Interview With Author John McGee

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My real name is John McGee, a 65 year old Scottish-born author living near Glasgow, Scotland. I’m a retired railway accountant and one of my bucket-list goals was to write and publish a novel. I achieved this in 2016 when I self-published 2084 The End of Days under my pseudonym of Derek Beaugarde. It is the story of seven men and women across the globe, caught up in the trials and tribulations of their daily lives, but are drawn together by the discovery of a giant global-killing comet passing through the Kuiper Belt on an apocalyptic collision course with Earth. I also write nonfiction Scottish sports history biographies under the pseudonym of Derek Niven and have published three books in my Pride series: Pride of the Lions, Pride of the Jocks and Pride of the Bears. I have completed the fourth book in the series Pride of the Hearts, due out in August 2021 and I have just begun the research into the fifth book Pride of the Dons, due out 2022. During lockdown I completed manuscripts for the space opera novella sequel to 2084 The End of Days, viz, 2112 Revelation, and the novella prequel 2048 BCE The Eye of Horus, both as yet unpublished.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Originally, my idea for a novel was going to be based on an unusual incident that occurred when I was about 5 years old and my working title was going to be The Fence. I was alone on my back green beside a neighbour ‘Uncle Jimmy’ Reid’s green-painted picket fence, which surrounded his garden allotment. I grabbed on to the fence and suddenly I found myself levitating horizontally. The book was going to explore what had actually taken place, but I felt there was not enough meat on the bone. I then started to gather unusual stories behind ancestors in my own and my wife’s family histories and decided to set the stories in the future to fictionalise true-life incidents. The main character in 2084 Space Commander Jack Crossan was based on my wife’s long-lost grandfather John Cross. In the book, as a boy, Jack Crossan levitated at Uncle Jimmy’s fence and this gave him the ambition to become an astronaut.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

A lot of the inspiration came from the education that I gained at Allan Glen’s School for Boys in Glasgow and I was encouraged to read great authors and poets like George Orwell, William Wilding, Nevil Shute, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Robert Burns, Wilfred Owen and Philip Larkin. This was supplemented by excellent training received in the rail industry in areas such as report writing, computing and research. This led to me becoming a professional genealogist in 2009 and I was inspired by the many family histories that led me towards my biographical-based sci-fi and my nonfiction sports biographies.

# How do you deal with creative block?

After publishing 2084, I had no real ideas for any follow-up sci-fi books, but creatively I switched to my nonfiction genre, which has brought a measure of publishing success. However, during ‘lockdown’ the idea for a novella sequel to 2084 literally just flowed with the juices. From that sequel, the idea for a novella prequel to 2084 quickly formed and I have now completed the 2084 trilogy, with plans to publish the novellas.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I think editing is a key stage in writing and the author needs to find a good editor and be able to listen to the editor’s judgment. My editor wanted to cut large chunks out of 2084, because they related to those hidden stories from the family history past but over-elaborated the story in the future. 2084 was my baby, and I retained much of that material in the build-up. I now realise I would have been more prudent as it tends to give the book a slower start than many readers might prefer.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

I think the title should convey something to the reader as to what the theme of the book is about. Thus, 2084 tells the reader the futuristic timeframe for the story and ‘the end of days’ is the quote from the bible that describes the apocalypse. In my case, 2084 was chosen in homage to George Orwell’s classic 1984 from my schooldays. Again, the cover should give the reader some glimpse into the inner workings of the novel. In my case, I have a large whale-shaped Oceanus spacecraft trying to escape the apocalyptic explosion of planet Earth.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I go on the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity. On Amazon the author just has to accept the reviews as they are published, but work hard to keep the reviews in the 3-5 range. If you get a 1-star review out of the blue, it is usually a troll who has not even read the book, but gets off on disrupting the review process.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I have definitely learned to be less verbose in my writing process, prepared to keep a tighter rein on the finished manuscript and more open to listening to my editor.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

The best thing about the writing process was after publishing 2084 The End of Days as my bucket-list novel, that I did not want the writing process to end there and I have now been writing and publishing for nearly nine years now, something I never imagined. The worst or most surprising part about the process is the amount of time and effort a self-published author has to put in to market their books and how little reward can be gained in royalties. Most of the money goes to the printers, publishers and retailers, before the author sees anything back for their creative abilities.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I would say a bit of both. Sometimes, I feel a great satisfaction from a piece of writing, which makes me fairly certain that like-minded readers will also enjoy what I’ve written. However, I always tend to try and write with the readers in mind, because at the end of the day what gives me satisfaction is knowing that there are people who want to enjoy my books.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

I get very emotional when writing certain passages and at certain points in 2084, I ended up in tears after writing deeply emotional scenes. My upcoming book Pride of the Hearts, which is based on the tragic histories of 16 Hearts players during WW1 was a complete blub-fest for me.

# What are your plans for future books?

I’m currently researching the fifth Pride series book; Pride of the Dons, for publication in 2022 and there at least two other Pride books in skeleton format. I also hope to publish the 2084 sequel; 2112 Revelation and the prequel 2048 BCE The Eye of Horus, both completed manuscripts to complete the 2084 trilogy.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I was that 5 year old boy who levitated and another theme in 2084 is ‘the man in the room with the gun’, which was based on a fever-fuelled nightmare when I was about six. I like cartooning and caricaturing and all the artwork for the Pride series covers was drawn by myself.