Mike Maguire is one of my relics from those long nights I spent on authonomy letting other people rip up my first horrible attempts at writing, while doing the same unto them. I don’t remember who started it, all I know is, at some point Mike read The Girl on the Red Pillow, and I read Three Days Breathing. Thanks to me, he knows now that babies are usually born without freckles, and thanks to him, a leftover bear became what it should be – leftover beer. Even as the leftover bear sparked about a third of the plot of My Name is Not Alice, which is why one of the characters, totally not accidentally, is named Detective Mike McGuire…but I digress.
Usually, on authonomy, I’d read a chapter or two, maybe a few more the next day. A small handful of books I read in their entirety. But if I remember correctly, there were only two books ever which I read in one sitting. One was J. Cassidy’s The Obvious…the other was Three Days Breathing. Because, despite being something between science fiction and dystopia, which isn’t my favorite genre, this book simply knocked me off my feet. It’s written with such power, I didn’t even try to put it down. The world, the system the author has created, is full of such harsh injustice, leaving those trapped within so powerless, I found myself raging and wanting to climb into the book to start a revolution. I seriously hope there’ll be a sequel. This could be the start of one of the most awesome series ever.
But enough of me rambling. Let’s hear what Mike has to say. This is him, oh, and by the way, whereas I only dabble in taking the occasional lucky shot, Mike is a serious photographer. I always love it when one of his pictures pop up in my newsfeed. They’re impressive, and really quite humbling. Anyway, here we go.
Who are you?
Mike Maguire. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be taken more seriously as a Michael, but I don’t want to bug people with two syllables when one works well enough.
Sounds reasonable. Where are you?
Washington, DC, which is the capital of a country started by a rebellion against taxation without representation. Citizens of Washington, DC are taxed, but don’t have representation.
Sounds not quite as reasonable. How are you?
That’s a tough question, and I’m probably not the best person to answer it. I started to write a list of pros and cons about how I am, but I noticed that most of the cons relate to the past – I used to have this, I used to have that. The pros were more about who I am as a person right now, and the focus and drive I have. That seems like a good sign. I’m the emotionally healthiest I’ve ever been. That doesn’t automatically translate into happiness, but I’d rather have a healthy sad than an unhealthy happy. But anyway, I’m fine, thanks.
Tell us briefly what Three Days Breathing is about.
An average guy with an above average curiosity, living in a little apartment in the distant future. Thematically, it’s about how the feelings of isolation and fear that most of us have today will never be fixed by technology alone.
Why did you write it?
I was recovering from a motorcycle accident and having strange, vivid dreams. I had one where I was living in the future and riding on a train. I got to talking to a woman across the aisle, and started feeling an immediate emotional connection with her. My hopes started rising, but then I realized she was wearing a white wrap on her head, and I knew in that society that’s what women wear if they’re in their last days before death. So I had to let her go when we got off at our stop. I started waking up as I was walking over this huge futuristic concrete esplanade near the train station, trying not to look back at her. I woke up feeling as though it had really happened, and I thought that it would be worth it to try to somehow convey that feeling to readers.
Which actors would you cast for the movie?
I wouldn’t want any say in that! I like it when movies are very much different from the books they’re based on. The movie should be the artistic vision of the director, producers, etc. I think they did it the right way with Blade Runner. The screenwriter and director never actually read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And, as great as Electric Sheep is as a novel, the movie they made based loosely on it is much better than a proper interpretation would’ve been.
If you could make up your own genre for this book, what would it be?
OSD readers. (Old soul deviant).
Plot or characters? Which is more important and why?
Characters, because to me there’s a bit less of brute force carpentry involved with characters than with plot. I see all these articles about plot mapping, MacGuffins, act structure, blah blah blah. It’s all fine – and I’m not claiming I couldn’t learn from it all – but I think sometimes we lose sight of how much the big mechanics of a novel take a backseat to the small mechanics of language and poetry. I liked that little novel Point Omega by DeLillo. There’s almost no plot or structure at all, but he builds beautiful sentences. That trumps everything else.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My Australian friend Leah AKA Molly Billygoat. She’s a YA author, and we did a read swap long ago. Since then, she’s encouraged me more than anyone else. It means everything to me that I really got through to at least one reader. I’d rather have a big impact on one person than sell a thousand books to people who just think it’s meh. Might be a different story if it were a million people though.
My American friend Dominic, who has written several novels and does the amazing weekly webcomic Tiny Ghosts has also been a great mentor. We both believe that everyone should make art all the time and support everyone else when it comes to it, and we’re both perpetually confused about why that isn’t happening.
What’s the most stupid question you’ve ever been asked?
I’m not sure, but it definitely hasn’t been any of these. High five!