Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Hippo Hands Over . . . to Owen Mullen

Today I'm starting a new feature where I hand over my blog to an author, hence the title 'The Hippo hands over'.  I've got lots of great guest posts from a wide selection of authors and I'm delighted to kick things off by handing over to Owen Mullen.

Photo courtesy of Owen Mullen

School was a waste of time for me. Or rather, I wasted time; my own and every teacher’s who tried to get me to work. It took twenty years to appreciate what they were telling me. Life has rules. They aren’t written down but they exist nevertheless. I got that. Eventually. But by then I was thirty five.
Along the way I missed an important clue. At ten I won a national primary schools short story competition – and didn’t write anything else for forty years.
As a teenager my big obsession was music. Early on I realised if I was successful I would probably be rich and famous and pull lots of girls.
So how did that turn out?
Well, you haven’t heard of me, have you? And this morning I caught myself worrying about the electricity bill. So the short answer is: one out of three ain’t bad. 
Running around the country in a Transit van with your mates is fun. It’s your very own gang. You against the world. Until you fall out and the dream lies bleeding on the dressing-room floor.
When that happened I went to London [everybody from Scotland goes to London, it’s like first footing at New Year, or ten pints of lager and a vindaloo on a Friday night; a sacred tradition] and became a session singer. I also started gigging with different bands on the circuit.
Back in Scotland - most of us come back with wild tales of great success, none of them true - I wondered what I should do with myself and didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Her name was Christine. We got married, I went to Strathclyde Uni and got a bunch of letters after my name, and toughing it out at Shotts Miner’s Welfare, or dodging flying beer cans at the Café Club in Baillieston, was in the past. The long hair was short now, I wore a suit and pretended to like people I didn’t like because we were ‘colleagues’.
After many adventures I started my own marketing and design business and did alright. Christine and I were very happy, we travelled all over the place; India, Brazil, Botswana, Nepal, Borneo, Japan. One day I suggested we move. To the Greek islands. So we did. We bought land and built a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Then the pan global financial crash happened, years of fiscal carelessness finally caught up with Greece; the exchange rate dived and the cost of living in Paradise went through the roof.
I had to do something. Then I remembered the short story competition. I had been good at writing, hadn’t I?
I wrote another short story called The King Is Dead…the first thing I’d written since primary school. When I typed the last word [Christine taught me to type] I held the pages in my hand then started to read. An hour and a half, rooted to the chair unable to believe what was in front of my eyes. For four decades I had shunned a god given gift. And as I read I started to understand why. It was awful. Not just bad. Bloody terrible.
But I kept going.
And now, eight years and seven books later, three literary agents plus two I turned down [they were reading a different book] I am a writer. My books are on Amazon. People buy them and come back for more.
One seasoned London agent has predicted I am destined to be ‘a major new force in British crime fiction.’

Owen has written two books, Games People Play and Old Friends and New Enemies, both featuring Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron. I was lucky enough to win signed copies of both of them over on Chelle's Book Reviews recently and you can see Hamlet and Howie showing them off below. 

Write Back At You

In Games People Play and Old Friends and New Enemies – the two books so far in the Charlie Cameron PI detective series set in Glasgow – Owen Mullen has created a quartet of memorable players: Charlie Cameron; private investigator and main man. Patrick Logue; Street-wise wide boy and Charlie’s side-kick. Andrew Geddes; a detective inspector in Police Scotland CID and Charlie’s friend. And Jackie Mallon; the manager of New York Blue café/bar/American diner and club where Charlie has his office.
Authors are often asked about the characters they create. Here, for a change, we focus on the other point of view and ask the characters what they think.

Charlie Cameron:
I suppose I should be grateful. After all, I’m the leading man in a terrific series. I get good lines – though not as good as Pat Logue – I’m smart, good-looking and I live in Glasgow; my favourite city. But there’s a downside. Clients lie, bad people want to kill me and every woman I get involved with…sorry…mustn’t give too much away. One of the conditions of doing this blog was no spoilers. All I will say is that if you fancy the Rafferty family chasing you, try it. Pat Logue, Andrew and Jackie don’t appreciate I’m carrying them. Have been from the beginning. Being the hero page after page wears you out. Might have been cushier to be a TV detective in a sleepy village where a murder is committed every week. Or is somebody already doing that? Just a thought.

