Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog. (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.) I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend, David McCaffrey, had some very captivating responses which I’m sure will enchant you, as well. (And please note, he writes in my own genre, so I particularly think his book sounds amazing!) After you read his interview, please be sure to hop on over to his Facebook page and Twitter account, and follow him for a regular dose of his charisma and wit. And now, I turn the microphone over to David…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is David McCaffrey. I’m 39 and currently work as an Assistant Clinical Matron in Infection Prevention and Control in a local acute hospital. I have a Kelly, a Jake and a baby Liam on the way!
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/david.mccaffrey.129
Twitter – https://twitter.com/daveymac1975
Pintrest – www.pinterest.com/davidmccaffrey
3. How many books have you written?
Hellbound is my first novel.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
Hellbound is currently on Britain’s Next Bestseller and in the middle of its pre order campaign in order to try and secure a publishing deal. Please see: https://britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/book/index/HellboundTheTallyMan
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I have always loved writing, ever since I was a little boy. I entered a competition when I was 7 or 8 with a tale about a witch who was afraid of heights and won a set of coloured pens! But I started taking it seriously after the birth of my first son, Jake. I felt it was something I could be good at and that I had the ability to tell stories that would entertain people.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
Probably the fact that I am able to take my vivid imagination and put it down on paper in the hope that someone else will enjoy what I have written. And I have fantastic support from my friends and family who have always been honest about what works and what doesn’t in a story. It’s good to have people around you who you can trust to offer you constructive criticism, because in the end it only helps you to construct a tighter narrative.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
Hard to select just a few but if I had to I guess I would say my favorite authors are Steve Alten, John Grisham, Stephen King, George. R. R. Martin, Simon Kernick and Stephen Leather. And at the moment I’m reading ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes which is an awesome story of a man who formerly worked in the world of espionage and has to content with preventing an act of global terrorism. It is a fantastic, gripping tale and one of the best books of the year so far.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
I love my Kindle, but to be honest I don’t think you can ever beat the feel and smell of an actual paperback or hardback book! I’m a bit of a traditionalist…I buy CD’s and DVD’s rather than downloading them. I like how they all look on a bookshelf!
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
For ‘Hellbound’ I wrote in the third person because I felt it made it easier for the reader to relate to the characters by maintaining that level of distance. The antagonist does some horrific things and I felt in the first person it would be harder for the reader to feel towards him what I intended them to feel if it sounded like events where being described in real time.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
I read nearly every night. Maybe only a few pages of something, but I find it helps me settle my overactive mind!
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
I might read 6 or 7 books during the course of a year. And at one time, I have been known to be reading 3!!
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
Hellbound is a psychological thriller and proudly fits into that category. How it differs from other books in that genre is that it’s concerned with consequences of being remorseless and how do you make someone suffer who is truly evil. Is it possible to make them understand what they have taken from you? And if so, where do you draw the line between revenge and justice. All of these elements come into play in Hellbound, but play out in a way I think most people will find surprising.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
Oddly, most of the inspiration for Hellbound came from Kung Fu Panda! The film features the ultimate isolated prisoner who finds himself freed and only the most unlikely hero can save the day. Silence of the Lambs was also inspiration in the sense that Hannibal Lecter is an evil individual but you warm to him because he has bizarre moral standards you can relate to. And I threw in a bit of Groudhog Day and An Inside Man for something a little different!
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
My target audience is 18 and above and I think it’s a story that anyone will enjoy. I think those readers who enjoy thrillers will like it for its slight spin on convention and those for whom thrillers are not their first choice of book will be pleasantly surprised with its accessibility and fast pace.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
Hellbound begins with the execution of an infamous serial killer, Obadiah Stark, witnessed by the world’s media and one reporter, Joe O’Connell. When certain elements of the execution begin to raise suspicion, Joe decides to investigate only to find out that not everything is as it seems. Parallel to that, Obadiah finds himself in an afterlife surrounded by a family and people who seem to have no recollection of who he is and what he has done. Their journeys converge to a point where the reader has to ask themselves where the line between justice and revenge lies and what secrets are being kept.
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
I try to write five days a week. Working full time as a nurse and with a family, it is sometimes difficult to find long periods of time where I’m free so I mostly tend to write on an evening for a few hours at a time. At the end of the day, if you enjoy it enough and are passionate about it you make the time.
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
On average, I will write maybe six/seven hundred words a sitting.
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
For Hellbound, I was fortunate enough to have New York Times Bestselling author Steve Alten as my writing coach and he edited my manuscript for me. For my as yet untitled second novel my beautiful other half Kelly is doing the honors. She is very honest about what does and doesn’t work and is really good at spotting typo’s!
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e. Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I was taught an invaluable lesson and that is to create a beat sheet for the entire story. This is essentially the key ‘beats’ or scenes of the story in short bullet points. By doing this you can easily see which areas scenes work, which don’t and whether some can be moved elsewhere for greater impact.
Once the beat sheet is complete, I can begin writing each chapter. Certain aspects may change with the writing as you begin to see how aspects of your story can be better served by being more fleshed out, or whether certain characters need more backstory or characterisation.
I will always re-read and edit what I have written the previous day with a fresh perspective and then continue writing from there. I also always have a backstory for the key characters; personal history, education, relationships so that they are fully realised people once they are being put down on the page.
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
Inspiration? Probably Kelly and my two sons. Kelly is definitely my muse and most ardent supporter though I do have other people who continue to be extremely important and enthusiastic about my writing.
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
Hellbound took my just over two years. I would have had it completed quicker but life gets in the way occasionally! My second novel will be finished by the end of this year.
24. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
In Hellbound, the antagonist’s name needed to be something biblical and powerful yet at the same tie unusual. Hence I settled on Obadiah Stark for the name of the antagonist.
The protagonist was given the friendly Irish name of Joe O’Connell. The supporting characters where named after people I knew at work and some friends.
As for the location, I didn’t want to choose America or England but it needed to be somewhere familiar and relatable so I chose Ireland. The other reason for choosing Ireland was due to the fact that The Blasket Islands (a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland) are quite a desolate place and seemed ideal to place a supermax prison where you might want to keep the worst of humanity out of the way! Though the locations in Hellbound are real, many of the organisations and businesses are fictional.
25. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
The only thing I like is some music in the background, something instrumental and either classical or a film score. Anything with lyrics and I get distracted!
26.What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I will only write in a really old wooden chair that irritates Kelly as it matches nothing in the house!
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
27. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
It would be fascinating to be Obadiah Stark for a day! Though having had him in my head for the past two years I feel as though I know him well…which is worrying as he is a serial killer!!
28. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
Easy! John Cavizel as Obadiah Stark, Stephen Amell as Joe O’Connell and Jamie Alexander as Vicky Carter.
29. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Researching all about the death sentence and the process of an execution was quite challenging, as it isn’t necessarily information that is readily available, even in this age of the Internet. Though you could find basic information, finding out specific details about the drugs used and the exact routines used during the execution of a prisoner was at the same time difficult and disturbing.
Thank you, David, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.