Every so often, I have the pleasure of meeting an author on-line, but know – and apologise profusely – that their books just wouldn’t be entirely my cup of tea. But I know many readers are thoroughly enjoying Owen Mullen’s series about Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron, and I’m delighted to feature this exciting new series. There are two books so far – Games People Play and Old Friends and New Enemies, both available in paperback and for kindle.
More details to follow, but first I’m delighted to welcome author Owen Mullen to Being Anne, with an excellent guest post on the force of circumstance…
Herman Melville, wrote Moby Dick in six weeks – in longhand at night – after he finished working. How’s that for time-management?
By comparison I have it easy. Most of my work is done at our place in Crete where the only distraction is the beautiful scenery: the Lefka Ori mountain range; the Apokoronas valley stretching to Souda Bay and the Mediterranean; a million dollar view.
Perfect! Or so you might think.
The story I’m working on is in my head waiting to come out, driven by characters I can identify with. Charlie Cameron is ready for another adventure, and so are the many people who read Games People Play and Old Friends and New Enemies.
On my way to the studio I hear somebody shouting to me from the gate and remember we are having trouble with the pool. It’s a man in a floppy straw hat. I let him in and he introduces himself; his name is Nicos – of course it is. He follows me to the green rectangle that ought to be blue, tests the ph and chlorine levels then empties a load of chemicals into it. While he’s doing this I notice a series of holes in the grass and realise a badger has been busy during the night.
Nicos speaks in Greek to somebody on his mobile; I get the impression they’re having a disagreement. The conversation runs on and on. I check my watch. This is taking longer than I thought. Finally, Nicos turns to me. ‘You have a problem.’
He shrugs and starts to leave.
‘So what should I do?’
Nicos thinks about that one.
‘Keep cleaning the bags.’
‘But I do.’
He drives away. I lock the gate and head for the studio. My wife, Christine, calls to me from the terrace. ‘There’s a package at the Post Office. Shall I get it?’
‘No, I’ll go.’
The Post Office is a forty minute round trip. When I come back, Christine, thanks me for going. ‘Sorry about that. You better get started. It’s almost lunchtime. And by the way, hope you weren’t intending to research anything.’
‘The Internet’s down. Power surge.’
An hour later the phone is on again. It rings. I answer and find myself talking to the owner of the pool shop. ‘Nicos tells me you haven’t been cleaning the bags.’
‘Yes I have.’
‘Not every single day, no, but…’
‘Well clean them every day. Twice a day would be better.’
‘What’s wrong with it?’ And then he tells me seven little words you do not want to hear from your pool specialist.
‘Don’t know what to tell you mate.’ ‘Just keep…’
‘Yes I know…cleaning the bags.’
He hangs up. I clean the bags and remember about the badger; it must have broken in. I check to see if I can find out where. I can’t. Oh well. In the studio I boot-up the pc, make some notes and type Chapter One. The opening sentence won’t come. I try four without liking any of them. No matter. I make some more notes and hear Christine calling to me.
We sit in the shade and eat. Out of the corner of my eye, I see two goats slaking their thirst from the pool. In my hurry to get writing I’d left the gate open. If you haven’t tried to catch a goat, my advice would be: keep it that way. We chase the two intruders until they leave of their own accord. And another seventy minutes is lost; the day is running away from me. I wipe sweat from my face and cover my disappointment with a joke. ‘Bet Stephen King doesn’t have this problem.’
Christine joins in. ‘Probably employs a couple of guys just to catch goats for him.’
I quote Charlie Cameron: ‘I wish I had his money.’
Back in the studio I discover I haven’t saved my work and wonder if Stephen has somebody to do that too. No big deal; there was nothing to save. Again I type Chapter One and gaze at the white space underneath. Words. I need words and I don’t have any. After a while I decide a break might help.
As I am walking round the garden my mobile rings: the pool boss. His message is short. I guess he’s having a busy day.
‘Keep cleaning the bags.’
He doesn’t hear me; he’s gone.
I wander inside the house to find it is almost as hot as the outside. Christine gives me the bad news. ‘Aircon isn’t working. They’re on their way.’
Downstairs the elusive first sentence finally appears followed by a paragraph, and then another. We’re off and for a couple of hours I’m a writer. Until the pages stick in the printer and, once again, I become a hostage to the whim of the gods.
