Welcome, Seumas Gallacher.
Coffee or Tea?
You are a multifaceted person by anyone's standards. CEO, Harvard graduate, advisor, mentor, world traveler and a published author. Are there any places left that you still long to see?
Yes. I want to attend tons and tons of writers' get-togethers all over the world... and many other places.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
Born on Clydeside in Govan, Glasgow. Home is wherever I happen to be living. Having been a 'professional expatriate' for half of my existence, I've become determined to 'belong' to wherever I land. There are great people everywhere.
You shared these wonderful photographs with me. You know, I can still see the little boy in the man. Tell me of a Govan,Glasgow through his eyes. The feel and sound of it, describe the people of that time.
Take us there, Seumas....
The streets of Govan 'back then' had very little motor traffic, even though it was in the city. Street games and especially street parties were part and parcel of living. The community was a vast family, including the local policemen. The buildings were dark sandstone and granite, kinda overbearing and austere, but the folks who lived in these tenements were the salt of the earth. Life was allegedly hard and tough, but humanity abounded everywhere. We took care of people back then, no dependence on the welfare system, which was in its own infancy. Tragedy and triumph was shared around the streets and the menfolk enjoyed a drink after the week's work on a Friday night. Part of the routine on their way home was to buy sweets/candies to hand out to we kids and our pals. There were gales of laughter, and home spun entertainment, parties with open doors in the tenements, nothing ever had to be locked down. Children could disappear out to play in the non-school days in the morning and not return until after dark, and nobody needed to be concerned about their safety. Poverty there certainly was, but no-one starved; clothing for kids were always hand-me-downs, and that didn't trouble us. Mothers knitted stuff from old wool from previous garments for school wear. Children did chores and errands at home as part of their daily lives, no-one complained. Dinner was usually from a huge continually cooking pot, into which went umpteen different ingredients over the course of a week, as the soup/stew/hotpot increased and diminished in content...and we loved it. We were poor by any standard but there was a certain communal dignity and respect for elders and figures of authority. It worked, and it worked well.
Ah, the memories. I can see they have resulted in the man you are today.
Do you ever revisit? Has it changed?
I went back about twenty years ago and was appalled to see that the slums had been cleared and 'gentrified' with ghastly wee coloured box designs of dwellings. It wasn't the home that I knew, and I departed with a dreadful sense of loss. Part of my personal history had been spirited away. Its personality had been subsumed to what looked like some governmental officialdom's ticking-of-the-boxes convenience.
When did you realize you were a writer?
About ten seconds ago when you used the word here. I remember a story long ago someone told me about a carpenter who lived alone in a cottage in a village in the countryside. He died, and when people were clearing out his cottage they found a box filled with hitherto unseen wonderful poems that he had written over a period of some sixty years. They set to wondering, 'had he been a carpenter who happened to be a poet, or was he a poet who happened to be a carpenter?' I think each of us is capable of revealing many layers. I have some poems I wrote dating back to 1964, and many others that I've lost on the way through this great journey called living.
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from many sources and not just for writing. I think the writing is merely a product of all the other things that experience has thrown my way. Some amazingly wonderful people have been placed in my life at junctures that I certainly could not have planned. As for general inspiration, my all-time hero is the late Sir Winston Churchill, a maverick all his life, and a never-say-die character. For humour, many cause me to laugh, but especially a fellow slum product, Billy Connolly, who always makes me laugh, even at material I've heard him do over and over again. His delivery is so street-Glasgow
Most authors are avid readers. Are you?
Yes. I've been reading since I was four years old (about a thousand years all told, now).
What are you reading now?
I have the broadest taste in books, but recent favorites are some authors I met on twitter etc, Anya Lipska's debut novel, 'Where The Devil Can't Go" is terrific. I enjoyed Rachel Abbott's debut also, 'Only The Innocent', but you'll see from GoodReads, where I've just started to throw titles on there,I range all over the place. It's not so much the story line I enjoy but the 'business' involved in the creation of the work. Having just recently given birth to a novel I know how much of an author(ess)'s own being goes into it, and I have now the deepest respect for ANYONE who writes.
Your first novel, The Violin Man's Legacy has become quite popular, okay it is a HUGE success! The ebook is available at Amazon Kindle. Do you have a print edition in the works?
I have no agent or publisher at this stage, so a print version may have to wait until ( if ever) that happens.
Who designed the wonderful cover?
A friend in the Philippines, a professional graphic artist, did the art work from a concept description of the book's content.I think he's done me proud, I couldn't have hoped for a better encapsulation of the story on a single cover page like that. The second one's been prepared already, too, and I'm delighted with that.
You have announced that a sequel is in the works. What is its title and release date?
VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK. I hope to have it done and up on Kindle by the end of July this year, so I have about 6 weeks to polish that off.
Did you ever hear back from the New York publisher that you submitted the sequel to?
No, the New York publisher didn't come back, and I'm not so sure that's such a bad thing, I hear differing stories about the efficacy or otherwise of having an agent/publisher relationship. I guess a combination of self-determination and these guys would suit me best. I'm enjoying so much at the moment being hands on with 'getting it out there'.
Nothing out of the norm there.
Do you have any other books hidden away unpublished?
I have a minimum of three others already in concept to follow VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK, all with essentially the same basic cast of players.
Do you work with an outline or do you just sit down and write?
