Sunday 18 March 2018

Burnout by Claire MacLeary @ClaireMacLeary #BlogTour @SarabandBooks #Burnout

My husband is trying to kill me : a new client gets straight to the point. This is a whole new ball game for Maggie Laird, who is trying to rebuild her late husband s detective agency and clear his name. Her partner, Big Wilma, sees the case as a non-starter, but Maggie is drawn in. With her client s life on the line, Maggie must get to the ugly truth that lies behind Aberdeen s closed doors. But who knows what really goes on between husbands and wives? And will the agency s reputation and Maggie and Wilma s friendship remain intact?

Burnout by Claire MacLeary was published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband Books on 15 March 2018.  I'm delighted to be hosting the Blog Tour for Burnout here on Random Things today, and my thanks to Gordon from Grab This Book who invited me to take part on the Tour.

Claire MacLeary joins us today to talk about the books that are special to her, in My Life in Books

My Life in Books - Claire MacLeary

So many books have influenced my writing, this is a real challenge!

Having been schooled in the classics, it was a revelation, during my late teens, to discover that great literature existed outside the British Isles.

The first American novel to impact on me was The Assistant by Bernard Malamud. Set in a working-class neighbourhood of Brooklyn, it explores first and second-generation Americans in the early 1950s from the point of view of struggling grocery store owner, Russo-Jewish immigrant, Morris Bober, and the stranger, Frank Alpine, who becomes his assistant.

In complete contrast to this bleak, but uplifting tale of life on the margins, Scott Fitzgerald's novels encapsulate the Jazz Age, offering glamour and romance. The Great Gatsby is his most well-known, but my favourite is Tender is the Night. Set on the French Riviera, it tells the story of wealthy couple Dick and Nicole Diver, whose lives crash and burn in a mirror of the author's own.

Back in contemporary Britain, I admire William Boyd for the breadth of his vocabulary and compassion. His early novels derive from his African childhood, his recurring theme - that life can turn in an instant - narrated with sensitivity and humour. Any Human Heart follows Logan Mountstuart's life from the beginning to end of the twentieth century and takes him to Paris, London and New York in a testament to human resilience.

Perceptive and droll, novelist and playwright Alan Bennett creates magic from the most banal situations. In 'Writing Home' he draws on his Northern roots to provide an acutely observed commentary on the nuances of social class. Now an establishment figure, but still deliciously subversive, his wry observations on the minutiae of everyday life are a delight

Women writers feature large among my favourite reads.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields made a lasting impression. Following Daisy Goodwill, from her birth in a kitchen in Manitoba, Canada, to her death in a Florida nursing home nearly ninety years later, this poignant novel encapsulates, for me, the story of womanhood.

In Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf breaks with the traditional form of the novel. The action is contained within a single day, on which Clarissa Dalloway is to hold an important party, the narrative largely confined to her stream-of-consciousness impressions and memories. A slim volume, but a masterpiece of creativity.

Jayne Anne Phillips I was introduced to by Professor Kirsty Gunn during my MLitt studies. Phillips' powerful novel Motherkind deals with questions of love and death, as Kate's care for her terminally ill mother coincides with the birth of her first child. Narrated with honesty and compassion, this is a deeply moving novel that will resonate with women readers everywhere.

Anthologies of short stories are a delight to dip into and a marvel of composition and tautness.
Chekhov, of course. Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, Katherine Anne Porter, Mavis Gallant, James Salter, Wallace Stegner. Lorrie Moore I love. Edith Pearlman is a current read. But my favourite by far is the incomparable Alice Munro. A master of close observation, she writes with wonderful clarity, perception and humour. Too Much Happiness, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize, features manipulative men and the women who outwit them. What could chime better with the current climate?

My writing has been described as 'spare, cutaway prose' and Raymond Carver, known in some circles as the 'godfather of minimalism', continues to inspire. In The Stories of Raymond Carver, tales of fortune and chance set in a post-industrial world of low-rent survivors are narrated in his laconic, pared-down style. Although there has been controversy over the editing of his stories, Carver creates an atmosphere of intrigue and possibility in a few words.

Where the crime genre is concerned, the writing that made the most striking impression was William McIlvanney's Laidlaw trilogy. Considered the founding father of 'Tartan Noir', McIlvanney wrote with the same self-deprecating wry humour that characterised the man himself. His troubled detective was the benchmark for scores of works that followed, his social commentary as relevant today as when the books were first written.

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark is another book that defies convention, in that there is a plot-spoiler at the start. A metaphysical thriller, the novella deals with isolation, alienation and loss of spiritual values encapsulated in Lisa, a deranged woman who goes on holiday to Italy. An uncomfortable read, but a learning curve for the aspiring crime writer.

I couldn't list influences on my writing without giving Stephen King's 'On Writing' a mention. Of all the 'how to' books on the market I have found it most useful.

Claire MacLeary - March 2018 

Claire MacLeary has lived in Aberdeen and Fife, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have appeared in various publications. Burnout is the sequel to her hit debut, Cross Purpose.

Follow her on Twitter @ClaireMacLeary

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