Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Greater Expectations by Alexander McCabe (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Greater Expectations by Author Alexander McCabe!

Author Interview

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, 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 - 

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...


Book Review

Greater Expectations by Alexander McCabe
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Format: Paperback - 444 pages
              Kindle - 847 KB
              Nook - 318 KB
ISBN: 978-0994044709
BNID: 2940046088892
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.

Book Description:

It is said that the course of true love never runs smooth - even for us men. Yet it has never been easier to find love than in this modern digital era where the mighty computer has all but rendered Cupid redundant. Love is now to be found, quite literally, at your fingertips. Although love also seems to have changed with the times. This new love is deceitful and manipulative, cunning and untrustworthy. Love has gotten ugly. Thankfully, not all the answers to life’s mysteries are to be found in the computer and Cupid - battered and bruised as he may be - proves that he still has some game and a few tricks up his sleeve…

Book Excerpt:

When first I met my now estranged wife during our Master’s year at university, I was seeing someone else too. In the main, this defines me as a “bastard”, although I preferred to think of myself as a “player”. Indeed I would argue that it falls under the guise of “sowing wild oats”. That’s the phrase that makes the practice somehow acceptable, and mothers the world over tell their sons that this is what they need to do before they settle down. The rite of passage into manhood as it were. At least, it’s what my mother told me. Women may argue this point - sorry, women will argue this point - but then they become mothers.

Naturally, they just don’t want those “wild oats” sown with their own daughters.

However, it is a fallacy to think that we men are completely heartless. I realised that I actually liked the girl that I eventually married so quickly ended all contact with the third party. In actual fact, she was a girl that I had been seeing first but only by a matter of a few weeks. I got the usual tirade of “bastard” texts, emails, and drunken voicemails. “I thought you were different” being the obligatory phrase that she just had to use during every one of these “opportunities”. In one particular instance, during which she also branded me a “coward”, I foolishly responded. I explained to her that I was merely being cruel to be kind as it was blatantly obvious to me that there we had no future together. Furthermore, after everything that had been said and done – more on her part now than mine - she would surely realise and accept that there was no going back as any trust and respect that had been built was now completely shattered.

I got the following reply:

"See, I knew you were different. That was lovely, you thinking of me and my feelings and us and our future. Why can’t we make this work? We can, you just have to trust yourself to trust me. Call me.”

It took another six weeks of ignoring and blocking her before she finally gave up. We had only been dating, if it could ever have been called that, for three weeks.

It takes true courage and bravery to finish any relationship. As my marital separation was only a week old, I understood that there may be some element of hope that we could fix it and move on. Yet I knew there was no way I could, or would, allow myself to stoop to such a level of indignity. My sense of pride has taken a pounding and is undoubtedly battered and bruised, but it is still there, standing tall and intact, however weakly. It is also getting stronger with every passing day.

All thanks to “Hope”.

“Hope” is a very strange feeling that displaces others such as “confidence”, “faith”, and “trust” and one that I have naturally gravitated towards my entire life. We are old friends, hope and I. Never have I dared to have “confidence” in my academic or sporting abilities, rather I always “hoped” that I would perform at my best as necessitated in any particular circumstance. When things had gone better than I had even dared “hope”, then I defaulted to the notion that is was merely my “good luck”, and vice versa. “Luck” has always provided me an excuse for all of life’s highs and lows and everything in between. Now I wanted to change all that. Now I wanted to control my existence.

Now I wanted to stir the stagnant pool that is my life proactively to feel like I am living again.

So that may well explain why I am now sat in only my boxer shorts in front of my computer, as the rain batters the window behind my curtains, and trying to focus on completing an online dating profile that includes a “personal statement” section. Apparently, its purpose is to allow me to describe myself in as broadly generic terms as possible in order to seem “normal” and “average” - and so maximising my appeal - whilst also trying to ensure that I am unique enough as to stand out. The logic of the concept is irrefutable and yet fantastically ridiculous.

It is also proving so challenging to the point of being quite impossible.

As a truck driver, I work most weekends and so this job commitment removes the more conventional ways of meeting women. Using a dating site makes far more sense in this new age of technology as it allows for an immediate connection without the need to wait for the weekend, or the demand of a decent chat up line. It cuts to the chase, so to speak. The site has posted a statistic that states over 28% of couples now “meet” online, so I am still happily in the minority. However, it is utterly galling to me that I should ever try to be “normal” or “average” to anyone as I have never considered myself as such.

It seems to me to be morally fraudulent.

Online dating. It really is quite an absurd concept yet totally in concert with the modern era where people are too busy with work and life to take the time and make the effort for actually dating. Yet where is the romance of it? You will never hear a love song that refers to such sites. Can you imagine Rod Stewart singing “The Algorithm of my Heart”, or some such like?

No? Me neither.

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!


Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

February 9 - ABlue Million Books – Q&A & Excerpt 
February 9 - Ski-Wee’s Book Corner - Novel Spotlight 
February 10 - Chick LitPlus – Excerpt 
February 11 - Ogitchida Kwe’s Book Blog – Review & Excerpt 
February 12- JoonielObsesses Over Books – Q&A & Excerpt 
February 13 - TwoChildren and a Migraine – Review 
February 16 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt 
February 16 - Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Review & Q&A 
February 16 - The Phantom Paragrapher – Review

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