Andrew James MacKay is a British Conservative Party politician, and was the Member of Parliament for Bracknell in Berkshire from 1997 to 2010.
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My short bio: Andrew Mackay - international best-selling author. Creator of horror anthology series PURE DARK and Brit satire series IN THEIR SHOES. Please "upvote" this AMA if it has been of use for you. Thanks!
Full bio @ Amazon! Link: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Mackay/e/B01MDKTJ2Y/ref=series_rw_dp_un
Pure Dark (Horror Series) Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0756LXTPF/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
Versus (Crime/Thriller) Link: https://www.amazon.com/Versus-Controversial-Gripping-Thriller-Teenage-ebook/dp/B0743X43ST/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
In Their Shoes (Satire Series) Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071R2ZVBJ/ref=series_rw_dp_sw
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Hitchcock said, "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it" - do you find this to be true?
Also, what's your favorite sandwich and why?
Hitchcock is a massive influence for me. He was once asked "how do I make this conversation more interesting?" A dull scene between two people. And he replied "will you let me put a bomb under the table?"
Or something to that effect.
The story stands true. It's never the explosion that scares us. it's the build up. I find it to be 100% true. The same can be said of "the monster" in horror. take Jaws, for example. You don't see the beast till the end of the movie. If you see the monster early on, you get used to it and your brain and psyche has some time to deal with it. This is the reason a lot of horror nowadays doesn't work.
EDIT: Favourite sandwich. Bacon, lettuce and tomato. CHeese is a close 2nd.
Excellent answer, thanks! I work in, and teach, filmmaking. I'm always using Jaws as an example when we talk about building tension.
What a coincidence! So do I!
I used to be a teacher, but I tossed in the towel to become a full time writer. My first book, In Their Shoes: The Teacher is my kind of expunging of the profession. You might get a kick out of it.
You should also check out Roger Corman and especially Larry Cohen, as well. Both those filmmakers use the Hitchcock example and take it way further.
Please keep the questions coming! Love this!
What makes it "hardcore" horror ?
To me, the fact that it pulls no punches in any area. There are no boundaries and everything (and I do mean everything) is fair game. I think an author can get away with it when the context is of broken dreams, nightmares and a damaged brain. You'll see what I mean if/when you Pure Dark.
You mean like the Splatterpunk genre ?
Yes. I'm actually going to use that for my upcoming zombie trilogy later in the year "Splatterpunk". Seems about accurate to me lol
Although hardcore horror is, essentially, boundaryless. Limitless. As I said, everything's fair game.
(Reupload) Hi Andrew! I need help with a book I'm trying to write. Can you help?
Plot: Ok so it's about this explorer in a futuristic time period who stumbles upon an instrument that a civilization from the 5th or 6th dimension used to fold through time and space and he was able to travel anywhere in infinite universes similar to in Rick and Morty but the story deals with the dilemma of the end of human progress as in any timeline, anything could exist... meaning there's nothing left. It also deals with the idea that there could theoretically be a "true paradise", free of all bad things, for everyone in the world. This explorer has to hide the instrument from the government so that they don't use it to govern, invent everything, or restrict people of their freedom to go anywhere or do anything they so desire in the multiverse. In the end the government wins and they get ahold of the invention, using it to enforce rules on everyone and invent everything, leaving for no expanse in human civilization. The explorer travels to a universe where the instrument is discovered by him, but it can travel to not only other universes but other universes in the 8th dimension, where there are different physics and mechanics. He kills himself and seals off the passageway to this theoretical universe cluster and lives his normal life where things are beyond his perception.
It's a little bit confusing, but for the book I just don't know where to start. Do you think it's a good plot, how should I start it, and what perspective should I use?
Hi SuperHarrison! Wow, that's a lot of detail. Some of it is interesting and other parts less so. Don't forget, I write comedy, thriller and horror - so sci-fi/dystopian etc isn't really my forte.
Fear not, though, the basic rules are all the same!
I think two things are very important. If you adhere to them, you may find the clue on how to start it.
1: Make sure there are rules. The idea of a true paradise, to me, sound really boring lol. Anyway, establish the rules. If anything can happen at anytime to anyone for any reason then there's something wrong. Your audience will just get bored.
Imagine watching a baseball game where there are no rules. You get the picture. So, for example, this "device" he discovers. Maybe give it a disadvantage? Like, you can't use it on a Tuesday. I dunno.
2: Once you've sorted #1, you're half way to finding your starting point. My advice is this. Start with your main character and show him/her DO something (action) to demonstrate their character. So, if he is a good guy, show him rescuing a cat from a tree. Obviously don't do THAT exact example lol. That can be your first couple of pages. For a bit of tension, throw a challenge in his way. Say the tree trunk is about to break and there's no way he can climb up, so he invents a cool way of solving this particular issue.
In just one action, you show the good guy is A: nice, and B: resourceful.
Really good writing does two things:
1: Pushes the story forward
2: Pushes the character's journey along.
If you can do both at the same time - well done - you're a great writer!
I hope this helps!
Please keep the questions coming! I love talking with you guys!!
Sorry for the bombardment of plot ideas! Thanks so much for the help! I'll make sure to check out your books too. I know you write horror and thrillers but I need all the help I can get and this was perfect! I think as far as the disadvantage or handicap I'm gonna make it very hard to set where exactly to go which means he has to put time, dedication, and thought into where he goes next. I think I know where to start now. Thanks again!
