John R McKay was born and raised in Wigan, Greater Manchester and after serving in the Royal Air Force for seven years he joined Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 1997 until leaving in 2014 to take up other pursuits, including writing. John has released four novels, The Journal, The Absolution Of Otto Finkel, Mosquitoes and The Sun Will Always Shine. John is currently working on his fifth book which will be set during the Arctic convoys of World War Two. He lives just outside Wigan in the North West of England with his wife, Dawn and has two daughters, Jessica and Sophie.
OK – HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?
Without a doubt. I think most people would. The most important thing in your life is the people around you, family, friends etc. and should any of them be in any kind of danger then I would expect that the natural thing to do would be to save them, even if that meant breaking the law. You would worry about the consequences of your actions after the event, and even then, you would probably not care. I know I wouldn’t!
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Truly living is to enjoy life. I live by the code that I will enjoy myself as much as possible and as long as doing so does not upset anyone then it is fine. There is so much to enjoy about life; so many places to visit, people to meet, books to read, parties to hold etc. I believe people should embrace the opportunities they have and try to get the most out of the life they have been given. Living in the UK, it sometimes irritates me when some people moan about their lot, especially when I turn on the TV and see how others in the world live, in much worse places than we do, enduring so much more hardship. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that our society is not perfect, but it sure isn’t as bad as other places in the world.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
The stories in my head and the fun I have writing them. I just want to share them with everyone. After writing my first novel, The Journal, I was encouraged by many people to keep on doing it and after some excellent reviews for my second, The Absolution Of Otto Finkel, I realised that this was not only something that I enjoy, but that I actually may have an aptitude for! The encouragement from people outside my family, the reviews I receive and the sheer enjoyment I get from the writing process spurs me on to continue. I am a lover of history and have ideas for more novels which I am hoping to complete over the next few years. My biggest motivation comes from my family whose support and encouragement cannot be underestimated.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
Because it is a natural thing. It’s not only humans but all animals that procreate, so we are not unique in that respect. Children offer unconditional love and, for me, this is what living is all about; having that ability to love and be loved. On a personal level, I have two wonderful, beautiful daughters and my life would not have been the same, as enjoyable or as fulfilled, if I had not had them.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book “The Sun Will Always Shine” ?
The frustration in getting it completed. I had the plot laid out, the characters developed inside my head and the themes and ideas all good to go. I wanted it to be as historically accurate as possible and so read many, many books, visited the Imperial War Museum and gathered information from various other sources before I could put pen to paper (or fingers to laptop!). I wanted to get this book right. I wanted no errors at all as the subject matter is very emotive and highly relevant right now due to the centenary commemorations. The sense of achievement when the first draft was completed was immense. However, it took many edits, partial re-writes and re-reads before I was totally happy with it, which I now am. I am very proud of the completed work.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
That money and material things are not really that important. What makes a man rich is not the amount of money he has in his bank account, but the amount of love and respect he gives and receives. The richest man I ever knew was my father who never had two pennies to rub together. In my opinion, you are born naked and get buried in a suit, so the only material thing you really gain in life is that suit. It’s what you do in between that matters. The other, more important stuff.
No.7 How did you come up with the title “The Sun Will Always Shine” ?
The novel’s themes are war, love, death, grief and sacrifice and it can be very dark in places due to the nature of the story. But it does have a certain amount of hope. The title ‘The Sun Will Always Shine’ is a reflection of that hope and is taken from a passage of dialogue between two of the characters. I always seem to struggle with titles for my books and the publisher of my second novel told me to maybe look for a phrase within the book that summed up the whole thing. I feel it is a good title for the book.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
It doesn’t really concern me too much, if I’m being honest. I am who I am and if people don’t like that, then that’s up to them. I try to treat all people with respect and maintain my own personal morals and dignity. Regarding criticism of my writing – as long as it is constructive then it is all welcome, it can only make you a better writer in the long run.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
Why should people read my book? Because I believe I have produced a thought provoking and informative novel with believable characters that you can get attached to. I have always wanted to write a novel based around the First World War but did not want to produce just another account of what took place. I believe this is a different approach and will keep the reader wanting to know more and keep the pages turning. I also wanted it to be educational as the situations the characters find themselves in actually happened and maybe it will inspire more people to take an interest in what took place all those years ago. However the main reason people should read it is because they will enjoy it!
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Not exactly an expert in philosophy or theology, I don’t feel that my answer to this question can be anything other than that I am just glad that there is something rather than nothing! There would be nothing worse than opening up a Christmas present to find that the box is empty, opening a packet of crisps to find only a few crumbs stuck to the corners or asking for a pint of beer in my local pub and being handed an empty glass. Give me something over nothing any day of the week. The reasons why, that’s for cleverer people than I.