As is becoming tradition West Lothian Writers always like to carry out a short interview with our members who have been recently published. Today we are talking to Eric McFarlane who has recently had his comedy crime novel A Clear Solution published with Accent Press. You can buy a copy of A Clear Solution on Amazon or you can contact Eric through his website to get a signed copy. You’ll find the questions, and his answers below the break:
1) Please introduce yourself and your book A Clear Solution Eric?
A Clear Solution was written over a period of several years after I and my colleagues suffered redundancy when the pharmaceutical company I worked with closed. A five month redundancy period with a very light workload allowed me to start writing. Write a novel, make money, what could be easier? (Well, just about anything actually, but I didn’t know that then.) It seemed obvious that the novel would be based in a lab environment and that it would be humorous and so A Clear Solution was born.
2) In your previous answer you said you use to work in a similar enviornment as your main character Daniel Deghorn. Does this mean that some of the events in the book are based on fact?
Well I must admit that there are a small number of incidents in the novel (the unbelievable ones!) that are based loosely on my own experience although these have been much altered and elaborated. I’m not going to say what these are but I will say that none of them relate to dead bodies or poisons.
3) As you said earlier A Clear Solution is a comedy. Do you write the jokes to fit around the plot or do you write the plot around the jokes?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve never consciously written a joke. If there is humour than it comes from the character and the situation. There was no planning in the initial draft of this novel. Daniel would simply find himself in a typical daft situation and I would have to get him out of it. I would attempt to get him out of it in a humorous way so really there were no jokes written as such.
4) How do you when you’ve written a good joke? Do you ever test your jokes out on an audience?
I suppose I shouldn’t admit it but in the early drafts of the novel I would read through and find myself laughing out loud at certain sections. I’m not sure what that says about the novel or about me. I don’t laugh at it now – after draft x! When I read sections out I do note when the audience laughs and am always pleased when that happens. Even more important is when folk don’t laugh at something I thought was funny and I have altered or cut out sections based on that.
5) How do you make sure you don’t cute a good joke during the editing process? Especially if you’ve read it a few hundred times by that point?
Well quite right. After you’ve read something a hundred times it’s unlikely to still seem funny but as I mentioned previously the jokes are not really stand alone jokes it all comes from the plot and characters. I might alter or cut a plot point and so lose a ‘joke’ but I wouldn’t specifically aim to cut that joke.
6) Do you plan to write more books about Daniel?
The sequel is already written it’s titled ‘The Allotment Society’ and I hope to soon have it in a fit state to submit to a publisher. This is the first attempt at a blurb:
Seeds and fertiliser, bombs and murder; well, men need to relax at the weekend.
A new job? Exciting for us all. For Daniel the prospect of never again having to use the same toilet seat as his boss, Professor Farquharson, is an exhilarating one. But Farquharson, an elderly academic with the morals of a stoat on steroids, has other ideas.
Before that new job Daniel must deal with irate taxi drivers, terrorists, a deadly disease, a pissed up pirate, an 8-year old blackmailer and an alarming number of dead bodies. He can cope with it all; unfortunately it’s at this point that things start to go downhill.