The Bee Talks With… Michael James Gallagher

Image of MJ Gallagher in front of a table

Today I present to you Michael James Gallagher who was so kind as to answer my questions. He writes Techno-Thrillers something I believe I have not read yet and I can’t wait to get my hands on his new book “Diamond Rain”. But enough said. Let the man talk for himself:

“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

“Bon Vivant”. ย A lovely French expression. Someone who loves life! Irish to the core, the story teller in me kept my students laughing their way to academic success for thirty-five years. When I wasn’t standing in front of a class of language learners in Montreal, Quebec, I was charging around town on my bicycle with my two amazing daughters. The driving force in my life is love. My life partner, Ilona, ย makes life worth living. Every cloud has a silver lining remains the most enduring sentiment I believe in. One of the best things about my life is also my fun fact.

A fun fact about yourself?

I’m a tango maniac. About 16 years ago I was struggling with a paralyzed right arm. I needed a way to strengthen my back muscles other than just in the gym. Voila! My wife and I took up Argentinean Tango and we have never looked back. Now my arm is great and my back muscles have completely recovered much thanks to dancing tango.

What made you write in the first place?

I’ve wanted to write from the time I was a young man. Even spent a year hoofing it around the world writing drivel in every cafe I could find. Attention deficit hyper activity syndrome (ADHD) kept me hopping around and made getting words on paper hard. You wouldnโ€™t believe it but ADHD mellows like good wine. Since I found my genre: Techno Thrillers, words leap out of my brain.

Which author influenced you and why? & Your favourite book?

Many authors influenced me but John Irving has to be the most important one. His seminal work, The World According To Garp, made me experience every emotion possible while reading it. My feminist sister gave me the book in my early twenties. Without knowing it yet, the struggling writer in me identified with the effort of the main character, a writer himself, TS Garp.

Life takes odd turns often due to events. In my first book, Tsunami Connection, I realized in retrospect that all my characters were abandoned early in life by their parents. Irving explored death. Life changed by death intrigues and motivates me as a writer.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

I write in spurts of frenzied satisfaction. Usually for three or four months at a time about 4 to 6 hours a day, ย I can’t stop myself from putting words on the page. Energized is the way I feel when the story starts happening. Pinterest helps me plot my stories visually.

I search Pinterest and Google images for representations of what I imagine as the settings in the scenes in my book. Then I place them in my Pinterest Board called Architecture of a Story and use the pics to inspire my descriptions.

Your secret “sin” when you write?

Don’t understand what you mean by sin

Do you suffer from writer’s block, and if what do you do against it?

At the first draft stage, my characters quickly develop individual voices and the dialogue gets better every year. Years of experience listening to thousands of students all day long has given me a wealth of mindsets to choose from. No, I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I have a horror of editor’s block though.

The first draft is for me. The rest are for readers, and there are many drafts after the initial catharsis. After the early energy disappears, the first draft completed at near 300 pages, I set the book aside for as long as it takes to forget about it completely. My baby’s incubating. Dreading the day when I have to pick up the hatchet and cut mercilessly at the first spurt of ideas, I routinely enter flash fiction and other story writing contests on the net to stay fresh and limber with words. Sometimes I even win some competitions! Then the day comes when I have to open the newest work again. Editor’s block strikes.

With a fresh printed copy of each scene in my hands I go through using the cut at least 10 percent principle. Two trusted beta-readers come next after I read it to my wife. Their opinions in the form of comments sit on open screens in front of me as I re-type from my own scribbled-on draft. From here ย to completion usually takes about 6 months to a year. On average to get 250 pages, I have to write about 1000 pages. That’s four books to get one book. At this point, it becomes necessary to find a compatible editor, not such an easy task, but doing that is the subject of another blog post. Coming soon! portrait of the bee with an illustration of a bignosed bee and white writing saying: The Bee Talks With...

Your advice for apprentice writers?

Write at least 200 days a year and shoot for 2000 words a day. Never, I mean never, edit the first draft while writing it. Just keep going. It’s not going to be perfect. Perfection come later on the editor’s desk under her close scrutiny. Read as much as possible in your genre. Start blogging, tweeting, using Facebook and developing social networks now. Never forget that writing is the fun part.

Marketing takes up most of your time. Cherish the now when you don’t have to market your stuff. When you do your daily writing don’t imagine that every day will be 2000 words towards your book. The trick is to write. Write anything.

When I do get stuck while writing the first draft, it usually means there is something wrong with the idea, characters or story. Not every idea gives birth to a book baby, but each of them builds your style and hones your sense of conflict. Back to the drawing board. Set this book aside and try something else. That’s where contests and flash fiction come in. The burden of a large project sometimes looms too heavily and it is better to do some shorter writing for a while. Let the longer work percolate a bit and jump into online competitions with both feet. The goal is writing 2000 words a day. Don’t get bogged down by imagining that the word count has to be directed towards your novel. Writing has to be fun for you otherwise your readers will sense it and rush for the exits.

Now what have I left out? Oh! Yeah, social media. How do authors manage their time for both writing great books and engaging social media strategies? Since I’m still trying to figure that one out, I’ll let you know the minute I do. ”

Thanks very much Michael for taking the time to give new writers encouraging advice.

Thanks a lot for reading and pick up my new novel, Diamond Rain on April 10, 2015. It’s not rights protected so you can read it on as many devices as you want. Priced at less than a coffee, it’s an electrifying Nanotech and espionage adventure and a steal. Will Thomas shake off his run of bad luck?


Would you like to know more about Michael and his books please have a look here:

Michael’s author page

Tsunami Connection (Book One) ย
Diamond Rain ย (Book Two) ย

Michael on Twitter
Michael on Facebook

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