Today I am very excited to welcome both Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov to Joyfully Jay! They are here to talk to us more about their new joint Riptide release, Country Mouse. I just loved this one (see review). Amy and Aleks are also offering a great giveaway so check out the details at the end of the post.
First up, Amy has a interview with the book’s main characters, Malcolm and Owen. I loved both these guys (but I will admit to a bit of extra swooning over Owen). After that, Aleks is here to share a little bit more about what makes Malcolm the guy he is.
So first let’s welcome to Amy, Owen, and Malcolm!
Me: Hi! So I’m here, inside my own head, interviewing Malcolm and Owen from my new release with Aleksandr Voinov. The boys are in fine form, happy and ready to chat, and I’m sure this will be nothing like the last time I interviewed a character, when Mikhail completely took over.
Malcolm: (Malcolm is wearing a very sharp gray suit with brown wingtips, and a bored expression.) You let a character take over your interview? Charming.
Me: He, uhm, was unhappy with the way I let his lover suffer during their story.
Malcolm: I’m not thrilled about it either, pet. You think you could have—
Owen: (Owen is wearing jeans, a scarf, a hooded sweatshirt, and a gray stocking cap. He’s looking casual and relaxed, and thank the stars, happy to see me!) Give me a break, Mal—you didn’t suffer!
Malcolm: Self-discovery is an uncomfortable emotion for me.
Owen: (Rolls his eyes.) You’re telling me! (He softens the sarcasm with a kiss on Mal’s cheek, and Malcolm’s pale blue eyes are suddenly demurely downcast.) You did fine, Amy. We were really pleased with the ending.
Me: (Blushing.) Really? It was satisfactory?
Malcolm: (Dryly.) Several times.
Me and Owen: Heh heh heh heh heh
Me: Seriously, guys. I think people are going to want to know what’s going to happen next!
Malcolm: Personal much? Tell them to mind their own bloody business!
Me: You weren’t so frickin’ virginal when you two first hooked up! But that’s not what I’m talking about! I’m talking about how you and Owen are going to get along after the close of the book!
Owen: (Looking a little troubled.) Yeah, that’s going to be rough. I’m going to have to make a living in a strange country—I’m going to need some help with that!
Malcolm: (Looking panicked.) Well, you can’t expect help from me! I’ve got a sixty hour workweek, mate! I’m not going to be in any shape to help you along!
Owen: (Grimacing.) Awesome. It’ll be like being deserted in that crappy little pub all over again!
Malcolm: (As if sensing trouble.) Uhm, Owen? Could we maybe… you know…
Owen: Talk about this somewhere else? Yeah. I think we’d better.
Both the boys look apologetically at me, and I sigh.
Me: By all means, guys—go somewhere and talk. Aleks and I will be waiting to see how you resolve this situation.
Malcolm: Waiting? You two had better well be writing us the hell out of it! I didn’t go through all of that just to have this whole thing go belly up at the last fucking gasp!
Malcolm: Seriously! What kind of writer are you, letting us hash this out ourselves! Fucking Jesus, first you pry into our sex lives with a colon-scope and then you—
Malcolm: –just fucking abandon us when we need some bloody help! I get more humanity on the securities floor you angst-sucking—
Owen: Mal, I know these guys. I’ve seen what they do to other characters—it’s not pretty. Maybe we should just, you know, leave them alone for a little and see if maybe we get a few more happy endings, you think?
Malcolm: (Looks a little startled.) Yeah. Uhm… (Looks me over to see if I’m all that dangerous. I smile sweetly back.) Sorry about all that. You know. Didn’t mean to overstep. (He grabs Owen’s hand possessively.) I just get a little excited where he’s concerned, you understand.
Me: Oh, absolutely. You two go on your way. Maybe stop and have a chat with Aleks. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. I’ll just be here. Looking at your pictures on the cover. You know. Writing.
