It’s 1811, the spring wind blowing out of the western desert heralds disaster for the Mamluks of Egypt. Cairo is tearing itself apart in its struggle for modernization. Amym, a former Georgian slave soldier, seizes an opportunity to secure the freedom of the woman he loves. He must navigate the political unrest of a nation in turmoil and risks more than just his life to be with his childhood sweetheart. But the political intrigue and violence of an unstable nation force him to flee the only home he has ever known and fall into the grips of an evil that has lain in hiding for centuries.
Today I’m hanging out with KD McQuain, the author of ‘Amym: The Mamluk Who Defied Death’ who is supporting the 2016 Vampire Books For Blood campaign. KD, thanks for setting some time aside for me today. What inspired you to start working on the tale in this book?
I wanted to give a full telling of Amym’s back story. It was suggested to me by readers that he was an interesting character that didn’t get enough page time in NYV: PUNK, and I agreed. I already had a firm grip on his origins and just needed to delve deeper.
Did you enjoy the process of delving deeper into Amym’s life?
I have found it gratifying to give Amym his own story before continuing the New York vampire series. That’s not to say that he won’t continue to be an important part of that story line, readers will continue to see his story develop in NYV: GOTH.
Would you personally want to socialise with Aymn if he had the ability to come to life?
I would love to sit down in a Lower East Side dive bar with a glass of Hennessy and pick Amym’s brain for a while. I’m sure I would come away some terrific insights.
How have the characters other than Aymn developed for you?
Some a drawn from the needs of the story or the characters, others are pulled fully formed from the history of the location.
And was the location and its history particularly pertinent in this book?
Of course it is. I love making culture, location and history an integral part of the story. In this case it is the political unrest of early nineteenth century Egypt.
Before you started writing did you have a strong understanding of the early nineteenth century Egypt, or was some historical digging required?
Sure, tons. Perhaps too much sometimes. I like to put myself into the mindset of the characters, to know everything that they would know so I can deliver that experience to the readers.
Do you think that also combining in your personal exposures also helps deliver that experience to the readers?
I think you have to. You cant pull a story or a character completely out of the either. Every writer has to draw on their personal experiences to make what they write believable and relatable.
Are your favourite characters the most believable or relatable?
You always have your favorites, characters you want to see develop further. Who knows, they might make appearances in the future.
Are you working on anything a the moment where they could possibly pop-up?
I’m working on a Disco era, biological thriller. Lots of dancing and partying with same real human drama. I’m really enjoying writing it and I hope it gets people thinking.
The cross of a biological thriller in the disco times has already got me thinking so I think that’s it’s a good idea to pursue. How do you pursue the writing process?
I am a husband and my primary occupation is father of an energetic young man, so I write wherever and whenever I can, though I have found that I come up with some great ideas while reading in the bath. That has a huge influence on my writing. What I do for money… ehhhh, not so much.
So your methods are largely based around what the time you can manage to eek out from the errant youth. As you’re brainstorming in the bath I’m guessing much of your primary notes aren’t electronic and are paper based. Is this how you usually work?
I write longhand and type, it really just depends on the circumstances I find myself in when I get an idea. I tend to write notes on hundreds of little scraps of paper, which drives my wife nuts, that all have to be typed out and organized before I can get going in earnest. On the other hand, that process help me keep all the details in my head as I lay out the story.
Yep, I the hundreds of little scraps of paper would drive me nuts too, but I do have to concede that it does make moving around aspects of the plot very easy. Once your scraps of paper are merged into a single piece of writing, what approach do you use for editing?
I tend to finish a complete draft then I go back a read it from start to finish. I make any changes that I think it needs and then I open it up to beta readers. I fully weigh their comments and suggestion, incorporate those that right true before turning it over for final editing.
Do you also use the ideas and comments from others when going through the cover design process?
In this case, I did it myself. I had something specific in mind and decided that I was fully capable of creating the image and feeling I wanted it to evoke.
And did the response from the first review confirm that you evoked the right ideas?
Fortunately, my first review was a good one. I think I would have been devastated if it had been overly critical. I count myself lucky that the majority of my readers have enjoyed my work and hope that they continue to for a long time to come.
