Saturday, 30 April 2016

Dead Man Talking #26 - Michael J Malone

Strachan McQuade (Deceased) Interviews Michael J Malone

One of my favourite reads this year was ‘A Taste For Malice’ by Michael J Malone. I enjoyed it so much I popped along to his book launch in Waterstones where he was promoting ‘Bad Samaritan’ – the third in the Ray McBain series. After Michael’s very entertaining grilling on stage I hung out with the man himself later in Sloans, and after plying him with enough alcohol he finally agreed to be interviewed by Strachan McQuade.

Michael J Malone is yet another Scottish writer to graduate from the Tartan Noir talent pool. His three Ray McBain books are gritty, violent, and studded with sharp humour. Go read them. I loved them so much I almost feel guilty over setting him up with the Rev McQuade. But… as they say - that’s Shoebiz.

Strachan McQuade
Michael J Malone

John Knox
McQuade: By Jove, Malone! The Glasgow Necropolis! What an excellent choice of venue to conduct this interview. From up here at the top we have a commanding view of Glasgow Cathedral, the Royal Infirmary, Provand’s Lordship, and best of all, the brewery! And look! Here’s the famous statue of John Knox, father of Scottish Presbyterianism. I remember one year at the Church of Scotland Synod I won second prize in the raffle and took home a 2000 piece jigsaw of Knox playing table tennis with his ‘bestie’ John Calvin. I still have it somewhere at home although there’s a few bits missing now. Can you guess which bits are missing, Malone?

Malone: The balls?

McQuade: Quite correct. Give that man a coconut... or two. Anyway, just saying the Necropolis is a good call. I know loads of stuff about it most people wouldn’t. I know every nook and cranny from the entrance at the Bridge of Thighs all the way up the Hill of Legs. Or is it Torsos? Never mind. Down to business, Malone. In your book ‘Blood Tears’ – your dietary-challenged anti-hero, Ray McBain, starts off as being overweight and gradually slims down by way of healthy eating and regular exercise. In the second book ‘A Taste for Malice’ he’s slipped back and put on the beef again, but at least is seen to be making a conscious effort to lose a few pounds. I haven’t yet read the third book in the series ‘Bad Samaritan’ (despite you signing a personal copy for me) and I realise this may qualify as a ‘Spoiler’ to some of your ardent readers, but did McBain eventually lose those extra pounds? Or did he give in to the lure of Greggs Bakery and remain a fat git? And as you ponder your answer while chomping on that ill-advised sausage roll, also consider this – have you any plans for sexually overactive detective, Ray McBain to release a ‘Roger Yourself Into Shape’ fitness DVD any time soon?

Malone: McBain is on the yo-yo diet thing, so he’ll never be able to walk past Greggs without jamming (see what I did there?) in a doughnut or three. After, of course, he rams in a couple of steak whatsits. Then he’ll go for a jog, while filled with self-loathing.

McQuade: I suffer from stealth-loathing. I sneak up on people, loathe them while they’re not looking, then sneak off again. It’s great fun. Tell you what, Malone. Why don’t we have a laugh by digging up one of these old graves. Who knows, there might be some valuables we can flog on the Antiques Roadshow. Luckily I’ve brought my collapsible spade, but due to my advanced age you can do all the digging while I continue to bombard you with interesting questions. Oh come on, you can do better than that. Put your back into it, man! And mind you don’t get a blister. This blog page isn’t insured to cover accidental injuries. Or erm… death.

Now, most crime writers I’ve spoken to like to talk a good game where dead bodies are concerned, but when confronted with the real thing they go all squidgy and gooey, a bit like the cadavers themselves come to think of it. Have you ever been in close proximity to violent death? And if so, how did you react? Were you brave and fearless, or did you pee your pants like a big Jessie? No, don’t stop working. You can talk and dig at the same time.

Malone: S’easy for you to say, McQuade standing there in your plus fours and monocle. And as for dead bodies? That would be a big no thanks. I don’t know if it’s an age thing but I have become more squeamish.

