What genres do you write?
Writing is actually a recent thing for me and I haven’t really settled on any particular genres yet. The few things I have so far penned have all been short stories so it has enabled me to dip my toe into a number of different story types. I am a bit of a WWII nut so I enjoyed writing the two WWII stories quite a lot. I want to do some more but finding the right angle is the tricky part.
The idea I have in my head for my next story is a thriller. Thrillers are quite interesting to write actually. The surprise and suspense can be, erm, surprising and buttock-clenchingly suspenseful even for me as the ideas take shape in my mind.
What genres do you read?
Hard to say really. I won’t touch romance with a bargepole as I would just sit there doing grumpy facepalms whilst thinking what a silly and naive person the character is. I don’t mean that in a mean way to romance writers and fans though.
I have enjoyed horror-thriller stories, legal thrillers and whatever genre Michael Crichton tends to be classed as. I like historical non-fiction as well. And the occasional Batman comic. See, you romance fans get to laugh at me now.
What was your first book/ story about?
The first book, Diary of a Dork, was not really about anything as such. It’s a collection of short, humorous articles I wrote when I was bored last year. Some of the characters I came up with have survived in spirit on my blog.
The first story, Shelter from Thunder, is a short story about a young boy sheltering during an air raid in WWII. I was (and still am) quite pleased with it. Around Xmas I updated the cover and looked at the story itself to see if there were any mistakes in it. I barely made any changes to it really.
What inspires you to write?
There is no one, single thing I don’t think and it’s almost like a habit or a hobby now. Sometimes I will see or read something that immediately gives me a kernel of an idea for a scenario or a character trait.
I do it because I enjoy it. I have no idea where the ideas come from though. I start off with a tiny snippet of something and then it blooms into something else.
You know when you have a glass of water and spill it by accident? It goes bloody everywhere and you wonder where it all came from ‘cos it was only a small glass. It’s sort of like but not really. It’s a terrible analogy but I can’t think of anything better.
It’s like the anti-terrorism laws. They start off small and then before you know it you are being arrested for coughing in an airport.
When you write do you have a particular set up or can you write anywhere?
As long as it isn’t too quiet or too noisy and I am not likely to be disturbed much then I am willing do it anywhere. That sounds moderately perverted and for that I refuse to apologise.
What did you learn from your first book?
The main thing I learned was that a large part of writing is down to confidence. Once you get over that initial nervous hump in the road it gets easier. If you remember the first time you joined a gym you were probably worried that people would laugh at you. They don’t.
If you have never been to the gym then… what about the first time you played Angry Birds? No-one laughed at you then. (Unless they did of course).
Is there anything that you have learnt from blogging that has helped with your writing of books or vice versa?
Nothing specific really. My blog has meant I have been producing something on a regular basis and keeps me on my toes. Although I initially started it with the intention of using it to promoting my books it hasn’t worked out like that – it is it’s own entity now. It has helped me find people who were willing to read and comment on what I was writing which has been a great help.
How did you go about publishing?
I just bit the bullet and self-published Diary of a Dork for free on Smashwords. Making it free meant I could just post a few links to it in various places and see what people thought about it.
That’s pretty much it!
Do you prefer to write short stories, books or blogs?
So far my stories have gradually got longer and longer. Once you get the hang of things you can introduce more characters and more scenarios. I haven’t put out a novel yet so it’s hard to say but I think I will eventually prefer writing longer stories.
I like my blog for a different reason. I have quite a strange sense of humour so it enables me to dump a load of nonsense in one place very easily. The length of the articles on the blog are just about right for what they are.
On your satire blog you write as Justin Beiber and Nurse Ratched, how did these characters come about and will the two ever cross paths?
Ha! An excellent question! The character for Justin Bieber has actually existed for a while and you can see/read something similar in Diary of a Dork. I have always liked the idea of real-life agony aunts going to the pub together and bitching about the letters they receive. Nurse Ratched allowed me to bring that to life.
If they ever cross paths then Justin had better watch out. He may be able to dodge bottles of water that are thrown at him but jars of acid are another thing entirely.
Do you have a favourite character to blog about?
Not really. I am slightly paranoid about running out of ideas and I worry about the characters sounding too similar to each other. I quite like the one-off characters I come up with as it means I can throw a load of ideas into them and not worry about saving things for the future.
The reaction to some characters has surprised me a bit. Nurse Ratched is far more popular than I first realised.
Are there any books, authors or bloggers that have particularly inspired your work?
Stephen King, The Onion and David Thorne (of http://www.27bslash6.com/ fame) are people who have inspired me in one way or another.
King creates some excellent characters and some of the techniques he uses I have (tried) to make use of.
The Onion is mind-bogglingly funny in places and made me realise that it is the absurdity of the situations that makes satire funny. David Thorne is just a complete mentalist but some of the articles he has on his website had me loling and rofling and pmsling.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Practice and proof-reading. And I don’t mean ‘proof-reading’ in a condescending sense. That favourite quote, passage or scene in your favourite book? That probably didn’t exist when the author finished the book first time around. It’s only on the third, fourth, fifth, etc. proof-reading run that such things start to take shape.
If you write something and then come back to it a week later despairing at how bad it is, that’s a good thing. That is precisely how your favourite author writes. That first time you write the story out is all about getting the ideas down in a semi-readable form. All the restructuring of sentences and perfection comes later. Much, much later.
Find Michael at http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/
Works by this author
Look at the person sitting just across from you. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a loved one, a friend, or a complete stranger. Now look at their face. Are they happy? Are they sad? Or are they angry? Can you even tell? How well do you actually know the people closest to you? Have you ever seen the real person that lies just underneath what you see…?
See my review
Shades of Grey
John is not a very nice man. He works for the government. So who has tied him to a chair and what do they want? James is a British soldier during WWII. Tom is a young boy with a terrible secret.
Three stories. Three very different people. All of them battling to survive.
See my review
Shelter from Thunder
Sam is a quiet and lonely boy who had the misfortune to be born a few years before World War II. Finding shelter from German bomber planes is almost a daily part of his life now but he wonders when his luck will run out…
Free from: smashwords
None of the residents of Barnaby Close are particularly unhappy. It’s in a nice area and the families are well off and caring. So why have they started killing each other?
Free from: smashwords