Dr Roy Mclarty is an Associate Tutor at the University of East Anglia, and his first fiction novel comes out TODAY (31/10/2012).
As of this morning, the novel has SOLD OUT, but you are able to order it on Amazon today, or get in touch with him directly for any information. Stay tuned, as Roy may be doing a book signing in the Waterstones on UEA campus quite soon.
In between teaching classes, we managed to grab Roy for an interview. Here is what he had to say about the publication:
When did you begin writing, and did you always envisage being an author?
I have always been interested in writing since my school days. In my thirties I went to Strathclyde University in Glasgow and that accented my interest. On becoming an academic I published several works each year. Recently I’ve been driven to focus more on fiction, thus giving rise to Snake in the City.
What is the novel about and what inspired you to write ‘Snake in the City’?
The plot centres around the City and is based on a fictitious character – Ron Miles – who grabs a fund from a miscreant and ultimately turns it into a fortune. (He is a professional Fund Manager.) But nothing ever goes right and he is haunted throughout the pages by his theft. The narrative commences with a hostage drama when Miles is enticed to an event at which a group of terrorists grab him centre stage. They have a point to make! He is taken hostage and escapes by the skin of his teeth, having apparently killed a man. Meanwhile a menacing character, the Snake, who is in league with the terrorists, steals Ron’s fund which stands at ₤3,000,000.
This leads to a confrontation in a remote location in Scotland where after a terrible fight Ron regains his fund.
Years go past, his money accumulates; he buys a castle, but is never at ease and eventually the Snake launches an attack to grab the fund, now worth more than a billion pounds. Miles remains unbroken and despite his original theft, he retains a certain amount of personal integrity. He is a survivor and ultimately the book ends on a hopeful note.
My interest in writing goes back to my school days where I twice received a prize for writing, this waned until I got to university in my thirties when it began to grow again. My Doctorate fired an interest in writing some fiction.
Snake in the City was a joy to write, indeed I wrote it twelve times. I’ve attempted to steer away from expletives – there’s far too much of that – and all the characters are fictitious. At least I hope so. If the Snake really exists, I’ll maybe have to get a good lawyer.
What is the main purpose you hope people will gain from your book?
Well I’d like to think it affords a little entertainment that will benefit the reader. I believe it offers an original look at certain aspects of the City and it’s not all that far fetched. For sure Ron Miles’ illicit fund isn’t the only one in town – I’ve often heard it said that half the funds in the City wouldn’t bear scrutiny. Anyway, I hope Snake in the City grips the attention and tells an honest tale about dishonesty.
What advice would you give to other budding writers?
Approximately half a million MS have accrued over the last ten years and the difficulty in getting a deal is self obvious. I’d advise writers to be sure of their market before they type a word. Study the competition and read all the books they can get, but don’t copy anyone – do your own thing. Some genres are on the decline while others are rising and obviously it’s best to be with the former. Getting accepted by a publisher requires patience and it’s essential to bounce back after the inevitable rejections. Ideally you should get an agent, but most of them don’t want to know about new authors – I know of none that have been accepted in the last year. It helps if you’ve got a contact inside the trade, but don’t approach other authors. Half of them aren’t sure whether they’ll get their next book published and they’re not going to admit that, nor are they likely to be helpful.
What other books/authors inspired you to write?
I have always liked writers such as Len Deighton and Fredrick Forsyth, who get a nice level of intrigue into their works. Bill Bryson has a style which appeals to me, and to take a historic example, Charles Dickens is a great favourite of mine. He excelled in his relevance to the world, pitching his works to an audience, which hung on to every word.
Do you see yourself as a one genre author or are there other elements in your writing that you can see yourself developing further into future novels?
To be honest, I have other books inside me. My next one is about politics and it is in a different vein though it’s also told in the first person.
What inspired you for the title of your book?
Choosing a title was a very difficult task, but an important one. I assembled a list of over 80 possibilities and then narrowed it down through talking to friends. The most helpful individual was Austin & Macauleys’ Annette Longman – she gave me the confidence to go with the final agreed title.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
My academic work at the University of East Anglia keeps me occupied. I also teach for Boston University of the USA. When the weather’s good I like to cycle and I walk a lot in the country lanes of Norfolk where I live. Obviously I read a lot. I’m also an amateur investor, which helped with Snake in the City.
Do you feel that your background has helped you with your new career as a novelist?
Yes, this is very true. I have travelled quite a bit over the years and this has taken me into situations which helped stir the thought processes. My background in academia also taught me the skills of concentration and thinking. I hope my ethics come through.
Do you do a lot of research before you start writing?
No, not really. Ideas formed in my head. The World Wide Web is great for research, though it’s not always accurate, but what’s new? I do however like to check out geographical and historical information for accuracy.
How do you write pen and paper? Computer?
It depends on the scale and aspect of the work in hand. Sometimes it’s pen and paper (With my wife Mary typing). Generally speaking I prefer the computer – it’s so easy to make immediate corrections.
Do any of the characters in the book relate to your own life?
Not really, I can’t see myself as the star in any novel. However, there are parallels with people I’ve known.
What feedback have you had from family and friends or other people who have read your novel?
Well they haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure I’ll soon get some value judgements!
And finally, what do you think this book could offer our Norwich Business School students?
I hope it shows that to be exciting a book does not need to rely on colourful language or vulgarities. I haven’t meant to be disapproving, but hopefully it shows some richness of text in the best traditions of the English language.
I think the book also shows the benefits from sticking to life’s objectives and having personal goals.
There is a charge of £4 with the proceeds going to the Balloon Charity for bullied children.