Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spotlight Saturday Presents Iain McChesney

Meet Iain McChesney!

Iain is a writer of gothic mysteries.

He was born and raised in Scotland. He studied History and Geography at the University of Glasgow.

The World Wars left Iain’s family with generations of widows. As a result, Iain has always been interested in the tangible effects of history on family dynamics and in the power of narrative to awaken those long dead. For the characters in The Curse of Malenfer Manor, he drew on childhood reminiscences and verbal family history—though he hastens to add that his family had barely a penny, far less a manor, and any ghosts dwelt only in memory.

He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and two children.

A Little Q& A with Iain

Q:  What inspired you to write your first novel?
A: Ive always read and enjoyed different genres and what youd call the classics as well. That made it difficult at first. It wasnt like Id grown up all my life needing to write a cowboy book or anything. What drew me to write The Curse of Malenfer Manor a gothic novel is that it combined all those bits I liked best. A pinch of horror, a dash of supernatural, a sniff of the grisly, a stem of romance, a teaspoon of the dark soul in all of us. Setting civilized people in uncivilized times lets you talk about what matters in life without boring people to tears.

Q:  What books/authors have inspired your life most?

A: I like books that move. John Buchans The Thirty-Nine Steps, Ken Folletts Eye of the Needle. Dan Brown, whatever you think of him, you cant say his books dont move. I tried to keep that always in mind. Whenever I started rambling or getting flowery with description, Id tell myself to put it in gear. I like a lot of different authors, though. I tend to go for the classics, but I read in genres too. I remember finally reading Bram Stokers Dracula. By that point I had seen dozens of vampire films, seen vampires on TV, and read of them in other books. Stephen King, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris were all good, but Stoker was the best. There was something of the old school gothic that really spoke to me. It was civilized and yet full of dread. Edgar Allen Poe, everyone should read him, and H.P. Lovecrafts short stories.

Q:  Whom would you consider a writing mentor(s)?

A: I dont belong to any writing classes and Im not in group therapy yet. I suppose I subscribe to the long lonely suffering school of pen craft which has a certain disdain for help.  That being said, I do bounce the occasional idea off trusted guides but writing is a path walked alone. 

Q: What book(s) are you reading now?

A: Im one of those sorts with a half stack of books on my bedside table, some of which I blaze through, others which takes me years. Its a fire hazard.  havent gone over to digital. I am reading (or not reading) Neal Stephensons The Diamond Age - a cyberpunk Victoriana nano-technology sci-fi thing that moves, Margaret MacMillans The War that Ended Peace about the realpolitik in Europe up to WWI (I got it for Christmas in luxurious hard back but isnt as good as her last one), it doesnt move, and Eleanor Cattons The Luminaries which won The Booker Prize this year (or was it last?) - Im having trouble getting into it.  Her stories are everywhere and tangled - usually something I like a lot. Im sticking with it. It seeps of the elusive worth

Q:  What are your current writing projects?

A: I was half way through a post-apocalyptic thing for Young Adults when Malenfer was accepted for publication.  That put it on hold (The Curse needed re-writes and that sort of thing).  Then instead of going back to it I ventured into another idea I had that was more in fitting with the gothic mystery genre. It is called The Calling (a working title). A remote Scottish Island in the 1920s, owned by a reclusive industrialist. A cast of curious characters arrive, invited, and pretty soon start to be murdered. The supernatural element remains, and there may be a cameo or two from some of the Malenfer Manor cast. One cant write mysteries and not be influenced by the late great Agatha Christie. Like baking a cake, it is at a tender stage. If I open the door it may fall flat.  (Note to self: dont open the door.)

Q: What would we find you doing when you're not at the keyboard?

A: When Im not hot air ballooning and wrestling alligators, Ive got two kids and a mortgage to feed. Writing is a part time job. Wrestling alligators whilst hot air ballooning is the ultimate high.

Q: What are your favorite setting(s) to read/write about?

A: Im a Baskin Robbins kind of reader and writer - do you have those stores where you are?  Its an ice cream shop.  99 flavours of anything.  Malenfer had cities and battlefields, but had many gothic elements which mystery books, horror stories, and forlorn romances share and enjoy.  A castle setting, or a big family home, preferably somewhere remote. The house is not a prop; it is a character itself. Its corridors are like arteries, its rooms are organs, and it keeps secrets and concocts schemes. It has a will. It suffers, or broods, along with its occupants something the weather seems to do too. That is one of my flavours.

Q:  If you could be any character in your book(s), which would you be and why?’

A: You spend a lot of time with all of them when you write them for a year. I consciously tried to make all of them flawed Im not one for perfect heroes so each of them annoy me a little. There was a time when I was writing the book about six months in when I had to make a major shift and the protagonist got switched. The ghost used to be the hero there is a ghost, you find that early on, so Im not giving too much away but it wasnt working. Partly because of that, my connection to the proper hero, Dermot, is not what the reader might think. Instead, I reserve my affections for the villains. After all this time I enjoy their company the most. If you read the book that should be enough for you to figure out who Id choose.

Q:  Im a potential new fan. Sell me your book in ten words or less.

A: Lost hero renewed by love, friendship, and revenge. And ghosts!

 Brandy Wants to Know

Top five favorite titles (these do not have to be favorite books)

Hi Brandy. Five favourite titles? Oooh, and not just books. Hard question. Okay, lets do it.  In no particular order:

Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band - I mean, you just would have to pick that thing up.
Jaws - Onomatopoeic and to the point.
The Curse of (anything) - Fill in the blank, because curses are just so sexy.
Jude the Obscure - Gets you thinking. Obscure? Obscure bout what? Hardys agent was clearly a trailblazer of social media.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Dont forget to bring your towel.

Can I stop now?

Felicia Wants to Know

Top ten books turned to movies. But Ill go one step further and say it is my top ten books turned into movies that DID NOT SUCK.  Drumroll please.

Cloud Atlas
The Iliad / Troy (and I dont even go for Brad Pitts thighs).
Dracula - the Francis Ford Coppola version.
The Lord of the Rings
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Wizard of Oz
The Shining
The Big Sleep
The Maltese Falcon

Doh!  Ten already?  How could you read/watch those and not love books/movies?

Contact Iain

Wayzgoose Site Book Page:

The Curse of Malenfer Manor


Those in line to the Malenfer estate are succumbing to terrible ends - but is it a supernatural legacy at work, or something entirely more human and evil?

Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward headed to Paris at the close of World War I, where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.

Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancĂ©, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s overwhelming guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death… and the curse.

Purchase Links:

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