The Wolfman Of Auchtermuchty by John Knock
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) I’m a new writer. I’m a Scottish writer in the sense that my work is set in Scotland and it has a scots accent, or several of them in fact. Genre wise, its hybrid mixing comedy, horror and crime. I grew up in Fife, hence why I started with this novel but I’ve lived in lots of places across Scotland and I’m drawing on this when I’m writing.
The Wolfman of Auchtermuchty has a whole cast of characters. It slips in time between the present day and twenty years ago, always through the characters’ eyes. Craig Miller is a tabloid journalist, who left Fife after his mother’s disappearance, a still unsolved case in which he and his father were both suspected. He hopes to write a sensational piece about wolf sightings to re-start his career. His return opens up old secrets with his friends and a conspiracy that he helped to start.
Meantime, DS Jimmy Melville has found a finger and this points to a missing planning officer. He starts to investigate the case with the help of PC Shirley Stevenson while trying to keep his IBS under control. However, as the body parts start turning up on the eve of a royal visit, the possibility of a creature, perhaps a rabid dog, could create a panic.
Dr Susannah Martin is trying to write her new work but gets distracted by a handsome student, who has some interesting theories that challenge her own. When Craig Miller turns up the doorstep, she could literally lose her head.
A group of school friends need to decide who they can trust and what secrets to keep as an old curse starts to reap its revenge.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) It has been like a slow-moving boulder that took a long time to get momentum. There’s a difference between the early stages of writing – I wrote the prologue years ago – and put it all together. Re-writing, changing bits and making it all link up. It took me a while to find my voice. Now the boulder is rolling along, ideas and dialogue just keep rushing at me. Ideas for plots and situations I could always get. Getting the characters right took a little longer. Now I have them cueing up and I really want to get on with the next novel.
I would just keep re-writing so having a deadline was essential. It means I have to deliver.
Editing is more difficult. I needed to take time and make sure the formatting is correct, to proof read. Next time, I’m going to hand this over to someone else.
After Wolfman it will get easier because I have a voice, a style to match the characters and ideas.
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) I like writing that makes you think and I like books that feel that the writer is talking to you or letting the characters talk to you. Irvine Welsh, Christopher Brookmyre and the late Iain Banks all did this in very different ways. I have to rate Welsh’s The Acid House. I love it. His characters talk to you and each have their own voice. If you haven’t read it, do so. I just laughed out loud. Brookmyre’s One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night is when he found his voice. Complicity is really powerful. You could start with Espedair Street if you want to get into Banks.
I would also have to say A History of the World in 101/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes and of course Lanark by Alasdair Gray, probably the most interesting use of the novel as an artefact.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) I loved Roger Lancelyn Green’s adaptions of the Greek and Norse myths as a kid. Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword and Holms’ I am David were beautifully crafted. Then I got into sci-fi, Clarke and Aznimov. I really enjoyed the scope of possibilities. As an older teen, I read fantasy for a while but I just can’t get into it now. I find them too formulaic. Except for Pratchett, he was really creative. He started off spoofing the genre and ended up really dealing with concerns about our own world. If anyone can suggest a well written fantasy novel that does something different, I’ll give it a go.
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) That I’ve done it. The book is out there and now I can start a relationship with my readers. I look forward to their view and feedback. I also look forward to speaking to other authors. I find those who talk about the writing process the most interesting. My test reader said she laughed out loud and believed in the characters, so I’m looking to see what others get from it.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) My wife.
She is the one who nagged me and kept me on task. My friend Jim also helped to kick start it. It’s good to have people with faith in you.
Listening to other authors talk about their work. Lee Child is great, he cares about his audience, his readership. Mark Billington’s A Stab in the Dark, is an excellent podcast. Listening to them really helped as I brought the whole thing together.
My father said to me years ago that he always thought I’d be a writer. It just took me a long time to find my voice. Funny thing is I’m now saying this about my own son and I’m not the only one.
*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.