Hi Guys. Well it’s been a little while since I’ve had the chance to interview a writer so I’ve been so looking forward to posing some questions to the author of two fantastic books. Old friends and New Enemies, is one of them and one the other is called, Games People Play, and I will tell you all this, I loved both of them. Anyhow, if you have been fortunate to have read any of these two books I’m sure you will know the name of the author is the fantastic Owen Mullen.
So Owen instead of me talking about your books why don’t you tell us a bit about them and of course any others in the pipeline.
Hi Peter. The Charlie Cameron series is a response to the first agent I had who wanted me to write something set in Scotland. The inspiration for Games People Play came from a walk on a beach in Crete, with my wife Christine. The original idea was hers; I nicked it. Old Friends was inspired by a visit to Luss at Loch Lomond. Much of what we saw there that day turns up in the first chapters. After that it was a case of developing the characters. I wanted the lead character to not be an alcoholic maverick, but rather a cool guy that people would like; and surround him with a believable supporting cast; quirky and humorous to offset the grittier aspects of the story.
The third book is still under wraps but will be released on the 21st of March, and all I can say is that everyone in it is in fine form.
Currently I am working on another series based in New Orleans which should be released later in the year.
Wow, New Orleans is a place I've always wanted to visit so that will definitely be on my list of books to be read but tell me, out of all the books you have written, what’s your favourite? Oh and tell me what you love; or hate about the characters.
The very first book I wrote set in Pakistan is still my favourite; I find the story and characters completely compelling and hope to release it in the near future.
I love the fact that you really hate the bad guys ; do they get what’s coming to them? You’ll need to read it to find out.
How much, if any, has your own personal character gone into any of these characters?
There is a lot of me in both the Glasgow and New Orleans books. I identify easily with the people and the location. The Pakistan story was inspired by several visits to the region. I guess I’m in there, though perhaps my wife would be a better judge.
A question I often ask authors is; do you plan your novels before you write them or do you just go straight for it and write off the cuff so to say?
I always have the start and finish, after that I just need the pesky bit in the middle. I prefer to not be completely regimented, thus allowing the story to develop in sometimes unexpected ways.
Old Friends and New Enemies; the title on the cover really matches what is going on in the pages within. The question I have is; did you think of the title before you started the book, during the writing process or even after you had finished.
This goes back to previous question. Sometimes the title comes from the story, at others it is the inspiration. In Games People Play the title arrived first.
What do you enjoy most about your writing. Is it the plotting or perhaps the research or is it simply sitting in front of your computer and typing away?
I enjoy it most when the language is sharp, or when it just flows from some invisible spring. On a good day, the feeling of having moved the tale along in prose that has clarity and energy is hard to beat.
Now for everyone that hasn’t read any of your books. What would they gain from reading them?
I write to entertain. My ambition is always to create a book I would like to read so in that respect I am writing to please myself. I hope that people would feel they had invested the time it takes – and money too – to read one of my books was well spent.
Are any of your personal experiences written into any of your novels?
Every book has personal experiences, it adds greatly to the authenticity. And the parts that are real are most probably the bits that people think are invented.
How would you describe your own writing style?
It depends on the genre. For me crime fiction has to be pacey and gritty. I tend to run a fine line between that and character/place development. Obscure words are a barrier to communication. I don’t use them. When I write I ask myself if this has energy; if the answer is no then it’s gone. And I am mindful of Elmore Leonard’s famous maxim: “If it sounds like writing get rid of it.”
What is the greatest challenge about writing a book?
Sticking with it. Day after day after day.
Do you know of any unsung heroes in the writing profession that deserve a mention?
For me every single person who takes the time, puts in the effort and puts their head above the parapet is a hero.
Apart from crime which other books do you enjoy reading?
The occasional biography, cookery and travel books.
When you are reading books by other authors, what do you feel you want from that book? In other words, what do think makes a good book?
Story, always story. Everything else is secondary.
What would you say was the most satisfying or perhaps proudest moment of your writing career?
I love the final print out of a new book, when the pristine uncreased pages are sitting on the table and I can see what the hundreds of hours of work were all about.
Has there ever been a moment in time that sticks out as being a turning point in your writing life?
I’m hoping that’s now. In September I signed a 3 book deal with Bloodhound Books so 2017 is looking bright. So here’s hoping Peter.
Owen, Many thanks for taking time out and joining me. Your books are great and I wish you the very best of luck with them. Well done.
Well, that was a great interview and if you want to know a little more about Owen here's a quick bio. Also if you click on the links you will be able to see what the man is up to on Facebook and twitter. Also if you click on Owen's YouTube link this will take you where you can hear him talking about his books. All good stuff I'll tell you.
Owen Mullen School was a waste of time for me. Or rather, I wasted time; my own and every teacher’s who tried to get me to work. It took twenty years to appreciate what they were telling me. Life has rules. They aren’t written down but they exist nevertheless. I got that. Eventually. But by then I was thirty five. Along the way I missed an important clue. At ten I won a national primary schools short story competition – and didn’t write anything else for forty years. SMART BOY WANTED APPLY WITHIN. As a teenager my big obsession was music. Early on I realised if I was successful I would probably be rich and famous and pull lots of girls. So how did that turn out? Well, you haven’t heard of me, have you? And this morning I caught myself worrying about the electricity bill. So the short answer is: one out of three ain’t bad.
Running around the country in a Transit van with your mates is fun. It’s your very own gang. You against the world. Until you fall out and the dream lies bleeding on the dressing-room floor. When that happened I went to London [everybody from Scotland goes to London, it’s like first footing at New Year, or ten pints of lager and a vindaloo on a Friday night; a sacred tradition] and became a session singer. I also started gigging with different bands on the circuit.
Back in Scotland - most of us come back with wild tales of great success, none of them true - I wondered what I should do with myself and didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Her name was Christine. We got married, I went to Strathclyde Uni and got a bunch of letters after my name, and toughing it out at Shotts Miner’s Welfare, or dodging flying beer cans at the Café Club in Baillieston, was in the past. The long hair was short now, I wore a suit and pretended to like people I didn’t like because we were ‘colleagues’. After many adventures I started my own marketing and design business and did alright. Christine and I were very happy, we travelled all over the place; India, Brazil, Botswana, Nepal, Borneo, Japan. One day I suggested we move. To the Greek islands. So we did. We bought land and built a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Then the pan global financial crash happened, years of fiscal carelessness finally caught up with Greece; the exchange rate dived and the cost of living in Paradise went through the roof. I had to do something. Then I remembered the short story competition. I had been good at writing, hadn’t I? I wrote another short story called The King Is Dead…the first thing I’d written since primary school. When I typed the last word [Christine taught me to type] I held the pages in my hand then started to read. An hour and a half, rooted to the chair unable to believe what was in front of my eyes. For four decades I had shunned a god given gift. And as I read I started to understand why. It was awful. Not just bad. Bloody terrible.But I kept going.And now, eight years and seven books later, three literary agents plus two I turned down [they were reading a different book] I am a writer. My books are on Amazon. People buy them and come back for more. One seasoned London agent has predicted I am destined to be ‘a major new force in British crime fiction.’ Yeah! So is the moral: follow my example, find something you’re good at and stick with it. Hardly. I didn’t, did I? Do it your own way; it’s your life.