A big HELLO to you all,
Here we go! Friday is upon us all again! Where are the weeks disappearing to so fast? However, I'm looking forward to seeing my daughter and her family tonight when they return from Cornwall! I've been looking after their two gorgeous mogs this week and much as I have three of my own, I will miss seeing Marbs and Bella twice a day!
I've had a rather hectic week purchasing a block of ISBN's, opening an account with Ingram Spark, setting up my publishing name and buying a website domain for it.
And finally, I have been able to type 'The End' on my completed manuscript for "The Scars". More news about that to follow shortly!
That's enough rambling from me, so let's get back to today's author interview with Ian Grant.
Eva: Hi Ian, first of all a big, thank you for agreeing to take part in my series of author interviews! Now, tell us all about yourself (as in, a bit of a biography).
Ian: Hi, everyone, and thanks to Eva for allowing me to chat with you. Ian C. Grant is the pen name for my brother, Grant Christie, and myself, Ian Christie. I was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1967 and have been married to Valerie for 30 years. After initially working as a greeting card artist, I’ve been employed by the University of Dundee as an Academic Skills Tutor since 1990 helping students disseminate their research findings using various means. I also provide high-quality electronic illustrations, mainly anatomical, for research, education and publication purposes. My brother, Grant, was born in Dundee and lived in London. He passed away in 2022 leaving a wife and a daughter. He spent his working life as a Project Manager and Estimator within the Building industry. He was a talented artist who had works displayed and purchased internationally. Our novel series stemmed from his wondering how minor characters are affected by the roles they played in major fictional events. As an ardent Sherlock Holmes reader, he turned to Wiggins, lead Baker Street Irregular and the only one of the Irregulars to be mentioned by name.
How many books have you written up to now? Are they published or self-published? What genre are they?
We have written two murder mystery novels in a planned series of six.
The Reign of the Beast: a Detective Inspector Wiggins adventure
The Gallery of Death: a Detective Inspector Wiggins adventure
The third instalment is a quarter-way written in a first draft form when Grant passed away. We never set out to get our books published or make our fortunes, it was just something my brother always wanted to do, write a story of some description and our collaboration was the main aim. Grant had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, so the writing process brought us closer for the last few years of his life. After letting a few friends read our debut novel we were persuaded to submit to publishing companies, and after a few near-misses with traditional publishers, we decided to self-publish … and be damned!
Of all the genres there are, is there any genre/s that you feel you wouldn’t be able to write and why? Is there any genre that you really wish you could write, but feel you wouldn’t be able to do it justice?
I really couldn’t write erotica, so I take my hat off to you, Eva - my hat, my shirt, trousers etc. I’m sure if I attempted to write in this genre, it would most probably end up sounding like a never-ending Benny Hill sketch! I’m not even sure how I’d approach it to be honest. Head-first would probably be best!
To motivate and re-energise me to complete book three in our murder-mystery series, I’m dabbling with writing an anthology of short fiction stories with a central theme around the word ‘King’, but this is at an embryonic stage currently.
Do you have any favourite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words that you like to use in your books? What are those words? Also, what words used by other authors irritate you more than they should?
I wouldn’t say any ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ words, however, we do try to use some terms and language from the turn of the 20th Century to give authenticity to our writing. Words such as tallywags, mutton-shunter, and resurrection men. I’m sure you can all have an educated guess of their meanings.
I did find many interesting words when researching our novels:
Peri-oral lines - the wrinkles radiating from the lips of people who smoke.
Pareidolia - a tendency for the brain to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image (often a face) in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. An example would be the man in the moon.
Cyanobacteria - are the first bacterial organisms known to produce oxygen.
One word, not necessarily found in other Authors’ works, that I dislike is ‘Gobsmacked’. Makes me grind my teeth every time I hear or read it. (Eva: A mutton-shunter? Do tell!)
Do you sing at all, be it karaoke, in a choir or have done so professionally? Whether you have or not, have you ever written (or had the urge to write) any song lyrics? Have those lyrics been used at all?
I like to sing now and again and believe, especially after a glass of wine or two, that I can hold a tune. I haven’t attempted to write any lyrics, but I do have songs or pieces of music running through my head and associated with the characters I write. For example, one of the main individuals is Dante van Hoon, an eccentric and seemingly ageless Dutch leper of unlimited resources. I always associate Sting’s version of the Willie Dixon song “Seventh Son” to fit his characteristics perfectly. I wonder how many other authors have a soundtrack to their writing?
