An Interview with Lee McCloud (Mac)

I was delighted to be able to interview the protagonist of my novel No Remorse recently, during a brief stop in Brisbane, Australia. He is currently on a mission that will inevitably become the sequel to No Remorse. If you haven’t read No Remorse you may prefer not to read this in case of spoilers. You can download No Remorse here: http://amzn.com/B006D30IBE or http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006D30IBE

So Mac, what are you doing here in Australia?

Would you believe I’m here for the wedding of an old friend.

A special ops buddy?

Actually, she’s an attorney, Georgia Menzies. She helped me out during an incident in Iraq. Can’t say any more than that.

Is Tally with you?

Tally’s back home in Boston helping to run Sophia Freedom, an organization we’ve set up to help rescue people who are being held in captive situations.

So what plans do you two have together?

(chuckles) You know, I’m not exactly the sort of guy who plans much for my personal life beyond what I’m doing at the time. She and I are working together on a project, but beyond that…who knows?

Okay, and where are you headed after Australia?

You know, we’re getting information on people being held in situations involving slavery or worse, from all over the world. Even in Australia. The police can’t handle the volume of human trafficking occurring around the world. So we’re having to pick and choose who we are able to rescue. Unfortunately we have to do this, although we’d like to rescue everyone. In some ways it’s like sophie’s choice, so Sophia Freedom has that nuance about it. Next, I’m heading to Eastern Europe somewhere. There’s lots of work to be done.

Do you work with the authorities in freeing these captives?

Sometimes, but you know, in many countries the police are either compromised in some way, or do not have the skills and resources to do what we do.

Tell us about how the story of No Remorse came about.

I was a special operations soldier. A friend’s daughter, Sophia,was kidnapped, along with her friend, Danni. There were problems in Mexico and I was offered only one way out––leave the Army and work with a secret government outfit operating outside the law. I took the deal, even though I was determined to find Sophia and Danni, even if it meant disobeying orders of my new employers. You know the rest.

You had some difficulties working with Tally, a computer genius who’s pretty hot. 

Well, you know, she should’ve been left back at the office. She’s had no experience in the field, so I felt I’d be spending my time holding her hand. She’s smart, but her good looks made her stand out in the crowd, and that’s not good in undercover roles. And she didn’t like soldiers. She dated one once, and he attacked her. It was something of a love hate thing we had going.

Has some event in your childhood had a profound impact on your life?

My nine-year-old sister was abducted in front of my eyes when I was fourteen. She had run ahead of me along a quiet road in a park, and a van pulled up and two guys grabbed her. One of them shot at me but missed. Then she was gone. That’s why it was so important to me that I get Sophia and Danni back. And it explains why I have no remorse the way I deal with bad guys. Trouble with today’s justice system, too many bad guys get away with a slap on the knuckles. Sophia Freedom has the resources to do something about it.

And what about your personal life? What sort of things do you enjoy doing?

I went mountain climbing in South America a few months back. Took Tally parachuting once, that was a hoot. She’s petrified of heights. I’ve been learning to fly helicopters, and recently obtained my licence.

Do you talk to your brother?

Things will always be strained, I think. Good luck to them, I say, but I don’t forget. As for forgiveness, some things are not worth worrying about. Get on with life. But when someone has done something truly evil like Khalid, I find that hard to just let continue.

What are six things you would carry around on a mission?

Knife or pistol in an ankle holster; lock-picking tools; my iPhone; a key to a safe deposit box that has lots of cash and a false passport; a few condoms, and a gym bag full of guns and changes of clothes (I’m no Jack Reacher).

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you like to be stranded with?

I’m not sure I even want to answer that question. You know, this is where the Muslims have it all over us: the seventy-two virgins thing. How can anyone beat that in paradise? Yeah, yeah, I know, keep those letters coming… One thing I am not gonna become is politically correct, okay? The real answer is: someone sexy and with a great sense of humor. Don’t tell Tally.

What is a reader/author “Blog Hop”?

