1. How did you get started writing
I actually came to writing quite late in life – somewhere in my mid to late thirties – when I had already established a career as a research scientist with the Medical Research Council. I remember it was at a time when I had been working in Israel on a joint project and had so many new experiences and adventures there that, when I got home, I found my old life a bit humdrum and boring. I was pleased to discover that I could ‘live’ a much more exciting life simply by imagining it and writing it down
2. What drew you to writing thriller novels
They give me the escapism I need.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing
None. I have always been a bit of a loner and this persists in my writing. There are, of course, lots of writers who have given me great pleasure over the years – from Charles Dickens to Stephen King – but none who have had any influence on what I do or how I do it.
4. You write stand alone novels but you also write a series as well (Steven Dunbar), what do you find easier to write
Once you write a series it is very hard to escape as more books in the series are what people expect (and publishers sometimes demand). A series has the advantage of having all the infrastructure present but the main character has been established and has to remain in character so there is little opportunity to introduce and explore new traits. If I feel strongly about writing a stand alone book outside the Steven Dunbar series I will do it but this has got me the sack in the past.
5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest
Very difficult and it’s probably even more difficult now. Talent isn’t enough: you need luck as well . . . unless of course, you’re some sort of ‘celebrity’ when publishers will rush to publish your shopping list.
6. You have now written 24 novels, do you have a particular favourite that stands out and why
HYPOCRITES’ ISLE. It’s a personal thing. The story is based on my own personal experience as a medical researcher and the awful discovery that money is behind absolutely everything. Curing disease and alleviating suffering come a very poor second. I suppose I was getting my own back by writing the story but I needed to get it off my chest and being a writer gave me that opportunity.
7. Also you have had many different characters feature in your books, do you have any favourites that stand out to you
John and Cassie Motram in DUST TO DUST. This is actually a Steven Dunbar adventure but I liked the company of the Motrams so much that I was nearly half way through the book before Steven appeared – something that reviewers have not been slow to point out.
8. When you started writing Donor the first Dr Steven Dunbar novel did you have any idea he would become so popular and what inspired you to create him
The fictional organisation that Steven works for, the Sci-Med Inspectorate actually came first and I had written two Sci-Med stories using different investigators before I introduced Steven. The book he appeared in, DONOR, was very successful and sold well across the world so I thought I would bring him back. Another factor was that someone pointed out to me that if I used the same character there would be much more chance of a TV series being made and this would be good for book sales . . . All the Dunbar books are currently under TV option.
9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your books
All my books are based in science and medicine, which is home territory for me, so it’s very much a case of writing about something I know. Research for me is usually about checking facts because my stories tend to have a factual basis. I must check out these facts thoroughly to make sure I haven’t misunderstood anything.
10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life
In this age of litigation . . . certainly not.
11. Since you have started writing have any well known authors given you any advice
No, but then I didn’t ask for any.
12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa
After ten Steven Dunbar books he and I share a lot. I do the thinking and he does the heroics. We both loathe politicians and petty officialdom and try our best to do the right thing in life – something that’s much more difficult than people imagine.
13. If you can, will you give us an insight into any future books you have in the pipeline
I’ve become very interested in epigenetics, but using this as a basis for a thriller is throwing up challenges as it’s a very difficult subject to explain in simple terms. I’m still not sure if it’s going to work.
14. If you had the chance to create a new series of novels, what generate would you pick and what would it be about.
I’m afraid I would have to turn down the chance because medical thrillers are my thing and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else.
15. As a Well known thriller writer do you have words of advice you can share
Don’t get discouraged. When you first start writing you feel very vulnerable and exposed and can be hurt by the almost certain return of manuscripts by publishers, imagining this to be a considered opinion of your work. Very often it’s not. Most manuscripts are returned unread or having been read by a junior editor who doesn’t want to risk her job by saying yes to a new, unknown writer. Saying no is safe. Writers don’t fail because people read their work and don’t like it, they fail because readers didn’t even know they were there. Toughen up and keep trying.
Titles by Ken McClure
The Steven Dunbar Series
DUST TO DUST
THE LAZARUS STRAIN
EYE OF THE RAVEN
THE GULF CONSPIRACY
THE TROJAN BOY
THE SCORPION’S ADVANCE
Amazon Author Page