Author Andrew Mackay

Write and Author interviews Andrew Mackay, author of The Teacher: How to Survive the Teaching Profession Without Losing Your S**t (In Their Shoes Book 1)
A novelist, screenwriter and former teacher, Mackay is the creator of groundbreaking satire series ‘In Their Shoes’; the hilarious and often shocking journey of fictional newbie journalist Joy Attwood. The first two books in the series (The Teacher and The Actor) are best sellers in Amazon’s “satire” category (UK and US).
Self-proclaimed "Antisocial Justice Warrior" Mackay is also founder of Chrome Valley Books - “The Home of Dangerous Fiction”. Never knowingly inoffensive, his works often contain a ruthless commentary on society, delving into the more darker and disturbing machinations of modern life - but always with a sense of humanity and wit.
His influences include John Cleese, Tom Sharpe, Kurt Vonnegut, James Patterson, Hunter S Thompson, Douglas Adams, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Michael Frayn, Chris Morris, Jerry Sadowitz, Christopher Hitchins, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Milo Yiannopoulos and Larry Cohen.
One of the UK's most dedicated provocateurs and contrarians, his obsessions include (and are essentially limited to) unhealthy amounts of: smoking, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, sex, arguing, fighting, vandalism, conjuring up hilarious and nasty situations for his characters and writing about himself in the third person.

*parts of this interview may be offensive to some readers*
What is Chrome Valley Books?
CVB is my publishing house; a hub. I wanted to establish a home for my writing and (after my success) absorb other writers who are similar to me and the work I produce. It's dubbed "The Home of Dangerous Fiction" so, essentially, it can be any genre, as long as the content is somewhat satirical and certainly designed to provoke. Right now I only have one series - the British satire series "In Their Shoes". I am planning on starting another series called "Pure Dark" which is chiefly horror. But not monsters and goblins and werewolves. I believe the real monster is at home. People we know. It'll be devastating horror with a deep social commentary and subtext. My ARC readers are known as gang members. I want them to "kill" for me, in terms of publicity and social proof. In return, I gave ten times back with goodies and so on because, like any good paternal figure within an army, they are fiercely loyal to their mob.
Why did you decide to start Chrome Valley Books?
I decided I was sick to death with teaching about a year ago. I've always been a writer, and have had some success in the movie world writing scripts on spec and doctoring feature length movies. I've always been a storyteller. I was a teacher for fifteen years, and then a curriculum manager at the UK's biggest college in London, and then, finally, a governor. The job changed so much in fifteen years. I got hired because I was smoking with a guy who turned out to be a manager back in 2002. By 2015, I was swamped with paperwork and needlessly bureaucratic paperwork and just repeating myself over and over again. It was at once funny and absolutely depressing. You'd never know it to converse with me; I'm so affable and charming to meet and be with. But deep, deep down inside lurks an angry, venomous killing machine. So, I thought "f**k this" - jacked it in, researched self publishing, and set up my own company. A company looks better. Right now it's just me (and my PA) but, you know, give it a year and we'll be keeping Random House up at night.
What genre are your books?
First and foremost satire; social commentary and heightened drama, often taken to the extreme. I'm big on conflict and contemporary social issues. For In Their Shoes - The Actor (Book 2) journalist Joy Attwood undergoes some horrific backlash from twitter and other social media, simply for following a well-known actor around for the day. I plan to move to horror, as I said, and then I want to tread into sci-fi to do the same with spaceships and space exploration. It'll be a satire on that.
Tell us about an interesting or memorable encounter you had with a fan?
The other day I had a fan write to me instructing in quite vivid detail which sexual acts she wanted to perform on me. She claimed to be "in love with my mind" and thinks the best way for her to absorb some of that is through a small number of appendages (one in particular). As a married man, this is at once infuriating and gratifying. I didn't respond. Sometimes a little reminder that it's out there is all you need.
Do you edit your own writing or do you hire someone?
Both. Once I've finished the first draft, I self edit. Actually, it's a bit more than self editing; I'll have walked away from it for a couple of days and returned, but my brain had been working on it subconsciously. For example, I have just finished the first draft of In Their Shoes - The Nurse (Book V); an outrageous, gross-out British farce. I finished the first draft last week and spent three days self-editing. I'm talking to my editor for her remarks tomorrow. There's a chapter where a man visits the hospital and can't stand or sit down, so spends a lot of the time doubled-over the bed. He has a Barbie doll up his bum (for his own sexual pleasure). His wife has come to the rescue and doesn't know about his perverse sexual proclivities. Joy (our journalist lead character) and the wife watch as Sangita, the nurse, pulls it out. There's a lot of bodily fluid. One person leaves the room because they can't stomach to watch. The other vomits to the floor, and the nurse slips on it. Feces spray everywhere. It's classic slapstick and pretty gross, but VERY funny.

