Ian McKay interview with David Alan Binder

posted Feb 15, 2016, 8:19 AM by David Alan Binder   [ updated May 16, 2016, 6:32 AM ]

Ian McKay interview with David Alan Binder


 His website:                   http://ian-mckay.com/home/4584533123


Amazon:                   http://www.amazon.com/Something-Fishy-Ian-McKay-ebook/dp/B00B1T6T9U


Good Reads:                        https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/228935.Ian_McKay

 1.     How do you pronounce your name?

 That’s a really good question David, because the answer is geographical. My ancestors came from the highlands of Scotland, to Liverpool; where, since the 1850’s, my family have lived. Today, our family name is spelled McKay, and is pronounced Ma-kay. However, until the 1851 census, it was spelled MacKay, until some lazy English clerk shortened it to the current spelling, McKay. I’m an avid fisherman and whenever I go fishing to Scotland, and I pronounce my name Ma-kay I get told off, because in Scotland, our name clan family McKay is properly pronounced Mak-aye!

 2.     Where are you currently living?

 I think I’ve answered that question in question one J

 3.     When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?


From my schooldays I’ve always known that I wanted to write, but I have always seemed to be too busy living life to actually get down to the job of writing about it, (see my web site “about me” page at http://ian-mckay.com/about-me/4584533124 . However, I’m older now, and slowing down, which gives me more time for a lot of other things too.

 4.     How long on average does it take you to write a book?

That depends on where I might be, both mentally and physically; and, what my muse is whispering in my ear, at any particular moment!

5.     What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Sporadic, because I’m retired and don’t depend on my writing in order to live.

6.     What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I can be inspired by the oddest things. It might be something I read, hear or see; or, just something random that comes into my head.

7.     Did you self publish or have a publisher?

Independent self publisher

8.     How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Okay, let’s take the first part of the question first. E-books are, exponentially, increasing their share of the market; and, according to the BBC, who quote a report, by a leading UK accountancy firm. “The sale of printed books will be outstripped by e-books by 2018, a new report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) has suggested.”

The report goes on to say, “the consumer e-book market - which excludes text books and professional manuals - will increase in value from £380 million to £1 billion”. Any art form has to have a source of funding; so, unfortunately, ‘Mammon’ rears his ugly head, even here.

 To address the second part of your question, with the advent of Amazon’s direct publishing platform, it became possible for writers to ‘self publish’ their own work: subject to Amazon’s guidelines. This digital publishing breakthrough, dramatically, slashed the cost of publishing a book, and enabled writers of eBooks to have almost total control of their own work, choice of cover design, editing content etc’; and, to be paid royalties of anything between 35% to 70%, instead of between 15% to 20%, as is the case with a traditional ‘ publishing deal’.

 9.     What process did you go through to get your book published?

 As I explained; above, the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform provided me with the opportunity to get my work read, and critiqued, by thousands of readers, without being held hostage by agents or traditional publishing houses. As a point of interest, I have received some great, and very encouraging, 5 star, reviews from readers of my books.

 10.                        Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

 Most of my information and ideas come from my own life experiences. I’ve travelled widely, and lived in places as far apart as Brazil and Slovakia, in Eastern Europe, and I’ve found myself in some pretty tight spots, from time to time. However, particularly, if I’m writing non-fiction books, I carefully research all my facts and figures and make reams of notes that I refer to during the writing process, before I even start to write. 

11.                        When did you write your first book and how old were you?

 I published my first book, ‘Something Fishy’ , in October 2014, at the age of 75. So, this is the proof needed to back up the old adage of ‘age is just a number’.

 12.                        What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love to read, go fishing, or watch my home town soccer, team: Liverpool FC.

13.                        What does your family think of your writing?

They love it, and they are very proud of what I am doing!

14.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

 When I was a mature student, studying for my master’s degree, MA in screenwriting for film and television, one of my lecturers warned me that it would be extremely difficult, unless you, either, knew or were related to somebody, who was already in a position of influence in the movie business to ‘break in’: or even have your scripts even read!

 He went on to say that when, rather than if, this happened we should consider turning our scripts into books. When writing for film and television, a screenwriter has to be sparse with words; you have to ‘show not tell’; you are told “It might be your script, but it’s the director’s movie”!  I always found this protocol a little restrictive because I love writing descriptive, imaginative, prose: (a la Wilbur Smith). Because of his advice, I discovered that I, passionately, loved writing for a book reading audience.

