Interview with Angus McLean

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I don't spend much time writing, unfortunately, so that leaves plenty of time for normal life. My work is very busy and demands a lot, both within and outside my work days. I try to spend as much time as I can with my family, as they are my rock. I have some great friends who are very dear to me and who I never have enough time for, so I'm not really sure why they stick around! And when I have time, I read some of my favourite authors and watch some of my favourite TV shows or movies.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do, and it was great! To be fair it was almost a complete transcription of an 80's Brat Pack action movie, Red Dawn. I saw the movie, probably far too young,and loved it, so I imagined myself and my mates as the Wolverines and went for it! I was the Jed character and we were fighting Russian invaders-it was the 80's, of course.
What is your writing process?
Very.....very.....very....slow! I don't have a set routine and tend to be very piecemeal. When I get on a roll I'm in the zone and I love it. I just wish I rolled more...
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, but it was probably something by Enid Blyton, who I read a lot of as a very young kid. Lots of innocent fun and the good guys always won!
How do you approach cover design?
I have a lovely friend who has done my covers. Vicki of Sweetarts is a freakin' genius and instinctively gets what I want better than I could ever tell her.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Goldfinger by Ian Fleming.
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
LA Requiem by Robert Crais
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Any of the Shane Scully series by Stephen J Cannell

Great authors all round and great characters, great stories, great memories. I've read them all multiple times.
What do you read for pleasure?
Crime thrillers mostly, anything by Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Robert B Parker, Peter James and Harlan Coben. Spy thrillers including the James Bond series and the continuation novels by John Gardner and Raymond Benson. It doesn't have to be gritty or technically accurate, but it has to be entertaining. Plus I subscribe to Writing Magazine from the UK, which is a fantastic source of inspiration and guidance.
Describe your desk
A shambles! Bits of paper everywhere, half drunk cups of tea and general chaos.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a provincial city in New Zealand. It was a safe, conservative upbringing and my imagination ran wild. I read a lot and had a lot of adventures, which is confirmed by the amount of time I spent visiting the hospital with broken bones!
When did you first start writing?
I first started as a young kid, rewriting my favourite movies and TV shows. I was usually the leading man and was a private eye, a cop, a gangbuster, a soldier, a spy, a pirate; you name it, I was it.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Old Friends is my first published book, and it centres around the relationships of the lead characters. A private eye couple and their friend who is in trouble, it is essentially a crime story but the characters are the guts of it. The way the good guys interact with each other is how friends normally interact. There are no superheroes, nobody leaping a building in a single bound, just normal people doing an unusual job.

I read a lot but I haven't found anything that takes me back to my youth. I used to devour TV shows like Magnum, PI, Simon and Simon, Riptide, Stingray and MacGyver. Action, adventure, fun, good against bad; cool cars, punch ups, shootouts, all great stuff.

My ambition is to write entertaining adventures with Everyman characters who do unusual things but still have to deal with normal life. One of my characters constantly drops food on himself and another is always having car trouble. I like seeing normal people in abnormal situations and watching how they deal with it.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I had always had the idea of using Smashwords to launch my first publication, and after two days it has been great. More than 100 downloads in a day has exceeded what I ever thought possible for an unknown,unpublished writer. 100 people want to read my book; really?? What an amazing feeling.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating a new world. The characters I write about move through my own world, the things they do and the places they go to are all based on reality, some of the people they meet are also based on real people (only based though, some are better and some are worse-and no, none of them are based on you!).
What are you working on next?
I have a backlog of work I want to get out there.

I am completing another Chase Investigations case and I also have a spy thriller I've been working on for some time which is novel length and almost complete. I've got a Special Forces operator as my technical adviser for that, which is incredibly interesting.

The Chase Investigations series is my main thrust at the moment, I really enjoy writing about those guys and girls, and it's all novellas so they don't take too long to write-the biggest delay is my own from pecking at the keyboard like a demented chicken, two fingers all the way.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I think the independence of it really. I like the idea of what I write being what is published, and being published when I want it to be. I'm not poo-pooing traditional publishing at all, it obviously works in some ways, but the balance of power has shifted. If you have a viable platform from which to publish, and people want to read your stuff, why not?
Who are your favorite authors?
Michael Connelly is right up there, he's huge and I love all his stuff-not that keen on his defence lawyer, Mickey Haller, but I still read him.

Ian Fleming was a massive influence from early on. Stephen J Cannell was just a phenomenon, he created over 40 TV shows and went on to be a successful novelist. His visualisation and characters are awesome, he had a massive output.

Robert Crais is one I will always rush to get, and Robert B Parker was like Cannell, huge output but with several different series. Easy, entertaining reads. It's such a loss that both those guy have passed away now.

Peter James writes great crime thrillers set in Brighton and I can identify with his lead man a lot. He has the police procedural stuff down pat.

