Friday, 27 January 2012

Sinclair Macleod's bit o' banter


Of all the Tweets I'd read, Sinclair Macleod's were the only ones to reference Irn Bru, Haggis and Glasgow. I was intrigued, having a fondness for the Dear Green Place myself, after working for a boss based there. In fact, so proudly Glaswegian was she that she referred to Edinburgh simply as 'the other place'. Needless to say, we never had team meetings there.

Somewhere in the annals of this blog, I think I've mentioned Sauciehall Street, and possibly the Clockwork Orange and Kelvingrove. Perhaps too that Glasgow has always reminded me of New York. So I'm delighted to share a virtual conversation with Sinclair Macleod, who talks about his writing and how what makes him tick. It'll take your breath away.

1. What motivates you as a writer?

Since my days at secondary school I have always had a passion for writing. I wrote sketches for school shows and concerts. As an adult I started several novels but never got any further than nine chapters of a space adventure.

When my son, Calum died after contracting bacterial meningitis, I realised that life was too short to put my dreams on hold.

Now I write because I want people to enjoy the stories I have to tell and every word is inspired by and dedicated to Calum.

2. When you started writing your debut novel, had you planned it out first or did the book develop organically?

I started with a plan but at times there seemed to be someone else in control. I created a character in the first book that was to be a regular in the series. One day I finished a chapter and discovered that the character was dead, as if someone had killed it off without my input. It was not what I had planned when I sat down but the story took over and it turned out to be a crucial part of the plot.

3. Does the Glasgow in your books differ in any ways from the Glasgow that people know and love?

Glasgow is a crucial character in the book. It is a city of extreme contrasts in terms of architecture with everything from the mediaeval cathedral to the cutting edge contemporary designs of the modern riverside.

I use many real locations that are very distinctly Glaswegian, such as the former Templeton Carpet Factory that houses Craig’s office and Victorian opulence of the City Chambers, the home of the city council.

Other locations are amalgamations of real places with a little bit of my imagination. The pub that Craig and his friends go to is a combination of three of my favourite bars in the city.

I hope that my descriptions of the city help to give the story a sense of place and character.

4. How do you balance your time spent on writing, editing and promoting your work?

At the moment I am in an intense phase of writing as I try to finish the third book in the series. My wife tends to be my sounding board for creative editing decisions and she helps me to structure the books. My editor, who happens to be my cousin, does the technical editing and I will do a little once the book is getting close to publication.

Promotion is the area that I found the most difficult and the area that does not come naturally. I have promoted the books through local libraries and social media and my blog. I have also had some coverage in the local press recently; which I hope will help to spread the word. Promoting the third book will occupy the majority of my time for a couple of months after its release before I start on the next adventure.

5. Do you find that writing is a cathartic process and what real life influences do you draw upon?

I do find writing a cathartic process, it is a great way to still my thoughts and allow me to escape into my imagination.

I love to watch people and what I learn often finds its way into my characters. For example, I was out with some friends in a pub when a young man approached and offered us some cheap cigarettes. His bag still had the luggage tag from an airline attached to it. It was a perfect little cameo for the book to show one of the many aspects of the city that makes it an interesting place to live.

6. When did you know you had a series and where would you like to take it?

I must confess I wrote the first with the intention of creating a series of books. I think as a writer, a series gives you more scope to develop and evolve your characters. The fact that the first story had been in my head for around eleven years before I made a concerted effort to finish it meant I had plenty of other ideas backed up behind it.

I am hoping to be able to produce audiobooks with the help of an actor friend.

7. What’s your favourite part of Glasgow?

That’s a tough one. The West End is a cosmopolitan and lively part of the city and is home to my protagonist.

If I had to choose a building it would be the House for an Art Lover. It was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and showcases some of his finest interior design features.

8. Which books have you written and where can we find them?

The first book is called ‘The Reluctant Detective’ and the second is ‘The Good Girl’. They both feature the insurance investigator turned private detective, Craig Campbell.

You can learn more about them at my website http://www.reluctantdetective.com. Both are available for Kindle, iPad and as paperbacks from Amazon.


4 comments:

  1. Hi Derek, it's Debs from Strictly Writing. I still haven't managed to find a contact e-mail for you, so thought I'd drop a comment on your blog. If you still want to 'guest' me I'd be thoroughly delighted - I published a second teenage book on Kindle Direct last night and I'm feeling very glad about it :) oh, and if you're on FB or Twitter, feel free to DM me: Debs Riccio/DebsJRiccio. TTFN :)

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  2. HIya Debs,

    If you go my my web pages - www.professional-writer.co.uk, you can see my contact details. I'm never sure what's public and what's private on FB and Twitter!

    Let me know if you have your own questions or you'd like some from me.

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  3. I'm a musician. while this Macleod is a writer, I find my own creative process when writing music is very similar. Even the geographies of a place find their way into my music, though it may be references to other composers and songs which weave their way in.

    sometimes, I may work WEEKS on a track. and then? nothing. it doesn't go anywhere, like it trailed off in to some cul de sac and then closed off.

    other times, it's like a wake up, go right down to the train station and find myself on the outskirts of a city in a field having found just the right comnbination of beats, melody and 'feel' for a track. it just flows...

    thanks for the repost on MacLeod!

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    1. HI Morgan and thanks for stopping by. Sometimes it feels as if the creativity flows through us and we are, at best, a hollow vessel doing its best to keep out of the way. For me, that's the space to be in for the most interesting work - when characters speak for themselves and I'm just taking notes and trying to record their experiences faithfully.

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