If you follow authors on Facebook or Twitter or on their blogs (or websites), you may have noticed an increasing trend towards something called a “Blog Hop”. Blog hopping, or setting up links between common-interest blogs in a sort of trail for people to follow, has been around for a while. Whether you’re into gardening, or crafts, or parenting, there are many blogs to discover. Blog hops make it easy and interesting.

Blog hops could be considered the internet equivalent of “network marketing”.

I’ve recently noticed much more activity in blog hopping among authors and readers. However, some people are still unaware of what blog hops are about, how they work, or how one participates and benefits. For novice blog hoppers, I thought I’d try to help by explaining.

A Blog Hop for readers/authors is where authors post details of other authors’ websites/blogs on their own blog so it is easy for readers to discover these authors by clicking the links. Frequently, but not always, there is a competition or giveaway associated with visiting the blog, making a comment, emailing the author or tweeting about it. In this way, readers are able to win prizes, discover new books and authors, and have fun. Authors are able to encourage readers to let their friends know about their works. They can also measure the response to the blog both from responses to the competition and from sales.

The “hop” element involves readers hopping from blog to blog. With sometimes fifty or more authors involved in a blog hop, there is considerable scope for readers to discover a new author and find discounted book offers or win prizes.

For authors, getting your blog site on other sites helps to add to your ranking on search engines, and of course helps find additional readers.

While many hops are free for authors, some are coordinated by commercial operators as a paid service such as LinkyTools

If you’re interested in finding out more about blog hops, Google bloghop or go to Twitter and enter #bloghop

 

My Test Reader makes it to 91

Today is Fozzie’s 13th birthday, which makes him I think about 91 human years. Fozzie listens to the clacking of my keyboard and gives me feedback on cat behaviour and dialogue. Some of you may recall that the ship’s cat Fez in No Remorse was also a Devon Rex. Not sure if Fozzie will get to play the cameo role in the movie though, as his ability to take orders is quite limited. Thanks Fozzie for 13 years of jumping on our bed and waking us up at 5.30am meowling for breakfast, and for being a warm purring companion in the winter. Fozzie’s eyesight is not the best these days, and he sometimes forgets he’s been fed, but I think lots of us can relate to that… Happy birthday, Fozzie!

Book Review of No Remorse by author Allen Mitchum

Allen Mitchum, author of the thriller 28 Pages, a semi-finalist in the Kindle Best Indie Book Awards of 2012, has given a four star review of No Remorse. Here’s an excerpt:

While the story is solid, the characters of No Remorse are perhaps the book’s greatest  asset. And this is a testament to Walkley as a burgeoning thriller author because for a commercial novel, that’s unusual. Typically the biggest critique of the genre is that characters are paper thin or can’t cast a shadow. That’s not the case here. In particular, the main villain, Saudi prince Khalid, is well developed and oddly intriguing as the reader leans piecemeal the man’s motivations for seeking to destroy the Saudi Royal Family. Few established authors offer a villain as impressive as Khalid.

Of note, Walkley doesn’t shy away from incorporating controversial topics into the story. In fact, the reader gets the sense that one of Walkley’s main goals in writing the story was to be controversial (which this author wholeheartedly respects). Organ harvesting plays an important role in the story, as does white slavery. One scene involves the graphic depiction of a barbaric Islamic female ritual and is not for the faint of heart.

Thanks Allen! (BTW, for conspiracy theorists I’d point out that I don’t know Allen, who lives in Washington DC, and I had no idea he was writing a review of No Remorse until he tweeted me.)

Read the full review here: http://blog.allenmitchum.com/2012/12/book-review-no-remorse-by-ian-walkley.html

Check out Allen’s book here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005YEO0PI/

 

Software for Writing Novels

Does anyone still use a typewriter or write their stories by hand?

I’m something of a software application junkie, and if there is something out there that claims to help writers write, plot, develop characters, improve vocab or whatever, I’ve probably tried it. Pity there’s not something to help debut authors get published.

Anyway, I thought I’d give a quick overview of some of the apps available for writers and aspiring writers. But I do want to emphasize that these applications can only ever facilitate the writer’s journey. It is the writer that must determine the story’s route, the travelers, and the destination.

