Michael, you write in the crime/thriller genre, how did you get into writing these?
I spent fifteen years with the Canada Border Services Agency as a training specialist, project officer and national program manager, and during this time was privileged to work with a number of experienced law enforcement officers, not only from Canada Customs but also the RCMP, provincial police, Correctional Services, U.S. and U.K. Customs, and many other organizations. I learned a great deal from them, not only on the technical side of law enforcement but also about the level of personal commitment needed in this line of work. When I wrote my first novel, The Ghost Man, I chose the supernatural thriller genre at the suggestion of my son, who was very interested in the paranormal. One of the characters in this novel, Inspector Killeen, is a key secondary character who investigates the suspicious deaths at the centre of the story. I enjoyed working with this character so much that I decided to put my work experience to good use and switch to crime fiction for the next one. The rest is history.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Fregoli Delusion, how did you choose this as a topic and does anyone you know have this condition?
Thank you, I’m very glad you liked the book. I came across this condition in a roundabout way, actually. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and like many primary care givers I’ve done a lot of research trying to understand what’s happening. One recurring symptom I’ve noticed is pareidolia, a condition in which the brain misinterprets random visual input as being meaningful, most noticeably by seeing human faces and human forms in random patterns. Seeing the profile of Jesus on a hamburger bun or a piece of toast, for example, or a face on a ceiling tile.
Because it apparently involves brain functions handling facial recognition, this condition led me to other conditions involving misidentification, and I was soon reading about Fregoli syndrome, in which a patient may have a paranoid belief that a specific individual is stalking him by appearing to be disguised as other people. I realized right away that it was a fascinating subject for a story, especially where it fit into my existing interest in the reliability of eyewitnesses.
What research have you undertaken for your books?
I do a great deal of research for the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series because they’re police procedurals and I’m striving for a reasonable level of realism. Although I was fortunate to learn a fair bit during my career in Customs, I’m constantly researching technical details, from autopsy procedures to gunshot wounds to American state and federal laws and regulations. In Fregoli you may recall that the fugitive was able to slip into a funeral procession with a stolen car that had dark tinted windows which hid his identity. I made sure to research Maryland Department of Transport regulations for window tinting, learned how dark the tinting could go, and found the form that someone needs to fill out to get the special sticker for their windshield proving they have a permit for it. Would the average reader notice, or care? I doubt it, but at least I know that this tiny detail is plausible. Otherwise, I would have written it differently.
What have you found to be the most difficult part of your journey?
As with most independents, I’ve discovered that writing the books is by far the easiest part. Unfortunately, I lack the skill set needed to market my work and convince readers they should read them. I’ve worked very hard over the last year and a half to develop a platform from which to market them, putting in seven-day weeks establishing an online presence in Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and everywhere else potential readers might be found, as well as making personal appearances for book-signings and other events. It’s labour-intensive and time-consuming, but I’m getting a bit of traction now. Perhaps one day I can stop to catch my breath in the knowledge that my stories have found their audience.
Do you plan to have any more in the Donaghue series?
Oh, yes. We’re just getting started! The next novel is entitled The Rainy Day Killer, and I expect to publish it this summer. There are more in the queue, for sure.
What other stories do you have planned?
I mentioned that my first novel, The Ghost Man, was a supernatural thriller. I recently re-acquired the rights to it from the original publisher, and last month revised and re-published it under my own imprint. I really enjoyed going over it again, and I like supernatural fiction very much. As soon as The Rainy Day Killer is done, I’m going to write another ghost story. It will be a pleasant break from the intensity of the crime fiction, I think.
Any advice for new/upcoming authors?
Yes. Above all else, write. It’s important to remember that while storytelling may be a gift, writing is a craft that must be developed through hard work and care and attention to detail before one’s stories are good enough to be read by strangers. We all begin by writing the most gawdawful drivel you can imagine, and it’s necessary to write one’s way through this early material into a place where one’s natural storytelling ability dovetails with an acceptable level of craftsmanship. It’s a matter of respect: for the language, for the high standards of literacy set by other authors we ourselves admire, and for readers who expect quality work from us.
Check out more about Michael’s and his works here:
My Review for The Fregoli Delusion:
So i got the chance to read this book for free in return for a review. the blurb had me thinking and looking up what the fregoli delusion was. i was not disappointed by this book, i thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that michael had raised the issue of the condition clearly and concisely and used language that described the condition easily and allowed me to understand what a person with the condition has to deal with. i discovered that this book is the 3rd in the series and have already got the first two ready to read and understand more about detective donaghue. i am excited to read more of michael’s work and will definitely purchase any other stuff that he will write