Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Alexander!
Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Hi, and thank you so much for having me! Well, what can I say? I am a Scotsman, currently living in Toronto with my Canadian wife Marie and our 4 month old baby boy, Gabriel. Marie and I met in New Zealand and lived there for almost a year before moving back to Scotland and now we are settling to life in Canada. Hopefully this is the last move for us for a while as we have moved 4 times in as many years over 3 continents – it’s exhausting. I am not as young as I was, although I am now too old to die young!
How long have you been a writer?
Well I still don’t consider myself a “writer” as it really isn’t work to me. I thoroughly enjoy sitting down and letting my imagination come to life through words. There is nothing as exhilarating to me as seeing a blank page on my computer and knowing that there is a great story in there, just waiting for me to throw the right words in the proper order. After all, that is exactly the way all the great books were written.
Do you have a "day job," or is being an author your career?
Oh how I would love to say this is my career but, alas, no. Although, due to my visa status, I do not have a “day job” either.
So I am in something of a ‘career limbo’ situation.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
Actually, all credit is due to my wife and mother-in-law for encouraging me to pursue my dream. I always wanted to try writing and explore my own imagination but never really had the courage or confidence to try. When I did, I really felt rather foolish and quite embarrassed when I read back my first chapter. However, both insisted upon reading my work and so encouraged me to just keep going.
I am so glad they did.
The words started to flow out and, a mere 12 weeks later, the first draft of Greater Expectations was complete. It was just under 50,000 words and it was only after I completed the second draft, almost 90,000 words, did it sink in that I had actually written a book. It was a fantastic moment and one that I cannot wait to repeat so that is motivation enough for writing the sequel.
What was the inspiration for this story?
I would imagine it would come as a surprise to those who have read the book that the real story behind it was that of a chance meeting I had with a war veteran in northern France. His story was just fantastic and I managed to spread it over 2 chapters within Greater Expectations. Sadly, there wasn’t enough of a story in itself for a full book so the rest just sort of grew around it.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
Simply overwhelming. Just seeing it available - my book, all those words that I wrote and wove together in some semblance of order to tell my story – on so many international websites throughout the world. Well, it truly was quite surreal yet utterly addictive and wildly intoxicating.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
No. Greater Expectations was a romantic comedy but the sequel is more of a thriller and I am really enjoying that challenge. I love writing comedy and making people laugh so I hope to write in this genre again but that isn’t my immediate focus.
Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?
Oh how I wish I had a cool and enigmatic answer for this but, in reality, it is generally in my own living room where I need complete solitude and total silence to let my imagination flow.
In actual fact, it is in exactly these circumstances that I am writing these answers now!
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
To be honest, having only written one book and in the early stages of a second, I am not really sure I know yet. I can only say that the first book evolved from a chance meeting that I wanted to have written down because the gentleman in question’s story needed to be told. From that, grew a completely different love story that only served to tease my imagination and torment me with a sequel that, for now, lives in my head but I am aiding it’s escape.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
I need to let my ideas stew and build until they are, quite literally, bursting out of me and then I hammer them onto the page as quickly as I can. This “routine” has seen me go for weeks at a time without writing a single word and then suddenly waking up at 2am and 3 chapters are written within a few hours. It is wonderfully illogical, completely irrational, yet fantastically liberating.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I like it best when the story just unfolds and I only need to tell the reader what is happening and what the person is thinking and feeling. This happens from the middle to the end of the book.
The struggle is when there is a certain point I need to make or certain issues that need to be addressed. These generally happen at the beginning when I am building the story, laying down a backstory whilst maintaining a decent pace and trying not to bore the reader.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
At the risk of sounding cliché, we welcomed our first baby into the world in September and so spending time with him and my wife are my world. So, when I am not writing, I am spending every minute that I have with them.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
To answer this, I need to use a quote from Stephen King, in response to the question “How do you write?”
