It gives me great pleasure to welcome Author George McVey to The Book Corner. I’m honored that he took time out from his work, which includes writing several new books to do an interview with me. This interview also marks a first for the blog, it is the first time I’ve had a male author on! All of the featured interviews prior to this one have been with female authors, therefore it’s a real treat to have George on. We get to see a different side of the writing world! ;) So without further ado, let’s get down to business!
Me- Hello George! I’m so excited to have you on the blog. To get things started, can you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
George- I was born in the town I live in now Charleston, West Virginia, as a matter of fact I live 4 blocks from the hospital I was born in. I was raised in a town about 20 miles from where I was born called Dunbar, West Virginia.
Me- Oh that’s cool! I just had a John Denver moment when I saw “West Virginia”. ;) I was born and raised in NY. I was born in Albany, which is about an hour south of where I grew up. I’ve lived in the same place for 25 years now and the major reason for that is that I’m just a homebody. I love the land I live on and I love the mountains, they’re my favorite thing about NY. We camp in the Adirondacks every summer. :) What’s your favorite thing about where you live, do you have a favorite spot or activity?
George- What I love about where I live is that while I’m in the heart of our capitol city there are woods and forests within walking distance. One of my favorite places is our Town Center Mall. It is a great place to go and watch people and gather character and physical traits that help me create characters in my novels.
Me- That’s actually a genius way of developing characters. I’m ashamed to say that I would have never thought about doing that.
As a writer myself, and one who has always loved the craft, I like to ask authors whether they’ve always loved to write or if they developed the passion over time?
George- I haven’t always loved to write. However, I have loved to tell stories since I was small. My mother has a recording of me at three telling her a story about how I was going to be put in a cage at the circus and become a circus act of the boy who was wild as a lion.
Me- Wow, that’s imaginative! When did you first start turning those stories into writing form and producing novels?
George- I wrote my first novel in 2011 but I didn’t publish it until 2012.
Me- Was there a particular reason for the delay in publishing? (If you don’t mind me asking!)
George- Honestly it took me that long to decided to publish a fiction book. I wrote it to get it out of my head. I never imagined anyone would want to read it. Then my wife showed it to her mother and my mother-in-law kept telling people they needed to read it. Eventually they wore me down and I published it.
Me- You said you didn’t always have the passion for writing, so how did you get started as an author?
George- I was talking with a pastor friend in a Hindu country about prayer walking. He asked me to send him notes on how to do it so he could teach it to his church. I started writing what I thought was an email and 10,000 words later realized what I had was a book not an email. I wrote my first book “Prayerwalking for Spiritual Breakthrough” in 7 days in response to that request. My second book was a novel based on a dream I had and became “Rise of the Champion.” I haven’t looked back since then.
Me- Wow, that’s interesting! It’s such a unique way to get started. It just goes to prove that God works in mysterious ways.
So how many books have you written so far?
George- According to Amazon I have Twenty-three books published so far and I’m working on eight more before the end of the 2017. So if all goes according to plan I should have thirty-one published books by year’s end.
Me- As a writer and an avid reader, I’m always interested in others’ writing processes. Can you tell me a bit about yours? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
George- I am what I like to call a planster. By that I mean I’m a cross between a plotter and a panster. I plot out the big things but let the story write itself around that major plot point or points. I do have music that I listen to when I write. I use a lot of Focus at Will music to help me speed up my word count. I also have a western writing song list I play when working on a historical old west tale. I listen to Blues when writing romance if I’m not listening to focal music. I write overnight. I usually start around midnight and write till six thirty or seven in the morning. It’s quiet then and I am not interrupted by family or friends when I’m in the writing groove.
Me- I love asking authors that question because I never get the same answer. :)
As someone who has always loved to read, I’m always interested to learn if that’s the same for other writers. Have you always loved reading or did you develop the passion for it over time?
George- I’ve loved reading since I could read. I won a distinct award in both middle and high school as the only person to have read every book in both school library’s I was well on my way to having done the same thing in our little town library when I moved away for a while. I still read like that. It’s not unusual for me to read close to fifty books a month.
