Malcolm R. Campbell, is author of The Sun Singer and two satirical novels in the Jock Stewart series.
Please tell us a little more about yourself, Malcolm.
Malcolm: Shelagh, I’ve spent the bulk of my career as a technical writer for computer companies, most of which fell on hard times, though I don’t think it was my fault. I’ve also worked as a college journalism instructor, grant writer, and corporate communications director. Currently, I’m a contributing writer for a north Georgia magazine called Living Jackson. My first novel, The Sun Singer, was published in 2004, followed by a book of satire in 2006 called Worst of Jock Stewart.
When did you first begin writing and what did you write?
Malcolm: When I was in high school, I was quite certain I’d end up traveling the world writing exciting articles about exotic places for National Geographic. While I have written a few articles about exotic places, they were published in the shipboard magazine of the aircraft carrier I served aboard while in the Navy. My Indiana Jones career didn’t quite pan out. So now, I visualize exotic places in my fiction.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Malcolm: My latest novel is a mystery/thriller, published by Vanilla Heart in August, with a large dash of comedy in it called Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Stewart lives in the exotic states of inebriation and Texas where he works as an gruff, old-style investigative reporter for a small-town newspaper. He’s hot on the trail of the thieves who appear to have stolen the mayor’s race horse Sea of Fire and who might just be the same people who killed his publisher’s girl friend Bambi Hill. The police chief has warned Stewart that he (Stewart) has a target on his back. Stewart believes that as long as your number’s not up, you’re going to be okay.
What’s the hook for the book?
Malcolm: Jock Stewart goes out of his way to mock those in authority by pretending to kowtow to them. He admits he does his best work by “being an asshole” and a mix of Don Rickles and Don Quixote. He’s the man for the job when the skirts are up and the chips are down.
How do you develop characters and setting in your books?
Malcolm: Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire arose out of the characters and settings I created several years ago for a blog called Morning Satirical News. I used the blog to satirize everything via fake news stories for a newspaper called the Star-Gazer at the fictional everyman’s town of Junction City. When I decided to put Stewart into a novel, he dragged the whole crazy mess of people and places right along with him. I had no choice but to just let it happen. I typed the first draft straight through to the end without planning or worrying about anything. Needless to say, I faced a fair amount of editing after that!
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Malcolm: I put myself in the shoes of every character in the book and “see” the world through their eyes when they are in a scene. It’s almost a free association technique while within each character’s mindset. Words and actions for each character simply pop into my mind when I’m thinking about them. Sometimes I wonder who’s actually writing the novel. Is it me or am I channeling a bunch of people who are competing for the best lines and the best scenes? Some day this is my muse, while others claim it’s my subconscious mind. Whatever it is, I’m not going to mess with it.
Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?
Malcolm: I write in third person restricted, staying within the protagonist’s point of view throughout a book or story. In The Sun Singer, my style was magical realism with a fair amount of interior monologue and description. In Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, the scenes and dialogue were much shorter and faster with the voice-over flavor of an old noir film out of the 1940s or 1950s.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Malcom: My father was a journalist and journalism educator. The house was filled with books, magazines, and writing professors. It would have been difficult to escape this kind of influence even if I’d wanted to. The Jock Stewart character has a lot in common with many of the older journalists who were on my father’s staff, men who came out to the house and told stories about moonshiner raids, tough editors and weird reporters hanging out in the newsroom, and afterhours trips to a favorite watering hole. I was a journalist for the Navy, but the low salaries wouldn’t put Scotch and/or food on the table, so I ended up in corporate America rather than the newsroom. I probably would have had fewer ulcers in the newsroom.
Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had.
Malcolm: Author Nancy Whitney-Reiter wrote that the novel features “small town hi-jinks delivered with healthy doses of sarcasm and wit. Jock Stewart is like Guy Noir freed from the confines of public radio. A must-read for anyone who likes their sleuths hard-boiled, their women salty, and their plots with as many twists and turns as a plate of the Purple Platter Diner’s spaghetti.”
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Malcolm: My books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Vanilla Heart. Readers can learn more about my books on my website at http://www.malcolmrcampbell.com and my author’s weblog at http://sunsinger.blogspot.com/.
Thank you for joining us today, Malcolm.
Malcolm: I enjoyed chatting with you here today, Shelagh.