Patrick Logue:
For me – and I’m just sayin’ – turnin’ up in a book is the same as getting’ kicked to death by a donkey: you always imagine it’s goin’ to happen to somebody else. Never you.  All of a sudden you find yourself with kids who hate you and a wife who has her bags packed and is halfway out the door. And because it’s crime fiction, the constant threat of meetin’ a psychopath like Kevin Rafferty is always there. If you believed Owen Mullen’s version of me, you’d come away with the idea that I’m a work-shy drunk.
A sad misrepresentation of the truth.
How hard would it have been to show me in a better light? All readers are ever told is that I’m at the bar in NYB; tappin’ Charlie for money every time he passes on his way out to find some missin’ punter. Mullen has me down as a wee no-user – as we say up here in Glasgow – when in fact, I’m an entrepreneur. A free spirit. The reason I’m at the bar is because that’s where I do my best thinkin’. And in my game thinkin’ is important.
What I’m gettin’ at is respect. Where is it? I’ve put two good shifts in for this guy. Saved the day more than once, as well. Yet here I am in the third book, still duckin’ and divin’ and leavin’ Gail to bring up the boys. Bein’ made to look like a clown. It’s not on. And I’ll be tellin’ Owen Mullen when I see him.

DS Andrew Geddes:
I hate to be the odd man out but I have to say that, so far, I’m not impressed with this Mullen guy. After the great work I did in Games People Play, I was expecting a promotion. It didn’t happen. Obviously the author doesn’t see me as DI material. Fair enough; he’s entitled to his opinion, although things didn’t improve much for me in Old Friends and New Enemies. He doesn’t show me in a good light. In every other scene I’m complaining about my ex-wife, Elspeth, or I’m half-cut. Not great either way. And when I dunk my croissant in my coffee, he describes me as – what was it again? – a truffle hound on acid. Nice. But what can you do? I’m just a character: one of the little people. If he knew I voted for Brexit, Christ knows what he’d do to me.

Jackie Mallon:
Some people imagine being the leading woman in a crime series is fun. We’ll it is and it isn’t. I’ve tried to get through to Owen Mullen; he isn’t listening. I want to tell him to give me a break. I mean, do I have to be hopeless with men? Would it really be easier if I had WANKERS WELCOME tattooed on my forehead? Because that’s what he told everybody. And is it necessary to see me stuffing my face with cream cakes every time a romance doesn’t work out? Couldn’t I be a guy-magnet, instead of an emotional car crash?
I can only assume the author has a problem with women and he’s taking it out on me. I know what you’re thinking: Jackie’s just another daft burd.
 Well I’m not.
Some of my grievances are justified. How come Charlie’s office is bigger than mine? And why make me such a bitch? Where’s that coming from?
I expect to find myself having a thing with Charlie. Please! He’s nice enough but he’s hardly my type. Too smooth. Anyway – according to the stories – I go for toy boys.
You’ll never guess what I’m doing in the new book. Just as I finally find a little bit of happiness…

Charlie Cameron: ‘Jackie! Jackie! Keep it to yourself.’
‘Why should I? Characters in books are people too.’
Charlie Cameron: ‘Stick to the deal or we won’t get to say anything again.’
Pat Logue: ‘Best do as Charlie says, Jackie. Remember how vindictive these author-types are.’

All I’m asking for is a better shake. A bigger office and maybe a new hunky man. Now that would be pure dead brilliant. Not going to happen, is it?  It’s enough to make me want to quit. Charlie’s all right, but if the author makes us an item I’m going to break his heart and stomp on the pieces.
Swear to God.
You have been warned, Mullen.

You can find out more about Owen Mullen at the places below:


I'd like to thank Owen for taking the time to stop by today, it's been a pleasure and I'm looking forward to reading your books. If you've already read Owen's books please let me know your thoughts on them.

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