Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome A.P. McGrath, author of A Burning In The Darkness, for an author Interview.
About the author:
AP was born and grew up in Ireland.
He now lives in London and works in TV. He is a single father with three beautiful teenage children.
He studied English and Philosophy and then post-graduate Film Studies.
A Burning in the Darkness is his first novel.
Hello, AP. Thank you for being here today.
Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?
My primary ambition was to write an intelligent page-turner, character-led novel. I believe I’ve achieved this, to some extent, judging by the feedback. The numbers are not enormous, but I believe them to be genuine and that counts for so much. Do I want to become a full-time writer? I have a creative, fulfilling job as a head of the camera department in TV drama. It’s not a job that I want to give up. But I majored in English Literature and Philosophy and I’ve always been a writer. I feel encouraged to continue writing.
Which writers inspire you?
I’m a big fan of WB Yeats’s poetry, though I am definitely not a poet. I love the richness and rhythm of the words and the tension between the beauty and tragedy of our world and the hope for perfection in the next – even if this is a forlorn hope. I’m also a big fan of George Elliot, the female Victorian novelist. I love the American crime writer James Elroy. He has been a special inspiration for me. I love the comic swagger and pantomime of Raymond Chandler. Like many people recently, I’ve re-read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and I’ve been reminded what a great book it is.
Tell us about your book?
What or who would you sacrifice everything for? This is a question at the heart of A Burning in the Darkness. Michael Kieh is a virtuous man who confronts the painful legacy of his war-torn childhood to make the world a better place. He is a full-time faith representative at one of the world’s busiest airports where he is falsely accused of murder. As a child, Michael was a witness to unspeakable horrors, but was protected from harm by a caring priest, so he knows the importance of the strong protecting the weak. But we all need a little selfishness to survive. And Michael certainly has a smattering of selfishness because he is not afraid to assert his need for love as a strong-willed lover. But the reader roots for Michael because he refuses to betray his higher ideals. I wanted the novel to justify Michael’s faith in putting the needs of others who cannot protect themselves before your own needs. It’s easy to talk the talk on this, but entirely different to walk the walk when you have to make a big sacrifice.
How long did it take you to write it?
Seven long years. Part time, of course. But I worked on it for at least two to three hours most days. I’m a bit flummoxed as to why it took so long.
Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?
I’m sketching out an idea for an historical novel set in 2nd century Greece. This is completely different to the setting of a busy modern airport in A Burning in the Darkness.
Why have you chosen this genre?
I wanted to write a page-turner and the crime thriller genre is ideal for this. I’s perfect for creating tension. The protagonist in A Burning in the Darkness has a real heart-breaking dilemma to solve, especially as he is falsely accused of murder. It’s not like a detective who arrives at a murder scene and must solve the crime because it is his or her job. Michael’s very survival is threatened by his profound dilemma.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’m sure it was decided for me by forces beyond my control. They struck before I was ten years old. I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
Why do you write?
The need to tell stories goes very deep in all of us. It’s an attempt to put a perspective on our lives and the world we live in.
Where do your ideas come from?
Interestingly, this is a question asked in the novel. In ancient times the answer might have been that ideas for stories and art come from the gods. But it’s a real mystery. In the novel the question is asked of revenge and love. Why does one person choose revenge and another love? How are those seeds planted? We can ask the question, but I’m not sure there’s a satisfactory answer.
How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?
I use a laptop computer and a pen and paper. I also use the note apps on my phone for quickly jotting down ideas.
What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?
This is a difficult question. It’s probably the case that my five favourite books re by my favourite authors. So, in no particular order:Middlemarch by George Elliot
- Middlemarch by George Elliot
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Wolf
- The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I take a break and hold onto the idea that it will pass.
What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?
Keep on writing. It takes a long time to produce a good novel. It’s a lot of hard work and you must be very self-critical of whilst holding onto the belief that you can produce a work that is worthwhile.
Thank you, AP, for all your interesting answers!
About The Book:
A murder at one of the world’s busiest airports opens this simmering crime story where a good man’s loyalty is tested to its limits. Michael Kieh is a full time faith representative serving the needs of some of the 80 million passengers, but circumstance and evidence point to his guilt. His struggle to prove his innocence leads him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge.
Michael’s loneliness was eased by a series of brief encounters with a soul mate. When she confides a dark secret, he is motivated to redress a heart-breaking injustice. Together they must battle against powerful forces as they edge dangerously close to unmasking a past crime. But Michael faces defeat when he chooses to protect a young witness, leaving him a burning spirit in the darkness.
Michael’s commitment to helping those in need was forged in the brutality of the Liberian civil war. Protected by a kind guardian, he too was a young witness to an atrocity that has left a haunting legacy of stolen justice and a lingering need for revenge. More poignantly there is a first love cruelly left behind in Africa because of the impossible choices of war. When Michael and his former lover find each other once again they become formidable allies in proving his innocence and rediscovering their lost love.
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