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Interview with Dan McClureWhat are your favorite TV shows?Dan - I just cancelled my cable last year and now I don’t watch any shows at all. I expect I’ll switch to some NetFlix shows at some point, but I really don’t miss it much. Prior to cancelling cable, I was into Leftovers and Game of Thrones. Leftovers had a very interesting theme about dealing with PTSD and Game of Thrones is… well, Game of Thrones (although not as much as it used to be).What is your favorite meal?Dan - A free one. Seriously, I’m not very picky. I guess brunch is my favorite type of meal, and for that some sort of omelet served with homefries is my go-to dish.If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?Dan - You mean besides Grant Scotland? I guess I do have some ideas kicking around in the back of my head for a military sci-fi series. We’ll see.Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?Dan - I don’t idolize anyone, writer or no. Too easy to be let down once you discover they are human. But I do have some authors who have influenced my writing; Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, Glen Cook, Joe Abercrombie – just to name a few.How did you come up for the title of this book?Dan - The series title came from the desire to promote the books as fun adventure reads and not epic or dark fantasy (which they also are, but only in small doses). Bruce Campbell is part of the inspiration for the character of Grant Scotland and he once had a show called “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” Putting those two ideas together made the series title pretty obvious. As for the title of each book, they are all thematically similar to help promote cohesion and recognizability. They all start with “Spy for a… something” where the something is usually the main plot axis of the book. How I came up with that system was simply a lot of hard work, to be honest. I spent days and weeks trying on and throwing out hundreds of titles until it just came to me one day on a long walk.If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?Dan - Oh, thank you. I really never thought I’d get this opportunity. It means so much to me. First, I’d like to apologize to my mom and dad and my brother. Sorry about all of that fecal matter. It was just a phase. Second, to my first girlfriend, I’d like to say I’m sorry for… well, for the same thing, I guess. Ummm… I’d also like to apologize to my high school chemistry teacher. I didn’t really have plans to build a bomb, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Oh! And that reminds me! Sorry to my guidance counselor. I honestly thought toupees were inflammable. And speaking of flames… Wait. Oh. The band is playing me off. Well, sorry to everyone for everything! I guess that covers it.If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?Dan - I don’t know if this qualifies, but I’d like to have my cat have a wizard’s familiar relationship with me. I’d like to go into a trance and see through her eyes, if only to know what the hell she sees when she’s staring at the wall.How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?Dan - I use a modern voice instead of forcing the sort of blend of Elizabethan and Victorian English that most fantasy writers seem to cling to. I’m not against warping your writer’s voice to suit your story, but in fantasy it seems to be de rigueur to try to sound like the bastard child of Tolkien and Shakespeare.What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?Dan - The best one is also the only critical one: don’t ever stop writing. The worst one… Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard bad advice regarding writing. I think there are some practices many people tout as gospel that really aren’t. Writer’s groups and workshops would a good example. If you get a lot out of them, then that’s great, but I’ve never received enough feedback from them to justify the time I’ve invested into them. Writing is pretty solitary and I seem to work best that way, but each writer has his/her own process.Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?Dan - All creations exist only because of their creators, so yes. And also no. This is a work of fiction. Some characters are inspired by people I’ve met, while others are stitched together from the needs of the plot and the environment. As for the experiences, the events themselves are entirely made up, but the emotions of the characters caught up in them are drawn mostly from personal experience. Although I’ve never killed a man, I have experienced fear, stress, anxiety, rage, pain, remorse, depression and grief. When I feel like I might go too far with imagining a feeling that perhaps I’ve never truly felt, I try to hold back and respect the reader’s ability to fill in his/her own feeling. Not saying I always get it right, but that’s the goal anyhow.
AELFA, THE GRAND CAPITAL of the once mighty Aelfan Empire, has fallen. Barbarian war parties and nomadic tribes harass the retreating and broken legions that once overawed them. All that stands against them now is the city of Zyren, the last bastion of Aelfan rule.