I need to be kinda clear about the probable ending for the book. That gives me a destination of sorts. How I get there, of course, varies on the pace and twists that develop in my head as I write. Generally I think ahead, but only phase by phase, in order to keep the story and plot 'boxed' properly. Balance is vital.
How do you build your characters?
I think if most authors were honest about it, they'll tell you that all of their characters are based on people, or more likely, combinations of people they already know or have encountered somewhere along the way. I'm no different. For me, however, they also have to pass the credibility test. Do I know people who are like this? Or even a bit like this? If so, in they go.
My writing fuel is orange slices and coffee, what is yours?
Tunnock's Caramel Wafer biscuits (Scottish delicacy) by the kilo and diet coke by the storage-tank load.
What challenges did you face in publishing your first novel?
The biggest challenge was overcoming my own natural impatience to get it done. I had to slow down and back track several times to get things right until I realized that by pacing it better it was less necessary to re-visit passages. Then understanding the need to have publics to whom to introduce my masterpiece. That's when some real work was needed.You've gotta give before you can take.
How insightful. What has been the best compliment given to you as an author?
Non-family and people who don't know me personally telling me they enjoyed the book.
What has been the toughest criticism?
I think I've gotten off lightly on criticism, but the first Amazon negative review pierced me like a dagger, until I saw the guy had only one other critique, that of John Grisham, and he'd scored him less than me. After that, I've learned to take ALL reviews and observations with a barrowload of salt. It's important that I'm comfortable in my own skin and that I like to read the book myself.
Well, you can skip the salt with me, I have read 'The Violin Man's Legacy' and loved it!
In one sentence what advice would you give to other authors?
Persevere, just get it done, your work IS special, NEVER EVER GIVE UP!
Would you share one or two of your marketing strategies with us?
The phrase 'building a platform' is so relevant inasmuch as you can write the most wonderful book in the world, but people have to know how and where to get it easily. Social networking is a recent phenomenon to me ( I am the last of the Jurassics in that regard), but I've taught myself to get involved with it, and found the side benefits are fabulous... great pals, kindred spirits, and a humbling outpouring of assistance from already well-established members of the universal writing family. I love it. Oh, and don't forget, HAVE FUN. ENJOY IT.
Where do you see yourself out there in the swirling sea of self marketing?
I don't 'see' myself there at all, because I do it without looking. I'm in the moment with it, just enjoying the involvement of it all. 'Hey, Mum, look at me, I'm an author at last!' That's good enough for me.
You make an entrance wherever you go. I noticed you are on Facebook now. Looks like you are taking to it quite well. What would you say to a young person whose dream is to become a writer?
Like anything else worth while, it has to be worked at. Like any craft, hone your skills, ask questions of your seniors, or those who've blazed the trail before you. Go for it.
You are seriously a man of humor. How did you get there, Seumas?
Humour is a wonderful defensive shield against most of the world's travails. There have been some seriously very dark moments in my life, and always, humour, even black humour, has helped me through these. I can laugh at most things, and love the fact that most importantly, I can laugh at myself. Please God, prevent me from ever taking myself too seriously.
Are you ready for these? I wanted to deal you hand and see how you played it!
Who is your hero?
Sir Winston Churchill
Did you really have bodyguards?
Yes, a rotational squad of four from any six, for three years, with an armored car, flak jacket, and back up vehicle.
Favorite vacation spot?
Like Einstein, at the back of my own mind, it's a wondrous playground.
What is your favorite song?
So many. Pick from 'Danny Boy', 'The Long and Winding Road', 'The Green Fields of France'... ballads mostly.
Do you write in your pajamas?
No, I write in my laptop.
You got me with that one. What is your favorite movie?
Without doubt the Godfather Trilogy, particularly the third, which most people don't like. I like it because it shows the vulnerable human side of the Godfather. Forget the crime element in these movies, they teach so much about how business REALLY works.
What is your favorite book?
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
What are the top four things you never leave home without?
Sense of humour, sense of gratitude for being alive today, a willingness to speak easily with all and everybody I meet. I don't need a fourth after these.
Nice to know you aren't dashing around trying to tame the world with an iPhone like most people!
What is the best job you have ever had?
Selling chopped up wood from old orange-boxes around the tenement houses in Govan as a ten-year old to make pocket money. Entrepreneur of the century!
Now tell the worst?
Not so much a job, as a contract I had where the owner wouldn't take the advice I was being extremely well paid to give him. I fired myself from it and gave him back half of his money to demonstrate it wasn't about the cash. I kept the other half, because I'm Scottish.
What is your pet peeve?
I didn't know peeves made pets.
You have me rolling with laughter as usual, so tell me...
Do your characters wake you up in the middle of the night to write?
No. Earthquakes and typhoons are incapable of rousing me once I get to Snoresville.
Do you prefer boxers or briefs?
If you're referring to pugilists or lawyers, neither.
Now the inquiring minds of the world will have their answers! Ok, the last one was just for fun! Bet your jaws dropped on that one! As you can see everything with Seumas is wrapped with humor and his quickwit will keep you wondering long after he answers any question. Loving it! Make sure you use the links to check him out further and by all means, do yourself a favor and read "The Violin Man's Legacy". It is worth every shiny, new, penny spent!
Oh and thank you, Seumas, for sharing.