Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! Book 4 is Cursed by Paul M. Feeney. Dean has been lucky to work with Paul on a couple of projects in the past but this is will be Paul’s first DEMAIN release (28th February 2020). The book is currently available for pre-sales on Amazon.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome to the DEMAIN family, Paul.
PAUL M. FEENEY: Thank you very kindly Dean, it’s a pleasure to be here.
DP: Let’s get straight down to it: Paul – who are you and how / why did you become a writer?
PMF: Well, hello everybody, my name is Paul M. Feeney, obviously, and I’m originally from the west coast of Scotland, though I’ve lived in various parts of England for the last 11 years (soon to be moving to Aberdeen, though). I became a writer largely by ‘accident’, in that I discovered the small presses round about 2010, started getting hugely back into reading (horror, mostly), and then idly wondered if could do it myself. Part of me is still wondering...I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and I know I tried my hand writing a few times when I was younger, but it wasn’t till 2010/2011 that I really took it at all seriously. That’s when I consider my writing ‘life’ to have started properly.
DP: Can you tell us about your story Cursed.
PMF: Sure. It’s basically about a shape-shifting PI who exists in a world where all the supernatural and paranormal stuff is real, albeit mostly hidden from humanity. He investigates a case where a woman believes she’s been cursed through a DVD (a la The Ring), but not all is as it seems...
DP: I really love your protagonist – who is he?
PMF: His name is Garrison Wake, and as I’ve said, he’s a shape-shifter (he doesn’t like the ‘W’ word, though). He lives and works in Detroit, with feet in the worlds of the supernatural, the criminal, and the human, but swearing loyalty to none. He’s kind of an anti-hero, vigilante, who hates injustice but operates outside the law most of the time. He believes himself to be ‘lost’, to be already damned, so doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. I wrote a story with him a few years ago (Those Who Live in Shadow, Occult Detective Quarterly issue #4, Spring 2018), intending it as a one-off, but enjoyed it so much, he kind of stuck around. I like his cynical, sardonic approach to things, but also share his sense of justice (though perhaps not the methods, something I touch on in this story and want to explore more in further tales). He’s big, six-and-a-half-foot tall, and looks like a cross between Keanu Reeves and Brandon Lee in The Crow; he also tends to dress like the latter character, though without the clown makeup. He’s older than he looks by a few decades, and has a shady, petty-criminal past (though I’ve yet to fully investigate that myself). And he’s a loner, though people have become almost friends with him over the years, and he has a good circle of close acquaintances.
DP: Ah, thanks for clearing that up – I knew I ‘knew’ the character from somewhere…I’ll have to read Those Who Live In The Shadow again to remind myself. As you’ve set the story in the States was there much research you needed to do before actually writing?
PMF: Very little, though setting the character in Detroit is starting to prove a pain as I write more stories. For this one, I did a brief online recce of the city, but for others I’ve had to go a little deeper. The rest of it’s all fabrication.
DP: Paul, did you find any of the scenes in Cursed particularly difficult to write?
PMF: Surprisingly, I find Wake very easy to write. Usually, I struggle with stories, struggle to get momentum going, to push on through. But with Wake, they tend to come easily, with very little agonising over scenes and situations. I do have to tinker with them more, though, if they’re left lying about after finishing. Mostly this is because I’ll introduce a concept in a later story that means I have to go back and ‘retro-fit’ an earlier tale. But in general, I find writing these stories a joy. I love the faux-noir voice.
DP: Me too – I definitely want to read more Wake stories. What books (or authors) influence Paul M. Feeney?
PMF: Jings, where do I begin? I read a ton of stuff – horror, crime, science fiction, thriller, fantasy, literary, contemporary, etc. And the short answer is yes, everything I read influences me in some way or another. Lately, I’ve read a lot of short story collections that mix original, thought-provoking horror with literary stylings; books such as Priya Sharma’s All the Fabulous Beasts, Laura Mauro’s Sing Your Scars Deep, Georgina Bruce’s This House of Wounds, Michael Griffin’s The Human Alchemy, and so on. I’ve also recently read books by – deep breath – Adam Nevill, John Connolly, Sarah Pinborough, Adam Millard, Tana French, Peter F. Hamilton, M. R. Carey, Damien Angelica Walters, V. E. Schwab, Laura Purcell, Tracey Fahey, Gary Kemble, Stephen Graham Jones, Tim Waggoner, and so many more. And one thing reading excellent fiction does, is make you strive to do better with your own.
DP: Ah it does doesn’t it. I’m currently writing a short for a magazine whilst at the same time reading a book by William S. Burroughs who has always been an influence on me but reading that (The Wild Boys) is really pushing me to create something special. I’ve got a strict word count on that so know that every word really does count…though there are some ‘darkish’ elements in Cursed, what do you think makes a great crime / mystery / thriller story?
PMF: Fundamentally, well-written, rounded characters. You can have all the great plot twists and scenarios, the action and breath-taking moments, but if your characters are flat and bland, no-one will give a shit. Characters, and maybe pacing, the ability to pull the reader along, make them keep going, ‘just one more page’. That’s not to say I think characters need to be ‘likeable’ or ‘relatable’; I think that’s a whole different set of bizarre – to me – requirements. After all, one person might love them, the next hate them. How do you make a character likeable to everyone? No, I think rounded is better, more achievable. And after all, many crime and thriller stories are about unlikeable people...
DP: That they are and yes, all the better for it. Creatively, is there something you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?
PMF: I’d like to try my hand at screenwriting. I’ve got a few ideas for films but no idea how to go about writing a script.
DP: We can talk about that…finally then Paul, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
PMF – I’ve got readers? I’m surprised... ;-)
Ha ha – thanks for your time Paul! We wish you all the best with Cursed and can’t wait to read more Garrison Wake stories.
If you’d like to connect with Paul direct:
Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/PaulMichaels75