John Neill (aka Pat Muir) interview with David Alan Binder

posted Dec 11, 2018, 7:42 PM by David Alan Binder

John Neill (aka Pat Muir) interview with David Alan Binder


His website:


His bio:  The author of “What Happened to Flynn” uses the pseudonym Pat Muir to distinguish his fiction from technical papers written under his given name. Pat worked at General Atomics in San Diego as a nuclear engineer before the market for nuclear power plants collapsed. Since then, he sold real estate, mobile homes and insurance, and invested with partners in income property. During that period, he operated a motel—unsuccessfully–, motivating him to write the book, “Stories to entertain You…If You get Bored on Your Wedding Night.” Divorced after thirty-eight years of marriage, he dated on the Internet which, after meeting seventy-six ladies motivated him to write the novel, “The Numbers Man.” His latest work is an expansion of a short story in his first book.


1.     How do you pronounce your name? 

My pen name is Pat Muir


2.     Where are you currently living?


3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far? You had better enjoy writing. Writing (fiction) with the expectation of making money is a risky business.

4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?  

I still uses phrases and words more typical of the land of my birth – England.

5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

Almost anyone can self publish these days. Even if one does not write well, a professional editor can whip your manuscript into sufficient shape to be acceptable to e-book retailers.

a.     Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?

I have a self publishing entity called PMBOOK


6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Most formal publishers like Random House or Simon and Schuster only work with established authors. I believe that also is true of literary agents. Thus one has to market oneself in order to get the attention of a formal publisher and a route into print distribution channels.

7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Prepare the best piece of work you can and even then pay for professional editing of content as well as style, grammar, spelling etc. Then work to get as many independent reviews of your work as you can.  Be skeptical that paid positive reviews are truthful.

8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I have abysmal success at getting an agent. I suspect that a personal contact may be the best route.

9.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?  

Fiction writers should join writing groups to get feed back. Non fiction writers should write articles to newspapers and magazines and letters to editors. Also join debating clubs.

10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I enjoyed the pleasure of polishing my draft, the pleasure of saying or describing things more efficiently and employing wording with more nuance.

11.                        How many books have you written?

Three. “Stories To Entertain You…If You get Bored On Your Wedding Night,” (1999), “The Numbers Man,” (2010), and “What Happened To Flynn,” (2017).

12.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)? Review!. Review! Review! Polish! Polish! Polish!

13.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

That’s the secret of a good novelist. He/she makes you want to keep the pages turning. Avoid turgid prose. Make it sparkle.  

14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

A great cover and title is imperative for the print edition of your book. Then your story must have an early hook, the one that makes your reader want to follow what your have written. Having a central character with whom the reader can identify with is also very important.

15.                        What is one unusual way in which you promote your work?

I bought several shirts, which are embroidered “Ask Me About My Book.”  Making presentations to book clubs is a great way to promote your book. The difficulty is making contact with the leader of that club. Visit the local libraries in your area.

16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why? 

It’s very helpful to have somebody who constantly encourages you to write and is understanding when sales are low. My first wife did not give me undiluted encouragement.

17.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

Be positive. This will reflect in your writing. Sometimes, you will get stuck in writing. Then I use the mantra – if you can’t solve your problem, go get another problem.

18.                        Anything else you would like to say?

I feel very positive about my last work of fiction, a mystery novel. Therefore, I have had made an audio version with a professional narrator and put it on audiobook retailers. In addition, I am writing a movie script of the work.