Last summer I had a pot in my back garden that filled with rain water (we get rain here, dontcha know) and one morning I looked in to see a family of drowned mice. The mum and two babies. I was traumatised. I kept imagining the babies climbing in to investigate – oh, what’s this? A swimming pool in our back garden?  – their panicked squeals when they couldn’t get out – mum climbing in to rescue them and then all of them swimming in circles – wee feet paddling for all they were worth until exhaustion took them, and their lungs filled with …

Having an imagination can be a bad thing.

McQuade: Sob. Stop it. Stop it. You’re making me blubber. I once had a pet gerbil I took to the seaside to teach how to surf on a lollypop stick. It didn’t actually drown, instead it was eaten by a big dog that ran in the water for a paddle.

Dog Eating a Gerbil
On a cheerier note, I see you have a fetish for bow ties. I myself have never seen the appeal of neckwear designed to look like specialist pasta, but I do sometimes sport a cane when I’m in a devil-may-care mood. Do any of your bow ties spin round when you feel the need for a cheap laugh? Or perhaps just to punctuate a smutty remark.

Malone: How very dare you?! Please don’t equate my effort at style with cheap baubles from a joke shop. That bow tie featured on Jeremy Kyle and cost at least £1.99.

Malone's Trousers
McQuade: Why was your bow tie on The Jeremy Kyle Show? Had it impregnated a group of seventeen year old triplets and then jilted them to elope with their 94 year old transgender great-grandfather? In fact I really don’t want to know. Anyway, you’re now so far down in that grave you may have to shout out your answers. Have to say I’m impressed with your effort despite the fact your trousers have now split up the back. Now, you hail from Ayr, a town that has contributed much to the cutting edge of Scottish culture by way of quality potatoes, steeple-chasing, and ahem… Ally McLeod. Do you subscribe to the theory, which I just made up a moment ago, that the town maketh the writer? And if so, what in particular about Ayr has contributed to your development as a writer?

Malone: You’re missing that poet fellow, Burns I think his name is. He’s got a bit of a rep. To be fair, I think there’s something in the water down here, there’s so much writing talent in Ayrshire. I won’t bother naming them all because this is about ME.

Rabbi Burns
McQuade: I did remember Rabbie Burns, I just never rated him. If he was so good then why was he never approached to write lyrics for Kenneth McKellar or even Moira Anderson? Speaks for itself. Oh, look, there’s the coffin. Smash it in with the spade and we’ll see what’s in there.

Sounds Effects: Coffin lid creaking open.

McQuade: Any luck. Found any valuable rings or trinkets?

Malone: Nothing valuable. Just a scruffily dressed corpse. Looks quite fresh and there’s only a faint smell. I’m getting notes of curry and cigarettes. Port and after-eight mints. Wait. It’s got a tag on its toe. I’ll just use the torch app on my phone and see what it says. Mmm. Interesting. Who’s Allan Watson?

McQuade: Ah. He’s my carer. I wondered where he’d been lately. There’s no chance of finding any valuable loot in his grave. Still, it was worth a try I suppose. Now, how the blazes are you going to climb back out?

Sound Effects: Police whistles and barking dogs.

McQuade: Drat. Looks like we’ve been rumbled. Still, no point in both of us getting nicked. Thanks for the interview, Malone. And please post my spade back if you don’t mind.

Sound Effects: McQuade running away…

Tweet Michael - @michaelJmalone1

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Dead Man Talking #25 - KA Richardson

Strachan McQuade (Deceased) Interviews KA Richardson

KA Richardson lives in North East England and her first novel – WITH DEADLY INTENT – is published by Caffeine Nights on the 14th April. The prequel to this novel, a short story titled – ESCAPE - is currently available for download from Amazon Kindle. She enjoys a good cop show but due to first-hand knowledge as a CSI, will shout at the TV when they get it wrong, and occasionally turn the show off and head off to her office in a strop to kill people off - in her writing obviously. Or so she says…

