made me feel ill.
I haven't ever actually thought about this really. There will always be conflicting ideas bouncing around in my head, and it's just a case of discarding the daft ones. Sometimes it's a case of taking the path of least resistance, other times it's just a case of knowing what's right.
How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
There's a bit of me in all of my characters, really. Apart from the women, of course. Everyone has their dark moments, when they want hurl something across the room, so recalling those moments can help with anger. Likewise with the action scenes, it can be what I would want to do in the same situation.
The character of mine that I would most like to be, is John the Baptist. Contrary to the biblical name, he is the complete opposite of what it sounds like. He's smart, tends to work alone, does what he wants, and doesn't care if the bad guys get hurt. He has his own set of morals that prevent him from crossing the line, though.
Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?
Nah. I don't usually write for long periods at a time, so I don't really get that transfixed by it all. A few minutes break, and then I can right back to normal.
What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
Yeah, for the most part. Stephen King is my favourite author, but I have also enjoyed other thriller-esque stories by Michael Crichton, John Grisham, and James Herbert.
What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?
Hmmm. I write silly things on my blog, and Facebook, hoping to entice people in my hilarity. I’ve also uploaded all my books to pirate/torrent sites, and provided links to them on my blog. I even write terrorist plots on bits of paper, leave them lying around, hoping I get arrested and thrown in Gitmo, just for the publicity.
How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
I haven’t actually had that specifically happen to me yet, though I have had a few reviews that pointed out errors. The thing is, it’s almost impossible for me to be completely rational about that sort of thing, it’s why so many actors and writers say that they don’t read their reviews any more.
Although in retrospect I have been grateful for the constructive criticism, my initial reaction is one of a child having a temper tantrum. What I then do, is go and make a cup of tea, calm down a bit, and then re-read the review with a calmer head. Ultimately, the criticism has been valid, and I have corrected the mistakes at a later date.
I haven’t ever lashed out, and tried to find fault with what the reviewer has said, and I wouldn’t ever do it either. So... if any readers find some errors, and told me about them, then they will be gratefully, and thankfully received. At least, after I’ve had a cup of tea they will.
What do you like most about visiting GR/forums?
For the most part, it’s quite a pleasant place to lurk in. It’s also been helpful for me to find people to read my work, and it’s opened my eyes to a few things as well. Being an old fart in his 30s, I remember life before the Internets were invented, when such close reader/author interaction simply wasn’t possible. I used to consider myself something of a hardcore reader, but I can now see how much of a lightweight I am in that regard. Seriously, some people are just plain bonkers about books (not that that is a bad thing, of course).
What is on your near horizon?
I’m actually working on another book at the moment, but it’s still early days and stuff.
Where can we find you for more information?
Well, there is my blog, which is quite separate from my books. I post satire type articles and new items on it. I don’t bore people to death about how many words I’ve written or anything like that - http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/
I’ve got a Facebook page as well actually. Again, I don’t really talk about my writing that much, although I will post links to reviews and interviews. I do a semi-regular ‘Short stories for the impatient’ thing, where I post a silly sort of story that is about 50 words long. http://www.facebook.com/MichaelCargillAuthor
Lastly, here is a trailer for my latest book! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUBrxs38Dkc