Friday, 8 February 2019

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH OWEN MULLEN

Owen Mullen is next up in the firing line answering a few questions on his reading and writing habits.






















Out of the Silence was read and enjoyed recently. In Harm's Way entertained last year.


Can you give us a quick biography of yourself? 

Owen Mullen is a critically acclaimed and best selling author.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm's Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series' were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is an epic revenge thriller set in Pakistan.

Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job? 

Definitely full time.

Your latest work and the one I’m currently reading – Out of the Silence (long done now) – seems a bit of a departure, setting-wise at least from your previous five books, can you pitch it to potential readers in a short paragraph?

Out Of The Silence is different to everything else I have written: it was an incredible book to write and I hope the reader can see it through my eyes.
Told from the perspective of investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan, It is essentially a murder mystery thriller that takes us into the culture of Pakistan.

How long from conception to completion did Out of the Silence take? What was the spark or germ of imagination that set you on the road with this particular tale?

The actual writing took about five months but the idea was planted several  years before after Christine and I had watched a documentary on the difficulties for women in Pakistan - it was a strong piece and stayed with me. Several years later on a trip to neighbouring India and a visit to the Thar dessert region
We saw a young woman selling salt, she raised her head as we came towards her and Afra was born. The story came to life in my head at that moment.

Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way? 

One difficultly I had was keeping all the suspects live while switching POVs. My ambition was to keep the reader guessing until the very last page. I failed. The murderer is revealed a couple of pages from the end. So it was a good try.

Did it end up being the book you anticipated at the start of the process?

Absolutely, although it has been re-written and edited many times as I attempted to tell a complex story in a simple way.

I read and enjoyed In Harm’s Way last year, which leaves four that I have missed so far. Can you tell us a bit about these other works, three of which form a series with main character PI Charlie Cameron?

Out Of The Silence proved to be a very difficult idea to sell to publishers: although they loved it they believed it crossed genres; a marketeers nightmare. Delaney was another difficult project too, because I'm not American I eventually decided to write something set in Scotland and Charlie Cameron came into my life. I absolutely didn't want to write a detective that is so common nowadays: jaded, at odds with authority and broken.  I wanted Charlie to be different and he is - a complete character. We get to see his whole life not just the cases he's on. Charlie's a real guy, as are his counterparts Pat Logue, DS Andrew Geddes and Jackie Mallon: you could bump into them quite easily in Glasgow. Although the series deals with serious crimes there is a lot of humour - anyone who has spent time in Glasgow will understand what an intrinsic part of the culture it is.




Any scope for more Charlie tales, or are his cases all solved and his race run?

I'm planning another Charlie Cameron story for further down the line. Actually, half of it is already written.
Can't say more or I'd have to kill you.

Is there one of your books which you are most proud of? Which would you press into the hands of a new reader first?

Out Of The Silence is definitely the baby, so if you only have time for one then this is it.

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct a story – do you know what the end result is going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I always try to have the beginning and the ending - that just leaves that pesky bit in the middle. I am right in the middle of plotting and making it up.

What can we look forward to next? Any hints on the current work in progress?

I'm currently working on a follow up to In Harm's Way. We meet the main character five years down the line and life is still throwing challenges at her.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Being long-listed for the McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year - standing in the Great Hall of Stirling Castle with the top names from Scottish crime fiction isn't something you forget easily. I've attached a picture.



Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Yes one that isn't quite finished but that I'm very excited about.

Any advice for prospective authors out there?

Be lucky or keep going till you are.

What’s the best thing about writing?

When you've done the last edit, printed it out and it's sitting perfectly pristine with your name under the title.

The worst?

The way it swallows your life whole.

Who do you read and enjoy? Is there anyone I should be reading who has snuck under my radar?


Arthur Conan Doyle,  James Lee Burke and too many others to mention. My tastes change every few years.

Favourite activity when not working or writing? 

Travelling to far away places with strange sounding names.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Mullen household?

Love BBC dramas and good American ones, when they stick to drama like Homeland. Also watch quite a few foreign series.

In a couple of years’ time.....

As Cal Moreland from And So It Began says, "Who knows where the road goes?"
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Many thanks to Owen for his time.

You can catch him at the following haunts.....

bit.ly/YouTube-OwenMullen

7 comments:

  1. Interesting interview, for which thanks, both. I love that piece of advice: be lucky or keep going until you are. Well put. And the Pakistan setting for the new novel is intriguing. Wishing you much success.

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  2. Yet another fine interview: many thanks, both.

    Still can't work out who's OM in the Stirling Castle photo!

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    1. Cheers.

      He's over Val McDermid's right shoulder. He's one of only 3 I could name.

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  3. Col, I'll be reading OUT OF THE SILENCE not least because of the setting. Thanks for yet another fine interview.

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    1. Cheers Prashant, I hope you enjoy when you get to it.

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