Wednesday, 9 January 2013

PUSH-UPS: Grant McKenzie

So, what are you pushing right now?

I’m in the unusual position of being both traditionally published and self-published, depending on the country. So while my thrillers, Switch and No Cry For Help, are published by Random House in the UK, I recently bought back the North American rights and am currently launching them as self-published titles in the U.S. (Switch is also traditionally published by Penguin Canada and Heyne Germany). At the same time, my new mystery, Angel With A Bullet, written in first-person-female perspective under the pen name M.C. Grant, has just been released in the U.S. and UK by Midnight Ink. The sequel, Devil With A Gun, is also on tap for a September, 2013 release.

What’s the hook?

Switch and No Cry For Help are edge of your seat thrillers that author Ken Bruen calls “Harlan Coben on Speed.” Angel With A Bullet, however, is more of a hard-boiled mystery, but filled with a lot of dark humour. Basically, I wanted to tap into everything I love about Mickey Spillane and Gregory Mcdonald and create my own blend of action, blood and laughter.

And why’s that floating your boat?

For my thrillers, I love to write about ordinary people who get caught up in extraordinary circumstances. The protagonist of No Cry For Help, for example, is a bus driver who ends up crossing paths with a very dangerous organization. Angel With A Bullet takes a different tact in that its protagonist is Dixie Flynn, an investigative reporter for an alternative weekly in San Francisco. Having been a journalist myself for three decades, Dixie reflects a lot of what I’ve seen and done in my career — except she’s younger and slightly less jaded.

When did you turn to crime?

When I was still a teenager, I managed to get hired by the daily tabloid for their midnight to six Dead Body Beat. Basically, I monitored the police radios and kept my ear out for any “interesting” dead bodies that might pop up. You hear a lot of interesting things in those wee hours, and I’ve been fascinated with the dark ever since.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?

I love it all. It all began with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five mysteries, then moved onto some darker stuff such as S.E. Hinton and U.S. gang books like The Warriors. By high school, while everyone else was devouring Lord of the Rings, I was madly collecting and reading the complete works of Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.Gregory Mcdonald drew me into more contemporary works, while Henri Charriere’s Papillon showed me that crime stories could have an adventurous soul.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

I’ve always been a comic geek, so I’ve been really enjoying some fantastic new series, such as Joe Hill’s Locke & Key and revisiting some old favourites like Hellblazer, Sandman and Garth Ennis’ Preacher, etc. Batman has been interesting lately, too, with the recent Court of Owls storyline.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

Bruce Willis needs to read No Cry For Help; Edward Norton needs to read Switch; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt needs to pick up my thriller, K.A.R.M.A. For Angel With A Bullet, how about Emma Stone?

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?

I’m an old-fashioned guy with a sci-fi curiousity, so I like it all. My library is first-edition hardbacks and yellowed paperbacks from the 60s; my music is retro, indie, modern or classical - depending on my mood; and I’m a techno geek with a passion for gadgets. Basically, give me a pipe and slippers, a good hardback, turntable and a comfortable chair — but behind the secret panel is a geek’s paradise of shiny geekalishiousness.

Shout us a website worth visiting.

Obviously, grantmckenzie.net will give you everything you need to know about me, but I also enjoy visiting http://www.funnyordie.com - check out Will Ferrell’s battles with his baby-faced landlady.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself.

I wrote the first draft of Angel With A Bullet over 20 years ago as my first attempt at becoming a published author. A couple of decades, a thousand rejections, and seven or so novels later, I dusted it off and decided to rewrite it since I still enjoyed the story. A few months after the extensive rewrite, it was bought by Midnight Ink in a two-book deal. Just goes to show that writers are stone-cold crazy, but also that one should never give up on a dream.