I bumped into good friend Michael Malone the other day. We got talking about his wonderful new release A Taste for Malice, and the conversation was so stimulating I thought I'd share it.
So, after the events of Blood Tears, D.I. Ray McBain is back on the mean streets of Glasgow with A Taste for Malice. Tell us what this is all about then?
McBain is back at work - in the professional doghouse - and on filing duty. Desperate for something to do, a pair of old files intrigue him. A woman worms her way into a position of trust with a vulnerable family. The children adore her. At first. Then she has some 'fun', which soon becomes torture and mental cruelty. Then she disappears. Another case tells a similar story. The families are complaining, frustrated that no-one is doing anything and worried that more children will get hurt. But the disgraced detective, McBain is the only one who is listening. Meanwhile, in Ayrshire, another young family is relieved when a stranger comes into their lives to help them through a difficult time. The stories of McBain’s unofficial investigation and the situation this Ayrshire family finds itself in are told in tandem.
That’s an interesting set up. Lots of crime novels start off with the dead body. A Taste for Malice starts with a young woman coming out of a coma. What was going through your head when you came up with that?
Most crime novels concern themselves with the aftermath of a crime. I thought it would be interesting to give the “victim” more of a presence. I wanted this novel to be about the anticipation of a crime and the tension to come from the investigator finding the perp and saving another potential victim before the crime was actually committed.
And after the not too shabby body count in Blood Tears I wanted to try and write a crime novel without killing anyone. But, you won’t know if I’ve been successful in that regard until you read the book.
What a tease. What were the pleasures and challenges of writing the second book in a series? And did you suffer from Second Book Syndrome?
It was a real joy stepping in to a world where I knew the main characters. The team were all ready there in my head waiting to spring into action. And it was great fun being with them all again. So to speak. I have a great time writing with these guys and I hope that comes across in the book. McBain is a hoot to write. I enjoy his extremes – gives me scope to play with his dark and light side - and his willingness to say exactly what is on his mind. I often wish I was more like that. I’m a wuss. Mind you, I could do without his ups and downs.
The challenge is keeping them all fresh. Making sure they are not re-treading old ground. Displaying a little character development – but doing that in a measured way, cos ultimately I’m writing a crime novel. Readers want all that that entails.
As for SBS, that wasn’t an issue. Given that I’d written two books before I wrote Blood Tears. And also given that I wrote the book a few years back when I wasn’t aware of my audience. I think it must be worse for writers who write their first book to huge acclaim – and have all that in their heads when they are writing the next one. Anonymity sheltered me from that nonsense.
Having said that, I might have a new syndrome, TBS. Problems with the third book. I write by the seat of my pants. With no clue where I’m headed. And I’m 25,000 words in and it’s like mentally wading through treacle. I kinda know where I want to go, but as yet, the boys in the boiler room (how Stephen King refers to his sub-conscious) haven’t given me a route.
What can you tell us about McBain 3?
Nuffink. Except that it’s pencilled in for a November ’14 release. We’re going later with this one because I have another book out in February and we need to give that one some air before releasing another MJM novel. You can get too much of a good thing you know.
My thanks to Michael for allowing me to share this conversation. If anyone wants to buy a copy of A Taste for Malice or Blood Tears the links to Michael's Amazon Author Pages are below
Coming in July, I have Tom Cain / David Thomas talking about the inspiration for his excellent novel Ostland.