Hello! Today I’m chatting to John Mayer. His latest book, The Trust, is the fourth novel in The Parliament House Books series. The next in the collection, The House, is in development.
So, tell us a little about your writing to date, John.
I’ve written all kinds of things from newspaper articles, journal articles, legal text books, my non-fiction book Nuclear Peace was published in hardback and I’ve written so many legal pleadings that I couldn’t count them all. I started The Parliament House Books series a little over three years ago and I’m loving it. It’s a thrill every time to get a five star review from a stranger.
Where did your inspiration for Brogan McLane come from?
His first name comes from the back of a lorry. (Emma: I love this answer!) I was driving and caught up with a lorry which had that name written in big letters in black writing. It’s such a strong name that it stuck. The characteristics of the man come from an amalgam of my own and those of a few guys I know very well. More deeply, the world needs good guys, especially in the law. There are so many scumbags it’s hard to believe the injustices they mete out until you suffer it yourself. Then you’re screaming for an honest lawyer.
Which scenes did you enjoy creating most, the world of Parliament House or those involving the Calton Bar in Glasgow?
Oh without a doubt, the Calton Bar. Parliament House was famously called by Lord McEwan a ‘nest of vipers’ and is a thoroughly unpleasant place to work. It’s chock full of cliques, secret societies and judges who got on the bench by … shall we say … unusual means. One is there because he plays in a rock band with someone who could put him on the bench. If the public knew, they’d yawn. Ah ha! Gotcha. The public don’t care about injustice until it happens to them. The Calton Bar is the opposite environment. So I much prefer it.
Do you plan out an entire plot before you begin a new novel, or does a story evolve as you write?
I never plan. I start with one word. A meaningful word, but nonetheless, just one word which will be the title. Hence ‘The Trial’ The Order’ ‘The Bones’ ‘The Trust’ etc. I grow the story organically and that way I’m able to build in surprises. I’m not writing a maths lecture. I want people to engage passionately with every word.
Personal writing choice: pen or keyboard?
Oh the keyboard, every time. When I first qualified as a lawyer in Parliament House, I wrote with a quill pen and ink. Many people did. But the computer is so much faster and one can of course save things to many places, thus eliminating the risk of losing the pages. I once had the experience of about fifty handwritten pages for a court case blow off a balcony into the sea. Never again.
What is the best part of being an author? And the worst?
For me, the best part about being an author is recording feelings in the form of words and knowing, that if I get things right, my work will last in people’s minds and hearts till they die. That’s amazing. It’s a tiny part of what it must be like to be Paul McCartney. The worst part is having to deal with file management. I hate that. The frustration of seeing my intelligent, delicate and passionate work reduced to a file makes me seethe.
Who are your writing heroes?
J. D. Salinger. When I first read The Catcher in the Rye I was finishing it in a park under a tree. I was screaming into the final pages. People passing thought I was mad.
Franz Kafka. My first novel, The Trial, is an homage to his book of the same name.
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with three fictional characters, who would you choose, and why?
I’d choose Sherlock Holmes who could figure out a way of getting us off the island. Next, I think I’d like to have Penny from The Big Bang Theory who could, erm, keep me company. Lastly, I’d choose Brogan McLane. How could I survive without him?
Wine gums or chocolate as your preferred snack of choice when immersed in writing?
Oh wine gums every time. Love them.
Excellent choice. So, what’s next?
I’m over 90,000 words into the fifth novel in The Parliament House Books series. It’s called The House and is a long look back into the community called the Calton in Glasgow. Someone in a powerful place wants to demolish the whole neighbourhood. It’s a hard fight to save the old pace, but one well worth engaging in and winning.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions, John. Good luck with The House!
John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland, a war-zone where violence and poverty reigned. In 1963, when he heard The Beatles on Radio Caroline, he decided to change his life. Aged 14 he left school because, in his opinion, he wasn’t being taught. For the next year, in all weathers, he cycled 9 miles to and 9 miles from the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds and began to understand what more the world had to offer. He became an Apprentice engineer, and soon was teaching men twice his age. In the early 1970s his love of music led him to set up as a Record Producer. He built his own record company trading in 14 countries. After a disheartening court battle with global giants, he left the business world and went back into further education at the University of Edinburgh, becoming an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland. There he acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.
John has written non-fiction, legal texts and articles; broadcast to tens of millions of people on US and UK radio, appeared on TV and in print media. Since retiring from the Law, John has enjoyed using his years of very colourful experience to create The Parliament House Books series.
The Trial is the first full length novel in this series. Set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is more than a nod to Franz Kafka’s book of the same title. The Trial sees crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane, fight injustices so casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.
The Prequels: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06VSSQBKM
The Trial: https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00SYZRN12?tag=f07f4-21
Parliament House Box Set (Books 1-3): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BB2RS6M
The Trust (Book 4): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0756K8X5P