Monday, February 9, 2015

Featured Author: Alexander McCabe

About the book:

It is said that the course of true love never runs smooth - even for us men. Yet it has never been easier to find love than in this modern digital era where the mighty computer has all but rendered Cupid redundant. Love is now to be found, quite literally, at your fingertips. Although love also seems to have changed with the times. This new love is deceitful and manipulative, cunning and untrustworthy. Love has gotten ugly. Thankfully, not all the answers to life’s mysteries are to be found in the computer and Cupid - battered and bruised as he may be - proves that he still has some game and a few tricks up his sleeve . . .

Interview with Alexander McCabe

Alexander, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Actually, I can be rather specific about when I started writing. It was September 2013 as my wife got a job in Saskatchewan, Canada. As I am Scottish, I have no legal right to work and so began to write whilst my visa was being processed. It is a long and laborious process and, 18 months or so later, we are still waiting and I am still not allowed to work. So, I have kept up the writing to preserve my sanity, what’s left of it!

I started writing articles for the local paper and the book sort of developed from there.

What’s the story behind the title Greater Expectations?
The real story behind the book was that of a chance meeting I had with a war veteran. His story is spread over 2 chapters within Greater Expectations, although there wasn’t enough of a story in itself so the rest just sort of grew around it.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
No, not at the moment although I expect to start working again once my visa is eventually granted. However, like almost every author, I would love to write full-time.

How did you create the plot for this book?
I didn’t so much create the plot as let it unfold. Having never written a novel before, I watched interviews with other successful authors but quickly determined that it is a very unique process. So, I wrote for myself and just let my imagination run riot and was pleasantly surprised with the result. I wrote the first draft of Greater Expectations in 3 months and it was an amazing sense of accomplishment.

What would your main character say about you?
I would hope that he would say only nice things and, if not, then I could only hope he would follow my mother’s advice - “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”.

Good advice. Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 
They all are to some extent. In actual fact, the character “Mike Taylor” is very real, so much so that I used his real name. He is a fantastic friend and a very funny man. He read the book and we are still great friends, so I guess he was pleased with my portrayal.

It is funny though that, on occasion, I have had friends and family call me and say they recognize a character in the book. As I am now writing the sequel, I always tell them that they are correct and they better be nice to me or else they will end up in the next book! There is a certain devilment that lives in me. . . 

Is your book based on real events?
Practically every story within the book is real, although in most cases, exaggerated for comic effect. I would stress that not all of these events happened to me personally but rather were friends stories passed onto me.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
The final scene was quite special for me as it drew everything together without being too obvious. It was also a natural conclusion for this book whilst setting up a sequel.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
I actually named a couple of songs within the book and so would have to pick one of them. That being the case, it would be “She” by Elvis Costello.

Who are your favorite authors?
As a law graduate, it will come as no surprise that John Grisham is a favorite of mine. I also really enjoy some of Jeffrey Archer’s earlier works. Dan Brown’s books are quite intriguing, and Steig Larsson. Such a sad loss, I finished his Millennium Trilogy in 5 days and would loved to have read what he would have done next.

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
As the main character is Scottish, then I suppose, being true to the role, Gerard Butler would be the most obvious choice. He, like myself, also graduated from the University of Glasgow, so it’s hardly surprising that he would top my list.

Do you have a routine for writing?
I do but it is completely chaotic! I need to let my ideas stew and build until they are, quite literally, bursting out of me, and then I hammer them onto the page as quickly as I can. This “routine” has seen me go for weeks at a time without writing a single word and then suddenly waking up at 2am and 3 chapters are written within a few hours. It is wonderfully illogical, completely irrational, yet fantastically liberating.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Oh how I wish I had a cool and enigmatic answer for this but, in reality, it is generally in my own living room where I need complete solitude and total silence to let my imagination flow.

In actual fact, it is in exactly these circumstances that I am writing these answers now!

Where’s home for you?
This is a rather complicated question and one that has multiple answers. Scotland is a huge part of me although I currently live in Toronto, Canada. However, having lived on 3 continents in the past 4 years, I can safely say that “home” is where the heart is. For me, that is wherever my wife and son are.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
Predictably and unashamedly, it would be the book that I wrote - Greater Expectations. Although this may seem like complete vanity on my part, it actually could not be further from the truth. It had long been an ambition of mine to write a book and so this represents the culmination of hard work, determination, focus but, perhaps most importantly, the realization of a dream. There is so much of myself invested within it that no other book will ever be as close to my heart as this.

For these reasons, it is not so much a book to me but the realization of a dream.

What would your dream office look like?
It would be housed in an old home in the countryside and have high wooden bookshelves on three walls. The door would be set somewhere within them and would disappear when it was closed. A wooden ladder would be on runners to ensure complete access to every title. There would be a floor to ceiling bay window on the final wall that overlooks a small loch and rolling hills in the background. A purpose-built desk and comfortable chair would allow me to work here and enjoy this magnificent view when needing a distraction and time to quietly contemplate.

