1. How did you get started writing
I wasn’t a great reader at school but as I grew older I started to buy books to take on holiday with me and that’s when I realised what I had been missing. I was in awe of these people, these authors who could write books that grabbed my attention and made reading so enjoyable. I decided that I wanted to try and do that. I retired from professional football in 1991 so I found that I had a bit more time on my hands and I thought to myself ‘I’ll write that book now’ but that didn’t happen. I didn’t even put pen to paper. And then three years ago, thirty four years after I had last written anything at all, a college project on the ups and downs of Heathcliffe and Cathy in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, it happened. An incident took place while I was on holiday with my wife and as we sat in the hotel reception area on the last day of our holiday, I actually started to write MISSING.
2. What drew you to write a crime novel
This is my favourite genre. I like to read books that make me use my ‘little grey cells’ as the famous Belgian sleuth always says. I like nothing better than lying beside a swimming pool reading a good crime novel with plenty of twists and turns, a book that keeps you in suspense right to the end. You can’t beat it. I realise that this genre is not everyone’s favourite but I felt that I should stick to what I know, so to speak, when writing my own book.
3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing
There are plenty of writers who I really like, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffrey Archer, Michael Connolly, John Grisham and Harlan Coben. But the two writers who I feel have influenced my style of writing the most are Lee Child and James Patterson. I love Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character and the way he has him roaming across America getting himself involved in all sorts of dangerous situations, and the books are so easy to read. As for James Patterson, I think he’s probably influenced me the most. He is similar to Lee Child in that he has also created a character that I love – Alex Cross. But it’s not only the Cross series of books that I like, it’s all of his books. He justs grabs your attention from the very first page and with his short chapters he holds it to the last page. My kind of books.
4. What was the inspiration behind your novel Missing
My wife and I were on holiday when we had a small luggage bag stolen as we waited for a taxi to take us to our cruise ship. It was a terrible feeling but we both decided that we weren’t going to let it ruin our holiday. So we went on our cruise and then returned to our city hotel for a further day. We were on a night flight so we decided to go for a nice walk to take in the city one last time. We were feeling a little peckish so we went into this little cafe where we were served by a lovely Spanish lady who informed us that her husband absolutely adored Scotland and everything to do with it. She then curiously said that he likes Scottish fighting men, which I must say rather confused me and I can remember thinking to myself ‘does she mean boxers like Jim Watt or Ken Buchanan?’. But then she made it all a bit clearer when she said Braveheart was his favourite film and that he adored the fighting Scotsmen in that film. She continued to say that he really loved one in particular, and he was in that film. She was obviously thinking of William Wallace but she couldn’t think of the name and became very annoyed with herself, but she made it clear that she didn’t want me to tell her. I sat silently waiting for her to remember the name and sure enough seconds later she shouted it out.
“I remember the name, it’s MCGUIRE…. WILLIAM MCGUIRE.”
I was absolutely astounded and shocked. I told her that that was my name and asked her why she had said it.
“I don’t know, it just popped into my head” she answered. Then one second later she shouted “WILLIAM WALLACE, I meant to say WILLIAM WALLACE.”
It was very SPOOKY. We finished our tea and left. It had started to rain so we only walked about one hundred yards down the street and then turned to head back to the hotel. We walked straight back up the same street that we had just walked down but we couldn’t find the Cafe again. It had somehow disappeared. I know that sounds crazy but as soon as I got back to the hotel I started writing, as a story had started to brew in my mind that our mysterious Spanish lady had something to do with the theft of our bag. Why had she said my name? Had she been rifling through the papers in our stolen bag just before we entered her cafe? And was that why the name McGuire was so fresh in her mind?
Whatever happened that day, it is certainly the incident that inspired me to write MISSING.
5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest
That is a definite YES. In fact I couldn’t find a literary agent. I sent my manuscript to many agents but all I received in return were rejection letters. It was very disheartening but I had been warned that it would be extremely difficult to find an agent and then of course a publisher. I did receive some nice letters from agents, one in particular from Val McDermid’s agent, which did perk me up. She said that she liked it but they weren’t taking on anyone else at that particular time but that I shoud keep trying. She added that she thought that it would ‘really take to the screen’ as she put it, and asked me if I had any experience in screenwriting as that would give me another chance. That was a non starter but her reply did encourage me to keep going. However I finally decided to stop sending my manuscript to agents and made the decision to self publish through a company called Createspace, a part of Amazon. I’m really glad that I did.
6. There are many interesting characters in Missing, do you have a particular favourite
It’s probably the lead character David Telfer. People who have read the book all seem to be able to relate to him and everybody just seems to like him. There’s another character in there who is hardly in the book but I really like him and that’s Rupino the waiter on the ship. The reason for that is that he’s actually a real person and the conversation that David Telfer has with him about Manny Pacquiao on deck 15 is the conversation that I personally had with Rupino one day when I was having a few cocktails at the Sky Bar. He just reminds me of that wonderful day.
7. Why did you use Barcelona as a backdrop for your novel
Because that’s the city where the bag incident described above took place. My wife and I were going on a Meditteranean cruise and we had to board the ship in Barcelona. So you see, the start of my book is based on an actual incident that took place just outside of our hotel in Barcelona. It’s such a beautiful and vibrant city with so many fantastic sights to see that I decided it would also make an ideal backdrop for my mystery/thriller.
8. Your first novel Missing is a stand-alone, if your were given the chance would you want to do a series or would you stick with stand alone novels
That’s a hard one. I would have no problem doing another stand alone novel, but the two authors who have influenced me most have both done a series with their Jack Reacher and Alex Cross characters. I seem to be attracted to these types of books so I suppose I would like to create some character that I could use again and again in my own series of books.
9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your book
I simply went on holiday. When you visit places like Barcelona, Valetta, Naples, Livorno, Rome and Cannes, you come back with so many wonderful memories that it’s easy to recall them and put them down on paper. In Barcelona for instance we took the hop on hop off bus which takes you round all of the major sights in the city. There’s no better way of seeing a big city. The only place we didn’t take some kind of tour was Naples, but that was unforgettable for one thing in particular…the drivers. So I just brought my memories back and used them in my book.
10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life
As I have already said, the start of Missing is based on an incident that actually took place involving my wife and I, when we had our bag stolen in Barcelona. The cruise that David and Louise Telfer took is the identical cruise that my wife Joyce and I took. But the actual characters are not based on myself or my wife Joyce. All of the other characters I simply made up, apart from the waiter Rupino who is a real person.
11. Since you have started writing have any well known authors given you any advice
Yes. Anna Smith who has written the Rosie Gilmour series of books..The Dead Won’t Sleep, To Tell the Truth and Screams in the Dark. I love her books and as you can see there’s another character there who I seem to have fallen for in Rosie Gilmour. It was Anna who encouraged me to send my manuscript away in the first place as she really liked my story. She also warned me that it was extremely difficult to get published but the fact that I was an ex-professional footballer might help me achieve my goal, as she didn’t know of any other ex-player who had actually written a mystery/thriller by themselves. (It’s usually autobiographies or a collection of football stories written by someone else). I had to agree with her there because I believe that the general public think most footballers are thick and I wanted to try and prove that that’s really not the case. Her last piece of advice was to start writing my next book as soon as possible.
12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa
No. I like to distance myself from the characters in my book. If anyone who reads the book and sees parts of my personality in any of the characters of MISSING then so be it, but it cerainly wasn’t planned that way.
13. If you can, will you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you have planned
As I write this I’m thinking of doing a sequel. The story of David and Louise Telfer may not be finished yet!
14. Missing has been great reviews on Amazon already and you have been compared to some of the well known authors in Crime Fiction, how does that make you feel
Obviously it makes me feel wonderful and is very flattering indeed. However I am just so happy that I have achieved my ambition of publishing my own book and that real people actually take the time to write a review on Amazon saying how much they enjoyed it. It’s similar to the feeling that you get when you score a goal and you hear that ball hitting the back of the net.
15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
Yes. It’s not advice specifically for crime writers, it’s for all writers. DON’T GIVE UP when you’re finding it difficult to find a publisher, it happens to everyone. KEEP GOING and don’t be frightened to self publish. Believe in yourself.
For more Information and prices about Missing go to the link below
Amazon Author Page