Hey, it's Monday again! Pour yourself a cup of coffee - or your drink of choice - pull up a chair, and let's get down to another author interview! Today we have Bob McGough joining me.
Born and raised in South Alabama, Bob picks up hitchhikers with reckless abandon, once skinny-dipped at a wedding, and is an Eagle Scout. He has two useless college degrees, has roadied for a band, and broke his wrist in a wall of death at a Divine Heresy show. He once licked the Wailing Wall, shook hands with Glenn Danzig, and is owed a fair ride by a carnival worker.
He’s written for video games, designed board games, and owns an almost disturbing number of roleplaying games. He’s given a camel a coke in Israel, got flashed in Paris, and watched a monkey steal a man’s wallet in Costa Rica. He’s made passible podcasts, filmed terrible short horror movies, and been the producer on a trio of albums. He’s worked and written for musical acts ranging from Upchurch the Redneck to Stitches.
He runs a non-profit, thrives on the groans of those he has punned around, and spends far too much time nervously laughing. He once dug up a dead cow in a creek thinking it was a human cadaver, has a cousin that’s a water witch, and used to give haunted ghost tours (even though he’s pretty sure ghosts aren’t real). He’s been stalked, gave a Prophet a lift, and been stagger drunk in more states than he would care to admit.
More relevant he wrote this book, some other books, and has been published by a number of other folks with questionable judgment. The fictional thing s he writes sometimes come weirdly true.
He lives in the middle of Alabama with his amazing LadyFriend, the Kiddo, and a pair of portly cats. You can keep up with all his many projects at www.talesbybob.com or support him (and get sneak peaks and background material about the world of Jubal County) at www.patreon.com/talesbybob
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
For my Jubal County Saga, I am from the county that I based Jubal County on. So while there are not pooka, satyrs, and possum familiars running around my home county (I think), it is a dirt poor backwater for the most part. So I have been able to draw on some real life experiences there. As for the rest of my books… I play a lot of ttrpgs, and have been building worlds and games for decades now. I guess it just comes naturally at this point.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
In my younger, less responsible days I wrote 25-30k words a month fairly consistently. These days I shoot for 500 words a day, and make it most days. That usually only takes 15-30 minutes at most, and I can almost always find that much free time in a day.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is going to sound a bit out there, but sometimes the things I write come true. Now to be clear, I don’t believe I am writing these things into existence or anything…but there have been some very odd coincidences over the years. For example, a main character in a collection of steampunk short stories I wrote (a nurse) shares the exact same first and last name as my LadyFriend (a nurse). I wrote those stories years before meeting her, and in fact had forgotten I had done so until I sent her a copy of the collection to read. She was a bit weirded out, thinking I had done that on purpose, and I had to explain that it was just another one of those weird occurrences.
What does your family think of your writing?
They have always been very supportive. I come from a family of readers, so they get it, and are always the first ones lining up to buy my new books. Even if it’s something they wouldn’t normally read. I’m a lucky man.
Do you like to create books for adults?
I do. Children are these strange, unfathomable creatures that I’m still not fully certain are human. As such, I feel uncomfortable trying to write things for them. My attempts at leaving quirky letters from the ‘elf on the shelf’ for my LadyFriends daughter ended with the Kiddo in tears one night. So… I stick to what I know. And that clearly isn’t children.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Outside of going to conventions (which totally count in my mind), I live near the town where the Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum is located. I went to a murder mystery night event there not long ago, and had a blast. I was Dr. Buford the Proctologist (I didn’t pick that, it was ass-igned to me).
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
If I wanted to write something to appeal to the majority of readers, I don’t think I would be writing a series about a drug-addled, redneck wizard! That said, there are readers out there who that sort of book is catnip for. So I just write what books I would want to read, and just trust that there are enough other weirdos out there to make it all worth it!
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
The Jubal County Saga, my ‘rural’ urban fantasy world, will eventually have a number of interconnected works. The Redemption of Howard Marsh series is the first, but there are short story collections and ideas for other tales and times in that world planned. When it comes to my, as yet, unpublished fantasy works, they are all mostly interconnected through a shared world/mythos that stretches hundreds of years. By spacing them so far apart it allows me to write different types of novels ranging from more trad fantasy, to grimdark, to flintlock fantasy, all in the same space.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Paying an editor! No questions asked. As a writer, I am always too close to my projects. I have to have a second set of eyes on my stuff, and paying someone I don’t know removes that ‘friends being nice to you’ element.
What did you do with your first advance?
Never gotten an advance, but my first royalty check was for just over four dollars. Needless to say, I did not book the cruise! At that time in my life I am pretty sure I would have used it to buy some booze,
though I don’t remember specifically (ahh, college).
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Oh geez. Two grimdark novels, one horror novel, five book length collections of short stories (southern horror, southern gothic, fantasy, dark…romance?, and steampunk) are written, and the next two books in my Jubal County Saga are each half written.
What does literary success look like to you?
When I was young and dumb, it was to be traditionally published. Now it's for my books to afford me a little extra happiness. That may take the form of getting to go to conventions and be on panels, or earn me enough hustle money to go take a nice vacation every once in a while with my LadyFriend. That said… any trad publishers reading looking to take a risk?
What’s the best way to market your books?
I have had my most luck either chatting to folks at a convention/being on a panel, or on places like reddit/facebook groups. Being in spaces and adding value to them, not just constantly shilling, has given me my most success.
What do you have coming next?
Since book three just came out a couple of days ago, this year the goal is to put out books 4 and 5 in my Jubal County Saga. I also plan to put out at least one other book if the budget will allow (good editors are pricey)… but I haven’t decided on just what yet. Most likely, it will be a collection of short stories, but who knows.