Owen: (Whispering.) Oh Jesus, Malcolm. You know? For once you could have kept your big bad mouth shut—
Malcolm: (Also whispering.) Hush, mate. She’s still looking at us. Come on, let’s go find that Aleks’ bloke. He might have some mercy. She’s looking downright evil… c’mon, hurry. Maybe she’ll forget about us if we run off page.
Me: Bye guys! Hurry back! (To you nice folks out there.) Well, that was shorter than I expected. I may need to buzz Aleks and see what’s cooking with those two. Although, (insert evil smile here) I do have a few ideas of my own, as well. What can we do when we get together next?
And now that Owen and Malcolm are safety gone, let’s welcome Aleks while he tells us a bit more about our guy Malcolm…
While Amy and I did share the characters and so it’s not completely clear-cut who wrote which character, I guess I can’t deny that Malcolm in Country Mouse is more “my” character.
For a long time, I’ve had a fascination with City boys. I was a financial journalist for about four years and have encountered a number of pretty colourful people. The banker who invited me to his private club for an interview and just waved at the bartender to put our drinks on his tab (the place had a huge flatscreen running sports at half past eight in the morning, wood panelling and antique furniture); the corporate lawyer who spoke of sleeping under his desk the night before the deal was finalized and shaving on the office toilet; the financial investor who, without a hint of irony, called himself a “master of the universe” (this was pre-2008/9, when all his deals exploded).
There’s something about that ego and brashness that I find fascinating. Many of these people are charming and draw you in. For a while, you believe you are inhabiting their world – then they casually drop a mention of their yacht or jet or owning a place on the Maledives, and you realize in their world you’re just a peon.
So, big egos, big numbers, big paycheques and generally a totally different world. As a journalist I resolved two things: one – I can only get their life if I accept it has very little to do with my life, and two – in order to achieve their positions, they have to be a certain type. Extremely smart, extremely hard-working, and they sacrificed a great deal to get where they were when I interviewed them. Family life. Hobbies. Hell, even sleeping in. There’s this saying in investment banking – and I borrowed it for Malcolm – that there’s an unspoken deal: You give the bank the ten best years of your life, and in return, you walk away with a few million in the pocket.
Obviously, with the crisis and all, nothing is quite as casual and clear-cut as it was. For one, bankers (or “banksters”, as the media used to call them) are now almost as dirty as serial killers. They did sink the economy, after all. And I bet the guys I talked to – if they still have jobs, because many don’t, some retired, others changed careers, like the senior banker I met in Germany one evening, who is now helping his father run his transportation company – I bet they are genuinely hurt by the bad press. Also, their bonuses have been cut. Some made very little money (by their standards – normal mortals can’t dream of six-figure bonuses – but if you’re used to seven figures and were “banking” on it, I bet that grates).
What I’m saying is – all the brash and ego I encountered can’t disguise that I really liked some of those people. It also doesn’t disguise that they made a deal with the devil. Ten years of your life for a few millions and financial security. Since none of us really knows how many years we have to spend, I always figured it’s a risky proposition at best, and if the devil gave me the same choice, I likely wouldn’t take that offer. (It would mean ten years of not writing and sacrificing everything else, too). Now, there’s an idea for a story – the Devil and the Banker.
But yeah, that’s at the heart of Malcolm. Here’s a financial guy who suddenly realized that, hey, stop, his life’s on autopilot and there are Other Things out there he could do. Have a relationship, hobbies, a personal life – what an outrageous idea.
Owen may be a bit of a country mouse, but he’s loving his vacation in London. After a long day playing tourist, he’s on the hunt for some cheap beer and a good burger. Instead he finds a man hunting him, an arrogant prick with only one thing on the brain: the kind of meat that doesn’t come on a bun.
You can find Aleks online on Twitter where he tweets as @vashtan. His blog is at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com/, his website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com/, and if you want to join his Goodreads forum, you can find it here: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/38618.