MIKE CROWL: WRITING IS A PROCESS OF CONSTANT REVISION
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Mike Crowl’s latest release The Mumbersons and The Blood Secret was published in November. It was his third book. The story was written for kids, but as one of the reviewers in Amazon mentioned the parents will enjoy it as well. Let’s welcome our next guest.
– Mike, what is your book The Mumbersons and The Blood Secret about?
– It’s a book for children between 6 and 12. It begins when a barber cuts Billy Mumberson’s ear instead of his hair, and then takes some of his blood. 11-year-old Billy soon discovers this was no accident. His blood holds a dark secret, and he has enemies who want to make use of it for their own greedy ends. With his impulsive friend, Olivia, Billy sets out to discover the extent of his enemies’ plan. But Billy and Olivia soon find themselves ˗ and Billy’s family ˗ in more danger than ever.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I’ve called The Blood Secret a ‘sort of sequel’ because it has a few characters in common with my previous children’s book, Grimhilda!˗ a fantasy for children and their parents. However The Blood Secret is a story that stands on its own.
Grimhilda! began life as a musical that we produced in 2012 in my home city. During the production some of the cast thought it would be a good idea to write a sequel. But before that happened I wrote a book version of Grimhilda! A few months later I finally began work on the sequel. It seemed to me that a couple of the characters, the Mumbersons, had a story they were keen to tell, and so I got on and told it.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Possibly the biggest challenge was getting certain aspects of the plot to work. I have a friend who’s very good at seeing when pieces are missing from the structure of a book. Between us we tightened the story up after spending a good deal of time working out a back story that we needed to know, but which only appears fragmentally in the book.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– No, Billy just came to life as I started to write. He’s the grandson of the Mumbersons from the first story. His father was abandoned by his own parents when he was twelve, and he’s never forgiven them. Billy is the catalyst who brings some restoration to the situation, but that’s only the background to the more scary story about why certain people want Billy’s blood.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– In all it took about six months, though the initial draft was written in less time than that. Usually drafts change considerably in the course of writing, but in this case, most of what appeared in that first draft appears in some form in the final book.
– Give us some insight about your personal experience book Diary of Prostate Wimp: the aftermath of having a prostate biopsy?
– When I was in my early sixties, I began to have ongoing problems with urinating as a result of my prostate increasing in size; prostate growth is normal for almost all men as they age. My doctor was keeping track of this via a regular blood test and eventually the results indicated that I should have a biopsy, in case there was any cancer in the prostate. The biopsy, which is quite invasive (there’s concern worldwide that it’s actually dangerous, because of infections) caused my bladder to seize up. This is known as water retention, and is very painful. When you can’t urinate the urologist gives you a catheter. This is not only a very unpleasant and uncomfortable thing for men to have, but adds to the risks of ongoing infections.
I began to blog about what was happening and was encouraged enough by the response to turn the blog posts (and other relevant material) into a book. I believe it takes a more realistic view of a very common procedure than most men will get from their urologist.
When the book came out a friend said it contained ‘too much information.’ In fact, I think men don’t receive enough information from medical specialists, and that’s something the book addresses.
– What will the readers find in Grimhilda! – a fantasy for children, and their parents?
– This is a story about an eight-year-old boy called Toby. One night his parents are kidnapped by a witch disguised as a babysitter. Her justification for kidnapping the parents is that they are always too busy and don’t love their little boy enough. She takes them off to her diamond mine intending to force them to work there…forever. With the help of a doll that comes to life, and a map that is actually two people under a magic spell, Toby makes a dangerous night-time journey to rescue his parents. Naturally, the witch attempts to stop the rescue attempt, and it becomes a race against time: Toby must save his parents ‘before the last star leaves the sky.’
– Who are you?
– I’m a married man with five grown-up children (and eleven grandchildren) and have been writing for most of my life. I began submitting articles for publication back in the 1990s, and soon after began writing a weekly column for a local newspaper. This column ran for five years, until one day I wrote a piece that apparently offended the new editor. At that point I received a letter (this was back in snail mail days) in which I was summarily dismissed from the job.
In 2012 I wrote both the script and music for a family musical called Grimhilda!. My co-writer was Cherianne Parks, who’s also assisted me on the two children’s books. The musical was presented in my home town of Dunedin, where I’ve mostly lived since 1948.
– What are your writing habits?
– These days I try and write something every day if I’m working on a particular project. I keep a kind of journal of what I’ve done from day to day. But I also write music and work with other musicians and singers, and occasionally act in plays in one of the local amateur theatres, so writing isn’t the only creative thing I do.
In the past I either wrote to a deadline or without much discipline. I’ve found that I can achieve a great deal more by making myself work each day whether I feel like it or not.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– I would be happier with more sales, but that’s hardly unusual for an author!
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– Recently I’ve been in contact with other writers (mostly through Google+) and we’re assisting each other to boost our sales by doing interviews with each other (rather like this one), doing reviews of each other’s books, and promoting each other’s work.
– When we will see your next novel?
– I have a draft of a prequel to Grimhilda! on my computer, along with a heap of notes. Early in 2015 I’ll begin working on this, after I’ve had a bit of a holiday from this busy year. I’d like to see the next book come out in the first half of 2015.
– How much is playing the piano and composing music helping with your writing creativity?
– I think any creative outlet helps other creative work. I’ve been involved with singers and musicians both professionally and as an amateur for most of my adult life, and these people generate enthusiasm for creating new work.
– Would you tell us something about the place you live Dunedin, New Zealand?
– It’s a University city in the lower part of the South Island of New Zealand. (The bulk of our population lives in the North Island, an equally inspired choice of name!). Dunedin has a population of around 120,000. This is boosted each year by some 12,000 or more students. The city is famous in the country for a number of firsts: first University, first City Council, first public art gallery, first daily newspaper, first medical school and so on. And in December 2014 we became one of the UNESCO’s Cities of Literature.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– What advice would you give a budding writer? Don’t be satisfied with your first draft, or your second, or third. Writing is a process of constant revision, and you may still find things you’d like to change even when the book is published. Do the very best you can with your story, and then show it to people who will give you good criticism ˗ people who won’t be afraid to hurt your feelings. Let them check out your book and tell you what they think of it. And pay attention to what they say, even if you don’t agree with them. You don’t have to follow everyone’s advice. But writers can do with all the help they can get, especially when they’re new at the craft.
About Ognian GeorgievOgnian Georgiev is a sport journalist, who is working as an editor at the "Bulgaria Today" daily newspaper. He covered the Summer Olympics in Beijing 2008 and in London 2012. The author specializes in sports politics, investigations and coverage of Olympic sports events. Ognian Georgiev works as a TV broadcaster for Eurosport Bulgaria, Nova Broadcasting group, TV+, F+ and TV7. He is a commentator for fight sports events such as boxing/kickboxing and MMA. In May 2014 Ognian Georgiev released the English version of his book The White Prisoner: Galabin Boevski's secret story.
Posted on December 30, 2014, in Author, Books, Interview and tagged author, book, Grimhilda, interview, Mike Crowl, prostate, The Mumbersons and The Blood Secret. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.