Blogger Book Fair Continues with Author Michael Cargill
I’m always so thrilled to host writers of the male sort, especially because they look so handsome surrounded by all this pink. Michael Cargill is the first of three manly men unintimidated by my site’s girly colors. He brings us a book of short stories called Shades of Grey, which he promises “…has nothing to do with that grotty erotica trilogy of the same name.” How I love a man with a sense of humor, and Michael has plenty of wit to spare. Sit back and enjoy the interview and two excerpts from his book.
About Michael Cargill
I’m an author who lives in the sunny, green hills of England. As you can see in the photo, I’m mostly bald.
Over the years people had often said that I should write a book so, in mid 2011, I did just that! Anyone wondering which book of mine to read first should start with Shelter from Thunder. ‘Tis short and available for free.
Feedback of any kind is always welcome.
As my husband always says, “What’s your book about?”
It’s actually a collection of three short stories, but I guess ‘the threat of death’ is an overriding theme running through each of them. Some of the characters are aware of the threat, some of them see it as just part of their lives, whilst others have no idea it is even there.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? Can you tell us about it?
I vaguely remember writing a story in school when I was about ten years old. I don’t remember much about it, but for some reason she was having a really bad day where she kept forgetting her keys and so had to spend a lot of time on the bus trying to find where she left them.
Do you prefer plaid or stripes?
Ha! I had to look up what ‘plaid’ was, as we refer to it as being ‘checked’ over her in Britain Land.
I reckon I would go for stripes, especially if they were the slimming kind. After all, everyone likes a good pin-striped suit (unless you sell checked suits, of course.)
Was choosing to publish independently something you always wanted, or an option you hadn’t considered before?
Erm, it was more that it was just about the only option available to me! Clicking that ‘go live’ button the first time was a nerve wracking experience, and the thought of sitting through umpteen bajillion meetings with a publisher was far too intimidating for my feeble mind.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yes! It’s a YA tragedy story, and I’m in the editing stages as we speak. I’m at that point where I’m utterly sick of the bloody thing, and can’t wait until I’m finally free of it!
Do you have any rituals before writing? Music or silence? Coffee or tea? Twizzlers or M&Ms?
Not really. I have to close my browser window down, otherwise I get distracted too easily. The tea or coffee question ultimately rests on which one is closest at the time.
Have you ever based a character on someone you know?
Yes, several in fact, though not usually the main character. Most of the time they’ll just have parts of that person’s personality, and even then it’s something I only really think about when I’m trying to think of a name for them.
What color is your umbrella?
I don’t have one, they’re annoying and I just end up borrowing other people’s. I guess I’m like those ‘social smokers’ who steal everyone else’s cigarettes when they go to the pub.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Stephen King, ‘cos his stories are bloody marvelous. It’s hard to say exactly why, but the most memorable aspects of his stories tend to be the characters. If you get those right, then everything else tends to slip into place.
What was the last book you read?
Just this morning I finished reading Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I thought it was the worst of the lot.
Do you write about locations you’ve visited, or do you rely on research? Or do you make up entire settings in your head?
A bit of a mixture to be honest. I’ll imagine somewhere familiar, like a friend’s back garden, but then bosh in an extra detail such as a bomb crater, dragon, or a headless corpse, as and when it is required.
The Internet makes research very quick and easy for things like historical fiction.
After the last word is written, then what? Do you have pre-readers and editors who take over? Do you begin query letters immediately?
Once I’ve finished, I’ll take a few days break to stop myself slitting my wrists. Then I’ll do a pass of editing, and try to stop myself slitting my wrists. Then I’ll do a couple more passes of editing, whilst again stopping myself from slitting my wrists.
Then I send it off to some proof readers and spend the next week or so clenching my buttock in nervous anticipation whilst also fighting off the temptation to slit my wrists.
What song would be on the soundtrack for your book?
Hmmm. Firestarter by The Prodigy most likely.
Where can people find your book?
Can we read a little excerpt?
No, it’s a secret.
Oh, okay then. Here are excerpts from the first two stories in the collection:
Talking of grunting, that is exactly what I did when I grabbed the edge of the mattress and yanked it out from underneath my wife and neighbour’s naked bodies. They both fell off the bed, and onto the floor, in a tangled mess of arms and legs, of tits and testicles. She must have got elbowed or something because her nose was bleeding. She later blamed that nosebleed on me, which was nothing short of outrageous and hilarious. I kindly offered to give her another one.
Dazed and bewildered, James staggered out from under the pile of earth. For a moment he couldn’t even breathe, and he spat out as much of the mud as he could. Artillery shells whooshed over his head and explosions filled the world. He felt completely disorientated and everywhere he looked, he saw the same thing. Columns of mud and earth were shooting up into the air, and it was like running through a forest of living trees. Someone grabbed him and helped him stumble his way back to the safety of the trench. They passed another soldier lying motionless on the ground, his left leg missing completely. James was still too stunned to properly acknowledge this grim sight, but he would later look back on that moment as his first proper exposure to the cruelties of war.
About Shades of Grey
John is not a very nice man. He works for the government. So who has tied him to a chair and what do they want? James is a British soldier during WWII. Tom is a young boy with a terrible secret
Three stories. Three very different people. All of them battling to survive.
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