Acting as a spy for Zyren is Grant Scotland, a man leading a double life because his own had been taken away from him by the very people he serves. An unwilling recruit into the business of clandestine missions and deceit, he searches for anything real to cling to as the world around him devolves into insanity. And when an old friend shows up asking him to help save his family by delivering a mysterious book to a shadowy figure, Grant's two lives collide and he is thrust into an even stranger world than he had known; one where ancient magic is wielded by deadly players who compete against one another for a prize greater than simply the rotting carcass of a dead empire.
AMONG THE ASHES of the mighty Aelfan Empire, the House of Gregyan seeks to forge a new kingdom—one where both Huthan and Aelfan alike can prosper. But old prejudices and ancient traditions and an exiled enemy threaten the peace. Caught between compassion for his home and allegiance to his fallen empire, Grant Scotland finds himself trapped in the turbulent machinations of enemies and friends. As he works to uncover mysteries about his father’s treachery and confront new threats to his future, he moves perilously close to revealing his identity and losing everything
AS THE GREGYANS MARCH TO WAR and his handler takes a trip to Zyren, Grant Scotland, spy errant of the Aelfan Empire, gets ready to pursue a lead on finding a man who might be able to tell him the truth about his father's treason. Old friends, new enemies and hidden dangers soon confront him on his quest, but when he enters the dark world of another family's intrigue, he finds that not even the frontiers of the Aelfan Empire are far enough away to escape the dangers of fortune and fate.
The Unlikely Spy (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Volume One)
The Adventures of Grant Scotland series is an entertaining mix of fantasy, mystery and espionage featuring a hero whose many faults provide almost as much challenge to him as the formidable obstacles he must face as he attempts to impose sanity upon a world rapidly descending into chaos. Collected in this volume are the first three books in the series: Spy for a Dead Empire, Spy for a Troubled King and Spy for a Wayward Daughter.
Spy for a Greedy Villain (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Four)
RACIAL TENSIONS IN AELFA simmer and threaten to boil over when the harbormaster is found dead and the Huthan oppressors threaten to crack down in the Lower Docks. As Grant Scotland finds more questions than answers in the journals of Berthul Magnussen about his father’s treachery, he is drawn into a murder investigation, a kidnapping plot and the nefarious machinations of the city’s biggest crime lord—Mr. Quinn. In order to stop Quinn’s plans and save the city from being thrown into open revolt, Grant prepares to take his biggest gamble yet.
Series Buy Link: Amazon
Excerpt from Spy for a Dead Empire (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book One)Everything that ever happened to me since I was a kid played out in my mind and I was eagerly explaining every moment and why it was important to the foot of the table near my head as I regained consciousness. Unfortunately, my mouth wasn't cooperating, so I'm fairly sure the only sound that came out was "Mmurfermumf?" The foot of the table had no response. I didn't blame it. I'm the same way. I get embarrassed when I'm around people who talk about themselves too much, too.I tried to get my hands up under me and push to get up, but I didn't even get half of that done before I decided to knock off and maybe try again tomorrow. My head felt like a lead weight and a constant ringing was filling my ears. After a few minutes passed I decided I could maybe twist around a bit and get on my back, which I managed to do with all the speed of a garden slug.My vision was slowly clearing and sharpening and I could tell I was in a dark room somewhere with dim light coming from partially shuttered windows. Suddenly I remembered the horse and the rain and the door and looked around quickly to see if my assailant was nearby.
I deeply regretted that action as blood roared in my ears and a wave of nausea almost overwhelmed me. I choked and screwed my eyes shut and stayed perfectly still and after a time I was able to breathe and open my eyes again. Good thing whoever hit me wasn't still around. If they were, I'd have given them what for by throwing up all over their shoes.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Writing stories infused with the smoky charisma of classic film noir mixed with the pulse-pounding excitement of adventure fantasy and the cagey class of suspenseful espionage, Dan McClure brought the best parts of all of our most cherished pulp together and added his own signature brand of wit. He currently lives, writes and works in and around beautiful and historic Arlington, Massachusetts.
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