Interview with Phillip McCarron

How do you approach cover design?
From the early drafts of 'The Great Facepalm' I had clear vision for the cover design. I wanted it to be one of those covers that you notice different details in it every time you look at it, especially after reading the book. Obviously, I also needed something that would capture the attention of the casual browser, and I think I achieved that. It was a really tussle deciding between actually staging and photographing the cover with models or going down the route of a cartoon. Ultimately, I felt I could get away with more of the absurd elements on the cover if it were portrayed via the medium of cartoon. It's a very loose and satirical take on Da Vinci's Last Supper painting, a central and dejected figure surrounded by the utter madness of 21st century society.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I actually cover this in the introduction to my book, funnily enough. I grew up in Scotland. More like the Trainspotting version of Scotland than the Braveheart one. Arguably, my writing is wholly influenced by my Scottish upbringing. There is a natural occurring wit that seems to permeate all of Scottish culture and it manifests itself in everything from low-brow banter to razor-sharp one-liners. If you want to know more about Scottish banter, spend a Saturday afternoon in a Scottish bookies and the evening in an auld man's pub, but make sure to leave your sense of decency at the door.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
It is sad to say, but giving it away free is the only thing that has worked. Essentially, that defeats the purpose, in my opinion, of being an author. Contrary to popular belief, giving it away free doesn't really drum up future, paid downloads; the market of free readers and purchasing readers are almost entirely separate. The writing industry is governed by nepotism and cronyism, so for a solo author with no big-time connections, it's the proverbial David vs a 500 tonne nuke.
What do you read for pleasure?
Bizarrely, I don't read that many books for pleasure. I much prefer to read current events articles to sate my reading appetite. The only books I enjoy reading are the classics, the tried and tested books that all of humanity has banded together and let out a chorus of "Must read!" I mean books like Crime and Punishment, The Picture of Dorian Grey, King Solomon's Mines, Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, etc. However, I do have a soft spot for the Scottish author Irvine Welsh. I find his very unique brand of storytelling enthralling. Also, being Scottish myself, it's a little reminder of home, wherever I happen to be, when I open one of his novels.
Describe your desk
Ha ha. Well now. I'm actually in between desks at the moment, so I'm currently using an ironing board as a makeshift desk. That's how starving artists do it! When I'm not using the ironing board, I engage in the worst writing habits any author can fall into. I write in bed, on a laptop, with the television blaring in the background. It's highly uncomfortable and terribly distracting.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an ASUS tablet that doubles as an e-reader. I haven't found the need for a dedicated e-reader yet when my tablet can cover so many other functions. However, I will say, sometimes it's a distraction having your library just two clicks away from surfing the internet. Frequently I'll be in the middle of reading something and then the brain slug of social media or cats doing stupid things on youtube will devour my attention.
Published 2014-10-13.
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