 

Scrivener’s corkboard provides flexibility with chapter and scene structure.

While I used Microsoft Word to write my first novel, No Remorse, I’m enjoying using Scrivener to write my second. I bought it because I was getting frustrated using index cards. I would spread them out on our dining table, only to have to collate them at mealtime. I had previously tried Curio, which is great for brainstorming and mindmapping, but doesn’t offer flexible index cards, and Throughline, which has index cards but is very basic (and stopped working when I upgraded my iMac to the Lion operating system). Scrivener is a Mac application that has recently become available for Windows for only $45. It has a word processing function and allows easy restructuring of chapters, brainstorming, plot structure, character data sheets and many other great features.

For character development, I use Character Writer. It gives prompts on demographics, appearance, personality, relationships, dialogue and psychology. There is an Enneagram personality typology option, which helps with the understanding of character motivations and behaviour. My only beef is that Character Writer doesn’t automatically update the overall description when I edit one of the sub-categories.

For plot development, I’ve tried lots of different apps, including Dramatica Pro, which I had trouble understanding and seemed to limit my options. It also stopped working when I upgraded my iMac to the Lion. (I’m still cursing Apple about its Lion “downgrade”).

I also use a fairly inexpensive app designed for movie scripts, called Contour. It allows me to fit my story into a classic three-act plot structure. With about 26 plot points, Contour is useful for identifying where to place obstacles to confront the protagonist, and add plot twists.

If you’re just starting a story, you might consider Storyweaver, a program from the co-creator of Dramatica, Melanie Anne Phillips, which uses a series of prompts to help build the story. I haven’t used it from scratch, but I might give it a try next time.
For vocab, I have Master Writer, which offers some helpful extensions to a traditional dictionary/thesaurus, including a pop culture reference, but is a little on the expensive side for what it offers.
And finally, if you’re considering converting your story into a movie, there are two apps that will help with the screenplay layout: Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, which is the one I use.

There are, of course, many other products competing out there for the writer’s dollar, most easily searchable and most offering trial periods for free.

Of course, if your computer screen starts to make you feel like you’re Captain Kirk in Star Trek, there’s always the default—good ol’ MS Word, which is somewhat configurable and has a dictionary and thesaurus. You’ll probably end up using this to format your story into a document to send to agents and publishers, most of whom now require the manuscript to be sent by email. That pretty much rules out a typewriter or hand-written manuscript.

These days, I can barely hand write enough to scrawl a greeting in one of my books. What I’d like to know is, how the Dickens did writers manage before computers?

No Remorse #6 at Dymocks Carindale

Powering along at the book signing last Saturday. No Remorse found itself on the #6 shelf on the best-seller lists, displacing JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy for a short time. Readers were delighted to see the book doing so well.

Leesa has No Remorse in Oregon!

Oregon’s top realtor, Leesa Long, working at Prudential Seaboard Properties, loves a good thrill. What else would she choose but No Remorse. Enjoy the read Leesa!

 

Forthcoming Book Signings for No Remorse

I’ll be signing copies of No Remorse at the following locations:

Dymocks Chermside, 9th December 10.30am – 2pm

Dymocks Indooroopilly, 16th December 10.30am – 2pm

Dymocks Brisbane (Albert St) 19th December 12 noon – 2pm

Angus & Robertson PO Square, 20th December 12.30pm – 2.30pm

Hope to see you there and wish you a Happy Christmas!

 

Why hasn’t a publisher snapped up No Remorse? The Green Librarian asks.

Five star review on Amazon. Thank you Green Librarian.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic thriller, December 3, 2012
This review is from: No Remorse (Paperback)

I despise reviews that give away plot details, so there will be none of that! This is a story that sticks with you and makes you think. Believable characters and exotic settings – simply a fantastic read.
I cannot believe a major publishing house has not snapped up this author, he has the potential to be a best-selling writer.
If you love thrillers and military stories, read this. READ THIS.