Monday, January 16, 2012

On Writing Author Interview: M. Edward McNally

To avoid pre-conceived notions which can sometimes be connected with certain genres, the number of books published and/or an author's appearance, none of that information will be revealed until the bottom of the interview.   So pour a cup of coffee, have a seat, and check out this interview - see how much, or how little, you have in common with this published author.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?
There are bad days, writing.  The kind of days when the characters just stare up at you blankly from the page, shrugging, scratching their heads, and saying “Well?  What now, Smart Guy?”
The worst of those days are still better than my best days flipping burgers, stripping micro parts, selling women’s shoes, or grading essay tests on the history of the Balkans.

What is your least favorite part?
The vast time-consuming bits that have nothing at all to do with writing.  Promotion.

Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome.
In “real life,” I’m generally a private person, not a “social butterfly” by any stretch of the imagination.  But in a social media environment, it seems like you have to be “on” all the time, and my brightly colored wings get really tired.

Is there a specific part of your writing you’re working on to improve?
Not any one specific part, but every word a writer writes makes them a more experienced writer. ;-)

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?
When someone says they are eager for the next book, not to “find out where the story goes,” but to “see what happens” to Tilda, or Zeb, or Claudja, etc.  I take that to mean that the characters seem more like people to that reader, which is how they seem to me.

What does your favorite main character have in common with you?
She’s trying to do the best she can to be successful in her endeavors, while holding on to her integrity.

Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know?
Lots and lots of research, as no matter how obscure a reference is to a real thing, somebody out there will call you on it eventually if you’re wrong.  That, and I kind of love research into things I don’t know about, but I’m sort of weird like that.

How do you use the internet for your writing?
For the aforementioned research.  I spend a lot less time at libraries now.

If you’ve won any awards for your writing, what impact do you think that has had? 
I had some short stories get some acclaim long, long ago.  But as that was on the other side of a ten year gap when I didn’t write a word of fiction, as such, it now seems like a different lifetime.

What one marketing tool have you had good success with?
Positive reviews from bloggers with lots of followers. Though given the glut of material all reviewers have access to, it can be months before a blogger gets to any particular thing in their queue.  So that really isn’t the sort of “tool” that can be used reliably.

What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out?
The thing that saves me is that I still draft by hand, so it is easy to have a little notebook with me wherever I go.  I can finish a chapter in five and ten minute chunks at diner counters and in parking lots.

Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid?
Part of the reason I go by hand is that on a word processor I have the tendency to edit as I go, which results in a lot of spinning-my-wheels.  My advice is to hammer through that first draft and worry about things only in the editorial stage, which I regard as equally important as the “drafting” part of writing.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Apart from the writing by hand…at this late date, that’s probably weird enough by itself.

When you’re not writing, do you read, and if so, what?
Yes, though a lot less since self-publishing, as my reading time is the thing that has taken the biggest hit to make way for all the tertiary, publicity stuff.  Though it seems odd to a lot of people I know, I still read far more History than I do Fiction when I am just reading for pleasure.  Some stuff you really just can’t make up.
What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing?
I’m just trying to get through each day, still smiling.  Writing makes that easier for me. ;-)

What words of wisdom do you have for young writers?
Quit.  Seriously, go out and get a real job, and never pick up a writing utensil again.  If you find that you can’t do that, then you are a writer.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get published?
You mean “traditionally” published?  First, realize that being traditionally published does not mean being Stephen King or JK Rowling.  Most trad authors I know, and have known for years now, are still working their day jobs, dancing as fast as can to keep promo-ing, trying to cram in writing time between work and family and friends and everything else.  There are thousands and thousands of traditionally published authors of whom you have never heard, and the life of the average one is a lot more like the life of an “Indie” than it is of a rock star.  Know that before you start chasing rainbows.

Any thoughts on what this author writes?  How many books published?  Here's a little more information about the author...
How many published books are to your credit?   Eight.

Do you have an agent?  No.

Are you self-published?  I am now.

How many different companies have you published with?  6

How long have you been writing?  Twenty of the last thirty years.

Do you write full-time? If not, what is your other job? And how do you balance work/writing?
Nope, any number of day jobs consisting of repetitive tasks that require little or no mental energy.  I balance my time by doing them halfheartedly. ;-)

So, any thoughts?  Here's the full scoop:

In M. Edward McNally’s words:   ...let’s see…I’m a North Carolinian of Irish/Mexican extraction that grew up mostly in the Midwest along I-35 Northbound. In the flannel-clad early Nineties I was in a Master’s Lit program at Iowa State, publishing short stories and shopping a novel, when I quit writing for about ten years to get a “real life.”  Now I am back where I ought to be.

The following books are by M. Edward McNally:

The Norothian Cycle. Epic, Musket & Magic Fantasy
Book I – The Sable City
Book II – Death of a Kingdom
Book III – The Wind from Miilark

Short Story compilations (mostly of his earlier work)
Eddie’s Shorts – Volumes 1, 2, and 3 (free from most e-book retailers)

Collections from the Indie Eclective
The Halloween Collection
The Holiday Collection

Where can people find your books?
They are all listed together on my blog under the “The Books” button, with full links to the major retailers.  Otherwise, the easiest place to find them all is probably through an author listing at a retailer like Amazon, Barnes & Noble  or Smashwords.

What are you working on now?
Writing Volume IV of the Norothian Cycle (tentatively titled “Devil Town,”) and sprucing up more short collections to put out periodically.  At least, that is what I am supposed to be working on…;-)

Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share?
This is a ridiculous, noble, silly, honorable, awful, and wonderful calling.

Where can people learn more about you?
The blog is both the homepage for the Norothian Cycle, with maps, glossary, short histories, etc., as well as where I do my writer yammering, post interviews, and the like.

Is there anything else you'd like to know about this author, or any questions you'd like added to future interviews?  Let us know...drop us a comment below.


  1. A great interview! Ed is one of the most supportive and helpful members of the indie community, and a very impressive author.

    1. Steve, thanks for taking time from running your evil empire to stop by. Glad you enjoyed the interview. :)