The Rev McQuade R.I.P
KA Richardson

McQuade: Today I’m in Darlington attending a grisly murder scene with Crime Scene Investigator turned author, KA Richardson. She’s made me wear one of those stupid white Durex suits in case I contaminate the crime scene. Just caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and I look like a pallid Smurf. Not only that, but it’s very humid inside these suits and I can already feel my feet sloshing around. Then again, perhaps my catheter has become dislodged. It does happen from time to time. Anyway to put you all in the picture it seems the infamous Darlington axe murderer ‘Chopper Charlie’ has struck again and there are body parts strewn all over the room. Damn, I’ve just tripped over what might be half a buttock.
Chopper Charlie
Richardson, put those intestines down for a moment and let’s start by asking what attracted you to working as a CSI. Was it the allure of making a solid contribution to society by providing hard evidence to convict evil criminals, or was it simply getting to hang around crime scenes with proper police officers without all the fuss and bother of the never-ending paperwork and chasing felons through back gardens?

Richardson:  Well Strachan, the truth is I kind of fell into it. I mean literally – face-planted onto a dead body. Just kidding – I missed the body – face just hit the floor. Next to the body. Haha. I had always wanted to be a cop but when it came down to it, my knee wasn’t up for all the chasing perps so I had to find another means of working for the police – I like to get my hands dirty though – definitely not one for sitting on my haunches. So it seemed logical that I could pursue forensics – speaking of which, you might wanna move your hand off the bench – your gloves are soaking up the blood….

McQuade: Whoops, sorry about that. And I think I may have sat on something squelchy too. I’ll let you know once I stand up. Now, you currently have a short story called ‘Escape’ available for purchase at a reasonable price which I’m told is a prequel to your forthcoming novel ‘With Deadly Intent’. Actually the latter reminds of a camping holiday in Ullapool I once spent with Dudley Moore. That of course would have been ‘With Dudley In Tent’. Why is no-one laughing? What a miserable bunch you CSIs are. Anyway, while I lighten the atmosphere by drawing a smiley face in this pool of congealed blood, please enlighten me as to the details of your books, both short and long.

Richardson: You are indeed correct my friend – Escape is a prequel to With Deadly Intent – it’s set about 8 years before the novel and features the main character, Cass Hunt, who at the time of Escape is a completely different person – she’s stuck in a domestic violence fuelled relationship and is pregnant – the story is about whether she escapes the situation. With Deadly Intent is set some years later with Cass as a Crime Scene Manager who is investigating a series of murders alongside the Detective Chief Inspector, Alex McKay. The killer is pretty horrendous – he likes to kill in different ways and goes out of his way to put on a fabulous show. Kinda reminds me of this one actually – has Chopper Charlie found an advanced copy of my novel?

McQuade: You better hope not. He might be one of those crazy Amazon reviewers who like to publicly flay you in print before coming to your home and planting an axe in your head. Anyway I look forward to writing a bawdy limerick or two about your main character Cass Hunt. By Jove! It really is hot inside these suits. Thankfully someone has left a damp sponge on the table to mop my brow with. Aaaargh! Sorry, just realised it’s a brain. What a stupid place to leave something like that. And mind what you’re doing with those tweezers, Richardson. You’ll have someone’s eye out if you’re not careful.
Anyway, tell me this, what got you into writing? Were you one those young girls who meticulously kept a secret diary and made up fatuous tripe like getting married to Donnie Osmond or one of the Bay City Rollers? I myself kept a ledger where I logged all the statistics for my local shinty team. Things such as which players sported moustaches and preferred a cup of Bovril as opposed to a healthy sliced orange at half time. I also logged which supporters brought their sheepdogs with them to the match. Yes, I suppose I was a strange child.

