1.How did you get started writing
Since I first held a book in my hand as a child, I always wanted to produce one myself. There was a brief writing episode at 12 and then again at 16 when I tried to write a novel, but I didn’t have a proper go at it until I was in my mid-thirties. And you can blame a boring job for that. I got chatting up the back of a meeting room with a colleague while our boss was droning on about blah blah – and admitted that I had ambitions to be a writer. My colleague said, “Me too!” So we agreed to write one together, alternating chapters of a book. We wrote 4 chapters each before my friend came to me to say that he wanted to go it alone. I took my 4 chapters and wrote a novel and my friend never wrote another word.
2. What drew you to crime fiction
It was an accident, honest, guv! The first two novels I wrote (so far unpublished) were contemporary novels. General fiction, if you like. But then the opening chapter for BLOOD TEARS came to me in a dream. (Go buy the book and read it, to see how disturbed I am.) The dream was so vivid and fascinating I had to go with it but it took me about a year to work out what to do with it. And those two little words “what if” drew me on. What if this dream detailed the actions of a serial killer after he had killed? And what if there was a detective on the case? A detective who had links to the deceased. And what if … you get the picture? So I didn’t sit down with the intention of writing a crime novel, it just happened.
3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing
I’ve read voraciously all of my life and I think, in that period when I was a reader I would have been influenced by every writer I enjoyed. And all them will in some way have influenced a burgeoning voice in me, the writer. I don’t know if there is any one writer that has directly influenced by style of writing, but in the mix is bound to be people like Stephen King, Wilbur Smith, James Lee Burke, George Pelecanos, Lee Child, Bryce Courteney, John Connolly, William McIlvanney, Val McDermid … the list goes on and on
4. Where you surprised by the success of Blood tears
You know, I haven’t given it much thought. I’m grateful that anyone has bought and read it. And that’s not false modesty, just an acknowledgement that I went in to this with no expectation, with the thought that whatever would be, would be. You always hope that people will buy your book, but that anyone actually shells out their hard-earned cash – other than family and friends of course, cos they are duty bound – is wildly pleasing and flattering.
5. Why do you think it has been so successful? You would have to ask a reader that question. I just tried to write a book that would entertain me, and hoped that others might enjoy what I do.
6. Did you find the experience of writing your second novel more or less difficult than the first They probably had the same degree of difficulty, because it felt like a continuation. Although it is a different story and doesn’t have to be read in sequence (that is the beauty of writing a serial character). Because I’m writing, in the main, about the same characters
7. Why did you decide to set your books in Glasgow? I love Glasgow. Its a fascinating city, with fascinating people. Its a city of contrasts, of great divides across all the social classes. And above all, its a city with a sense of humour.
8. Blood tears has a strong religious element did you find that difficult to write about Not at all. Much of the religious stuff that went on in the book is based on my own experience or on the experience of people I know. Just before the book was published, I had a wobble. Did I really want people to read about all that? Did I want people to think I was having a go at the Catholic Church? I had to give myself a good talking too. In the end I decided that my experiences were as valid as anyone else’s and if anyone decided to be offended by it, then that was for them to deal with, not me.
9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your books? Mainly to do with police procedure, which is when I spoke to the experts. And here is where I add the qualifier that any errors were mine and mine alone. People are VERY picky about their procedures. Play about with that stuff at your peril. Which I did, but that’s another story.
10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life people No. My characters tend to be a blend of characteristics of people that I’ve met, rather than being based on any one particular individual.
11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice Can’t think of any. Probably. Most writers I’ve met, particularly in the crime/ thriller field are a generous bunch and if there was something I needed help with, I’m sure someone would do the necessary.
12. Do you see any of Ray McBain’s personality in yourself and vice versa Ha! No. I wish I had his quick wit, I tend to think of the right thing to say about an hour later. I also wish – sometimes – that I had his willingness to say exactly what I’m feeling and thinking. I’m too careful and tend to edit before I speak. It would be wonderful to not give a shit and just tell it like it is.
13. With the amalgamation in April of the Scottish police force in to one organization do you think it will effect your series of books? I can’t see that being an issue. People will still do bad things. Other people will still need to bring them to justice. The only difference might be in the details.
14. What do you see for the future of DI McBain That would be telling. You’ll need to get the next book – A Taste for Malice – due out in June.
15. As a know blossoming successfully crime writer do you have words of advice you can share? I’ll borrow from Stephen King here – read a lot, write a lot. Put in the hours, people. Do the work. Read widely. Learn your craft.
And persist with your goals. Don’t take any “no” as the final “no”. The difference between the professional and the amateur is that the professional kept going until …
Ray McBain Books
1. Blood Tears (Paperback)
Five Leaves Publications
2. A Taste for Malice (Paperback)
Five Leaves Publications