I'm telling you this because today, while I was out having lunch, my brain came up with the idea that while the doll was being yanked out of him, he suddenly becomes erect (despite being in pain) and he has to conceal his priapic embarrassment. It just makes this awful situation even funnier. The punchline being that once it's out, and he farts the brown stuff in the nurse's face, he also ejaculates, too. While I'm writing this, I have just thought of something else. Maybe the cum could hit a poster on the emergency room wall. Maybe a poster for unwanted pregnancy. Wow, that's a great idea! It's ironic. I love irony. I think I'll use it...
This is why you need an editor as an author. While that person is editing and giving you structural and broad notes, your mind always works on tightening up the story - like the example, above. Once my first editor comes back with general notes, I'll go through them (it takes about half a day) and do another tightener. In this case, one of the things I'll be doing with Barbie Doll man is making sure he cums on a poster, as well.
Then, it goes to my other editor has been instructed (by me) to butcher the bloody thing. If it ain't funny, it goes. I trust his judgement. If something is rubbish, it goes. No laughs? Okay, can we make it funny? No? Gone! Can we make this other half-decent joke work better? How? Your editor is on YOUR side. I think authors forget that. I have two gifted and talented editors now. Some of the great (mainly tweaks/additional) stuff has been their idea. So I f**king stole it, and I get the credit because it's my book. ;)

Be brutal. If you're writing satire and comedy especially, you cannot afford to have any fat on the meat at all. If you're reading this and you're a new author (or, God forbid, a seasoned author) then please DO NOT do all your hard work and effort a massive disservice by NOT having it edited. It makes me want to cry that someone would give birth to an overweight "baby" (i.e. work) and just kid themselves that they're beautiful and the best child in the world (i.e. delusional, knowing what's wrong and not acting on it) when, clearly, everyone else on the planet (i.e. the readers) secretly think it's ugly and don't want anything to do with it (i.e. don't buy/read it).
Did you have a lot of differences with your editors in the beginning while you were still becoming used to getting your work edited?
I'd say with each book I enact approximately 80-90% of their notes, no matter how big or small. I can do this because my main editor, Drew Cullingham, is a fantastic English scholar and a very good friend of mine. He "gets" me and my work. We get each other. My other editor I know less well, but this is equally important. Ashley has no agenda. We barely know one another, but she has a very dark sense of humour. So she'll be brutally honest with me, too.
I learnt very early on in my screenwriting career (and I guess teaching helped) NOT to be precious about... anything. I am remarkably thick-skinned. Once I have given birth to the first draft, I don't care who feeds back as long as they are brutal. "Make my baby better". Overall, I have control. But I couldn't live without my editors and their brutal honesty. I feel so strongly about this that I actually made a video of me and my editor discussing exactly this.
How do you market yourself  and your book?
Ah, the other 50% of this new career. Simply, be everywhere at all times and speak to everyone, everywhere and get used to saying "Hi!" and asking for help. Principally, try to make friends with peers who are just a step or two ahead of you in your own journey. It sped up the process for me. This stuff takes time. Cross promotion with other authors and their mailing lists has had a big impact.

