Creative Corner – Terrence McCauley
Meet: Terrence McCauley
He’s award-winning crime fiction author Terrence McCauley! A native of The Bronx, NY, his new novel, the techno-thriller Sympathy for the Devil, was published this summer by Polis Books. Terrence has 4 published novels to his credit, and numerous short stories. He has written in multiple genres, including crime fiction and westerns, and recently branched out into the sci-fi genre, publishing the first in a series of digital singles.
- Welcome, Terrence. Thanks for joining me here on Creative Corner. What should my readers know about you?
They should know that I’m a native New Yorker who writes short stories, novellas and novels. I’ve written in a variety of genres, such as westerns, science fiction, historical crime fiction and a modern-day technothriller. My latest novel, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL has just been released by Polis Books and I’m hard at work on the sequel A MURDER OF CROWS.
- What are the 3 words that best describe you?
Tenacious. Adaptable. Committed.
- Tell us about your work.
No matter what genre I might be writing in at the time, I always try to switch up the narrative. I read a lot of novels, so I see trends in plot and characterization. I do my best to avoid going down the same path as other writers. PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN may be crime thrillers set in 1930s New York, but there’s no place for the hats-n-gats stereotypes in either work. You also won’t find the pierced, inked-up hipster techy guy/gal in my techno-thriller SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, either. I try to walk a fine line where the audience can relate to my characters, but where I don’t pander to them. I believe audiences get bored if the work is too predictable, which is why I try something different with each of my works.
- Which piece of work are you most proud of?
I’m proud of them all because I try to take the genre in a different direction with each one. A year ago, I would have said I was proud of SLOW BURN because I wrote it in the first person narrative of a corrupt cop from PROHIBITION. It was the most rewarding experience of my writing career at the time. It has since been eclipsed by SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL. I sought to write an un-conventional thriller with characters you might not expect to see in a spy thriller. I also make sure the audience may not like all of the characters all the time, but ultimately root for them to succeed because they’re ultimately doing the right thing. They’re just not especially nice about it.
- What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?
I love reading and I love old movies. Documentaries are a particular weakness of mine. I also marvel at good photography and people who can play instruments. My grandfather used to play the piano in theaters during the silent movie era, so I have a particular admiration for pianists. My father was also a great illustrator in his own right, so I admire artists as well.
- Are you a publicity-lover, or publicity shy?
I try to walk a fine line. I love being around people. In fact, being around people gives me ideas for new stories and new characters. It’s important to let people know when I have a new story or book on the market, but it’s easy to become a pain in the ass about it, too. I believe that modest mice get eaten by the cat. We must make our own music or be deafened by the silence. But I believe that moderation counts in publicity and in other things, too.
- I love music, and I’m always interested in the musical tastes of my friends. Tell me your 3 favorite songs.
It’s one of those lists that constantly keeps changing. Right now, I’d say ‘Under the Influence’ by Elle King, ‘Til I Collapse’ by Eminem and ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash (originally by Nine Inch Nails) are right up there.
- What song best describes your life?
It’s a tie. ‘The Authority Song’ by John Mellencamp and ‘Lose Yourself’ again by Eminem. Both songs are about people who take a beating and don’t quit.
The Glamorous, Dangerous Romance Section:
- You are offered, free for one year, the use of either a customized, fully staffed jet (say a Bombardier Learjet 40XR), or a fully-staffed luxury yacht (perhaps a 150-foot vessel built by Palmer Johnson). Which do you choose?
Probably the Learjet because, with my luck, the yacht would have at least one person I couldn’t stand on it and I’d be trapped with them for days on end. The jet would probably give me more flexibility, which I’d enjoy.
- Fabulous! Where are we going?
I’ve never been to Europe, so that would be first. London, then Paris and Vienna. I’d also like to spend more time in this part of the world, too. I love California, especially Carmel and the wine regions up north.
- Who are we bringing with us?
The first trip wouldn’t have many people. Adventures, in my opinion, are best spent with the smallest number of people possible. Someone always wants to do one thing while the rest of the group wants to do another. The smaller the group, especially a first excursion to Europe, works best.
- I love to shop! And guess what? An eccentric billionaire has offered us his charge card for a day of shopping; with one caveat…we can only go to one store. Where are we going?
If we’re in London, I’d want to hit up one of the custom tailors they have in that city. I’ve got an odd shape, so it’s tough to find clothes that fit me as well as I’d like. A custom wardrobe is a nice way to start a trip.
- Which of the following soap operas most resembles your life: All My Children, Grey’s Anatomy, Dynasty or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?
Dynasty. Between working in the public sector and trying to make my way into publishing, I’ve seen it all. Catfights, curses, bruised egos and wars of words. All that’s missing are the shoulder pads, but I’m sure they’ll come back into fashion in time.
- Which celebrity would you most like to star with in a romantic movie?
Currently? Charlize Theron. She’s a fantastic actress and I think she’d do a great job with any kind of role she decided to tackle.
- The setting for this movie is a private island. Where is it located?
I was on an island once called Ilha Bella in Brazil. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Probably a private island over there, if possible, but I’d be open to suggestions.
- What do we find there?
If it’s near Ilha Bella, we’d find Brazilians. Believe me, they can be a very lively people. A couple of days there could make Dynasty and the Real Housewives franchises look like silent movies.
- Now comes the danger…This lover’s paradise has an unforeseen danger. What is it?
With my luck, tarantulas. I hate tarantulas and spiders in general. Any kinds of bug, too.
- Naturally, this danger imperils the love of your life. How do you save her?
By getting back on the plane and getting the hell out of there. We’d have to check our shoes first, though. Those damned things love crawling into shoes.
- If you were given $1,000,000 to donate to the charity of your choice, which one would you choose?
I’d probably use it to fund a creative writing endowment at my alma mater, Fordham University.
- If you could have your portrait painted by anyone, living or dead, which artist would you choose?
Edward Hopper. His work always captured the nature of something and let the audience fill in the blanks. A little mystery is good for the soul.
- What was the last concert you attended? Did you enjoy it?
I went to Pink’s Truth About Love concert a year or so ago. Great event and great performer. She’s got a wonderful voice and she put on a hell of a show.
- If offered the chance to live forever, would you?
Nope. Just long enough to finish all of the novels and stories I’d like to write. That’d probably take me to 150, which would be fine by me.
- Finish this sentence: In my next life, I’m coming back as a ___________________.
Kardashian. Never in the history of civilization has any family made more money for absolutely no reason as the Kardashian family. They’re marketing geniuses. I have to hand it to them on that score.
- If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing; and one thing only, what would it be?
Buy Apple stock.
- What is the one work of art you wish you had produced, and why?
I’ve been asked that question a couple of times. I don’t really feel jealousy over what people have done. I admire them for creating something I was able to admire and enjoy enough to remember. For example, I’d love to write a book as powerful, yet accessible as ‘The Harder They Fall’ by Budd Schulberg. That book was my first book hangover. I’d also love to be able to write a street description as good as Chandler did in ‘High Window’. In two paragraphs, I knew exactly where he was and who lived there and why.
- What is the one issue you feel most passionately about?
Being supportive of life in every sense of the word. Treating people like they’re human beings, not statistics or hindrances or something to be discarded. A lot of people feel marginalized and forgotten, maybe because they have been. I think people need to look up from their smartphones every once in a while and treat each other with a greater amount of respect and value. That’s a quality that has been missing from our society for a long time. We’re seeing the results of that philosophy right now every time we go online or open a newspaper. We’ve got to refocus on valuing people more. No one can pass a law to make that happen. No government agency will swoop down and make it all better. Looking out for each other starts with us.
- Everyone’s running for President these days, so why not you? Tell me your campaign slogan.
Too Dumb To Know When To Quit
The Personal Touch:
- You recently venture away from crime fiction to publish your first sci-fi work. How would you compare writing crime fiction to writing sci-fi?
The setting is different and the technology allows me to do some cool things I can’t do today, like writing about starships and wormholes and things like that. But ultimately, people are people whether it’s in a back alley in Hell’s Kitchen or in a prison cell on the moon. My heart will always be with crime fiction, but I also enjoy the challenge of changing genres.
- Which hero is most like you: Terry Quinn, Charlie Doherty, James Hicks or Space Marshall Kyle Mackey? Why?
I’d say the hero that most resembles me is Detective Charlie Doherty from PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN. Quinn’s a gunman who implements the change he wants to see in the world. Do what he says or he’ll throw you off a roof. James Hicks is a spy who has made a career of manipulating people into doing his bidding. Kyle Mackey is a hotshot who is every bit as good as he thinks he is. Unfortunately, his ego has stopped his career progression and he’s stuck in a dead end job.
That’s why I relate closer to Doherty. He’s probably the most everyman-like character I’ve ever created. He sees the world as it is and does his best to survive in it. He also manages to do some good along the way, which is the best any of us can do.
- If you were going to be trapped in one of your books for a month, which would you choose?
I’d probably enjoy being in PROHIBITION the most since 1930s New York is far removed from the modern day world of SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL. It would be a kick to see how New York was back then at a time when Prohibition was ending and the Great Depression was starting. I’d also enjoy seeing the Empire State Building being built.
- Do you think you’d survive?
The best way for me to survive would be to stay out of Quinn’s way!
- The heroine of my current WIP is a mystery writer. What do you think of her choice of mysteries in an historical setting with an aristocratic lady detective?
Back in 2008, I was told I was a fool for writing historical fiction because no one wanted to read it. Then Mad Men came along, followed by Boardwalk Empire and others. I thought then as I think now that there’s an audience for every kind of genre. I think your protagonist chose wisely!
- I love zombies! We’re about to be cast as characters on The Walking Dead. Who are we, and how do we survive?
I’m a big fan of zombie stories, too and of The Walking Dead in particular. It seems like the best way to stay alive in that show is to be armed and keep moving while staying out of everyone’s way. The humans in that show seem to be just as dangerous as the zombies.
- Inevitably, we run into Rick and his group. How does this meeting go?
Given Rick’s track record, I don’t think they’d be too welcoming. They don’t play well with others and for good reason.
- During my recent visit to New York City, you recommended 3 bards to me. Which one did you think I’d visit?
I recommended three fun bars I thought you’d like. Given that you’re a writer, I was hoping you’d visit The Blue Bar at the Algonquin. It’s got a great literary history and most writers get a kick out of it. It’s also one of the last authentic New York hotel bars around. Most have been replaced or are no longer in business, which is a shame.
- Were you surprised by my choice?
Nope. A good dive bar is always a great way to spend some time in New York, and it doesn’t get much better than Jimmy’s Corner. Sure, the place isn’t the most stylish, but the crowd is authentic and the people who work there are wonderful. Some of the best times I can’t remember have been at Jimmy’s.
Reach Out & Touch Someone:
- Where can my readers get more information on you?
My website is www.terrencemccauley.com
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
- What social media sites do you use? How can my readers follow you?
I’m on Facebook – Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/terrence.mccauley
- Where can my readers purchase your work?
My work is available in all formats everywhere. Amazon, BN, Kobo, and at all fine bookstores everywhere, including IndieBound. If your store doesn’t carry my book, ask them to.
Thank you so much for joining me, Terrence! Best Wishes on all your future endeavors!!