Novellist’s cameo roles for other authors

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An author told a library audience he likes to include fellow writers in Kinder egg like surprise paragraphs, writes Mark Davey.

Michael J Malone, speaking in Campbeltown last Tuesday, told how this ploy worked in his novel Bad Samaritan.

Mr Malone said: ‘In the story a young man dies in prison. A detective finds a crime novel in the man’s belongings and, speaking about its author, says: “Who the f*** is Craig Robertson?”‘

Mr Malone added that if he is speaking, at a festival and Mr Robertson is in the room he loves to read that part of the book.

He added that one of his friends is the author Douglas Skelton, who featured in a story as someone who has had a massive stroke. Mr Malone said the book describes what it is like being in that situation.

His crime writing is not all about fun with other authors. Mr Malone said he had a long struggle to be published.

‘Like many writers I am a master of perseverance,’ said Mr Malone, ‘I had five rejected manuscripts before I was published.

‘I worked part-time in Ottakers (bookshop) in Ayr, I was the manager’s pet project, a starving unpublished author.

‘The first book I wrote was in 1996 and in my memory it was a lot better than on re-reading it.

‘A lot has happened in 22 years, such as social media but the dialogue is so clonky.’

Mr Malone read out some of his poetry but admitted that since there has been a demand for his novels poetry has taken a back seat.

‘Novels take most of my creative thoughts,’ said Mr Malone, ‘Imagination is like a muscle the more you use it the more it rewards you.

‘I have a poem I have been working with for 15 years – poetry is never finished it is just abandoned.

‘My work is mostly crime novels but I like to have strong social themes.’

Mr Malone tries to cover real social issues such as homelessness, mental health and poverty, particularly the contrast between the haves and have nots and life’s inequalities.

Inequality is a theme in his most recent book After he Died. One heroine is comfortable ‘middle class’ while another is from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’

Mr Malone asked people in the audience if they had heard of independent advocates.

He met an independent advocate and incorporated him into the novel.

Mr Malone said: ‘Under the Scottish Mental Health Act if someone is suffering poor mental health by law they must have someone to help them.

‘To work through benefits and the issues they experience – that is an independent advocate.’

Mr Malone said that he has one book set in the past, in the 1920s.

He added: ‘Growing up, Papillon, by Henri Charrière, was my favourite book.

‘I met someone who’s father, an Algerian, had been in the same prison, on Devil’s Island and he asked me if I would write the story.

‘The man had been sentenced to 40 years for a murder he had not committed. The killing was carried out by a cousin but he did not give up his relative.’

Mr Malone said his writing schedule varies and although he tries to be at his desk at 9am, there are lots of distractions and by 9.05am he will be checking emails.

He goes to the gym mid-morning but added: ‘If I start to watch telly in the afternoon I will just watch s***e, on a bad day I will do 200 words and on a good 2,000.’

Michael J Malone signed copies of After he Died at the Aqualibrium talk. 25_c48author04_Michael_J_Malone_signing