A small log burning fireplace on the side wall provides that warm smoky aroma. Two worn couches facing each other and a coffee table atop a plush rug in the center would complete the room.

As you can no doubt tell, I haven’t given this much thought.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
At the risk of sounding cliché, I like to believe Paulo Coelho when he says in The Alchemist:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Thank you so much for having me. For those that may be interested, the prelude for my second book can be seen on my website.
Have a great day everyone!

Excerpt from Greater Expectations

When first I met my now estranged wife during our Master’s year at university, I was seeing someone else too. In the main, this defines me as a “bastard,” although I preferred to think of myself as a “player.” Indeed, I would argue that it falls under the guise of “sowing wild oats.” That’s the phrase that makes the practice somehow acceptable, and mothers the world over tell their sons that this is what they need to do before they settle down. The rite of passage into manhood, as it were. At least, it’s what my mother told me. Women may argue this point - sorry, women will argue this point - but then they become mothers.

Naturally, they just don’t want those “wild oats” sown with their own daughters.

However, it is a fallacy to think that we men are completely heartless. I realised that I actually liked the girl that I eventually married, so quickly ended all contact with the third party. In actual fact, she was a girl that I had been seeing first but only by a matter of a few weeks. I got the usual tirade of “bastard” texts, emails, and drunken voicemails. “I thought you were different” being the obligatory phrase that she just had to use during every one of these “opportunities.” In one particular instance, during which she also branded me a “coward,” I foolishly responded. I explained to her that I was merely being cruel to be kind as it was blatantly obvious to me that we had no future together. Furthermore, after everything that had been said and done – more on her part now than mine - she would surely realise and accept that there was no going back as any trust and respect that had been built was now completely shattered.

I got the following reply:

“See, I knew you were different. That was lovely, you thinking of me and my feelings and us and our future. Why can’t we make this work? We can, you just have to trust yourself to trust me. Call me.”

It took another six weeks of ignoring and blocking her before she finally gave up. We had only been dating, if it could ever have been called that, for three weeks.

It takes true courage and bravery to finish any relationship. As my marital separation was only a week old, I understood that there may be some element of hope that we could fix it and move on. Yet I knew there was no way I could, or would, allow myself to stoop to such a level of indignity. My sense of pride has taken a pounding and is undoubtedly battered and bruised, but it is still there, standing tall and intact, however weakly. It is also getting stronger with every passing day.

All thanks to “Hope.”

“Hope” is a very strange feeling that displaces others such as “confidence,” “faith,” and “trust,” and one that I have naturally gravitated towards my entire life. We are old friends, hope and I. Never have I dared to have “confidence” in my academic or sporting abilities, rather I always “hoped” that I would perform at my best as necessitated in any particular circumstance. When things had gone better than I had even dared “hope,” then I defaulted to the notion that is was merely my “good luck,” and vice versa. “Luck” has always provided me an excuse for all of life’s highs and lows and everything in between. Now I wanted to change all that. Now I wanted to control my existence.

Now I wanted to stir the stagnant pool that is my life proactively to feel like I am living again.

So that may well explain why I am now sat in only my boxer shorts in front of my computer, as the rain batters the window behind my curtains, and trying to focus on completing an online dating profile that includes a “personal statement” section. Apparently, its purpose is to allow me to describe myself in as broadly generic terms as possible in order to seem “normal” and “average” - and so maximising my appeal - whilst also trying to ensure that I am unique enough as to stand out. The logic of the concept is irrefutable and yet fantastically ridiculous.

It is also proving so challenging to the point of being quite impossible.

As a truck driver, I work most weekends and so this job commitment removes the more conventional ways of meeting women. Using a dating site makes far more sense in this new age of technology as it allows for an immediate connection without the need to wait for the weekend, or the demand of a decent chat up line. It cuts to the chase, so to speak. The site has posted a statistic that states over 28% of couples now “meet” online, so I am still happily in the minority. However, it is utterly galling to me that I should ever try to be “normal” or “average” to anyone as I have never considered myself as such.

It seems to me to be morally fraudulent.

Online dating. It really is quite an absurd concept yet totally in concert with the modern era where people are too busy with work and life to take the time and make the effort for actually dating. Yet where is the romance of it? You will never hear a love song that refers to such sites. Can you imagine Rod Stewart singing “The Algorithm of my Heart” or some such like?

No? Me neither.

About the author:

After graduating with a couple of useless degrees in law, Alexander McCabe left his Scottish homeland and wandered nomadically around the globe to experience the rich diversity of culture that the world has to offer. For the moment, it is Toronto's turn to provide a suitable abode for him and the wife that he picked up along the way. . .

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