Richardson: I wouldn’t say strange Strachan – sounds like logical thinking to me! Writing was just something I always did – as a nipper I used to make up stories and staple the sides together to give to my favourite teacher at school – she kept them until she passed away from what I understand. I did used to keep a secret diary though – ahhhh Billy Warlock – my first true love. But of course the contents were secret – I couldn’t possibly tell you any more….. I did write some poetry when I was younger too, got published in an anthology don’t you know. Then later, once I was working as a CSI, I saw a psychic who gave me a virtual kick up the butt and asked me why I hadn’t been writing as he could see me signing in Waterstones – so I went back to Uni to get my Masters in Creative Writing, got told I couldn’t write for toffee by a certain lecturer, and stuck a virtual finger up at that by finishing my first novel. And getting a publishing contract. So ner ner ner Mr Lecturer – thanks for the push.

McQuade: Funnily enough I’ve been told more than a few times that I should stick to knitting and a few publishing houses have taken out an injunction to stop me sending them my work ever again. Hang on. This Mr Lecturer? I do hope you’re using that as a generic literary term and it’s not his actual name. We could get libelled for that sort of defamation. Just saying.
Yuck. Excuse me while I wipe this pungent DNA from my foot. Those intestines must have been leaking. This carpet is ruined anyway so I imagine no-one will mind. Now, I’m always interested in what sort of wacky stuff writers get up to under the guise of ‘Research’. Obviously your day job takes care of the yucky detail, but what other avenues of sheer nosiness do you embark upon to flesh out your stories? Do you ever ask your friends to supply you with pubic hairs to practice on or find yourself procuring fingerprints from wine glasses after hosting a Tupperware party? I myself never conduct research. If I don’t know something I simply make it up.

Pubic Hare
Richardson: This murder scene is just a favour to keep my skills up – I actually work taking 999 calls now – CSI is a great job and I love it but so hard to get back into once you’ve been redeployed! Government cuts man – the country’s gone to pot! As to research – or should that be ‘research’ – I am so nosy you wouldn’t believe. I will see people in the street and all of a sudden they become the basis for a character. It might be the clothes they’re wearing, or something they say. Naturally I have bugs planted all over the north east so I can monitor without being intrusive. My friends would undoubtedly provide pubic hairs if I asked, (Editor – you probably mean Eileen Wharton) however I’ve recovered plenty in my time so think I’ve got that one covered! As to the wine glasses – curved surfaces can prove difficult to recover prints from but hey, I do love a challenge! Naturally I make some stuff up – I reckon I’d be in trouble if I used real crime scenes in my writing wouldn’t I!

Strachan McSquid
McQuade: I’m reckon you’ll be in hot water for even appearing at this fictional crime scene. I was always being censured by the Head Minister for the content of our parish magazine. In hindsight the Elders’ Wives full colour pull-out was probably a mistake. Anyway back to the serious stuff.
When younger I attended a book signing in Woolworths given by JRR Tolkien, who cheekily signed my copy of ‘The Hobbit’ – To that hideous wee goblin, Strachan McSquid. Who said Tolkien had no sense of humour? Have you ever found yourself nervously waiting in line to have a book signed? And if so, who was the author?

Richardson: I personally haven’t waited in a queue for someone to sign – other than the queue for the lovely Eileen Wharton’s books anyway – but I did once enlist my hubbie’s best mate to wait in a queue to get a book signed for my hubby – the author was the lovely Sir Bobby Robson – my hubby was absolutely over the moon.

McQuade: Better than as sick as a parrot I suppose. Well thank you for your time and trouble, Richardson. Hang about - just spotted what might be the murder weapon sticking out from under the settee. Look at this, a blood-spattered axe. No, don’t bother coming over for it, I’ll chuck across the room to you. It’s very slippery so I’ll be extra careful. THUNK. Ooops. By Jove, that must have hurt. Um… I’ll just go call for medical help. And don’t try removing the axe from your head, Richardson, it’ll only bleed more.

Richardson: Ouch – Strachan ….. Strach ….. the curtains are closing, I’m a goner. Oh wait, it’s OK – this axe is a rubber one!

McQuade: (running now) Yes, but I forgot to mention it’s an exploding rubber axe. Goodbye.

Sound Effects: BOOM!

KA Richardson on Amazon

KA Richardson on Facebook

KA Richardson on Twitter can be found at
@karichardson77 or @kerryann77