No problem SuperHarrison! I would strongly suggest you check out a book on writing called "Story" by Robert McKee. It'll change your writing life - for the better. I hope I've been of help!
From first draft to final copy, how long was the process of writing your first book? How much of it was "writing" and how much was "editing"?
In your opinion/experience, what are the easiest parts of a story to write (such as action scenes, conversations, character's thoughts, etc)? Hardest parts to write?
How do you solve writer's block?
What's the weirdest thing you've ever done for writing?
1: (First book) Writing the first draft took 10 days. Editing, about a week with my editor and another couple days to refine.
2: You'd have thought the dialogue would be the easiest part. In a screenplay, for example, dialogue is WAY easier than description. For me, I think, the hardest part is trying to elucidate precisely what I am meant to convey. Sometimes you end up writing something a bit different. For example, "Darren walked into the barn. He knew his friend had a gun and he felt apprehensive. Would he kill him or not?" might come out as "Darren walked into the barn clutching his weapon. His friend was certain to attack him, but Darren was poised to strike first". I dunno why this happens, but it does. A good writer can write around problems like that. I enjoy writing dialogue the most, I think. I think it's a particular strong point. Maybe if you read some of my work you could let me know?
3: Writer's block. I never, ever, ever, ever get writer's block. I actually get the opposite. I write too much. Never stuck for something to write.
4: Weirdest thing I've ever done for writing? You mean the weirdest thing I've written? Hmm, in my latest book Pure Dark Vol 2, which is an anthology of short stories, there's a story called "Spunx". it's about a little girl's cat who's struck by a homophobic meteorite and is bitten by a rat. She turns into a very homphobic cat-monster with the voice of Alan Rickman, tries to fuck the father of the family and takes hostages in order to get a ransom demand for cheese. That's pretty weird. (It's also horrifying and somewhat funny, too!)
I hope I answered your questions okay! Please, keep them coming!
Thanks for the response, your answers were great! (The last one was especially interesting!) I do have some more questions:
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When you first started out your writing career, did you immediately know what genre(s) you'd be writing in, or did you experiment until you got everything figured out?
I've heard that some writers' work gets rejected by multiple publishers before they find the one willing to take the risk and publish them. Did that ever happen to you?
How do you get paid? I mean, does the publisher pay you after a certain number of copies get sold, or how does that work exactly?
What's an average workday for you?
1: I realised from a very early age I wanted to tell stories. I think I knew I was a writer when I was about 11 years old. A teacher gave us half of a story to complete. I went absolutely crazy with it!
2: Initially I wanted to create stories that were designed to shock, or get a reaction from the audience. That developed very quickly into satire. Satire is great because you can use any genre for it. Like a satirical horror (i.e. Pure Dark) or crime (Versus).
3: No, I've never been turned down by a publisher. The reason is simple - I never approached them! I'm a self published author. I'll always take a risk on myself ;)
4: You get paid monthly based on the royalties you've earned for the two months prior.
5: When I'm writing, in the middle of a first draft of a book, I'll be writing for anywhere between 4-8 hours. When I'm not writing, I'm usually daydreaming and smoking and drinking coffee lol or marketing and researching.
Hope this helps!
Hey! I Am currently writing an story. But I Have a problem; story structure. I ALWAYS Have a beginning, but I Don't know what to do in middle and end. I Can't think of a journey and end of that journey. What should I Do?
CloudSky - you are NOT alone. I know a lot of writers who know the beginning, but struggle with ending their story.
My advice is this. Just for the moment, forget the beginning and think about THE best way to end your story. The best resolution for your character. It could be something as silly as a location.
For exaple, in Pure Dark Vol 1 - I knew I wanted it to end in a laboratory with technicians working on serious test tubes and stuff. I didn't quite know how to end it, but the location got me started. Then, I knew I wanted all the characters to come back. I just sort of closed my eyes and played out the movie in my mind.
Try to think of your end like you're watching a movie.
For me, doing this pieces it all together. "Oh yes, he could chainsaw that character!" and "Oh, I love the idea of a virus getting into the cubicle!"
Never underestimate the power of just daydreaming. And do NOT be afraid to daydream "wrong". Go to a place where you won't be distracted. Maybe play some music. Put your characters at the end in a location that's f**kin' COOL. I promise... you'll get that ending very quickly!
Once you have the end, I guarantee that the middle will fall out of the sky and onto your lap.
Thanks for advice:) I'll try.
Good luck with it! :)
I always wanted to write and I have countless of ideas in my head, but I never really got around to properly start. Do you have any advice that would help me -- and anyone else facing this problem -- jumpstart this once and for all?
By far the best piece of advice I could give is this - just start writing. Also, be aware of your own expectations. The very first thing you ever write won't be brilliant. But that's sort of the point, so you may as well just jump that hurdle. You get better with each book.
I would write a short story first, maybe between 5-10k words, and throw it out there. Your family and friends will probably fluff you and tell you it's great. Try using the Wattpad service (Google it) and put it up for all to see. Get some feedback on it.
If you're serious about this, and I am sure you are, read Robert McKee's "Story". That's a great start.
Hope this helps!
Thank you for your answers and your time, I appreciate it!