15.                        How many books have you written?                   Which is your favorite?


a)     I’ve published four books and I’ve finished two more that I’m in the process of editing at the moment. They will both be published in the next couple of months.

b)    I haven’t written it yet!

16.                        Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?        If so, what are they?


a)     Yes, firstly, read, read and then read some more.

b)    Secondly, decide what you want to write about; and find your own ‘writer’s voice’

17.                        Do you hear from your readers much?       What kinds of things do they say?

 I’m in the process of building a ‘list’ of people; people who like my writing style, and the work that I produce. I’m also in the process of building a blog; so, as soon as accomplish these aims, I will then be able to communicate, person to person, with my readers. At the moment, unfortunately, the Amazon platform doesn’t allow a writer to communicate, directly, with the people who leave a review of his or her books.

 18.                        Who is your main audience for your books?

 Because of the above, I don’t have this information yet.

19.                        What do you think makes a good story?

 A good plot line; and strong, identifiable and memorable, characters that a reader can relate to.

20.                        As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

 I always wanted to be writer. However, life has a tendency to get in the way!

 21.                        How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

 For my first book ‘Something Fishy , I drew on many personal experiences; and also many different characters I have known. Most of the characters, and situations in the book, are actually from real life and from real situations.

 22.                        . Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?      If you write more than one field or genre, how do you balance them?


a)     I love going fishing and I love good comedy, hence the genre of my first book, which is a ‘black comedy’ about a group of men who set out on a sea fishing weekend in the beautiful setting of County Mayo, in the republic of Ireland.


b)    I also have an interest in why our species, which can produce so many wonderful and talented individuals, yet finds it necessary to go to war every twenty or thirty years: certainly, every generation

 23.                        What do you think most characterizes your writing?

 That’s a very difficult question to answer; it’s like saying to a man, “do you think you’re handsome?”

 24.                        What inspires you?  

 Just examples of everyday life.

 25.                        How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

 By taking life by the throat, and not being too afraid of taking a chance!

 26.                        Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work.

 I absolutely love reading books by Wilbur Smith, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Philip Kerr et al. Wilbur Smith has the ability to transport a reader to wherever he sets each particular scene: and, in particular, I stand in awe of his descriptive writing.

 27.                        Are you a full-time or part-time writer?     How does that affect your writing?

          a)     Full time (But sporadic J)

b)    It makes my writing more enjoyable, because I don’t have to meet deadlines.

 28.                        What are some day jobs that you have held?  Did any of them impact your writing?


a)     In my, almost, 77 year life, they are far too many to mention within the confines of this interview.

b)    Yes, the worldwide travelling I’ve done, and the diverse places that I have lived in, definitely has had an impact on my writing.

 29.                        What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

 I think that question is for my readers to answer, not me.

 30.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

 Marketing and promoting my work are anathema to me, I hate it with a passion; however, indie writers, it’s a necessary evil because we don’t have the advertising power of the old traditional publishers behind us. I realize that promoting and marketing is vital, if people are ever going to find my work; so, I am currently taking Nick Stephenson’s marketing course, “Your First 10,000 readers”: it’s great stuff and has really opened my eyes.

 31.                        What do you like to read in your free time?

 I love to read anything about World War 2; and, as I have already mentioned, anything written by my favorite authors.

 32.                        What projects are you working on at the present?

 I’m currently editing a Paleo Diet recipe book; (surprise surprise!), and, Part three of my non-fiction book series:”The Nazis”. The titles of Part One, and Part two; are “From the Kaiser to Weimar: and, “From Weimar to Hitler. This third book in the Nazis series is titled “The Third Reich – Genesis”, and covers the period from 1933, when Hitler was appointed as Reich Chancellor, By Paul von Hindenburg.

 33.                        If you had one thing you could do over (concerning writing, publishing, etc.), what would it be and why?

 I would have embarked on a marketing course much earlier than I have, because I could then bring my work to the attention of a much wider audience: and, hopefully, sell more books.

 34.                        What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

 I wish that someone, somewhere, would ask me why I haven’t got an agent. Then I could tell them how they could save themselves giving away 20% of their royalties, to an agent, by self publishing!

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