Adrian Magson is one I've got into recently and he's very good, I'm nearly finished his Harry Tate series.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family, my work, the opportunity to experience new things.

Every day is different and although I love my bed, I have to see what's round the corner. Sometimes it's supercool and exciting, busting down a drug dealer's door and catching them with a load of gear; sometimes it's boring and mundane, preparing an indepth report or getting my head around a complex file. But every day has something different about it and it gives me a tingle of excitement to know that I don't know what's coming next.

When I get on a writing roll that's a huge buzz, the word just flow onto the screen and I'm transported to a different world for a while.
What do your fans mean to you?
Until yesterday I never knew I had any! It amazes me that people want to read my stuff, it really does. It seriously blows me away and I can't thank the readers enough for the incredible lift it has given me. It just makes me want to write more so they'll keep on reading. Fans rock, man!
Would you rather be prolific or perfect?
Perfection is so hard to achieve, we all strive for it but to be honest, I'd rather have more stuff out there that people are entertained by and which brightens their day, than try and write The Next Great Thing that will be studied in English classes for a generation or two.

That's not to say I want to just write crap, because I don't. I still want to write quality, but I'm not getting hung up over being perfect and life changing and making someone cry because my book was so deep and meaningful. Life is over before you know it; we're here for a good time, not a long time!
Why do you use a pen name?
Police officers these days are under intense scrutiny from all angles, some of it well intentioned and some of it not. I prefer to keep my home life separate from my work life, so a degree of secrecy is required for that alone.

Plus, in my line of work you expect to cross swords with the wrong type of people. With nearly two decades under my belt I've had my fair share of people who would be happy to get at me any way they can. It makes sense to me to remain incognito, at least for now. Maybe one day it'll be different, but until then...
Your new book, Smoke and Mirrors, is a break away from the Chase Investigations series. Why did you do a standalone?
I've always loved spy novels and movies, and pretty much grew up with Bond from an early age. Bourne came later, then the reboot of Bond, which is right up my alley. Smoke and Mirrors is my shot at that genre, lots of action, sex, exotic locales, real nasty villains and heroic but fallible characters.

I don't think Smoke and Mirrors will be the last we see of Craig Archer-he's knocking at my door with another mission already, so I'll have to see where that takes us.

The team at Chase Investigations haven't gone either, they will definitely be back-they're too much fun to let go of!
Published 2015-02-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Service: Warlock
Price: Free! Words: 26,390. Language: English. Published: March 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
144 civilians were slaughtered 20 years ago, when a Serb unit wiped out their village. Major Josef Durakovic, commander of the Red Wolves, escaped from The Hague and has been on the run since. Now a slip of the tongue indicates he could be hiding out in Auckland. Charlie Nickals and his team of spies have one mission-identify and neutralise a wanted war criminal. Code name, Warlock.
The Country Club Caper
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 47,080. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Mystery & Detective
Nicki Cooper wants nothing more than to be a private eye, but her dad won't let her join his agency. When a simple theft case comes up at a new health spa and he's out of town, Nicki seizes the opportunity. But when the first attempt is made on her life, she quickly realises this is no easy job. The bodies start piling up and the bullets and one-liners fly in this action packed debut series novel
Dirty Deeds
Series: Chase Investigations. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,850. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
A beautiful client with a mysterious past draws the Chase Investigations crew into a dangerous case of blackmail. Stacey Burns is being leaned on by an unseen villain, but she's holding back vital information, putting tough PI's Dan Crowley and Mike Manning in harm's way. With a violent biker gang involved, and a blackmailer who will stop at nothing, Mike's fixation may prove to be their undoing.
Tangled Webs
Series: Chase Investigations. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,530. Language: English. Published: October 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
War-torn Bosnia comes to downtown Auckland as the past meets the present. The private eyes of Chase Investigations contend with Mike's mysterious past with an organised crime family, secrets are revealed and lives are on the line. Life changing decisions are made and blood is spilled when the past meets the present.
Sleeping Dogs
Series: Chase Investigations, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 16,660. Language: English. Published: July 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Sometimes doing a favour ain't such a great idea. The private eyes of Chase Investigations take on the case of a young cop accused of assault. With some heavy political interference and a drug-fuelled fixer involved, plus Dan Crowley's old enemy DI Kennedy leading the charge, this is a case they quickly wish they had never taken on.
Honey Trap
Series: Chase Investigations, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 16,580. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
A honey trap gone wrong. A violent stalker in the shadows. A mysterious past. It all adds up to a tough case for the private eyes of Chase Investigations.
Old Friends
Series: Chase Investigations, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,360. Language: English. Published: July 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(4.00 from 1 review)
Tough Auckland private eye Dan Crowley faces off against a gang of murderous thugs when he is called on to help out his old mate, Mike Manning. Dan and his resourceful wife Molly investigate to clear Mike's name and cross swords with an old nemesis while they do so.