In the distance a car horn sounds just as I’m about to throw the Inkjet in the emerald pool that hasn’t been cleaned in almost three hours. The trudge to the gate has a weary familiarity. So does the aircon engineer waiting for me.
He smiles. ‘Hello. You have a problem? Don’t worry. I’ll fix it.’
I thank him.
‘My name is Nicos.’
I want to tell him so is mine.
Thirty minutes later the aircon is going. Christine asks Nicos if there is something we should be doing. I tense, expecting him to tell us to keep cleaning the bags.
‘No. A faulty circuit. It should be okay now.’
We wave him away and I return to writing my bestseller. By now shadows are falling across the pool. Time to clean the bags again. When I finish I don’t have the energy to carry on so I go upstairs.
On the evening news David Cameron is leaving Downing Street for the last time. For all the hope and promise he hadn’t achieved very much, has he? I know how he feels.
Thank you Owen – may you have a better day very, very soon… here are more details on Owen’s books so far:
On a warm summer’s evening thirteen month old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland, taken while her parents are yards away. Three days later, the distraught father turns up at Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron’s office and begs him to help. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.
Against his better judgement Charlie gets involved in a case he would be better off without. But when a child’s body is discovered on Fenwick Moor, then another in St Andrews, the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer out there whose work has gone undetected for decades. Baby Lily may be the latest victim of a madman.
For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go. His demons won’t let him.
The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for. But it wasn’t a stranger. Ian Selkirk had been stabbed through the heart and dumped in the loch.
Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival as Charlie goes up against a notorious Glasgow gangster. Jimmy Rafferty is ruthless. Even his own family are terrified of him. He wants to use Charlie to get something for him. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.
Only one problem. Charlie doesn’t know where it is.
Only one problem. Charlie doesn’t know where it is.
And one of the best author biographies ever?
School was a waste of time for me. Or rather, I wasted time; my own and every teacher’s who tried to get me to work. It took twenty years to appreciate what they were telling me. Life has rules. They aren’t written down but they exist nevertheless. I got that. Eventually. But by then I was thirty five.
Along the way I missed an important clue. At ten I won a national primary schools short story competition – and didn’t write anything else for forty years.
As a teenager my big obsession was music. Early on I realised if I was successful I would probably be rich and famous and pull lots of girls. So how did that turn out? Well, you haven’t heard of me, have you? And this morning I caught myself worrying about the electricity bill. So the short answer is: one out of three ain’t bad.
Running around the country in a Transit van with your mates is fun. It’s your very own gang. You against the world. Until you fall out and the dream lies bleeding on the dressing-room floor. When that happened I went to London [everybody from Scotland goes to London, it’s like first footing at New Year, or ten pints of lager and a vindaloo on a Friday night; a sacred tradition] and became a session singer. I also started gigging with different bands on the circuit.
Back in Scotland – most of us come back with wild tales of great success, none of them true – I wondered what I should do with myself and didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Her name was Christine. We got married, I went to Strathclyde Uni and got a bunch of letters after my name, and toughing it out at Shotts Miner’s Welfare, or dodging flying beer cans at the Café Club in Baillieston, was in the past. The long hair was short now, I wore a suit and pretended to like people I didn’t like because we were ‘colleagues’.
After many adventures I started my own marketing and design business and did alright. Christine and I were very happy, we travelled all over the place; India, Brazil, Botswana, Nepal, Borneo, Japan. One day I suggested we move. To the Greek islands. So we did. We bought land and built a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Then the pan global financial crash happened, years of fiscal carelessness finally caught up with Greece; the exchange rate dived and the cost of living in Paradise went through the roof.
I had to do something. Then I remembered the short story competition. I had been good at writing, hadn’t I? I wrote another short story called The King Is Dead…the first thing I’d written since primary school. When I typed the last word [Christine taught me to type] I held the pages in my hand then started to read. An hour and a half, rooted to the chair unable to believe what was in front of my eyes. For four decades I had shunned a god given gift. And as I read I started to understand why. It was awful. Not just bad. Bloody terrible.But I kept going.
And now, eight years and seven books later, three literary agents plus two I turned down [they were reading a different book] I am a writer. My books are on Amazon. People buy them and come back for more. One seasoned London agent has predicted I am destined to be ‘a major new force in British crime fiction’.Yeah!
So is the moral: follow my example, find something you’re good at and stick with it. Hardly. I didn’t, did I? Do it your own way; it’s your life.
(For more from Owen, follow him on Twitter or through his Facebook author page.)