This week, I’m interviewing mystery author, Paul McNabb.
Thanks for being on my blog today, Paul. I’ll get right to the questions as I’m sure everyone is anxious to get acquainted with you and would like to hear all about your novel, The Jaguar Conspiracy. so here goes:
Q. What or who inspired you to write? Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
A, My older sister was an English major and encouraged me to read. When I was a young boy I discovered the James Bond books by Ian Fleming. I loved the exotic locales and sophisticated lifestyle of the secret agent. These books made me love reading. Much later I discovered Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. These authors made me want to write. I loved the hard-boiled detective style of series with the same protagonist taking on cases.
Q. What are your favorite authors/books?
A. I like The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. I like all of the novels by Raymond Chandler, the entire body of work. I like the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly, too.
Q. What was your life like before becoming an author?
A. I was a sales rep for a data and software company in the petroleum industry, specializing in international databases leased to North America companies exploring internationally. Our company was based in Geneva, Switzerland making our company meetings quite interesting. I worked out of Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Houston and finally the last twelve years in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I worked for the same company for almost 25 years.
Q. What sparked the idea for your novel?
A. I used to attend a lot of car and motorcycle shows when on business on the West Coast. I was asked to write a monthly column in E-type Magazine in 2006 based on a picture I had taken of a man sitting beside his classic Jag. One of the first interviews I set up was with Terry Larson, a restorer living in Mesa, Arizona specializing in C- and D-type Jaguars, racing cars from the fifties now worth about $4 million each. He dug a huge pit on a plot of land, built the shop and garage one level below ground, and then covered everything when he was finished keeping the shop cool in the summer and warm in the winter. He told me stories about the old racing cars for hours and allowed me to sit in a D-type raced by Stirling Moss in the 1954 Le Mans. On the plane ride home I started dreaming up a mystery about a C-type Jaguar missing for fifty years living in an underground garage.
Q. How personal is your writing? Did you experience any of the things in your novel?
A. Like I said earlier, I started writing a monthly column in E-type magazine in 2006. I added a column in the XK Gazette in 2010 and a column in the LA Jag Club monthly a little over a year ago. In total I’ve written something like 150 columns. Some of the subjects of my interviews were quite eccentric, offering fertile ground for characters. I’ve attended many car shows such as Pebble Beach, offering fabulous locales. Finally, I’ve poked through mansions with underground garages and found old cars sitting under dust for twenty years or more. I take some liberties with what I see, embellish things a bit, but I definitely write from experience.
Q. How did you choose the genre you write in?
A. I’ve always loved murder mysteries. I guess my interest began when I saw the movies The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. I love LA Noir.
Q. What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
A. Two things: First, the publishing business lives by conventions. Learn them and follow them. For instance, query letters to agents or publishers should follow the accepted format. The same goes for manuscripts. Almost every agent posts rules for submissions. Follow them. Submissions written in the wrong format will usually end up in the trash almost immediately.
Secondly, be persistent. I wrote about 100 query letters to agents before I was accepted by one. I started my book six years ago and rewrote it 22 times. I had lunch with a client some years back who was a well-known mountain climber. At the time he was the only living Canadian who had summited K2. He described his ascent over our meal. At one point he had to cross a ledge only inches wide with a deep crevasse below. About half way across his slipped and almost fell. He inched his way back and took deep breaths to get his heartbeat back to normal. He looked over the side and saw a body far below, an earlier climber who had undoubtedly slipped at the same spot and had fallen to his death. He considered the situation and then said to himself, “Nothing is going to stop me from climbing this mountain.” He crossed the ledge, reached the summit and made it back down alive. Writing isn’t quite that dramatic but it is the attitude I adopted for my book. I decided no matter how many setbacks I encountered, and I encountered many, nothing was going to stop me. Determination often overcomes raw talent.
Paul McNabb has written two monthly classic Jaguar columns for many years. He writes The McNabb Report for E-type Magazine www.e-typeclub.com and Letter From America for XK Gazette www.xkclub.com providing stories about interesting owners and classic cars. The magazines are published in England and distributed to 55 countries around the world. He lives on the central coast of California with his wife, Cathy, and their classic Jaguar, Lucille.
The Jaguar Conspiracy
After an early retirement, investigator Michael McAllister is content with photographing and writing articles about classic cars. By special invitation, he attends the prestigious Pebble Beach Car Show with his father’s antique Jaguar, a minted jewel previously owned by a celebrity. His retirement is cut short when he rescues a beautiful woman from a malicious murder attempt. Now on the case, he works with the San Francisco Police Department to eliminate the suspects and discover clues that lead him to not one, but two killers terrorizing San Francisco. McAllister finds himself face to face with one of the killers in a deadly duel of fate. Can the police arrive in time to stop yet another murder? Or will McAllister be the next victim?
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The Jaguar Conspiracy is available at a significant discount directly from Mitchell Morris and signed copies are available from a Jaguar parts supplier:
Mitchell Morris Publishing (Discount on paper back)
XKs Unlimited (Signed copies)