GRANT MCKENZIE: SPEAK THE DEAD IS EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Grant McKenzie’s next book Speak the Dead will be published on September 21. The novel was billed as another top thriller by the Scotland author, who is living in Canada. The most popular book of our next guest is No Cry For Help, which gathered almost 180 positive reviews in Amazon.
Land of Books is proud to present Mr. Grant McKenzie.
– Grant, what is your next book Speak The Dead about?
– Speak The Dead is first and foremost the type of edge-of-your-seat thriller that my readers have come to expect from me, but with a slight supernatural twist. The story begins in the past when Sally Blue is only six years old. Startled awake by the sound of a gunshot, Sally runs to her parents’ bedroom for comfort. Instead, she finds her father mysteriously missing and her mother slumped against the headboard, her nightgown shredded by a shotgun blast. Climbing on the bed, Sally cradles her mother’s head, mindless of the blood and stench of death. Yet from somewhere deep within the lifeless body, Sally hears the voice of her mother warning her: “Run, Sally! Run!” Twenty-five years later, Sally has finally stopped running. She has found a modicum of peace as a mortician’s beautician; able to take solace from the voices of the dead that trailed her for years wherever she went. Yet a grisly murder reawakens her ‘gift’, forcing Sally to turn to Jersey Castle, homicide detective by day, punk rock drummer by night, and the last person Sally might expect to help her. But what Sally doesn’t know is that someone has been hunting for her all this time. They voices of the dead are all around her, and if she is unable to silence them the next voice to join the cacophony of death will be Sally’s own.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– It all began with Sally and grew from there. I had this idea of a young woman bent over a broken and bloodied body in the street, struggling to comprehend what has just happened to the victim, but then suddenly having a flash of memory that isn’t her own. And in that flash, she witnesses the victim’s murder from her point of view and it’s something she couldn’t possibly know. But I also didn’t want the supernatural element to turn off any of my thriller readers because at its core this is most definitely a fast-paced mystery/thriller and so I wrote it in a way that allows the reader to make up their own mind about what is and what isn’t true.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– The biggest challenge is always time. As a writer who has a full-time day job (working for a unique community centre that feeds the homeless and most vulnerable population of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) finding the time to write is a daily struggle. If writers weren’t so obsessed about their craft, and in the telling of stories, there would be far fewer of us around.
– Tell us something more about your main character Sally? Is she close to someone from your real life?
– Sally has been running for most of her life and she’s not entirely sure why. After fleeing her home in the middle of the night, she ended up in social services for a short while before being taken in by a nun and moved around the country, rarely staying in any one place for too long. When she became an adult, her relationship with the nun became strained and Sally ran away again. Now she is living in Portland and has found some peace as a beautician in a funeral home where she treats the corpses that she readies for their funerals as guests. Sally is completely fictional, although I did do quite a bit of research into preparing the dead to make her skills believable and realistic.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– It takes me roughly one year to write a novel. Publication, however, is a different story. I’m absolutely thrilled that Polis Books of New York is publishing Speak The Dead, but it wasn’t a straight path. The book was originally intended to be published by Bantam UK, and then Putnam NY and Penguin Canada were gung-ho, but the ride became bumpy before Jason at Polis pulled out the landing mat and saved the day.
– What will readers find in your book No Cry for Help?
– No Cry For Help has been called an action-packed thrill ride that is impossible to put down. I love this book because the main character is just such a normal, everyday person who gets caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Bus driver Wallace Carver fears the worst when his family fails to meet him at the Bellingham, Washington mall. His anxiety is justifiably heightened when security cameras unexplainably show that he crossed the Peace Arch border alone. Now all Wallace wants to do is get his wife and sons back. But first he has to work out why they were taken and by whom. Although published by Random House in the UK and in translation in Germany, No Cry For Help is a self-published ebook original in all other parts of the world so far.
– Who are you?
– Grant McKenzie is the internationally published author of six edge-of-your-seat thrillers, plus a mystery series set in San Francisco. Born in Scotland, living in Canada and writing American fiction, he wears a kilt and toque with his six-guns.
– What are your writing habits?
– My writing habits are poor as I constantly struggle with finding the time. I do most of my writing on weekends, and then squeeze in moments during the week when possible. I feel guilty and anxious a lot.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– No. I would love to be able to spend more time writing, but in order to do that, I need to be able to make a living at it. I have been very fortunate to be published around the world and to have such fantastic and loyal readers who really love my stories. Sometimes, all it takes is one lucky break, but most often it takes several. Polis Books truly believes that we can break through to the next level, so here’s hoping.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– Everything I can. Word of mouth is huge, and my readers are absolutely fantastic. I have a loyal army of people who have read and loved my books, and it is their enthusiasm that keeps me going. I engage as much as I can via social media, I’m preparing to update my website, and I love talking to the media and independent bookstores. The best thing I could probably do is to become notorious or to date a celebrity, but my wife and daughter don’t support that idea.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– Switch launches in trade paperback in August; Speak The Dead launches in hardcover in September. And then, Polis Books is releasing three novels in 2016. K.A.R.M.A. and The Fear In Her Eyes will be released in trade paperback for the very first time in 2016, followed in September by a brand new hardcover that will tie into both Speak The Dead and The Fear In Her Eyes.
– Why did you decide to write also under a pen name of M.C. Grant?
– The M.C. Grant novels are a lot of fun, and the third in the series, Beauty With A Bomb, is a Top 5 finalist for this year’s Shamus Award. The first book is Angel With A Bullet, and the second is Devil With A Gun all three feature nosey, independent and feisty crime reporter Dixie Flynn. I use the pen name because I write the Dixie Flynn books in first-person-female perspective, and I didn’t want the reader to instantly judge me for being a man. I’ve always been a strong feminist who surrounds himself with women in every aspect of his life and if my female characters didn’t come across as genuine, I would hear about it.
– How has your journalistic background helped you in the process of writing a novel?
– Journalism teaches you deadlines and wipes away any thoughts you may have of waiting for a muse. When the deadline looms, you do your interviews, your research and then you write. It also teaches you not to be afraid of asking questions of anyone, regardless of their position, and of looking beneath the surface for what really makes a story tick.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Where are you and what are you doing when everything just clicks? When everything is going just right, I’m usually sitting in my blue armchair, a cat purring nearby, my thermos of Tetley tea at hand, the MacBook on my lap, headphones playing instrumental Icelandic music, jazz or Pink Floyd, I’m relaxed and guilt free. When that happens, writing can become an almost fugue state and the words flow. Sometimes, however, things can click when the exact opposite is happening when I’m in the middle of chaos or my mind wants to escape the tedium of a bus ride. But when it happens, seize the moment even if it’s just for a few words because chances are they are important words.