What question would you like to pose, (if you were to ever interview your favourite author), which never seems to get asked in author interviews? And who is that favourite author?
You may think from the fictional subject matter I write that my favourite author would be Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, or Sax Rohmer, but it is the American journalist A.J. Liebling (1904-1963). He was arguably the most widely admired journalist of his generation who wrote atmospheric pieces about New York’s characters and neighbourhoods in the New York Times. ‘The Sweet Science: Boxing and Boxiana - A Ringside View’ (1956) is a collection of boxing pieces Liebling wrote from ringside at some of the greatest boxing matches in pugilistic history. A masterpiece and a joy to read in my opinion.
As boxing and its history is a passion of mine, I would like to ask Liebling not who he regarded as the greatest boxer but rather who was the boxer that most excited him, getting him off the seat of his pants so to say.
If you were to ever write a children’s book, (and those of you who already do) would you/do you do the illustrating yourself, make use of a family member or friend’s talent or pay an illustrator? Do you solely write or do you have any other creative pursuits?
I’ve never written a children’s book, but I would most certainly illustrate any that I did. I have a bit of experience in the illustration and graphics field, and it would certainly reduce the cost of hiring a professional.
After leaving High School, I had applied for a place at Duncan of Jordonstone Art College but got offered employment as a greeting card artist at the same time, both in my hometown of Dundee. I somewhat regretfully opted for the quick money that full-time employment offered, although, if I had gone to Art School, I’d never have met several lifelong friends from my time painting drunk pink elephants and posies of Poinsettia!
I continue to paint in all mediums and hope at some stage to exhibit some works. I was lucky enough to design the official Glastonbury Festival t-shirts of 2002 and 2004 and designed many company logos over the years. I have also done cover illustrations for three children’s books and in 2013 I was commissioned to redesign the front cover of the scientific Foot Journal.
Of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite? And why?
Now that’s a challenging question! I hope we’ve created many likeable characters so far and I can safely say I like them all, but if I’m forced to pick, it would have to be Detective Sergeant Jem Pyke.
DS Leslie ‘Jem’ Pyke is the colleague, partner and friend of the lead character in our books, Detective Inspector Albert Wiggins. Pyke is a decorated hero of the Second Boer War for his part in relieving the besieged mining town of Kimberly. Sergeant. He’s an ex-pugilist who is arguably the toughest and hardest man in all of London. He is a man of the common people, a hardened drinker and has numerous contacts throughout London’s criminal underworld. He never goes anywhere without his battered Derby hat. Pyke so dislikes the name Leslie that he insists everyone call him ‘Jem’ after Gypsy Jem Mace, (1831 - 1910) the first English bare-knuckle heavyweight champion of the world.
Have you ever killed off a character in your books (I’m sure you have)? If so, was it because…it fitted nicely into the storyline? OR…Did you start to really dislike the character and, with too much work involved to re-write without that character, think it the easiest option to have that person die?
There are many characters in our books that have been killed off, mostly in grotesque and horrific ways I’m pleased to say, but we haven’t killed off any of the main characters … yet!
Are any of your characters based on family members or friends? Have you kept their characters totally true to life or have you given them bonus traits that you wish they possessed in real life?
We’ve named many characters after friends and family but the main one would be Desk Sergeant Nosher Ash, after a friend of mine since my teenage years. He, like his character, is kind and caring underneath a tough exterior. He always talks the truth and if that truth hurts, tough ****! The character grew to be more prominent in the second novel of our series and has a major role to play in book three!
Relationships/family life aside, what are your TWO main regrets in life?
Regrets are similar to me as goals in life - quietly ambivalent of both. I really can’t think of any regrets which I suppose is a good thing. I’m not one for rethinking the past or investigating what has been and I think I’m quite satisfied with my lot. I’ve always felt that lives are somewhat mapped out, so why bother with hindsight.
What was your passion as a child? Did that passion stay with you during your adult life OR did you, as you grew up begin to detest what you once enjoyed?
My childhood passion was always drawing and painting, art of any kind. One of my earliest memories is of lying on the living room floor with my maternal grandmother and a colouring-in book. I reckon I must have been about four years old and got annoyed and upset that I’d strayed over the lines with my pencil. I can still remember my grandmother calming me down and saying to me: “Sometimes it’s good to stray over the lines every once in a while” and I reckon it’s a great outlook to have. To counterbalance my love of Art, I also had a passion from an early age of supporting Dundee FC football team which I can honestly state has given me very little, if any, pleasure or reward over the years!
