Today our guest is author Mac Black. Yesterday I reviewed his first book in the “Derek” series, “Please call me Derek” here is a link to the review. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-4nZ
Now let’s find out more about Mac and his writing.
Where is your hometown?
If a home is just an address then I have had a few, but, of course, home is much more than that. There are three places that stand out for me, and all in Scotland. Glasgow was where I was born and brought up – a long time ago! That was in days when ships were built in large numbers on the River Clyde. Back then I worked as a ship draughtsman. A dramatic reduction in the demand for Clyde-built ships, not caused by me I hasten to add, meant a change of employer and of home. I moved to a new job in Dundee, quite a transition, and my family went from living in the big city of Glasgow to the small town of Carnoustie. We were settled there for a long time. It was a great town for two young daughters to grow up in, being not too large and on the coast, and with plenty of local activities. I became a small-town person from then. One further move has occurred, to another small town, to our most recent home in Cupar, a country town in the north of Fife. My wife and I have no plans to move again – at least, I have no plans …but who knows! I await further instructions…
How long have you been writing?
Although I enjoyed creating amusing poems when I was younger, it was only when I retired from ‘real work’ that I tried ‘real writing’, and Autumn, 2009, was when I first put pen to paper as a writer of prose. (Umm, no… not strictly true as I have always had the luxury of writing with the aid of a computer, though, when I pay bills, my pen does still function – very reluctantly – to sign cheques.) My first book was mainly factual, based on our family tree. That first attempt was lovingly created by hand – all my own work, writing, printing and binding, three copies only, a learning experience. Finding a publisher was never contemplated back then, it was a novelty and fun. Fiction was not attempted until the next year, in 2010. Another year later, and, after a very short search, I was lucky enough to find a publisher with a sense of humour who was interested in my work.
Where did the idea for “Please… Call me Derek” come from?
After a few false starts, I concluded that serious writing was not hitting the mark. As an amateur-dramatics performer many years ago I preferred comedy roles, so, attempting to write something light-hearted became the thought. My inspiration was to create a special character, one with a fairly unusual name who would gain sympathy through self-inflicted mishaps in simple everyday situations. To be honest, the plot just developed page by page, and, to my own amazement, eventually, I had created a ‘Derek’ story. I tried it out on a few friends, and was delighted to have some good feedback.
Apart from Derek my favourite character was Grandad Smith, which was yours?
As the creator of what is becoming a large fictional family, I really shouldn’t admit to having favourites. That would only cause jealousy and friction amongst them all and that would not be a good idea, now, would it? However, if you read each story you will find that the different characters take turns at playing centre stage in the various tales. Of course, Derek is the pivotal character always. He has to be my shining example of a hapless hero!
“Thelma” adds to the complications in the book, can you tell the readers why Sally’s Aunt Thelma was estranged from the family?
She was a naughty girl, and we all know what happens to naughty girls, don’t we? Continually falling-out with her father and her twin brother, when she was young, led to her leaving home as soon as she could. She has remained an outcast for most of her life, but, it shouldn’t have to continue forever like that. Perhaps she could become part of the family again? Would that be a good turn of events – maybe for her to become reconciled with them, now that she is older? Do you think that she could control her temper, and make peace with her brother, if she were promised a starring role in a ‘Derek’ book? What a brilliant idea! Yes, I might try that!
‘Sweaty’ and ‘Spider’ are great nicknames which you handle really well in the book, how much fun did you have thinking up these nicknames?
Being called ‘Blackie’ by my young pals is one of my own happy memories. We all had them, nicknames. As youngsters, using actual first names felt too proper, and using a surname was reserved for persons in authority, such as the hated schoolteacher, the minister – and the probation officer. A nickname back then was comforting, binding you to your pals – unless it was one you disliked, of course! Anyway, for Derek’s pals in his pre-school gang days, Toozlethwaite was a mouthful; with their childhood lisps it became ‘Thwaity’, and later progressed to ‘Sweaty’. As for Spider, well, that is a generational thing: his dad was called that – and his Grandad too, and, with him being tall and lanky, what other name could he possibly have?
The kidnappers only get £3000; do you think the absurdity of it is classic British comedy?
I’d like to think so. Having the bad guys win never seems morally correct for me, but then again when I write, unfortunately, the good guys tend to lose out too. Is it just me…?
Derek’s story continues in the next three books, can you give the readers a little hint as to what to expect?
One thing for certain is that Derek will inadvertently land himself in more trouble. If he gets married would you expect his life to become perfect? No, of course not! If he delves into his family history, will he find a few surprises? Yes, of course he will! Will he eventually find a subject for his longed-for book? Maybe, but you’ll have to read the stories to find the real answers to the questions, won’t you? Oh, and will he ever be rid of his nickname…?
Are you planning more Derek books?
To date, four books exist in the series, on the shelves as Paperbacks, and also accessible as Kindle versions. ‘Please…Call me Derek’, ‘Derek’s in Trouble’, ‘Derek’s Revenge’, they all came out during 2012; the fourth, ‘Derek’s Good Relations’, has only just been released in December 2013. The stories are in chronological order related to Derek’s adult life, and it is worth while reading them in sequence – if you dare to become hooked!
Do you have the publication date of your next book ready to whet the appetite of fans?
The fifth book is still a ‘work in progress’. It is called ‘Derek’s Secrets’ and is due for publication during 2014. Now, I need a favour, would somebody be good enough to tell me what this fifth story is supposed to be about? …Please!
Thank you Mac, I look forward to reading more of the Derek stories.