He answered, “One word at a time”
It made me realise that writing a book starts with that first word. Then just go from there and take the reader on a journey. That is the challenge for any writer and I love going to that place and taking the reader with me, like it’s only for us.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
To be completely honest, it is when you get a great review from a complete stranger. To find that someone I have never met enjoyed what I wrote is immensely satisfying.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
Mostly through blog takeovers but also through the book’s Facebook page and also my own website, www.aasmccabe.com. It is hugely important to me to be completely accessible and I respond to any and all communications personally.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
They are entirely based in fact although they have been subjected to my own warped interpretation. A rather liberal dose of artistic licence, mostly for comedy effect.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
Oh this is a list that is long and distinguished!
Tom Clancy – an insurance salesman who turned his hobby into a career in his 40’s.
Stephen King – We share a birthday and his wife was also a teacher, although I am sure that is where our similarities end! I love his story and his initial self doubt. He completed then threw ‘Carrie’ in the garbage when his wife, Tabitha, fished it out and submitted it for publication. It was picked up and the rest, as they say, is history.
J.K. Rowling – wrote her books in an Edinburgh cafe whilst on welfare benefits as it was cheaper than paying for the heating in her home. Her story is truly inspiring and the very fact she had kids queued up to buy books and have them reading was simply fantastic to me.
George Bernard Shaw – I have been to ‘Shaw’s Corner’ in Hertfordshire, my wife and I briefly lived very close by. One of only two people to have won an Oscar and a Nobel Prize (the other being Al Gore!) I loved that he wrote in a portable cabin that he could relocate anywhere in his garden, depending upon his mood.
Beatrix Potter – She ignored her parents to write about a talking rabbit, in the Victorian age? That took great courage and she was hugely successful. Proving she was fully vindicated in her decision to follow her dream, that is greatly inspiring to me.
It also helped that she loved Scotland and holidayed in Dunkeld as a child and cited here as part of her own inspiration for her books.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
I had an email from a lady who told me that she was having issues with her boyfriend and his baggage from a previous relationship and he couldn’t really talk about it. He simply got angry and it always resulted in an argument. She felt she was losing him and their relationship. She then read my book and now had a far greater understanding of what he had been through and knew that the relationship would be fine.
The very fact that I got that email was success enough for me.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
Yes, I am. It is the sequel to Greater Expectations although it is more of a thriller than a romantic comedy. It was never planned this way – I really only set out to write one book – but the story just seemed to naturally evolve and now twisting this way. It’s great for me to see where it goes, really fun and a fresh challenge.
The prelude for my second book can be seen on my website - www.aasmccabe.com/prelude
I hope you enjoy it and, once again, thank you so much for having me.
Have a great day everyone!
Thank you for stopping by Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career with us, Alexander!
About The Author
After graduating with a couple of useless degrees in law, Alexander McCabe left his Scottish homeland and wandered nomadically around the globe to experience the rich diversity of culture that the world has to offer. For the moment, it is Toronto's turn to provide a suitable abode for him and the wife that he picked up along the way...
Greater Expectations by Alexander McCabe
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Format: Paperback - 444 pages
Kindle - 847 KB
Nook - 318 KB
Genre: Romantic Comedy
BUY THE BOOK: Greater Expectations
* Free while on tour!*
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
My Book Review:
In Greater Expectations, author Alexander McCabe weaves an entertaining tale of the trials and tribulations of dating, love, and relationships refreshingly told from the male perspective.
The reader follows Z as his journey to find love again is wrought with a mixture of humor and dating disasters. I really enjoyed getting the male's perspective on dating and relationships, its eye opening and thought provoking, its a gem of a tale if you're looking to get a realistic insight into the male mindset when it comes to love and romance.
I found Greater Expectations refreshing because it is rare that women get to read a story in the contemporary romantic comedy genre from a male perspective. The author takes the reader on an interesting and entertaining roller coaster ride of a journey filled with laugh-out-loud humor (sometimes dark humor), emotion, rants, and some pretty cringe worthy misadventures and misguided romantic expectations that we all can relate to. Who knew that the male species could be just as mysterious as us females when it comes to this little thing called love?! *wink, wink*
Kudos, Mr. McCabe, I can't wait to read the sequel!
RATING: 4 STARS
Virtual Book Tour
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