What was your best subject throughout your school years? And your worst?
Art and English were my best subjects. I still have my first-year report card from when I was five years old in which my Teacher, Mrs Bremner, noted: “Ian excels in everything artistic and can express his feelings through this medium extraordinarily well”. My worst subject was undoubtedly Maths! If there is such an affliction as number dyslexia, then I most definitely suffer from it. I still struggle with the 24-hour clock for goodness’ sake, and if you were to ask me to perform long-division, well I’d rather juggle scorpions. I could never comprehend how a letter can be multiplied by a number!
Tell me about your favourite teacher throughout your school years? Was it a crush you had? Were they just an excellent teacher of your favourite subject?? Or some other reason…kind, fun, generous…?
This would be my High School English teacher, Mrs Nicoll who is sadly no longer with us. She was a strict and somewhat frightening presence, but she brought the best out in me, and for some reason always called me Mr Christie, when all the other kids were referred to by their first names.
Did either of your parents ever express a wish to write? Are they supportive and proud of your work? Or do they just choose to not get involved, but they are pleased for you?
My father was an exceptionally talented musician and lyricist, so he composed songs and told stories through that medium all his life. He is an inductee on the Dundee Music Hall Walk of Fame and was an avid reader and letter writer as well. Unfortunately, he passed away before our first novel, but I’m positive he would be proud and supportive in equal measure. My Mum is an avid reader of all genres and is a huge fan of our Detective Inspector Wiggins Adventures and is forever encouraging me to complete the third instalment.
Tell us about your ultimate ambition, be it personal, travel, writing, work, hobby related or other?
I was always ambitious, wanting to be the best, the fastest, strongest, quickest, brightest, funniest, and most popular but the older I get I realise that knowing your limitations is a vital component to what would be many of our shared ambitions - just to be happy.
Do you have any phobias and if so, what are they? Have you ever conquered any phobia and if so, how did you do it?
Misophonia and spheksophobia. Both sound made-up terms (the second most definitely is!) to most people but I can assure you, they are both very real and part of my being.
Misophonia is a disorder where certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses that others perceive as unreasonable given the circumstance. Sufferer’s reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic at oral sounds such as the noise someone makes when they eat, breathe, or even chew. Other annoying sounds include keyboard or finger tapping or even small repetitive motions such as someone fidgeting or wiggling their fingers or feet.
Spheksophobia is more simple - the fear of wasps or more generally I hate anything that buzzes and will flee a room if I even hear the sound. (Eva: Oh, sorry Ian! I am a persistent and habitual key-board tapper. I do it without realising when I'm thinking about what to type next!)
Most people I know are not happy with something physical about themselves (face/body etc.,) but if you could change anything about your personality, what would you wish to change?
Not to worry so much about everything. I’m sure I’d worry if I had nothing to worry about!
What is your ‘go to’ snack, whatever the time of day? And drink of your choice?
The snack would most likely be any type of gum sweet like Haribos. A nice coffee during the day and an ice-cold cider later in the day. (Eva: Haribos, YUM! Have you tried the double snakes? Sweet and sour! I love them!)
Cats or dogs? What do you have? Do you introduce any pets into your books?
I currently don’t have any pets although I’ve always had cats in the past. The older I get though the more I think owning a dog would be nice. One of our main characters, Dante van Hoon (an ageless, eccentric Dutch leper. A scientific visionary and practitioner of the arts with a penchant for taxidermy), has a menagerie of pets including a wolf husky called Mayerhofer, named after an Austrian magician friend of mine, a pair of Thylacines and an aviary of hummingbirds.
Van Hoon is an eccentric and seemingly ageless Dutch leper of unlimited resources. A scientific visionary and practitioner of the arts, botany, philosophy, travel and medicine with a penchant for taxidermy. Has a subservient army of lepers whom he terms his Pestilent. He is one of the richest and most enigmatic individuals in London, his wealth only surpassed by his limitless ego. He ‘assists’ the police on occasion, always for an undisclosed fee, if it furthers his own needs.
AND FINALLY, Hit me up with all your Amazon book-links? And the links to your website and social media profiles?
The Reign of the Beast: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08D55N29H?psc=1&smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&ref_=chk_typ_imgToDp
Gallery of Death:
Thanks again Ian for being a part of my exciting author interview blogs!! Next two under the spotlight are:-
Tuesday: Lynnda Worsnop
Friday: Antony Dunford
Love as always,