Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I got into writing in a roundabout way. I loved reading as a kid and created three comic books when I was 10 years old, but I never considered writing as a profession. It was too mystical to me, creating characters and worlds that didn’t exist but felt so real. Instead, I always assumed I’d work in business, and after college, I did…though my first job after college was in the collections department of an auto lender, which included repossessing cars. That experience was an eye-opener in many ways and made me reassess what I want to do with my life. That’s what led me to writing. I developed a story idea and wrote a novel. The draft was a complete train wreck, no one should ever be subjected to reading it, but it inspired me to try again.
I’ve been fortunate to experience a number of amazing things in my life so far, including touring restricted areas of West Point and seeing the White Nights in St. Petersburg Russia, but writing has become my passion.
How many unpublished and unfinished books do you have?
I wrote a number of books before I got serious about understanding the mechanics of novels and improving my writing skills. However, after I took classes at the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Workshop, I completed one other book before starting The Price of trilogy. I mention it on my website (www.mcbland.com). It’s called Lawyers Can’t Fly. It’s a humorous take on superheroes. I even wrote a rough draft of a sequel, called Lawyers Can’t Dance. I did get a chance to pitch the first book to Columbia Pictures, but I haven’t heard back from them.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
I was riding the “L” in Chicago one day when I realized every other passenger had their faces buried in their phones. I thought I could strip naked and no one would notice. Yet there are cameras on the ceiling—so someone could be watching. That led me to wonder how many cameras I didn’t see, how many ways I was being monitored and tracked and cataloged without my knowledge. My story grew from there, with the tale of the main character fighting to protect those he loves in a world 25 years in the future. Technology becomes so interwoven in their daily lives that they can’t escape it, can’t avoid it, and the wonders of the future are used against them.
How did you develop your plots and characters?
I start with the basic premise and work through what I want the story to be about—not just the basic plot but the underlying theme. They need to be intertwined, complimenting each other. I then focus on the main character, as he/she will be drive the story. They need to both add to and contradict the story, as they need to have goals or wants that either hurt or add to the plot. That’s how I came up with Dray Quintero, and his need to protect his family while struggling to fight those who threaten them and his world. For Dray, I took inspiration from my grandfathers. Both were engineers (one was a metallurgical engineer and the other was a chemical engineer) who both used their skills during WWII. I made Dray an engineer in honor of them, and his skill set gave him an advantage as he fought a much more powerful enemy.
How do you get inspired to write?
My stories are fast-paced and layered with tension, conflict, and twists. I usually imagine an action scene or crazy twist, and then I build from there. I have to plan out what I’m going to write, so I spend a lot of time outlining the story, cutting parts that don’t work, improving scenes, and so on. When I’m ready to write the actual story, I know it so well I dive right in, usually completing the first draft in 2-3 months.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the last book in the trilogy. The rough draft is complete, so I know how the story ends. I’m editing it currently, looking for ways to make it the best possible story before I send it to my editor.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Find someone (preferably a fellow writer) who will agree to give you feedback on your work, a chapter at a time. The person needs to be someone who trust, who won’t pull any punches. They need to tell you what works and what doesn’t. Writing is extremely hard. Once your work is published, you can’t change what you wrote, so make sure it’s the absolute best it can be. This includes your characters, tone, pacing, and themes. The best works are those that seem effortless. That means the writer, publisher, and editor(s) did their job, because writing is rarely effortless.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
The best thing is hearing people’s reaction to my book. So much of writing is solitary. It’s me and my computer, typing away, editing, and cursing a little. Book sales are great, and I hope each novel becomes a best seller, but hearing/reading readers’ reaction is the best part. I love to engage with them, hear their thoughts about the book, and where they think the story will go next. Please let me know what you think about the novel—and please leave reviews. They have more impact than you realize.
Fairly soon. The Price of Rebellion came out in May, and I expect the third book to come out in the next twelve months or so, depending on my editing and the publisher’s timing.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.)? Please provide links.