Interview with Michael Gallagher

Published 2019-12-29.
Please introduce yourself…
My name is Michael Gallagher; I was born in New Zealand. I moved to London in my early twenties. and it's now my home. Until quite recently I was a teacher by profession, but I have since retired to write full time. I used to be an avid reader but, with my writing now taking precedence, I'm lucky if I manage to read one book per month—usually for the Canada Water Crimes & Thrillers reading group that I attend.
You're a writer of historical fiction and more especially of cozy thrillers. Tell us about Gooseberry, the main character in your Send for Octavius Guy series.
Gooseberry (whose real name is Octavius Guy) first saw light of day in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone. He was Mr Bruff the solicitor’s errand boy, who played a pivotal role in tracking down the real culprit who stole the gem. He was nicknamed Gooseberry on account of his bulging eyes. Collins never gives us his age, but I’d estimate he was about ten. By the time I take up his story, the year is 1852. He’s now fourteen, possibly a little skinnier but not that much taller. He’s still working as Mr Bruff’s errand boy yet he hankers for more; in his mind’s eye, he sees himself as a detective.
What lies in store for him in your latest book, Oh, No, Octavius!?
To start with, a corpse with its face battered in but with remarkably little blood in evidence. A torn scrap of parchment in the dead man’s hand, which appears to be in code. An account of the sacking of Highbury Manor during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, and the subsequent beheading of its owner, Grand Prior Hales of the Knights Hospitaller. And behind all this lies a faint whiff of buried treasure…oh, and a room full of poisonous plants.
Smashwords suggests an interesting question: What do your fans mean to you?
There's a growing number of people who've read my entire canon of novels, who now consider themselves firm fans. They're all passionate readers who've taken the time and trouble to post great reviews, letting other readers know how much they’ve enjoyed my books. Without their reviews, their feedback, and their continued support, I would never have been able to build my reputation as an author. For me, the truly magic part of the whole writing process is when I finish a book and send it out into the world, and it manages to touch the lives of people everywhere.
Is there one review that sticks in your memory?
How do you choose between “To me, it reads like an old time radio show. It leaves you breathless.”, “Thank you so much for writing these books, and for bringing these characters to life. I have a feeling they'll always be lurking around in my head. Excellent, excellent, excellent!”, “My favorite Victorian boy investigator sets off to solve a new mystery…Words cannot describe just how much I enjoy Octavius.”, or even, “Pour some tea or a wee dram, put your feet up, and enjoy cover to cover.”? These are generous words indeed.
Who or what do you read for pleasure?
My favourite novels are A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I revisit each of them every few years or so. I love Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone and The Woman in White. In the early 1990s I managed to collect all of Agatha Christie's whodunnits from second-hand stalls and charity shops, but many are now in such poor repair that they won't survive another reading. I love historical fiction, particularly by Steven Saylor, Philip Kerr, and C. J. Sansom, the three of whom employ some form of detective, and Anchee Min and Tracy Chevalier, who generally don't. I've just discovered the Flavia de Luce novels of Alan Bradley. They're set in 1950s Britain and feature a precocious 11-year-old girl with a penchant for detecting who likes nothing more than to obsess about poisons.
So what are you working on next?
Send for Octavius Guy #5: Octavius Guy and the Case of the Recalcitrant Corpse. When a box of poisoned chocolates leaves one of Bertha’s charges fighting for his life, Bertha calls upon Octavius for help. Who would dare to attack the residents of the Bucket of Blood…and in such a cowardly and underhand manner? Gooseberry and his friends investigate, only to discover that one of their number harbours a startling and unforeseen past.
Sounds great. When can we expect to see it?
This last book took me three years, so I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Thank you.
No, thank you!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Oh, No, Octavius!
Series: Send for Octavius Guy, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 31!) Words: 88,240. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: December 31, 2019 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
(4.86 from 7 reviews)
The well-heeled residents of Highbury have a problem: the Reverend Allaston Burr. When a final appeal to Queen Victoria fails to remove him from his post, they turn to Gooseberry for help. Join fifteen-year-old Octavius and his ragtag bunch of friends as they investigate the detested cleric, only to discover that someone has a far more permanent form of removal in mind.
Big Bona Ogles, Boy!
Series: Send for Octavius Guy, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 31!) Words: 78,380. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2016 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Octavius Guy and the Case of the Mendacious Medium. Join Gooseberry, the Victorian boy detective, in the lead-up to Christmas as he and his ragtag bunch of friends investigate a shadowy spiritualist medium recently arrived from Boston, Massachusetts, only to discover that somebody desperately wants her dead.
Octopus
Series: Send for Octavius Guy, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 31!) Words: 78,870. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2016 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
(4.50 from 6 reviews)
Octavius Guy and the Case of the Throttled Tragedienne. When the leading actress dies in mysterious circumstances on stage during a performance of The Duchess of Malfi at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Gooseberry, the fourteen-year-old Victorian boy detective, feels duty-bound to investigate.
Gooseberry
Series: Send for Octavius Guy, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 31!) Words: 65,420. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2014 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
(4.40 from 5 reviews)
Octavius Guy and the Case of the Thieving Maharajah. The fourteen-year-old Victorian boy detective’s first big case. Based on characters from Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone”.
Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts – An Illustrated Guide to 19th Century Spiritualism
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 26,030. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2014 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Nonfiction » History » History of things, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Historical
(4.00 from 1 review)
Originally conceived as a blog to accompany Gallagher's Victorian novels, and freely available to read online, this guide provides a great introduction to the fascinating phenomenon of 19th Century spiritualism. If you can't tell your materializations from your Mumlers, or never realized just how physical ghost-grabbing could get, then this may well be the perfect book for you.
The Scarab Heart
Series: The Involuntary Medium, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 31!) Words: 81,360. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2013 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Historical, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
(5.00 from 12 reviews)
Egypt, 1885. Theft and murder are afoot at an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings. Lizzie Blaylock, a young materializing medium of some renown, and her mentor, Miss Otis, thought they were there to vacation, especially as Lizzie has decided she wants nothing more to do with her powers. Her powers, however, have other things in mind.
The Bridge of Dead Things
Series: The Involuntary Medium, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. (Free until March 31!) Words: 86,940. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2013 by Seventh Rainbow Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Historical, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
(4.83 from 12 reviews)
Murky Victorian London. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Blaylock has done her best to fill her absconding mother’s shoes, but her father is lazy and feckless, and her little sister is riddled with tuberculosis. When Lizzie has a fit at school, for which she is expelled, she and those around her slowly begin to realize that she may have special powers…powers to communicate with the dead.