Me- Holy moly! That’s extremely impressive! Here I thought I read a lot. ;)
With that in mind, I’m sure my next question might be rather difficult to answer, but I’ll ask any way. What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
George- There are too many to name just one. Because I read so much I will just say that even when I’m reading for pleasure I learn something from each author whose book I read. Sometimes it things I want to do and improve on, sometimes it things I don’t want to write about or write with.
Me- That’s true.
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
George- Again because I read so much I have too many to list. So let me give you an incomplete list. All the authors at the Pioneer Hearts Group, the Sweet Wild West Reads Group, the Contemporary Western Readers group, and the Christian Indie Author Networks Readers Group, which all can be found on Facebook. Hold but a few of my authors.
Me- What are you currently reading? Any recommendations?
George- Currently I’m reading the Rivers End Ranch series by multiple authors and Shanna Hatfield’s Rodeo Cowboy series. I would also suggest the Grass Valley series by her and just about anything by one of the authors listed in the Facebook groups I mentioned earlier.
Me- I’ve been digging into your work and it looks like you have a mixed bag as far as genres go. How many genres have you written under?
George- Let’s see there’s Western, Western Romance, Mail Order Bride Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary Christian Romance, Nonfiction and now Contemporary Sweet main stream Romance. I also have a couple holiday and short story books that have some political thrillers and sci-fi. So how many genres is that? Ten if I counted right.
Me- Wow! That’s a lot of genres! Do you have one that you prefer over the others?
George- Don’t tell anyone but I think the romance genres are my favorite, closely followed by my Westerns.
Me- Lol I don’t blame you, those happen to my favorites as well. ;) What about each genre/sub-genre interests you? What draws you to each?
George- Back when I was thinking of writing someone told me write the stories you want to read but can’t find. That’s what I do in each genre. I explore the stories I want to read so that for just a little while I can live that life. I think that’s why my readers say my characters seem so real because to me each of them are real.
Me- Can we talk about your book “Marshall, Texas Ranger”? That was my introduction to your work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My entry into fiction was actually stone-cold westerns (no romance or anything, just a strict western a la L’Amour & Kelton), so this book was right up my alley (not that I don’t enjoy historical/western romances as well!).
Can you tell me how you came up with this storyline?
George- It was a combination of things really. I was watching Elementary on TV and thought wouldn’t it be neat if someone did a Sherlock homes type character in the old west.
Me- That was a brilliant idea, because it really works well in the western setting and it’s different, which makes it a unique book. What was the inspiration?
George- The TV show Monk, with this great detective who has one case he just can’t solve, his own. In Monk he wants to know who killed his wife. So I had that thought what if the greatest detective of his time couldn’t solve his own case but could solve everyone else’s. That thought consumed me and became “Marshall, Texas Ranger.”
Me- That’s actually really cool. I use to watch Monk all the time when it was on and it was fascinating. So the character of Marshall is inspired by both Sherlock Holmes and Adrian Monk, but the bigger question is, who is the inspiration for Mrs. Eva Little? She plays a large role in the book AND the dedication in the beginning of the book tells us that she’s based on a real person. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
George- Mrs. Eva Little is inspired by a real life fan. My first super fan. In real life Mrs. Little is 99 years old (she’ll be 100 in July) she had her daughter contact me way back during Redeeming Reputation and has been a faithful fan of mine since. For her 99th birthday I wanted to make her a character in my book, so I did.
Me- That is truly amazing and so incredibly sweet! Imagine being able to say an author put you in a book! ;)
Speaking of characters, is the character of Captain Hayes based on the legendary Texas Ranger Captain Jack Coffee Hays?
George- Yes, he is. There are documents that show his name spelled both ways I chose the Hayes version. But he was Captain of A company based out of Austin for a while so it was fun to mention him.
Me- I thought I remembered his name from my own research on the Texas Rangers. :)
I enjoyed the plot to this story because I can usually pick up on who done it and how it’s going to end long before the author tells the reader, but with this book I couldn’t! I also enjoyed the “name-drops” in this book, particularly John Wayne’s and CD Parker (From Walker, Texas Ranger).
George- I’m glad you liked them. The name drop Easter eggs are a specialty of mine. I try to put one or two real life cowboys or TV/movie cowboys in each of my westerns. You picked up on the two big ones in Marshall. The other was each Ranger listed was a real ranger, with the exception of C.D. The governor was really the governor of Texas at the time the book is set in.
