Interview with John McCool

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Oh the memories. I grew up in northern Australia, on the east coast. It was a wild place then and that hasn't changed much. The place is either bone dry or flooded depending on the season. It's always hot. Rugged mountains tumble down to the Pacific Ocean. The beaches are broad and often deserted. And crocs and sharks and stingers inhabit the warm waters of the Coral Sea. We were quite feral, my siblings and I. It was a dangerous and wild kind of childhood that really fired the imagination. It was an easy choice to set Murdering Point in the region.
When did you first start writing?
Primary School. Always crazy adventures: a shark monstering a coastal town (yes, before Jaws), a thirsty man lost in the parched outback, a WW2 fighter pilot shot down over the Pacific and stranded on a tropical island. I've written ever since. Short stories, travel articles, social commentary and novels.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Silver Skates by Hans Brinker. I remember it very well. That's because I had trouble reading early on. My parents were worried about me and paid a tutor to help. She was a dear old lady who simply brought along that book and listened patiently as I worked through it. I stumbled through and it must have been painful to listen to at first. But I gradually gained confidence. That old lady's patient approach was perfect and I haven't had any problems reading since. I owe her a lot.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
To Kill a Mockingbird because it challenged racism and produced a strong legal character fighting for justice. A Time to Kill because it explores racial tensions and legal and personal drama in one slick package. Dirt Music by Tim Winton, that expansive exploration of modern life in one of Australia's frontier states. The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan because it tenderly explores fatherhood and the nature of love. Cannery Row because it's chock-full of colour and character.
What do you read for pleasure?
Heavy legal tomes. Just kidding. Short stories and great novels when time permits. A lot of airline magazines. Adventure travel articles: SCUBA diving, sailing, walking in faraway lands, you name it I'm interested in it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle. Say no more.
What is your writing process?
I think about my stories all the time. Can't help it. Running, driving, waiting around outside court. Sometimes sitting around in court listening to a judge's summing up. So that's how the breadth of the story comes about. That's not enough though; at some point you have to actually sit down and write. I try to do this every day, usually at night. I don't use notes much and I like to start at the beginning and work to the end. Lately though, I've gotten into the habit of writing certain scenes from different parts of the book. I think this is because my current work is still fairly unformed. I know how it starts and will end, but I'm struggling with the mechanics of getting there.
Describe your desk
Post-modern trash. Books and papers everywhere, many sporting coffee rings or beer and wine stains. Car keys and phone lost somewhere in the rubble. Just a small spot cleared for my laptop.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Murdering Point. It's the law, you see. As criminal defence counsel you see and hear a lot. You learn a lot and sometimes it challenges your trust in the system. You see men and women behaving badly. Offenders. Cops. Lawyers. I wanted to portray a jaded lawyer challenged by an innocent man who looks guilty. I wanted to challenge the justice system in those circumstances and imagine how things might turn out. Of course, I'm a sucker for love so there is some of that pulsing away under the surface as well.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Desperation. Yes really. I had an agent who represented my work with a number of publishers. My works were read and you know, the feedback was always positive, always encouraging. The catch was always that there is just so much good stuff out there and 'we can only afford to publish a weeny amount of it all'. In the end I just wanted to have my work read. I want people to enjoy the characters and the stories. To laugh and maybe to cry but more than anything else to enjoy.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Steady on. Ask me again in a year.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Escape. The process of sitting down and leaving your life for a while. I think you have to do that if you're going to write well: to leave where and who you are behind and submerge yourself for a time in that imagined world.
What do your fans mean to you?
Well mum's gone now. And dear old dad's busy just living day to day. My daughter means the world to me. She says she's proud of me and I reckon that is as much as anyone can hope for. My siblings and mates like my writing. As for the fans who will find me through Smashwords, well, they mean a lot. I hope they enjoy my work. After all, that's what writing is all about for me. To have people read and be moved by my work. To escape for a while. To enjoy.
What are you working on next?
I've completed a second novel. It's very different to Murdering Point. This one is a humorous escape with a love interest to boot. It's a kind of The Hangover meats Fern Gully. I'm still thinking about the title: The Hangover Tree, The Sweetwater Pilgrims, Smashed. It's on the way so look out.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Truth is, sometimes I don't. I've been known to bash away on the Apple while sipping coffee in bed. I know this is a bad habit but I'll let you in on a secret: this is far from my worst.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Work. A lot of work. That's the thing about being a criminal defence lawyer, work isn't going to dry up. I've got a small circle of close friends and time with them seems to revolve around food, beer and wine. That means I have to run a little and walk in the bush when I can. Add ocean swimming and that's it, my time not writing is more than accounted for. Oh, and then there's my blog, Naked Counsel Blogspot.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Smashwords of course.
How do you approach cover design?
I commissioned Book Launch for that but I did have some ideas. For Murdering Point I wanted simplicity and drama. I wanted a burning cane field because that reflects the climax of the novel. I think Book Launch has done a really good job of imagining the cover. It captures the final gothic climax of Murdering Point.
Published 2016-07-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Murdering Point
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 115,970. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom
A sweltering Australian town ignites when a women is raped. An Aborigine is arrested and lawyer Michael Doyle defends him. Doyle acts with practiced cynicism until Jo, an idealistic American joins the defence. She believes Lightning is innocent. Together they face threats and violence. The county burns and soon they fight not for justice but for life. They flee and make a stand at Murdering Point.