Today I am interviewing Peter McLean, author of the debut urban fantasy novel Drake, the first volume in the Burned Man series.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hey Peter! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Peter McLean: Hi, thanks for having me! Well, I’m English and a married grandfather in my 40s. I’ve been writing for over twenty years, and actually taking it seriously for perhaps the last five years or so. Since leaving school I’ve been a kung fu teacher, a Wiccan priest, a Unix technician and a chaos magician, and I am now an IT account manager at a multinational outsourcing corporation.
DJ: What is Drake about?
PM: Drake is a contemporary noir fantasy thriller about an alcoholic, hard-gambling, demon-summoning hitman and the murderous, chainsmoking angel he teams up with. Together they battle Furies and face Lucifer himself in their search for redemption.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the story?
PM: I draw influences from a lot of places but the overall feel of Drake comes from the old black and white “men-in-hats” noir movies of the 30s and 40s. Although Drake is set in the modern day I’ve tried to take that vibe and adapt it to the setting. The book is set in the ganglands of South London, which lend themselves well to the whole oppressive feel of that genre. Other than that I’ve drawn heavily on my own occult studies for the magical aspects of the story.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about Don Drake? Does he have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with him?
PM: Don Drake is not a particularly nice guy. He kills people for a living after all, but he ultimately has a good if somewhat cowardly heart and his own strange code of honour, which he tries to live by. He may not always succeed, but he tries. He respects women and regards himself as a gentleman, although again that may not always be entirely the case. He had a harsh childhood and has grown up still looking for a father figure although he’s now in his 40s. These days he feels the modern world has passed him by and he struggles with modern technology, preferring to lose himself in old movies and alcohol. He also has a wicked sense of humour.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Drake? What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
PM: Oh that’s a tough one as I really enjoyed writing the whole thing. I think it’s a combination of things, of my own love of old gangster movies and the chance to blend that with a magic system that is based, at least loosely, on real occultism. The best thing for me though is the characters – Drake is ultimately a character driven story, and Don, Trixie and Wormwood were all tremendous fun to write.
What will people talk about once they finish it? I wish I knew! I’d like to think they will talk about the characters, about Don’s wry humour and Trixie’s ruthless determination to do what she thinks is right, but that’s ultimately up to the reader. The story really kicks off when Drake screws up a job and unwittingly kills a five year old child so I can see myself getting no end of shit for that from a lot of people!
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Drake that you can share with us?
PM: Oh my days yes, I do that too! You can tell a good book by how quotable it is, I think. I’m almost spoiled for choice here as I deliberately write quotable lines, but without giving too much plot away I think this has to be one of my favorites:
“Desert Eagle .50 calibre,” the man said as he calmly blew smoke from the barrel of the monstrous pistol. “I do so love modern things.”
DJ: Have you been reading anything good lately?
PM: Oh yeah, I’ve run across lots of good stuff this year. I tend to read a mixture of secondary world fantasy, modern-day thrillers and near-future science fiction, but recent real highlights have been Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson, Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight, The Death House by Sarah Pinborough, and Ian Rankin’s The Beat Goes On.
DJ: Now that Drake is out, what is next for you?
PM: Well Don Drake’s story isn’t over and I hope to have good news soon about a second Burned Man book.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions, Pete!
PM: It’s been great chatting to you, thank you!
DRAKE will be released on January 5 from Angry Robot Books.
About the Book:
Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.
Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice The Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.
Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.
About the Author:
Peter McLean was born near London in 1972, the son of a bank manager and an English teacher. He went to school in the shadow of Norwich Cathedral where he spent most of his time making up stories. By the time he left school this was probably the thing he was best at, alongside the Taoist kung fu he had begun studying since the age of 13.
He grew up in the Norwich alternative scene, alternating dingy nightclubs with studying martial arts and practical magic.
He has since grown up a bit, if not a lot, and now works in corporate datacentre outsourcing for a major American multinational company. He is married to Diane and is still making up stories.