I am pleased to welcome Eddie McGarrity to my blog today! I thoroughly enjoyed reading his interview, and found myself wishing I could fly to Scotland and sit down for some tea and have a real chat with him.
What book have you written/are promoting?
I’ve got 4 books published
In the Grotto: Elrood the Elf
In the Grotto: Universal Merit
The Village King
Eizekiel Forth: The Afterlife Detective
All are available from Amazon, with The Village King and The Afterlife Detective also available in paperback
Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent book?
In the Grotto: Universal Merit is a follow up to In the Grotto: Elrood the Elf. Both feature my most popular character, Elrood, who works at the toy factory at the North Pole. His boss is ‘the guy in the big red suit’ himself. These books are not for kids but they’re safe to read. Elrood works in the sort of places you and I have worked. He moans about his workload and colleagues while being madly in love with Astrid, one of his friends from the Finance Department.
They’re a gentle satire on the world of work and politics. Do you know the mayor of London? His name is Boris and at the North Pole, their Mayor is a blonde haired lady by the name of Doris!
Universal Merit sees Elrood in charge of an upgrade to the Naughty and Nice list which is being outsourced to the South Pole. Liz Ellor at O43 blog says it ‘has some snappy one liners that really make you laugh’.
There’s a Christmas element to the Elrood stories but they’re more about the character and the crazy situations he finds himself in and can be read all year round.
What childhood books inspired you to love reading and writing?
The first book I truly loved was called “The Book of Brownies” by Enid Blyton, which isn’t really cool, but it features these three ‘brownies’, elfin like creatures, who do something naughty and have to go on a quest to find their ‘goodness’ again. I read it over and over, and can still imagine a perilous river crossing at the climax of the story.
The next books, which were unmissable, were the Target novelisations of the Doctor Who television serials. In this modern era of DVD and home video, reading a novelisation was the only way to relive a movie or TV show. I grew up in a remote village on the Island of Islay and the library van used to come to our village once a term for us to borrow six books. My friend Angus and I used to borrow six Doctor Who books each and by the time the library van came back, Angus and I had read twelve Doctor Who books! One term the van had to come to us early, and we sat in the playpark telling each other the stories of the ones we didn’t have time to read.
I started writing stories as soon as I learned to write. My first stories were based on the TV show, Space 1999, and were retellings of that week’s episode but they contained an additional character, Space Captain Eddie. There would be little illustrations of the space ships and so on and I always remember having my mum buy very specific pads I liked using – do all writers have a stationery fetish?
Do you find time to write every day?
I do. I gave up work last year to focus on writing. I don’t always sit and type though. I make sure I do my research, notes, and plotting. It’s important to make sure you’ve got some time to think.
Then there’s my blogging. I try and talk about themes and ideas in my books. One recent post was about the Norse mythology I used as inspiration for The Afterlife Detective.
I also facebook and tweet in character as Elrood. It’s such fun. He’s quite rude about me, referring to me as ‘his typist’! And his followers are great at interacting with him. There’s a writer in the US, Debbie Ocean, who put some friendly pressure on the little guy to have Johnny Depp to follow her for Christmas.
What do you do when you get writer's block?
The best advice I’ve heard is from Robert McKee, the screenwriting guru, in his book ‘Story’. He says that the block is there because you don’t have all the ideas in your head. His example is if you can’t complete something about a family argument, then it’s because you don’t understand the dynamic in such a situation. McKee’s solution is going to the library and reading up on the subject. Alternatively, wait on the library van coming to your village.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished a book called ‘Tudors’ by Peter Ackroyd, which is the second part of his six-volume History of England. It tells the story of that turbulent part of English history from Henry VIII, and his six wives, through to the death of Elizabeth I. You could write six volumes about either of those monarchs but Ackroyd has written a very readable book in one volume. What’s very clever is most European history is about the big events – monarchs and wars – but these books try and shine a light on the ordinary people and how they live their lives.
I can’t wait for part three because, being Scottish myself, the starting off point will be the Scottish King, James VI, become King of England and calling this new place Great Britain.
What is your favorite season?
Summer. The days are longer, the sun occasionally shines in Scotland when there’s no rain, and you can go on a holiday. I was lucky enough to be in northern Norway last summer where it’s daylight for 24 hours. Incredible.
When you write, do you have a snack or beverage on hand?
I usually just have a glass of water on hand, but stop for frequent tea breaks. Since I work from home, I negotiated with the management, to ensure a frequent supply of Britain’s favourite drink; tea. And a scone.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Writing a good book is only 50% of what you need to do. How you properly approach agents and publishers; editing; and, if lucky, promotion take up the other 50%. It’s worth doing this right.
Be prepared for rejection but don’t let it put you off. There are a thousand reasons why a publisher or agent will not take you on. It doesn’t mean your work is bad. It might, though, so be prepared to write something else and send it to the same people. It takes the sting out of a rejection if you get a nice response from the agent or publisher – it means you got that bit right.
Keep writing. Study plots and structures of other novels. And keep going. Most people think they’ve got a book in them. The difference is – some people don’t get disheartened, make it to the end, and then get them published.
What is your favorite dessert?
Chocolate ice cream. And the best way to explain that is in three words: chocolate, ice, cream.