Me- Oh wow, I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that! I like that, the use of real-life rangers makes the story feel even more authentic. I also enjoyed your attention to detail with both the history and when you were talking about the guns and cleaning tools. Fun note: I have to say, every time I read the name Brownsville the song “Delta Dawn” went through my head. Have you ever heard the song?
George- I hadn’t until I started working on this interview. I chose Brownsville because it was the very last battle of the Civil War, which helped me set up the plot.
Me- I’m wondering if this will be a series, are there any more books about Marshall coming?
George- Yes, this will be a series but not a fast series. I plan to release one book a year. Next year is “The Cases of the Ghost Riders”.
Me- Yay! I’m so happy to hear that! I don’t mind waiting as long as I know that more books will be coming. ;)
I’m currently working through the second book in your Mail Order Bride series. The Mail Order theme is an extremely popular one and one that’s been done extensively, yet you managed to come up with two original stories to add to the theme, which is impressive. What inspired you to toss your hat into that ring?
George- I got asked to read a couple Mail Order Bride Stories for review purposes and as I was reading I kept thinking they were all the same. Which caused me to do some research, by that I mean read over two thousand MOB books. I kept thinking I could do a Mail Order Bride story that wasn’t same old same old. So I sat down and came up with an idea, which lead to several more ideas. Thus the series with books I hope are all going to be different than the normal Mail Order bride books.
Me- That is true though. So often we find ourselves reading book after book that has the same plotline to it. I think it makes us appreciate the original and unique ones even more.
Can you tell me a bit about the story (or stories) you’re currently working on?
George- Well that would take more time than we have. Let me say this I have ten more books coming out in 2017 and already have six scheduled for 2018 with more ideas that I haven’t started yet. My next book out is Java Muse book two of the Multi Author series Java Cupid. It comes out June 12. It’s my first attempt at secular sweet romance and is a tiny bit steamier than my Christian romance books but still sweet, just Pg13 instead of Pg. That’s followed by the third Mail Order Bride book, Her Quiet Nurturer which comes out July 14th. That’s Glenn’s chance at redemption with a new bride that we’ve already met. Then I have two more books in the Java Cupid Series and I’m involved in another Secular Multi Author Project called Phantom Horse Bridge and I have three of those to release this year. Add to that, Redeeming family and a companion book for teens and young adults called Cindy Ryder: Girl Detective, and a short story book for Christmas again. So, as you can see I’m busy as a one legged man in a butt kickin’ contest.
Me- Hahaha wow! You’re a busy man. That’s an incredible work load.
One thing that has struck me when reading your books, and has obviously struck your other readers, is the fact that you’re actually a romantic. I’ve heard a lot of women say that they won’t read a “romance” book by a man because men can’t write romance, but I would have to disagree and say their loss because they’re clearly missing out. I would also point out that they’re the same ones who get upset with men who say they won’t read westerns/action books by women… Have you always known that you write romance or was that unintentional at first?
George- No, I haven’t. When I wrote Redeeming Reputation people were calling it a western romance and I was upset. “I don’t write romance,” I told them. Then I wrote Rise of the Champion and the next two Redemption books. All the while telling people I didn’t write romance, I wrote westerns and fantasy with some romantic scenes. Then much to my dismay Redeeming Grace was nominated for a Indie Romance Conference’s Best book of 2014 and Best Western Romance of 2014. I took second place and I didn’t even submit it, I don’t know who did. Still I told everyone I don’t write romance. I just surrendered last year and admitted that I do in fact write romance books.
Me- Do you see yourself as a romantic or is that something you have to come to terms with too?
George- Yes, I’ve always been a romantic, ever since my first crush in Kindergarten. When other little boys were mean to the girls they were attracted to, I took extra snacks and picked wild flowers for mine.
Me- Aw! That’s adorable!
Not many men can write romantic stories, but yet it seems to come natural to you. How do you get in the headspace to write those scenes?
George- I just let myself admit to the feelings most men ignore. Yes we see things differently and if I’m struggling to see the romance in a book from the female side I do what I do in real life. I get advice from my wife and other females to make sure I’m doing it right. But honestly all my male romance characters are patterned after my rule of romance. Give more than you get. Give more love, more passion, more pleasure. If you do then as a man what I need out of a romantic encounter will be a given. It isn’t hard it just takes putting your partner’s wants, need, and turn-ons first.
Me- That’s beautiful.
You have developed a working relationship with Sophie Dawson, who has become your writing partner. Can you tell us how that came about?
George- My partnership, heck even my friendship with Sophie should have never happened. We met six years ago on a Christian Authors critique forum. She was working on Healing Love and I was working on Redeeming Reputation. She shared a scene from Healing Love in which Pastor Lendry counsels the main characters to marry to head off rumors. As a pastor that upset me and as a mountaineer I often forget to be tactful so I told her, “That’s the stupidest advice ever. No real pastor would suggest that as the first advice.”
She should have been mad and never talked to me but instead she asked me “then what advice would a real pastor give?” We became friends at that moment and often ran our work past each other for help. A couple years later we realized that two of our characters were related to each other and wrote a book combining her Cottonwood Series to my Redemption Tales Series. We’ve borrow those same characters from each other ever since. And that is how we got together. She really is the Aggie to my Nate. We’re siblings of the heart.
Me- Wow, that’s hilarious and fantastic how it all worked out. I think it’s important to have friends and co-workers who can take our criticism and advice.
One question I love to ask authors is: If you had to pick a favorite character from one of your works who would it be and why?
George- This is a hard question for me to answer Liz. To be honest I love all my characters but my absolute favorite has to be Nugget Nate Ryder. He’s a little bit me and a whole lot my ancestors. Plus he’s the most fun to write for because I never know what he’s going to do.
Me- Nate struck me as an interesting character when I was reading “Marshall, Texas Ranger”, one I’d be interested in getting to know better. Will there be a story for Nate?
George- Nate has a short story collection out called Nugget Nate: The Holiday Adventures. There are also several appearances by him and his wife Penny in Sophie Dawson’s Stones Creek series as well as Giving Love also by Sophie. I have plans for another short story book of Nugget Nate stories but till then you can find several of them on my blog https://georgesshorts.wordpress.com/ Also next year I plan to release a novel called Nugget Nate: Why A Good Man Goes To War. It will be the story of how Nugget Nate and Penny Ryder meet and marry and fall in love.
Me- Yay! I’m so glad to hear that! I look forward to them all, and I’ll definitely check out The Holiday Adventures!
Another question I like to ask is: Which of your characters is most like yourself?
George- Probably Tal from Rise of the Champion. I love getting to be on the adventure that God placed me on. Even now, that I can’t preach or prayer-walk due to health reasons, I still get to see God work through connections online and through my Christian teaching books and fiction. So yeah Tal is probably the most like me in that he accepted his call and it changed his whole life.
A few Fun questions:
What are a few of your favorite hobbies outside of writing?
George- I’m an avid reader, I read over 5000 books a year. I’m also a speed reader, a 400 page book will take me about 3 hours to read. I also watch a lot of TV and movies. My passion though is cooking. I love to cook. 95% of all meal prep in my house is me.
If you had to live in one book, and it can be any book, which one would you choose?
George- The Pagemaster only because then I could visit any book I wanted.
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
George- I have a verse that God gave me about 16 years ago now: Habakukk 1:5. It says “Look to the nations and watch, and be utterly amazed. For I am doing something in your day, that you wouldn’t believe, even if it were told to you.” I took that as a personal promise and have been utterly amazed at the things he’s allowed me to see and be part of.
If you could only live on one beverage and one meal for the rest of your life, what would they be?
George- Pepsi and Cheesecake. I know it isn’t healthy but it is what I like.
What’s your favorite holiday?
George- Valentine’s Day, of course. I can’t believe you even had to ask.
Me- I know! Lol I should have known! ;)
I suppose I should bring this to an end at some point! ;) It’s been truly wonderful and great fun having you. Thank you so much for taking time to do this with me. :) Do you have anything else you’d like to say or add before we sign off?
George- It’s been quite fun hanging out with you as well. The only thing I would say is remember to love the people God has placed in your life. Don’t love them silently but out loud and often. When we all pass from this life we will never regret not working enough but we will regret the things we didn’t say or do with those we love. So, love often and love loud. And if you need any inspiration grab a romance novel and pick up a few pointers. ;)
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Liz Austin. Born and raised in Upstate NY. Bibliophile. Writer. I would rather be reading....