Hello. I am Rebecca Scarberry, Scarberryfields on Twitter. Enjoy my interview with a very talented author, Michael J. McCann:
Rebecca: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Have you always lived in Canada?
Michael: Yes, I was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, a city of about 60,000 people famous for its lift lock, located on the Trent-Severn Waterway. I was a typical Canadian kid, spending most of my childhood outside playing hockey, on outdoor rinks in the winter and on the street in summer. Once the other kids learned how to shoot the puck as high as my head, though, I decided that reading books was probably a better way to spend my time. I’ve also lived in Kingston, where I earned a graduate degree in English, in Calgary, Alberta, where I was an editor for a publishing company, in Woodstock, New Brunswick, where I worked for my father-in-law, who was an independent trucker hauling Moosehead beer, and many other places. I’ve finally settled down here in Oxford Station, just south of Ottawa, our nation’s capital.
Rebecca: Do you think you will ever move to another country & how many languages do you speak?
I'm a life-long Canadian, and while I love visiting other countries I'll always live in Canada. I must admit, though, that I'm a lot less tolerant of the cold in winter than I was in my younger days, and I often threaten that if I ever win the lottery, I might look for a winter home in a warmer climate! Just the same, there's nothing like clearing snow from your driveway in sub-zero temperature in the middle of January to remind you that you're alive.
My generation was the first to receive French-language lessons in public school as part of the regular school curriculum. I studied French from Grade Four right through to first-year university, but unfortunately I didn't use it enough and can't call myself fluently bilingual. I read French fairly well but only speak it haltingly. I suppose you could say I speak 1.5 languages.
Rebecca: Are you working on a new book at the moment?
Michael: I’m currently writing the first draft of The Fregoli Delusion, which is the third book in the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series. It’s scheduled for publication this fall. In this story, the only witness to the murder of a billionaire is a man who suffers from a rare delusional misidentification syndrome, or DMS, called Fregoli syndrome, in which a person believes he’s being persecuted by someone who constantly appears disguised as other people. His condition makes him completely unreliable as an eyewitness, but, typically, Karen Stainer believes him. It’s a very interesting book to write, because for the first time it will introduce friction between Donaghue and Stainer, and because it requires quite a bit of research into delusional misidentification and other related subjects.
Rebecca: Where can people go to read your work?
Michael: Blood Passage and Marcie’s Murder, the first two novels in the series, can be ordered in trade paperback format from any independent bookstore with online access to the Ingram book catalog. I encourage people who want to buy the paperbacks to try their local independent bookstore first, because our communities need to keep them alive and viable. If people like to order their books online, they can find Blood Passage (http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Passage-Michael-J-McCann/dp/0987708708/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2) and Marcie’s Murder (http://www.amazon.com/Marcies-Murder-Michael-J-McCann/dp/0987708724/) on Amazon in paperback or for the Kindle. They’re also available from Barnes & Noble, for those who have a Nook (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-passage-michael-j-mccann/1104161526?ean=2940011425219&format=nook-book&itm=4&usri=michael%2Bj%2Bmccann), for the Kobo (http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Marcies-Murder/book-kxj5qdEy8U-U0kN9yGR3ug/page1.html?s=dxuV-3JfFE6yNvsXVCMPgA&r=1), as an iBook (http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/blood-passage/id453284535?mt=11) and other places.
Rebecca: Which traditionally published authors inspire you and are there any self-published authors who inspire you?
Michael: I admire John Grisham’s earlier novels because he worked hard to become an effective storyteller and his narrative has a rhythm and flow that I enjoy. Personally, I consider Runaway Jury to be his best, because it’s such a well-told story. I’m also a fan of the late Tony Hillerman, John Mortimer, Georges Simenon, and many other crime fiction authors. However, when I want to remind myself how to write clean, unadorned narrative that moves the reader briskly along, I pick up any Lee Child novel and read the first twenty pages or so. “This happened. Then that happened. The guy pulled out a shotgun. Reacher said nothing.” Great stuff.
Before making the decision to publish independently, I researched a number of successful independent authors, looking for models on which to base my own approach. Amanda Hocking, of course, was an incredible model because of the effort she put into reaching her target audience, engaging them in dialogue and making them feel as though they were an intimate part of her success. I also learned from studying the approach of others, such as John Locke and Scott Nicholson, but Hocking’s tireless, grassroots audience-building was indeed a marvel to behold.
Rebecca: Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those?
Michael: I dread reviews. You can’t imagine the relief I feel when I read a review and discover someone actually liked my book. I always hope for the best and brace for the worst, I guess. A positive review always puts fresh wind in my sails and sends me back to the keyboard with renewed confidence.
I don’t mind constructive criticism, because as a writer it’s essential that I know how readers are reacting to what I’m doing, what isn’t working, what I need to do differently. I’m always alert to ways in which I can adapt and grow as a writer. The key, however, lies in the tone in which negative criticism is delivered. It doesn’t matter whether you’re giving feedback at work, in a store, in a theater, or to an author, you have to remember that the other person is also a human being and can be hurt by unnecessarily mean-spirited or sarcastic remarks. There are very few of us on this planet who don’t have issues with self-esteem and confidence, and creative people in particular struggle to grow a thick skin because of the introspective nature of what we do, the risks we have to take to craft a finished work, and the courage we have to have to release it into the world. When I receive nasty criticism from some anonymous person online who is obviously more interested in their own cleverness and zapping power than in offering useful feedback, I turn my back on them. Frankly, I can find better ways to waste my time. But if someone’s offering constructive criticism that will help me improve, I’m all ears.
Rebecca: If you work for a living, how do you find time to write?
Michael: While I was working for a living, I wrote very little. I admire people who can put in a full day’s work and still write well, because it was not something I was able to do. I’m very fortunate to be in a position now that I can write full-time.
Rebecca: Do you feel that promoting your books on Twitter is beneficial?
Michael: I’ve had very good luck promoting my books on Twitter. I’ve tried to find a balance in my Twitter associations between fellow authors – who are an amazingly supportive group on Twitter, by the way – and people who are not in the same business but might be interested in mine. For example, I’ve been able to build some great connections with independents in other fields, including musicians, visual artists, and artisans, especially people working with jewelry and ceramics, and I love helping to promote their work because I’m a fervent believer in the power of cross-fertilization when it comes to creativity. When I see the kinds of things they’re creating and marketing, I feel inspired myself. I find that Twitter is a terrific community, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.Rebecca: Thank you so much for your honesty here and for taking time out from your busy day to answer my questions. Those visiting my blog will be delighted to learn more about you and if they’re smart, they will read your books. I thoroughly enjoyed Marcie’s Murder and look forward to reading all you have written and publish in the future.