Build a brand and stick to it. My brand is satire, chaos and provocation - which is good, because I can bend and lean toward any genre I want. I could write a western pornographic vampire tale about wheelchair-bound werewolf politicians from Venus - as long as it's satirical. Which, with this particular example, would be extremely difficult not to be!
Why do you write?
To entertain, amuse, provoke, shock... essentially, for the reader to react. Most of all, to have fun. I like to disturb people. Not in a rubbish way by being gross-out and shocking for the sake of it, but in a productive way.

I also write so that I don't end up hitting someone, or killing people. Deep down inside I am furious with the way the world works. I'm no conspiracy theorist, I promise you. But I just hate the fact that I live in a world where healthcare doesn't exist in the most successful and rich country on the planet. I hate that 1% of the population have more combined wealth than the other 99%. I hate that people don't dare dream. I hate what's happened to free speech; the suppression of ideas and language.

Just about the only medium you can get away with writing frankly and honestly is books. TV show, movies and music all censor the shit out of artists. But self publishing doesn't. I can write what I want. Most authors will never admit this, but they are their own biggest fans. It's true of me. I only ever write what I'd want to read. And if I want to read about a lesbian journalist coerced into a sapphic photo shoot for an Arab fragrance with a dreadlocked Russian diva because the money is too good to turn down then, damn it, I'll just have to write it myself. (See In Their Shoes - The Model for more on that one!) I want to see rapists get given a platform - on a train station, so I can push them off it just as a passing train flies by. I love it when politicians get busted for sex scandals. Why? Because, apparently, they're all human. And each and every one of them is in my crosshairs eventually...
How often do you write and what is your process?
I tend to write project-to-project. I finished my last two books in five days (each, obviously). I average about 12-16k per sitting which, for a 55kish book, is around five sessions of about 5-7 hours. I don't write every day, though. I'll hermit myself for a week and write, then have a couple of weeks off. I personally need to operate this way because:
1: I get bored easily. If I write 1,000 words a day for sixty days, I'll have fallen out of love with my idea, probably.
2: I am impatient. I want things to done NOW. I've been a writer for nearly six months. I am an international best seller and earn okay money. Impatience isn't just a virtue, it's a necessity.
3: I type as fast as I read. My WPM is 80. Once I have the overall layout of the story, my mind needs to be as fast as my typing. It's a bit like reading a book and you're typing and reading at the same time. It's the closest I can get to the reader experience, and that's a good thing. I'll be writing a chapter and sort of reading it as a punter and think "Oh, you know what'd be awesome? In the next paragraph if X does Y," and, guess what, that's what happens! I LOVE it.
What writing advice can you  give?
Sure. Read this.
Can you create a short writing prompt?
Yes. Writer's block is a myth. If you get writer's block it's because you haven't thought the story through enough. And you almost certainly don't have a beginning, middle and end.
So, my prompt is this. Stuck? Doesn't matter. Just type. Type anything. It'll be bullshit, but - who cares - type it anyway. A weird thing will happen. After about a paragraph or two of utter bullshit, you'll get furious with yourself and go back and retype what your brain knew all along...

The Teacher: How to Survive the Teaching Profession Without Losing Your S**t (In Their Shoes Book 1)
By Andrew Mackay

Cheating, lying, cutting class... and that's just the staff!!

Why are teachers leaving the profession, skipping work with stress and dying less than a year after retirement?

Rachel is one of the high school’s best teachers. She gets on well with everyone. The kids like her. The staff like her less, but only because the kids like her and not them.

But annoying managers, obnoxious students, needlessly excessive paperwork, useless training sessions and catastrophic amounts of marking have Rachel wondering if she should just quit and pursue her dreams of becoming a writer.

Meet fresh-faced and eager journalist Joy Attwood. She's about to spend the day with Rachel to discover what being a high school teacher is really like. No frills, no red carpet, no gimmicks - just straight into the S#!T!

Rachel will reveal all her underhand tricks of the trade - from managing unruly behaviour, to cutting corners when marking work - for the sake of the book you're about to read. Joy has picked one of the worst days to follow this pi$$ed off high school teacher.

Can Joy survive the day without wanting to kill someone, or will Rachel beat her to it?

Andrew Mackay
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