Interview with Don McCann

What do your fans mean to you?
As with any type of entertainment, they’re simply everything. Without fans to be entertained, there would be no entertainment. I can’t believe there are entertainers out there who shun their fans. I can understand not wanting to be stalked, and things like that, but for events, signings, tours and things, you shouldn’t just hide out in the hotel and be like, “Oh, I hate all that stuff…” No. ‘…all that stuff…’ is what it’s all about. If it weren’t for ‘…all that stuff…’ you’d be back home, grinding out your 9-5, instead of hiding out in your hotel room. You’ve got to give back. The fans deserve it. <ok, you hit a nerve with this one—rant off>
What is your writing process?
I think of stories as coming from a seed and you use questions to grow that seed into a story. For example, you start with a situation: A woman is driving down the road. Then you ask questions: how old is she? What race is she? What kind of car? What color is the car? Where is she driving from and to? Why is she driving? Is she alone? There are hundreds of questions that can come from one, simple situation and those questions create even more questions. Put those answers in a logical order, sprinkle in some dialogue (or not), location and atmosphere and you have a story.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I finish a scene and I can FEEL everything I just wrote. Sometimes, it’s a fist-pumping “YES!” moment. Sometimes, the scene actually moves me to tears. Other times, I smack the keyboard for the final period of the paragraph and just sit back with a deep sigh of contentment, knowing I’ve just communicated exactly what I wanted.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
BROWN SPIDERS. I wrote it in my high school Creative Writing class. It was a horror short about spiders taking over the world. I got an A. I still have it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
THE EXORCIST, by William Peter Blatty. I was in fourth grade and my Mom left it lying around. I picked it up and wasn’t able to put it down. I read that book three times in a row. I know I’d read other books before that, but that was the first one that really hit me. I wasn’t scared, I was more fascinated than anything else.
How do you approach cover design?
Since I’ve decided to do all my own covers, so far (yes, I’m cheap), I approach it very simply. The simpler, the better. If I were to think about it, I look at my covers like haiku. How can I say the most about my book with the least imagery? I think I did pretty well with the EDO BLOOD series. Book I introduces Mitsui and the cover shows her as a powerful character. Book II introduces Sung and showing him as the dragonslayer says all we need to know about him. And finally, Book III is where Mitsui finally faces off against Kenji. The background, a stylized Mt. Fuji at sunrise, is consistent for all three because, mountains are a part of both locations, Japan and China, and the sun indicates that all my vampire characters are, for one reason, or another, immune to the sun.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Brian Lumley’s NECROSCOPE series. I love that he created a whole parallel world to explain his vampire origin. But, what’s REALLY cool is, his series didn’t even start out like a vampire series. His character just kind of stumbled onto a vampire and the rest, as they say, was history. It’s also cool that he was able to write side-stories from this series. It looks like mine is going to go the same way; I already see two side-stories, but I digress….
What do you read for pleasure?
Horror, action/espionage, martial arts, legal thrillers and some police procedurals. The police procedurals are kind of an odd choice, for me, but I like the ones where we get to peek into the criminal mind. That makes them almost horror for me.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Facebook, Twitter and Smashwords. Once the print version is available, I’m going to get business cards with all the links. After that, I plan on doing giveaways, readings, signings and things like that around my hometown.
Describe your desk
Cluttered, but not messy. Looking around, I mostly see toys and things that my darling daughters have given me. I’m a little surprised by this; I hadn’t realized there were so many. I guess I’m more focused on them than I thought!
What are you working on next?
Book II, of course. I’m at page 250 now, but I can already see about 20 pages I can cut. Even so, it’s getting pretty wordy and there’s a lot I still need to include. There’s a chance that Book II might actually turn into two books. I’ll let you know.
Who are your favorite authors?
Brian Lumley—his NECROSCOPE series is simply the best vampire series I’ve ever read. Seeing the universe he created is what made me work harder at perfecting mine. I didn’t intend to do a vampire origin, but he made me see that I had no choice. Vince Flynn (r.i.p.)—I just love the way he writes. I can engage with and relate to every single thing in his books. Eric Van Lustbader—he writes epic tales that weave in and out of each other seamlessly without losing the reader along the way. And I love-love-love his martial arts fight scenes! James Patterson gets a nod here, too. His stories are great and I like everything I’ve read by him, but his writing style is what influenced me the most. I read an interview with him that made me go back and re-do almost every chapter I’d written for EDO BLOOD – Book I. I won’t give it away, but it’s part of what makes his books so readable and I was able to apply it to my writing style.
When did you first start writing?
High school Creative Writing. The previous year, I had a Mythology class that I really liked. I did well in the writing portion of that and the teacher suggested the Creative Writing class for the next year. I did even better in that.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Washington D.C., Chicago, IL. We lived in the rougher parts of both cities and my parents worked very hard to make sure we did not grow up as part of any of that. They scrimped, saved and sacrificed and, by the time I was in fifth grade, they were able to send us to a private Lutheran school across town. This was in Chicago, so the difference was night and day for us. But it worked. By the time we moved to Kansas City, MO, when I was in Jr. High, the only things my three brothers and I carried with us from Chicago were memories. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
What's the story behind your latest book?
A little girl witness her older brother, whom she idolizes, get kicked out the house by their abusive father. She reasons that, if she can fix what caused him to get kicked out the house, he can be allowed back and everything would be all right. Of course, it gets complicated from there.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
For the moment, “success” is that my book is published. Smashwords's contribution to that was the shock and awe of first seeing my book for sale. It hit your shelves on Feb 19 and I thought I still had a few more weeks to wait. Crimson Cloak got it ready early, but didn’t tell me. I signed in to edit my profile and was shocked to see it already up. I actually did that thing writers often write about: I gasped aloud.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
All the hobbies mentioned in my bio.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family. At my ‘day job’, people sometimes apologize for calling with, what they see as, trivial issues. I say, “Oh no, don’t worry about it. Every call like this means my family gets to eat for another week.” That’s how I view my life—I get out of bed each day for them.
Published 2016-03-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

New Beginnings
Series: The Crimson Cloak Anthologies ยท Crimson Cares. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,870. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author, Fiction » Anthologies » General
New Beginnings, volume 6 of the Crimson Cloak Anthologies produced for charity, is a volume of donated short stories and other items on a theme of fresh starts and rebirth. All publisher profit will go to the charity STOP IT NOW!, providing resources to identify and prevent sexual abuse of children.
Edo Blood, Book 1
Series: Edo Blood. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 195,800. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2016 by Crimson Cloak Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
A college student doing research in Japan stumbles upon a very old scroll, purporting to describe a 16-century lord named Mitsui Hamada - a woman! The scroll references others, and his search for the next one leads him on a journey across Japan, then across The Yellow Sea into China and back to Japan again, revealing the stunning secret that there were vampires in 16th century feudal Japan ...