On Tuesday I reviewed Michael’s latest piece of writing and first novel Underneath – you can read the review here or my previous review of Shades of Grey. Today he’s back with us for an ‘official’ interview, which we’ve been hoping to get from him for a while…so here goes!
Hi Michael, welcome back to Aside from Writing, thanks for joining us for a ‘proper’ interview. So can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be an author?
I’m a 2-month old bumble bee, and my mother tried to eat me when I was a grub. It was for this reason that I morphed into a 33-year old bloke, who lives in the UK.
Not really sure how I came to be an author actually. At school I had no real desire for writing, and instead developed a passion for IT. Once I joined the rat race, and entered the world of office workers, I was often sending out silly emails to people. Most people liked them, and asked for more, to which I obliged. The occasional misery guts asked me to stop, so I slagged them off behind their back. Anyway, in the middle of 2011, I decided to bite the bullet and publish some of the emails for free, and the beast was unleashed!
This week we’ve read and reviewed your book Underneath. Where did your inspiration for the story come from?
For a while, I had an idea for a story involving a sociopath bouncing around in my head, and it just bloomed from there really. I also had a separate idea for some characters who were police officers, and they ended up in the story as well. I did a bit of research into sociopaths, which took me about five minutes on Wikipedia, and realized that my initial idea for the character wasn’t really realistic – originally, I was going to make him very intelligent, and analytical.
In your creative writing you build ‘real world’ settings and characters very convincingly – what aspects of your ‘normal’ life or ‘day job’ do you find have helped you in your writing?
As a bumble bee? None at all. To be honest, it’s quite hard to answer this question definitively. Some of the personality quirks, or minor situations that appear in my stories, are based around people or events that I have experienced personally.
We particularly love the characters you create in your stories; when you’re developing a new character for a story, where do you start?
God knows. One thing that people are very good at, is compartmentalizing different parts of their lives, which is where the contradictions come from. It’s how physicists can believe in God, or a boxer can shake hands with an opponent after the fight is over. Or how I like chocolate, but don’t really like chocolate cake much. To be honest, that doesn’t really answer the question. I sometimes think of a basic personality for a character, and then just throw in some contradictory quirks further down the line.
There are some quite particular traits we’ve noticed in several of your characters: are you writing about what you know (i.e. basing them on yourself or people in the ‘real world’)?
It’s a bit of everything really. Sometimes I won’t even know where some of the traits have come from, whereas other times I have stolen them from someone’s head.
Casting question! Who could you see playing the key roles of Hugh, Clare, Robert and Abigail if Underneath were made into a film?
Ooooh, tricky one. For Hugh, I reckon Heath Ledger, as he did a good job with The Joker in Batman. Or maybe Guy Pearce. For Clare, I would go with… dunno. Not Liz Hurley, ‘cos she is rubbish. Geena Davis could do it, I reckon. Robert would be played by… Christian Bale, maybe. Or Johnny Depp. Virginie Ledoyen could be Abigail.
What do you find are the best parts of being a writer?
Being able to make things up, without getting told off by anyone.
And the worst…?
The editing. My God, the editing. It’s like having the opportunity to get a bar of gold, but you have to carry it through a disused Somalian sewer, barefoot.
Any advice for people who have an interest in creative writing?
Patience, practice, poverty. You have to realize that not even the best writer can come up with a perfect story by themselves. It gets filtered and corrected by hordes of editors, proof readers, and God knows what else, long before it gets anywhere near the shelves. It’s all about getting the ideas down on paper, and then cleaning it all up afterwards.
Ignore the poverty bit, I just wanted a third ‘p’ word.
So – what else do you have planned for 2012?
Avoiding the rain during this lovely, British summer. Get my face painted for the Olympics. Get the book I am working on now, finished. Oooooh, did I say what you think I said? I believe I did.
If you could be a character from any book – who would it be and why?
Batman, ‘cos he is the Batman. He is a billionaire who does what he wants. I reckon he would sort this credit crunch nonsense out, once and for all.
Favourite fictional world – where would you live?
Jurassic Park, before it all goes wrong. Saying ‘coochy coochy coochy coo’ to them raptors would be brill.
Best super-evil baddie?
Jesus. Seriously, how many fishermen did he put out of work when he fed the five thousand? It’s the first written record of a recession.
About the Author: Living in England, Surrey and about to break the 33-years old barrier. I can honestly say that coming to terms with getting older is worse than puberty. At 14 every extra hair was greeted with rapturous applause and a desire to show it off at school. Every time a small breeze blew I would worry that it was going to blow away.
These days whenever I spot a new nasal hair I can hear it laughing at me. I even have to make use of electronic devices to prune it back.
Want to know more? Check out the links!
Twitter – @MichaelCargill1 Facebook