Hi everyone, and I’m delighted to welcome Crime writer Kevin McManus to the blog.
Kevin juggles being a writer with a full time teaching job, and is the author of the Detective Ray Logue novels, set in Northern Ireland. He is currently working on a new novel, and creating the character John Morrigan.
He was kind enough to join me for a quick chat and answer my curious questions.
Over to you, Kevin…
1) As a child, did you have a favourite author and do you have a favourite author now?
As a child I read tonnes of comic books and I was always inventing my own comic book stories. My head was always stuck in Marvel comics and British comics like 2000 AD. I was obsessed with science fiction. I loved Star Wars and started to read short science fiction and fantasy novels as a result when I was about 12. Roger Zelazny, Harry Harrison, Philip K. Dick. Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard etc.
My favourite novel always has been and always will be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It has everything, incredible descriptions of the Yorkshire Moors, love, death and the supernatural. Heathcliff is probably the greatest literary character ever created. A close second is 1984 by George Orwell, it has so much to say about the world we live in today.
My books are crime novels but I read a lot of different genres. I like Charles Bukowski, Dermot Healy, Ken Bruen, Henning Mankell, Thomas Harris, James Ellroy, Franz Kafka, Dennis Lehane and Ian Rankin. I really admire Jo Nesbo. His stories, characters and settings are so well crafted. I think he is a master of the crime genre.
2) When did you start writing? Did you enjoy English at school?
I dabbled with poetry as a teenager and that turned into dabbling with writing song lyrics as a young adult when I got involved with bands. I always liked words and the sounds that they make. I had a brilliant English teacher at secondary school called Eamon Daly. He inspired a love for reading in me and for writing. He also inspired me to become a teacher.
I always loved the crime genre. Whether it was reading crime novels or watching crime movies. However, when I began writing my first novel. “The whole of the Moon” it was not a conscious decision to write a crime novel. It began as a story about growing up in rural Ireland and the study of the relationship between the three central characters, but as the plot developed I introduced a crime aspect into it and when it was published it was marketed by the book company as a crime novel. I then began thinking about writing a more straightforward crime novel and this led to the first in the Detective Ray Logue novels: “Death rains down.” Readers enjoyed it and I suppose I realised that perhaps I have a certain degree of talent in writing for that genre.
3) How would you describe your route to publication? Do you have an agent or are you self published?
I have no agent, but I secured publishing deals with Sharpe Books and Bloodhound Books.
4) I read that you work full time as a secondary school teacher. I wondered how you find the differentiation between both occupations?
There are extremely different activities, however we get good holidays so it gives me plenty of time to write. I enjoy teaching, it is a good respite from writing which can become too introspective and isolating at times.
5) When not teaching or writing, what do you do to relax?
I read a lot and listen to music. I am fascinated by rural landscapes and so I read or rather look at a lot of photography books. A strong visual image can inspire so much writing.
6) What’s your music taste like? Do you listen to bands or various artists?
I love music and I always have. Sometimes I enjoy listening to the soundtrack to a movie rather than the actual movie itself. I grew up listening to rock music. I was always buying records. I played bass guitar in rock bands for nearly 20 years. Some original material and some covers. As I said earlier I tried to write songs. Rory Gallagher read a lot of crime novels in his free time. It comes through in his lyrics. Listening to lyricists such as Mike Scott, Phil Lynott or Roger Waters helps to inspire the writing process
7) Do you have any advice for the unpublished writer?
Just go for it. Have confidence in yourself, get it down on paper, you can always rewrite and edit your work afterwards. Read as much as you can, try to mirror great writers in your chosen genre but also bring in your own ideas. Don’t worry about all these so-called rules of writing. Just write in a style that you are comfortable in. Some of my critics say that my books read too much like a film script rather than a novel. Well maybe they do but that is the way I write.
I think patience is very important, we all think that we are going to be the next big thing overnight. It takes years to build up a following. In reality most of us will never become literary super stars but if some people in Ireland and around the world enjoy reading my books that’s good enough for me.
8) Can you tell me a bit about your latest work? What ideas are currently kicking around in your head?
My latest work is due to be published in October by Bloodhound books. It is book 1 in a series of books featuring a New York based Detective called John Morrigan, This is a change in setting for me because my previous five books were all set in rural Western Ireland.
Thank you for visiting my blog, Kevin. It has been great to read all about your route to publication and your current work.