Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Having been lucky enough to read an ARC of ‘Recoil’ by this talented author, I was cheeky and asked if she’d mind answering my usual questions – plus one more – for me to share with you and she very kindly agreed. Keep on reading to find out her answers, including to my extra question!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book and series?
It was a combination of ideas, as my books usually are.
One night I was watching a TV documentary on snipers and it was fascinating. On the one hand, these young men were incredibly talented and professional, able to shoot accurately at distances over a mile, and real “game-changers” in their fields of battle. But on the other hand, they came across as lacking empathy, and as being completely detached from the reality that they were taking lives. I was intrigued by the distancing, euphemistic language they used when talking about their “work”and I wondered which came first, the callousness or the exposure to war and killing. Was that kind of cool detachment a prerequisite for the almost intimate killing of sniping (in which you see often see your victim’s face, even the expression in his eyes), or was it a psychological defence mechanism developed in reaction to trauma? What, I wondered, would it be like if you just happened to be an exceptional marksman, but you hated hurting and killing things, even something as horrible as a plague-spreading rat (the Ebola epidemic was at its height at the time). Also, for a long time I’ve noticed a growing trend in nations hit by acts of terrorism to start reducing human and civil rights in the name of increasing safety, and I wanted to explore that, too. The idea for the story grew from there!
I don’t have a single process — it varies from book to book, depending on the nature of the story. Sometimes, like for this trilogy which has a complicated storyline spanning three books, I have to do a lot more careful plotting than for other books. I always know how the story will end, though I allow myself to change it if I think the new idea works better. I usually envision the next scene in my mind’s eye (often while lying on my bed with an airline mask over my eyes, lol), and then capture it quickly on my phone’s voice recorder. I type the story on Word on my PC and save it constantly because I’m paranoid about losing my work. If I get stuck, I’ll shake things up by hand-writing (in purple or green felt-tip) in a notebook, or go for a long drive on the highway while dictating ideas and thoughts into my phone. Although it’s not always possible, I prefer writing in silence — I find music very distracting. I frequently walk up and down, muttering to myself as I figure things out, but I try not to do this in street so as not to scare folks.:)
How can I choose only one?! I can say, though, that I enjoy writing funny, complex and crazy characters the best, like the deranged killer in my adult thriller Dark Whispers, or the complicated, contradictory victim of bullying in Scarred. In Recoil, I had fun writing Sarge and the zombie-like plague victims.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
I tend to identify primarily with the main character in my novels, but I would not want to be Jinxy, no sir, no ma’am. Especially since I know what still lies in store for her!
Oh dear, that sounds like bad news for Jinxy!
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
I often choose my characters’ names carefully, and the interested reader who takes the trouble to Google the meanings of their names will often find clues to their characters (check out “Quinn”). Sometimes, though, it’s just a name that I like, or that “fits” the character. In Recoil, for example, the name for the tough-as-nails head of ASTA had to be something quite lean and hard. Roberta Roth fits, “Betty Swale” would not have. True confession: I have, in past books, named nasty characters after some nasty people I’ve known in my life. Be warned: writers often do this!
In your case, I’ve definitely got to add an additional question . . . I really enjoyed Recoil but that ending is just plain cruel to your readers! How could you leave them like that?!?
Hehe, I know not everyone is a fan of the cliffhanger, but it really was the natural end of the first act of this story. To appease potential reader lynch-mobs, I’ve included the first chapter from the second book at the end of this one. Also, the second book (Refuse) will be out really soon – it’s already up on preorder and is due for release in July. The third book, Rebel, is due for release in October. (Eek, I’d better get writing!) I will tell you that you haven’t seen the last of any of these characters, plus there are some amazing new characters and shocking twists and revelations in Book two.
Now you’re definitely teasing! I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Recoil’ and can’t wait to read ‘Refuse’ and ‘Rebel’ ! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, I look forward to reading more from you in future 🙂
When not writing, Joanne Macgregor is a counselling psychologist in private practice where she works mainly with victims of crime and trauma. Although she lives in the frenetic adrenaline-rush of the big city, Joanne has always been in love with nature, and escapes into the wilds whenever she can. She’s a Harry Potter fanatic, bakes the best choc-chip cookies on the planet, and is addicted to chilies and bulletproof coffee.
She started her professional life as a high school English teacher and loves writing about, and for, teens. She is the author of several books for Young Adults – Scarred (2015), Turtle Walk (2011), Rock Steady (2013), and Fault Lines (2016).
Author website: www.joannemacgregor.com
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Joanne – I can’t wait for ‘Refuse’ and ‘Rebel’ to be available, I want to know what happens to Jinxy more than ever now!