Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Before we begin would you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 35, my day job is in IT, and I live in the sunny green hills of Surrey. Although people say I look like a football hooligan this skinhead is just for show – it’s handy for deterring old people from asking me for directions but drunk homeless people ask me for money just as much as they ever did.
Great! Let’s get started!
First question. What inspired you to start writing?
In all honesty… I don’t really know. I’ve been working in offices for donkey’s years and there’s a large element of boredom that goes hand in hand with the usual 9-5 routine. Once I figured out how to use email an entire new method of skiving opened up; it wasn’t unusual for me to grab a few minutes here and there and send stupid emails out to colleagues. These emails were (usually) gratefully received so I just carried on doing it. One day a seed was planted in my head when someone said that I should write a book… so I did!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
As much as I enjoy writing, the thought of actually sitting down and tapping away at the keyboard can feel like a chore. It’s kind of like going to the gym: when you walk in and start getting changed you can’t help but wonder why you’re putting yourself through such pain, yet when you’re finished and showered you feel great and wonder why you ever doubted yourself.
I’ve never heard writing compared to going to the gym before! Interesting!!
Where do you start when writing a new story. Main text? Title? Start? Ending?
Once I’ve got an idea I just plough right on in at the start and work my way through to its conclusion. I don’t bother with plans, notes, methods, or outlines, I just make it all up as I go. This is partly because I’m lazy but mostly because it’s the most enjoyable way of doing it. A lot of the time I don’t know what’s going to happen in my stories until the words have appeared on the page.
Do you have any regrets, or things you wish you’d done differently?
I wouldn’t say I have any regrets but if I could send some advice back to my younger self it would be that you really, really can’t self-edit stuff. Beta/proof readers are invaluable!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
For new writers? Plenty! Don’t worry about writing a story right off the bat. If you’re not cringing at your own work when going back through it then something is wrong. Even professional authors will have legions of proof readers, copy writers, and editors going over and over their work multiple times before it’s ready to be published.
Are there any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?
Stephen King. He’s been my favourite author since I first discovered him at a church book stall I was helping out with when I was a wee boy scout. It’s hard to say how much he’s influenced me but I’d be very surprised if him and his beard aren’t lurking in amongst my work somewhere.
Your books are very historically accurate. How much research do you do?
Depends what it’s for. I’m a WWII nut so most of my research for stories set during that time has already been done. For Saying Goodbye to Warsaw, set in the Warsaw Ghetto, I had to do some more specific research on the Holocaust because it wasn’t something I was comfortable trying to guess my way through. I read quite a lot of non-fiction anyway these days so sometimes I’ll be doing research for future stories without even knowing it. Reading up on social history has been fascinating and has given me extra foundation for the personalities of my characters.
Have you ever experienced writers block, and how did you get passed it?
No but I’ve only been doing this writing malarkey for three-ish years. I get moments where I struggle with what’s going to happen next but that’s part and parcel of making things up on the spot.
Do you feel that you are like a particular character in your stories? If so, why?
There’s probably a bit of me in all my characters to be honest. Part of my ‘job’ is to get into a character’s head so I can justify and explain their actions and their motives to readers; I have to be able to figure out the logic behind their thoughts. One of my earlier works had a dangerous sociopath as a main character and quite often I found myself thinking “You know what…? He’s right about this, I’d probably do the same thing as well.”
If you don’t mind me asking, what are you currently working on?
I can’t tell you, it’s a secret.
My next release is actually finished but I’ve put it on hold for a few months before I go back and do the editing. I had intended this to be a break but I’ve actually written two short stories and have started work on what is my first ever foray into the fantasy genre. ‘tis fun.
and finally, Is there anything you would like to say to your readers, or just in general?
All my books have my email address, Twitter handle, and Facebook page – so feel free to get in touch with any comments you have about my work! It’s always nice to hear from people who have read the nonsense that I commit to paper/e-ink so don’t be shy! In fact, if you don’t like my work then get in touch and I’ll give you a refund…
I can’t imagine anyone not liking your work! It’s very well written and historically accurate!
Thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed, Michael! It’s been great.
To learn more about the great Michael Cargill, please visit:
Latest book: ‘Saying Goodbye to Warsaw’ – Amazon UK (Kindle), Amazon US (Kindle)