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Author Interview: Gary D. McGugan

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Gary D. McGugan, author of Contention: A Novel of International Suspense and Intrigue.

FQ: First...this is the first book from this series that I have had the pleasure to read, and I have to tell you that I have just become a big fan. Where did the idea for this series come from in the first place?

McGUGAN: Thank you for your kind words about Contention. You probably detected that I thoroughly enjoyed writing this recent novel, and I’m delighted to learn you’re a new fan. I spent 40 outstanding years working at the senior levels of large, multinational corporations. In my various roles, I traveled extensively and met many interesting characters. When I retired from corporate life, I had over 10,000 names among my Contacts, and had hundreds of rich experiences learning from the interesting people I met and engaged with. And I like to tell stories! When we combine those factors with an over-active imagination, I had lots of material for these 7 novels and a few more.

FQ: Contention is a fabulous story full of really exceptional you have a favorite character in this particular the series overall?

McGUGAN: Being a writer is a little like being a parent. I like all my novels and characters equally and give a lot of thought to my characters, tweaking their personalities in each story to be consistent with the new circumstances created by my different plots. And I like my characters to feel real to readers. Howard Knight, for example, may be a financial genius, but he has human failings. Suzanne Simpson is an exemplary leader and hugely successful businesswoman. She also can turn dire circumstances into extraordinary wins for her company. Fidelia Morales survived the slums of San Juan, Puerto Rico, studied law at Columbia University, and rose to become the most powerful person in a nefarious organized crime outfit. My goal is to make each of these major characters fascinate each reader – either positively or negatively.

FQ: The descriptions in the book of the different locations are really vivid, and one can feel like they are actually there as they read. Did this come from a lot of research or do you travel to them and experience things first-hand before choosing a particular place?

McGUGAN: I’m glad you enjoyed traveling with me through Contention! I not only visit the places I include in my stories, I’ve lived in some of them! During my business career, I was based in both North America and Europe, while spending extensive periods in Asia and South America. Since starting my writing career, I live away for 4-6 months each year. Rather than using hotels or resorts, I usually rent an apartment or small home where I live among the people of the place I’m visiting, make new friends, listen to stories of local interest, and explore neighborhoods many tourists never see. I wrote much of Contention during my three-month stay on the island of Curacao, in the Caribbean, earlier this year.

FQ: Howard Knight is a great character (definitely my favorite). Do you consider him to be the main character in the books, or do you personally view someone else as the main character?

Author Gary D. McGugan

McGUGAN: Many people like Howard Knight, and he plays an important role in most of the stories. But it depends on the novel. In Three Weeks Less a Day, John George Mortimer, the founder of Multima Corporation, was the most important character. In both The Multima Scheme and Unrelenting Peril, Howard played significant roles, but Suzanne Simpson assumed greater importance while Fidelia Morales started to play a greater role. With Pernicious Pursuit, it was all about Howard and the love of his life at that time. Then, with A Web of Deceit and A Slippery Shadow, the strong-willed women dominated both the stories and action.

FQ: Given the way Contention ended, I see another book in the future for this series. Would you give us all (especially me) a small peek into what is going to happen next?

McGUGAN: There will be further stories in the series, but not in the order you probably expect. The novel to chronologically follow Contention will likely appear in 2025. Before that, I’m planning to write a series prequel for release in late 2024. In the prequel, I plan to feature John George Mortimer in the years before he was diagnosed with male breast cancer. Howard Knight will also be in that story, and Suzanne Simpson will play a role. John George was a very popular character in my first novels, and many people expressed interest in a story about his younger years.

FQ: Contention is an excellent title for the story. Where do your titles come from, yourself or others? Does the title come first when you write, or does the book come first and then an appropriate title afterwards?

McGUGAN: The title always comes from me and usually last. Typically, my novel is written, edited, and proofread before I decide on the title. Contention fit that pattern, and I made the title decision only days before the book layout and cover design started!

FQ: Do you enjoy reading as well as writing when you have the time? What types of books/authors are on your favorites list?

McGUGAN: I love reading and enjoy all genres. John Grisham is a favorite. Wilbur Smith wrote great stories. And I enjoy Canadian writers Louise Penny and Margaret Attwood’s books. During 2023, I’ve tried to focus more time on reading books written by members of the writing community I joined in 2017. I enjoy helping some of my fellow writing community members become better known by reading, then posting brief reviews of their stories on Goodreads. As a writer, I know that every review counts, and I thank you for making the time to read and review Contention.

FQ: What does Gary McGugan enjoy doing when he is not writing...any particular hobbies?

McGUGAN: Reading takes much of my time, but I devote more time each day to exercise. I walk 1-2 hours, usually 5 days per week. Walking is my time to think, particularly when I’m working on a new book. I’ve come to realize that exercise is crucial to maintain both physical and mental fitness. It also helps me become more creative.

FQ: Are there any ideas you have at this point for future books that are not a part of this series?

McGUGAN: As I mentioned in your first question, my corporate career introduced me to thousands of people, with individual stories and unique experiences. I think I have a great reservoir of ideas for years to come. Now, I just need to find time to create some new tales of suspense and intrigue!

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