Interview with E. Craig McKay

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Personal approaches to bookstores are potentially stressful, but also exciting. When you are meeting a potential vendor of your books you are really putting yourself out there. I've sold wines to restaurant and learned to live with rejection, but when I'm trying to interest a bookseller in carrying my books it is very personal. If my writing is rejected, or ignored, it's as if I am being dismissed. Offering my books on Amazon or as electronic books is easier, but it lacks the human touch. Therefore, whenever I can I try to interest stores in mounting book signings or readings. Sometimes I'm not aware of the effectiveness, but it feels like the right approach to me.
Describe your desk
My desk feels like a nest to me. I surround myself with pictures, objects, and tools (including reference works) and settle in to write, edit, revise, create, or evaluate. As I'm sure it is for many, my desk is also a control center a site from which to contact the world.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was city born, Toronto, Canada and I learned much from the city streets and playgrounds. However, my parents, though ordinary working folk, made a small investment in a cottage on Lake Huron. There I spent my summers from 5 until I turned 16 and joined the summer workforce to pay my way through school.
It seems to me that the hand of nature shaped me and guided me to a love of waters and woodlands. Those were carefree days. That was my primer for life. What I learned in the world of work merely made me strong.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote as a young lad, I wrote as a youth, I wrote poetry in secondary school, and I began writing for a newspaper, The St. Catharines Standard, while still an undergraduate at Brock University. It seems that I have always been writing for magazines and newsletters. Often I have been the one who agreed to edit club notices or professional journals. I wrote advertising for a radio station, CKTB/QRFM, one summer as a work experience during my tenure as an English Teaching Master at Niagara College. During my time as a Professor of the English department I wrote two text books and contributed to Food and Travel magazines over more than twenty years. It was only lately that I moved on from non-fiction to begin writing novels and short stories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
They say one should write what one knows. I am drawn to animals, adventure, water, and wide open spaces.
It is no surprise perhaps that my fourth novel, Brand of Death, is a Western Murder Mystery set in 1906 Arizona.
As a professor of English literature I offered a number of elective courses featuring the works of E. A. Poe, A..C..Doyle, Agatha Christie, and the other well-known detective crime writers. In Brand of Death I have attempted to combine the 5 major elements of a classic detective mystery: a detective hero, a companion sleuth, an official investigator, a master criminal, and an unusual crime.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I passed through the fire of searching for a publisher and emerged as an author of the Hall Brothers of Texas, I little realized that they would be forced by economic necessity to close up shop. I was much saddened by their closure, at least partly because they had be so supportive to work with.
I decided that I had been found worthy by one good publisher and set my mind to soldiering on using my experiences and my yeast for a challenge. The indie path may not be paved with gold, nor strewn with rose petals, but at least we are masters of our fate.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Researching a setting and historical events which color the times is a joy. Letting my imagination soar and yet directing it toward a goal is a great pleasure. Setting and solving the myriad problems and puzzles which arise in devising a plot-driven storyline is challenging. But, I must say that my greatest joy is the surprise in discovering the resolution of a story which seems to grow itself by some organic process.
What are you working on next?
My present task is researching and brainstorming the setting and outline of the second in my Dr. Pendergast detective stories. The first, Brand of Death, was set in 1906 Sedona. The second has its origins in Midwest during the Civil War, but the central setting is also Arizona during the early years of the 20th century.
The central characters of the two books will be Dr. Robert Pendergast and his son Brad. The land and its history will play a role and some of the personages of that era will make cameo appearances. My goal is to create a mysterious, and I hope thrilling, adventure in canyon country.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The truth is that I require very little sleep and while I sleep I dream and plan. Morning is the opportunity to put into play those ideas which have been churning in my sleeping mind. Life is the great adventure.
Published 2013-12-03.
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