Thank you so much to author, Pete Maguire, for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We appreciate it, and we know that your readers will as well!
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Answer: My book City of a Million Dots started as a short story that just didn’t want to end. I realized in writing courses I was doing that the story seemed to have an endless ability to fit into any exercise. This led me to the conclusion that the story was enormous.
2. Can you tell me about the book?
Answer: As a basic premise it is about freedom of choice. It addresses the epigenetic (environmental) and genetic influence on choice. Of course this is buried under a story about artists, outer world entities, gangs and a crumbling city that does not want to give up its control over people.
3. What is your writing process like?
Answer: I am the type of writer that needs to live in their story. The book took over my life and got one in return.
4. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?
Answer: The answer to this varies, but certainly sometimes I believe the 3 main characters resemble my heart, my head and my spirit.
5. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
Answer: The essence of the book is a bit of a paradox, they are stuck in this and I may one day release them
6. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Answer: Writing, on a good day, puts me into an ecstatic trance and I feel like I am a mini-god.
7. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Answer: I think it is in some ways essential (or perhaps inevitable) to understand the process of writing, but in a way you have to then break free from that and find your own true path.
8. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Answer: I love writing so much. I believe there are certainly days for editing and days for creating. Thinking about the business end of writing can certainly be a turnoff though.
9. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Answer: What I love about my book is that it has a bit of a first album feel to it. I just jumped in and wrote the book I wanted to read. I think after that I struggled a bit with caring about what readers want. I don’t believe that works, at least not for me.
10. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Answer: I like the stand alone books. As I am a ‘jump in’ writer I think that as my life changes I jump in as a different person.
11. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Answer: A few! I lost my first book on a computer. I have written a second book which is a very risqué book that needs a lot of editing. I have also started a third and am constantly writing short stories.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Answer: I like researching and did a lot on electromagnetics, genetics and settings. I do think it can be a bit of a trap though… certainly something that should be fine-tuned in the editing stage.
13. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Answer: I was a full time writer while I was writing my book, I then taught writing for a few years but now I work at an in-patient unit for adolescents with mental health issues. I find this work very inspiring and rewarding in terms of compassion and creativity.
14. How many hours a day do you write?
Answer: I vary, but try to write at least one every day and up to four when I have time off.
15. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Answer: I ran away to New York from Ireland as a teen and that does figure quite strongly in my writing. I spent 2 years there as an illegal alien mixing in some quite harsh worlds and I think the flexibility I had to develop in order to stay safe has helped my creative flexibility.
16. What did you edit out of this book?
Answer: I tried to edit out myself. As the famous phrase of Sylvia Plath says, you have to kill your little darlings and I kept a file of the bits that I loved but that weren’t essential to the story. I never look at them.
17. How do you select the names of your characters?
Answer: I love inventing new ways to use words and names. I have a few names that I always use, I also like street words, I explore graveyards, especially old ones for certain gems!
18. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Answer: Well now I do both so I feel that it is important to be living a life as well as writing about one.
19. What was your hardest scene to write?
Answer: Interesting… I think anything to do with betrayal is hard, especially if you know that the betrayal is based on some incorrect information.
20. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Answer: My first took 4 years. My second was a funny mix. It started as a short story which I decided to experiment with and keep rewriting. I rewrote it for 9 months, then I turned it into novel in 1 month. It was like it burst out.
21. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Answer: No, but I do believe you might be blocked from doing certain pieces at certain times. I think then you need to go write something that flows even if it is just journaling or nonsense. Learn to love words again.
22. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Answer: I love writing by hand but hate having to decipher it in order to get it onto a computer. I often longhand for ideas and use the computer for the real work.
23. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
Answer: I have loved writing and reading, especially when I was an angst driven teen. At that time I didn’t even consider it writing, it was just what had to be done. In truth it is where I am most comfortable expressing myself. As my ideas formed stronger my writing has grown longer.
24. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Answer: I have a strange process that I compare to crossing a bridge. I know when I get to the other side I will begin writing, but first I write bits of junk, walk around the room, scream, shout, sing and then I’m over and off.
25. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
Answer: No. I do like to leave on a high point though.
26. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Answer: I set out with an idea and let myself get sidetracked.
27. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
Answer: I love reading. At the moment I am very much into Philip K. Dick, I like many of the great Russian writers – Dostoevsky, Gogol, Tolstoy and Bulgakov. I love Stanislaw Lem, Kafka and Knut Hamsun. I can do a Haruki Murakami, Michel Faber, William Gibson… the list goes on.
28. What is the most important thing about a book, in your opinion?
Answer: I love Philip K. Dick’s subversion of reality, something that makes you question your very existence. I don’t necessarily need to be satisfied I need to be impacted by an idea.
29. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
Answer: Not as such but I do remember the "Adventure" series by Willard Price and can still feel the excitement of holding a new book from the library. It was down to him that led me to go to the Amazon, my adventure.
30. How much of yourself do you put into your books?
Answer: Everything. I give it all, that’s how I write.
31. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
Answer: To my partner, Dot. She is the reason I breathe.
32. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
Answer: I would actually say my daughter is, she has a great way of listening.
33. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?
Answer: Every little pocket of existence contains a million muses. Creativity, I believe, is the expression of life.
34. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
Answer: I’d be surprised if this was the case!! I certainly never have. Occasionally in my writing classes there would appear the first draft specialists… but nearly always ideas are only planted in the first draft.
35. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
Answer: Yes, by many! It’s a tough business.
36. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
Answer: I have not done any and would find it quite restrictive. Of course the poet, Ted Hughes, said that restriction helps genius to appear.
37. Is writing book series more challenging?
Answer: I do not know. I imagine it is no different effectively.
38. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
Answer: I used to get upset but now truly believe that good ideas will get caught in their next orbit.
39. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?
Answer: Not really, but I follow the style of the French writer, Celine, who did not edit paragraphs or sentence but binned them and rewrote them in order to keep them fresh.
40. Can you tell us about your current projects?
Answer: I am writing a series of short stories inspired by the adolescent mental health unit I work in. Many of the kids in there are geniuses!
41. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?
Answer: A gypsy fortune teller in Dublin told me my future would be in the printed word when I was 19. My English teachers found my work troubling!
42. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?
Answer: My mum always encouraged us to read.
43. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
Answer: I am very superstitious and feel that divulging a character or story too soon will kill it so I tend to work alone.
44. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
Answer: I have always found it very difficult to turn dreams into stories… I have often tried and failed. The artist/ teacher Michele Cassou said that dreams have already used their energy up so that is the reason it is hard to get them into a picture or story. What I try to do now is to use them as a springboard to the next idea.
45. How can readers find out more info about you and your books?
Answer: My website www.petemaguire.co.uk has details of my work.
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