As you’ve worked thought this process more than once do you have any tips for other authors wanting to have readers enjoying their work for as long as possible?
If you want to write, write. Do the best you can and seek-out the assistance of others to polish it as much as possible before turning it over for public consumption. Try not to take criticism too personally, as much as you love your story, not everyone will feel the same. Take constructive criticism to heart to rework your story or to help direct your next effort.
Do you think that the self-publishing process allows people to avoid that constructive criticism?
I think the invention of the ereader has fundamentally changed the publishing industry. It is now possible to go from a story on your computer to an ebook in a matter of minutes with little or no financial investment. The past few years have shown however, that that’s not always a good thing as far as the quality of the work being produced is concerned. Still, it is giving a voice to a lot of authors who are not getting attention from traditional publishers, or those who choose to bypass the industry entirely and promote directly to readers.
It is a shame that some of the voices currently coming through self-publishing aren’t a polished or clear as they could be. Do you feel that there are any specific authors in particular how have contributed to your clarity of voice as a writer?
There are so many writers that I like, spread across many genres, that I couldn’t possibly make a list of favorites. I can’t imagine that reading good writing wouldn’t have an influence on me.
Are you reading any good writing at the moment?
I’m reading My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. I had wanted to read it for a long time but kept putting it off due to all the other things I have going on. It is taking me longer to read than I would like but I am really enjoying to so far.
As a father with a young son you must have a some good recommendations for young boys to read. What were your favourites when you were little?
I loved Lloyd Alexander and John Christopher, still do. I think they are excellent writers for encourage reading in young boys. I was also lucky enough to meet both of them, Lloyd Alexander in person at a signing when I was around ten, and John Christopher by correspondence, so that helps.
That’s great that you were able to personally connect with both of them. Are your favourite literary characters from these authors?
I have a long list of favorite books but I couldn’t say I have a favorite character. If they are well written, I’ll probably keep coming back. That being said, I do enjoy a good Cotton Malone adventure.
I haven’t heard of Cotton Malone, I will have to check it out. And now we’re onto my favourite section of the interview, the quick fire round. Hold onto your hat and answer the following questions as quickly as possible.
Do you ever dream about your characters?
I don’t dream all that much. At lease not that I can remember. I guess with working full time, being a parent and writing my brain just needs the down time when I sleep.
What is your zodiac sign?
I’m a Libra, which sounds like Libre or Libris but not.
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
It would take a lot of genetic engineering, but if there was a way to make a less annoying Jack Russell I’d be all in.
I think there’d be alot of support for that. Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Sadly, those days are long gone.
What is your favourite quote?
“You’re talking to me all wrong… It’s the wrong tone. You do it again and I’ll stab you in the face with a soldering iron.” Clem from Joe Dirt
Clem’s obviously a well balanced person. If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
That’s a good one. Can you curl your tongue?
Yes, in a number of direction. I can wiggle my eyebrows too.
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
If you want to do something, do it.
Very apropos. Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
Sure, Twilight. I would have written it differently, but I would love the success.
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
Its a toss up between Mang Gue and Penny Short.
What is your favourite line, quote or statement from your book?
I love every word equally.
I’m sure there’s some favourite quote in your book, but maybe it spoils the story so I’ll let you get away with that. What is your best tip for authors?
Write the best story you have in you.
What is your favourite quote from another author?
How about, “By definition, fifty percent of every large group that lets anyone join is below average.” ? Jack J. Lee, Year of the Dead
What is your favourite word?
Can’t argue with that one. Now do you think that there’s any thing we missed chatting about today? Have I missed any questions?
“Hey! How exactly is a rainbow made? How exactly does a sun set? How exactly does a posi-trac rear-end on a Plymouth work? It just does.”
You’re channelling your inner 3 year old there but I like it. Those are some great questions for some creative answers in the future. I will have to add them to my question set. KD, thanks again for joining me today and I wish you the best of luck with your promotion of Amym: The Mamluk Who Defied Death.
Want to connect with KD? You can find him here: