I am delighted to be able to welcome Michael J Malone to the blog. Michael is here to talk about his latest book, Beyond The Rage, but I could not resist asking about some of his other work too.
Shall we begin with a little shameless self-promotion? Who is Ray McBain and how does he know Kenny O’Neill?
Ray McBain is the detective whose story first came to light in my debut crime novel Blood Tears. He knows Kenny because they went to school together and became best mates. Life sent them in very different directions. Ray, as I said is a police detective. Kenny is a criminal.
Beyond the Rage saw a shift in focus away from McBain and you made Kenny (previously considered the ‘bad guy’) the hero of the story. What prompted this change?
About 4/5 years ago, while the first 2 books (both featuring Ray as the hero) were going the rounds of the publishers and receiving rave rejections, I hit upon this idea. I wanted to keep writing in the series, but the thought of writing a 3rd McBain book and it receiving the same reception as the first 2 was a bit of a worry. So I thought, why not change the focus of the series every now and then? Write about Kenny, then back to Ray, then over to Alessandra Rossi, then back to Ray etc etc etc. I thought this was highly original, but I’ve since found other authors who do this.
Beyond The Rage, recently sat at #1 spot in Scottish Crime over on Amazon. How much of a boost does that give you as you plot your next book?
It’s great to know that people are reading Rage – but in terms of a boost, not so much. I’m in THAT writing phase of the next book where I think every word I’m putting down is crap.
You are currently working on a new McBain novel. Are we allowed to ask for a progress report?
See above answer. Feels like I’m wading through treacle. I’m about two thirds of the way in, so I’m on the home strait. I still haven’t decided who the killer is, so that should be interesting.
Shifting focus to last year – you worked with Bashir Saoudi on a book called The Guillotine Choice. What is The Guillotine Choice and how did this collaboration come about?
The Guillotine Choice is a novel based on the true story of Bashir’s father. As a young man in Algeria during the late 1920’s, rather than send his cousin to the guillotine, he kept his mouth shut and was sentenced to 40 years hard labour in Devil’s Island. (The same prison that housed Papillon).
And the book came about after a random meeting in a coffee shop in Ayr, followed by a whole series of random meetings. (I think Bashir was stalking me. Only joking, Bash.)
You are very involved in writing workshops (even managing to get this blogger to a seminar in the past) is the support and encouragement of like-minded writers an invaluable part of the writing process for you?
Absolutely. This can be a lonely and difficult job. And the only people who really “get” it are other writers. I received a lot of help and encouragement from other writers when I was learning my craft, so I try to give back where I can.
You once told me that you are not the only Michael Malone that writes crime fiction. Do you know if readers ever get you confused with the other guy?
They do! I was invited to speak to a group of readers in Kansas recently. I should have pretended I was the other guy and asked for some generous expenses. And every now and again I get messages of FB from people who think I’m him. He’s a talented guy so I’m happy if some of that rubs off on me.
It is not all about gritty Glasgow crime though – I believe you also have a few poetry collections in the back catalogue?
This is true. Before the crime novels came out, I had about 200 poems published in small presses and literary magazines. I still write the odd poem, but I tend to keep my creative impulses for fiction these days. It is a demanding task.
You publish a daily newsletter (The Michael Malone Daily) which I receive through Twitter. How do you source material and is it principally articles which interest you?
This is all automatic. I had two minutes work setting it up a few years back and now I have no input whatsoever. I just goes on working. Might be tricky when I pop my clogs and this online newspaper thing carries on publishing and people are going, is he not dead?
You can often be found ‘in discussion’ with the great and good of Scottish writers. You assist at book launches, host quiz events or mediate writer panels – how do you land a gig like that and how hard is it to get a word in once the ‘shy and reclusive’ writers get into the spotlight?
How do I get involved? People ask me. I think it’s cos I smile a lot and I’m cheap. For cheap, read free. Well, a bottle of single malt actually.
When I do these things, my job is to get the “shy and reclusive” writers to talk. It’s about them, not me. So I’m happy if I can’t get a word in.
On a final note, Bloody Scotland is coming soon – are you involved again this year?
Yes, and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a cracking line up of authors. SO much talent out there. I’m doing an event on the Sunday afternoon with the lovely Caro Ramsay and the equally lovely, but less blonde, Douglas Skelton. If I survive the 5-a-side football match, that is. It will be a blast. You should all come.
My thanks to Michael for taking time to chat. I also need to thank him for encouraging me to write – my blogging is a direct result of Michael’s encouragement to attend a writers workshop many moons ago.
Michael is on Twitter at: @michaelJmalone1
At online here: