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Edwin J McBride

Edwin J McBrideOur April featured author, Edwin J McBride, has just published his second novel, The Birth of Anna, after years of writing for magazines and TV. We spoke to Edwin about his life of loving writing, which developed from his countryside upbringing, and his aspirations as a novelist.

You write The Birth of Anna from a range of different perspectives. Did you find this challenging?

Not really...it started with the concept of the young cop trapped by an ice addict amongst the intense domestic drama and grew from there. I found the development of the back story evolved as I wrote, where I asked myself (and my characters) questions about their pasts and struggles that would make them behave in certain ways within the situation. I then developed the external characters who crossed through this dramatic incident and how they also are impacted and challenged by their lives. I found the timeline of one day for the entire book a good basis to control relevant narration and not needing to over-delve into backstories and historical experiences but rather keep the most important characteristics in the present and allow for the feeling in the story of it happening now and glimpsing enough of the characters to engage the readers understanding of them and their emotional involvement in the drama.

Your story follows a number of different characters. Who was your favourite?

I liked them all…they all held aspects that intrigued me and as I developed them to a fuller understanding, I appreciated that these characters were being true to themselves within the story, for good or bad, they were who they needed to be and faced with choices and consequences as individuals and as key characters to an overall confronting drama. Favourites for me are defined as collectives because I wrote them, I fell in love with them for all they were. When writing, as a side-note, I find I spend many, many hours with these characters that they become real in my fictional world and I grow to respect and admire them in unique ways. Some readers may find them concerning, or may not like what they see in the story, yet I have had the privilege of growing with them and knowing them beyond anyone else’s comprehension, even if these details are not shared in the story. 

Among your characters are a number of female voices. Did you find their voices harder to perfect than that of the men?

I was lucky when I was nineteen, I was blessed to meet and work with an amazing woman and writer, Georgette. She fell in love with my story and took a lot of time with me in explaining and helping me in understanding the female character, explaining the way a woman may feel or perceive differently to a man. This skill, as I was a developing young writer with idealism and arrogance abounding, became the basis of the craft I treasured. My relationship with my mother was estranged and I had no real family connections to draw from, so my perception of women was fairly one dimensional at the time, yet through Georgette, I learned some wonderful thought-provoking things and really wanted to develop women for my writing purposes.

You have also written for magazines, TV, and film. What are the main challenges when comparing writing a novel?

The main challenges in other mediums to novels is the restrictions and measurements required to achieve the visual or content success of the TV, film or magazine. In TV and films, you are faced with budget restrictions and time issues that can be incredibly stressful and restrictive to the truth of a complete story. TV, you may only have 15 -30 seconds to create an emotional experience for the viewer and this takes precise thought and skills in the showing of the elements within the short story. With a novel, you have no budgets, no limits and an open canvas of expression to build your world and story to the full potential. You do not have to worry about anything but making it the best you can and work with only a few trusted people to meet the end goal of the work. The narrative is more involved and the only real expense a writer needs to consider is the time required to complete the project. The novel is the imaginations’ playground and for me, it is like sitting amongst new friends and learning more about them and myself than I knew before.

This is your second thriller novel. Why is this your favourite genre to write?

I guess it is fair to say the genre has an appeal to me. I grew up reading John Saul, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, Michael Crichton, Eric Van Lustbader, Alister MacLean, Fredrick Forsythe, Thomas Harris and many more wonderful authors who created the chills and thrills amongst worn pages for me as a young man...The genre has many levels of intent and deception, along with perspectives and motivations amongst many colourful characters so the writing of these stories becomes a real ride for the writer also. In creating escapism, it is in our interest as writers to allow the reader to explore the unimagined and to then imagine the unfathomable and then bring them back alive and relieved at the end of the story. This is simply the thrill of reading and the love of writing in this genre.

How do you feel your childhood spent in a rural setting shaped you as a writer?

The rural setting was splendid for unlimited imagination and indulgent reading as we did not have TV or access to movies until Video came into the decade, yet by this time I was heading to the city. I spent a lot of time alone and in my mind, amongst my horses and dogs. I worked hard during the seasons and school breaks and spent an hour and a half on a rickety bus to-from school during the weekdays, so I made use of the time. I was athletic and thin due to the constant physical demands of the work required to help our family…the part which made me a real writer and perhaps dreamer, was the difficult relationship with my family, and this is a long, long story…but the emotional difficulties and abuse were best cured through my writing and times of peace in my mind where I could develop the worlds and words I needed to survive. The Birth of Anna

Are there any Australian thriller authors you find particularly inspiring?

Yes, and I sincerely believe Australia has some of the greatest talents in the world, and not just in writing, yet we as artists are limited by resources and real support for our arts, making it tough to break the larger global markets, unlike other leading countries. Given what we have and can resource though, we do have international greats like Matthew Riley, Peter Temple, Michael Robotham, Heather Rose, Garry Disher, Tara Moss, Peter Carey, Heather Morris, John Birmingham, Sarah Bailey…there are so many talents from this amazing country with a wide variety of all genres to be enjoyed and aspired to. One day, I would love to be mentioned in such a noble list of my peers.

The Birth of Anna is published by Shawline Publishing.