Okay readers, I was so elated to snag this interview with sexy, Canadian rocker-writer Dan McNeil! Can you say score? Not only is he adorable, but talented with a pen. Dan hails from Canada and was able to take some time away from his busy schedule for an author interview. Enjoy! Ladies, please show your admiration not by salivating but by placing your comments below!
Tell me a little about why you started writing.
Honestly, the reason why I began writing was to see if I could actually pull it off. Writing a book (could I really do that?) was not something that clawed at me, to tell the truth. I’d always loved reading and it seemed to me that I had a book idea or two bouncing around inside waiting to come out but the thought of writing a book just seemed like a whole lot of work! What I really wanted to be was a songwriter. My cousin and I had a band and we wrote and recorded two CDs of original music (I maintain that there are some hits on some of them!) but somehow we never could capitalize on it. When that fizzled, I redirected my creative outlet from music to novels so I decided to give the book thing a shot, in spite of the fact that I knew that diving into something like this would no doubt, kick my ass. (Can I say ass?)
Why is historical fiction a favorite genre?
I love history and I’ve always loved novels with historical settings. They’re just so much more appealing to me. They transport you to a different time and place and isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do? I find that the heroes of these stories usually have to work a little harder and use their wits more. There’s no cell phones, no GPS, no internet, etc. Something as simple as say, getting a message to someone can become a pretty big obstacle that needs to be surmounted, and for me, things like that make for an exciting read. Although I do read contemporary stories, the historical genre is my go-to genre. (I think that I’m a bit of a Luddite at heart…)
Tell me about your writing as it relates to the Beatles.
I’d had the idea for “Can’t Buy Me Love” for many, many years. I’d read somewhere that while the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, not a major crime was committed in New York City. Not even a hubcap was stolen. Everyone was glued to their television sets to watch this phenomenon from Liverpool. I remember reading that and thinking “what a great time to rob a bank.” Of course, I love music and I am a huge Beatle fan and the idea of this bank heist set during one of the most important eras in the history of rock and roll (and including the Beatles – it’s a natural!) appealed to me in a big way.
Do you think your interest comes from your talent in music?
Oh, no doubt. The funny thing is, when I was writing songs, I was always more interested in creating the music rather than the words. I love interesting chord structures and melodies and that’s what drew me to creating music in the first place. You can draw a parallel between a great piece of music and a novel – just as a great book draws the reader in, so can a great song. Towards the end of my songwriting phase though, I was contributing more lyrics and so I guess the natural progression from that was to writing books.
Who would you say were your greatest author influences?
As a kid, I read “The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger. It’s cliché I know, but what teenage guy doesn’t identify with a screw-up like Holden Caulfield? I also loved the casual way Salinger wrote so it was certainly a major influence to me when I started writing. I re-read it about once a year – still my favourite book. Another influence to me was Caleb Carr and his book “The Alienist.” It’s a historical novel that takes place in 1896 New York City. Carr peppered his story with real life characters of the time and that really made the book come alive. Both of my books have real life characters in them too, so you could definitely say that Caleb Carr was a pretty big influence. I’m also a big fan of Jeffery Deaver’s work too.
What was your most flattering moment after writing the book?
There were two, actually. One was as I was writing it and the other when I finished it. After I’d written the first one (“The Judas Apocalypse”) and spent a crapload of time and energy trying to get it published, I wasn’t really sure if I was all that interested in writing another book. The first one took four years so the thought of doing another one was less than appealing than a root canal. I have a great friend that I used to work with who loved my first book and when I told her I was thinking of attempting a second book, she became so excited about the prospect of it, that it spurred me on. The fact that she really wanted me to do this was very flattering. When I finished it, I let her read it. She took it home and over the next few days she read it 3 times. She also told me that she cried at the end. The fact that it affected her like that was also very flattering. I dedicated the book to her.
Why would readers want to choose this book?
Because it’s a lot of fun! It takes place during a seminal moment in rock history, it’s got loveable characters, a great plot line, a ton of heart and the Beatles. Seriously, what else could you possibly want?
What are you working on next?
Right now, I’m trying to promote this one, but I do have a couple of ideas I’m toying with. One is a Western murder mystery and the other a crime story set in the sixties – both historical ideas (surprise, surprise!)
Right now you can get the Kindle version of CAN’T BUY ME LOVE from Amazon http://tinyurl.com/9z8zquc , Nook for Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/a5qllk4 or directly from the Pulse, the publisher http://www.shop.pulsepub.net/. Print is available from the publisher as well, although should be up on Amazon very soon. You can also get the audio book from Audible and iTunes.
Can we be groupies at your next concert?
Sure…can never have too many groupies although Ottawa is pretty far away to catch a gig.
A little bit about Dan McNeil
You can follow him on twitter @DanMcNeil888
Dan McNeil was born in Toronto, Ontario Canada in October of 1962. He grew up in a home surrounded by books and music, ensuring that he would have a love for both. When he got older, his love of all things trivial led him to make an appearance when he was 16 years old on the CBC television show “Trivia” where his team managed to make it all the way to the finals. He spent much of the 80’s playing in bands around Ottawa, later writing and recording two albums of original pop rock with his cousin and song-writing partner Steve Casey. The two had some success, winning a number of song-writing contests including the prestigious NSAI (National Songwriters Association International) competition in 2002. Dan spent 24 years at CHRO TV in Ottawa as a camera operator and later as senior editor for the station, often composing much of the music for many of their local productions. It was during this time that he decided to try penning a novel. His first book, “The Judas Apocalypse” was published in 2008. He fully enjoyed the experience and decided to write another. His latest offering is “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a light hearted romp about a heist during the Beatle’s first visit to the United States in 1964, which was released September 2012.