5 May

Firstly, to clarify – I normally write over at Badhaven.com, but in an effort to establish myself outside of my nomme de guerre I’ve set up a new blog from which to post my musings.

Notably, this is my first entry and it’s all thanks to that rascal Gerard Brennan, or Belfast’s Crime Prince as I like to call him. He’s been putting out some corking tales of late – from his latest Novella ‘Wee Danny,’ sidequel of sorts to ‘Wee Rockets’ and his ‘The Point’ Novellas which are really all that and a bag of chips (by which I mean GREAT!). Gerard was kind enough to interview me lately on his blog Crime Scene NI and include me in this bloggy chain letter.

But introductions aside, here’s my process. Hopefully it’s not what you’d think:

a) What am I working on?

I’m currently working on two things writing wise and one thing editorially.

Writing wise I’m penning a novel tentatively titled The Return of the Scapegoat Kid which is the tale of two estranged brothers and their strange, blackly humored manic journey to reconciliation. It’s deeply routed in a lot of my own experiences, so much so that my dear old mum on hearing of it has already demanded to see the first draft in case she finds any characters resembling her (that I’ll be forced to edit out). Suffice to say I’m already working on my writer pseudonym.

Next to that I have a graphic novel I’m scripting, bringing a modern take to William Moulton Marston’s classic heroine titled That Dames UNSTOPPABLE! But that’s all I can really say on that until I’ve found an artist.

Editorially I’m working my way through stories submitted by some writer pals for our small horror/sci-fi anthology Inside I’m Darkness, which so far has provided some very dark, very promising works indeed.

b) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Regards how my work differs – I often defer judgment to others, for I’m too heavily involved and secretly egotistical to be critically honest. Thus I think the nicest two comments I ever received were that I wrote like a Northern Irish Irvine Welsh in the Pulp Horror genre and that;

‘In Terry Fennell, McCann invokes the spirit of Dashiell Hammett’s Spade, possesses Bateman’s Dan Starkey and sets him loose on the undead underbelly of Ulster.’ – Gerard Brennan

Okay, so I’ve changed my mind, and I’m going to be hard on myself and as honest as possible; I don’t think I’m doing anything very different from anyone else, other than genre blending and enjoying myself. I always write characters that I’d want to read, by which I mean deeply flawed, fast mouthed, quick fisted men. And then I throw these pulpy characters into unlikely and difficult situations to see how they’ll hold up. And sometimes they don’t.

With the Deadfast Series I always wanted to write James Crumley’s druggy P.I. C W Shugrue in my home town of Belfast, but a Belfast that was infested with the monsters of myth and always had been. In Return of the Scapegoat Kid I’m writing Cain and Abel, except with a modern flavor and a more familial commentary and context. My version of the brothers are quite screwed up and in their isolation need each other as much as they blame each other. This tale will explain why and take a hard look at the modern family. It’ll also have a happier ending. Hopefully!

c) Why do I write what I do?

The only way I can adequately describe it is that; writing, or some sort of creativity at least, is in me. For years I denied it an outlet, and all that did was make me unhappy. I need to get the creativity out you see, and writing is the form in which is flows most freely, and albeit minimally speaking – successfully.

I write the characters that I do because I like characters that I, and hopefully other people can relate to. I write the stories I do because I want to take those characters and put them in unusual situations and see what happens. I love horror and the crime noir genre and I like to make horror/ crime stories with a message in there somewhere that transcends the plot.

I remember watching Night of the Living Dead for the first time a good decade plus ago, and while the human drama was truly fascinating, the socially potent shotgun blast (literally) ending, left me shocked and thoughtful. Everything I ever write will be an attempt to recreate the potency of that ending, albeit in different contexts.

d) How does your writing process work?

For my first few novels I worked part-time and on the brink of self imposed penury, so I was ‘hungry’ – quite literally. I had no internet and thus writing or finding time to write wasn’t a problem. It was more something to do, and I happily did. So I’d get up, eat a bowl of porridge, put music on the stereo, drink a cup of joe and write. And I’d do that on and off all day. My first novel I made up as I went along and completed in about seven months. My second I loosely plotted and then updated as I went, which took about ten months.

By this stage in my process, I’m more structured and have to be due to time constraints. I write down my story beats the evening before and work off them the following day, usually on the evenings or the weekend afternoons when I’m most free. I make a coffee, put on some music, sit with the laptop on my knee in my battered old recliner chair and write. It doesn’t always work, and I’m easily distracted – like a magpie in a tinfoil factory. But when it does, I’m golden.

So there you go, I hope you enjoyed. The three writers that I’d like to continue this chain-letter-type bloggy thing are:

Julieanne Lynch, AGR Moore and a third author who unfortunately had to cancel due to other commitments, but I wont hold it against them.

I met Julianne, author of the incredibly successful Shadow World Novels and The Rose Saga while working for a local radio station when she was promoting her books. And Andrew is a pal I met online of all places, a talented author of the darkly delightful children’s books The Unseen Chronicles Of Amelia Black and A Boy Named Hogg.

Thanks for reading folks. Until next time

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