Friday, March 16, 2018

A Conversation With Michael J. Clark.

Michael J. Clark is best known to Winnipeggers, Nova Scotians, and pretty much anyone with an internet connection as an award-winning Canadian automobile journalist. In 2015, he decided to take a break from the road and finish his first novel, Clean Sweep, published by ECW Press. He's currently wrapping up his second novel, set in Winnipeg circa 1985. Michael lives in Winnipeg with his very understanding wife, Carol.

One Bite at a Time: Readers love to ask where authors get their ideas and most authors reply with something along the lines of “we’re tripping over them. The trick is to find the idea that works best for me.” What made this idea worth developing, and how much development from the original germ was required?
Michael J. Clark: It all began with the real-life Tommy Bosco, one of my best friends with a
colorful past. We’ll call him OTB, the Other Tommy Bosco for short. OTB’s stories pull you in, like a Death Star tractor beam. You must find out how it ends. To be fair, an OTB story is rife with embellishment, just like the angler tales that roll out with ease on a Canadian lake, after a baker’s dozen of Extra Old Stock. I knew that I wanted to take the reader to a place that was newish for the genre, (Winnipeg) and to insert just enough historical reference that, when the ugly truth is revealed, there’s at least a hint of believable.

OBAAT: How long did it take to write Clean Sweep, start to finish?
MJC: This was a long haul. I started in 2009, trying to fit it in here and there when I had time on press trips for my automotive journalism gig. When I finally got tired of finding out which car had the best cup holder, I finished the book in early 2016. Hindsight being 20/20, I preferred the writing of my second novel. That was about ten months start to finish. It will be out in the spring of 2019.

OBAAT: How did Clean Sweep come to be published?
MJC: I’d love to tell you that I had to send it off to hundreds of publishers, with an equal amount of rejection letters. I sent it out to three. Jack David from ECW Press reached out to me immediately after his read, and the rest is history.

OBAAT: What made you decide to be an author?
MJC: Let’s blame that on failure to launch as a screenwriter. (Yet.) Another reason is the film industry in Winnipeg, one that I hope continues as strongly as it does today, with         attractive tax credits. It’s amazing how many times my city is Someplace Else. Imagine          how much time will be saved just in not having to change out license plates. My ultimate goal is to see my stories on the big screen. I love my town! It is a worthy location, with plenty of dark and dank. 

OBAAT: What do you like best about being a writer?
MJC: The wardrobe. Threadbare, with a side dish of comfy. (I’ll put on something fancier for the launch events.)

OBAAT: Favorite activity when you’re not reading or writing.
MJC: I love to tinker. Anything that I can fix without bringing in outside help. I’ve been twisting wrenches on my own cars for years. I love fixing something that I’ve never fixed before. (Thanks, YouTube.)

OBAAT: What fuels your writing?
MJC: The possibility that it could truly be my primary source of income.

OBAAT: What’s your writing routine like? Are you a plotter or a “pantser”?
MJC: Total pantser!

OBAAT: What are you working on now?
MJC: I’ve just completed my second novel, set in 1985 Winnipeg. I’m working on the framing of Book Three, which will be based in Manitoba, though more of a rural thriller/conspiracy piece. (That’s all I can let out of the bag right now.)

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