Sunday, July 10, 2011


I've known Michael McShane for 30 years, back when I would visit him in San Diego and play golf, bet horses, eat dinner, then repeat the next day.  Mike's path to publication is a remarkable one.  The moment he passed his bar exam he opened up a law office.  This isn't a prudent move considering what real estate costs are in San Diego, but Mike wasn't the type to be an employee for a giant law firm.  No, Mike has always lived exactly how he wanted--on his own terms.  So much so that he worked at a local grocery store for three years stocking shelves at night while he developed enough clients to be a full time attorney.  Gutsy.

Finally, after years of fighting other lawyers and judges and preparing for trials where Mike would turn an average citizen into a bumbling, villainous buffoon, he'd had enough.  He gave his secretary three months notice, then closed up his office to write novels full time.  Gutsy.  Especially since this was fifteen years ago and he's just released his first novel, Bum Boulevard, to the world as a Kindle book just this past week.  It's not the first novel he's written, oh no, he's had several going at one time.  I know, I've read much of his work and he's got talent up the wazoo.  This is just the first one the public has ever seen.

I'm posting this because there are so many questions I'd like answered, but he's so elusive.  Maybe in this forum he'll come clean and tell us of his master plan?  You think he'll do anything he doesn't want to do?  Of course not.  But I do know he's a terrific writer and his work deserves a wide audience.

You think I'm exaggerating about his singularity?  Check out his answers:

1- Why did you decide to give up a thriving career as an attorney to write fiction full time?

For me it’s important to continually challenge myself. A good challenge is what keeps me thinking properly. As humans we have a tendency to limit ourselves. We learn a particular skill or job or trade and we keep at it. With so many jobs available to us, the odds of finding the one that really suits us are sky high, particularly when we don’t try that many jobs to begin with. We do something and we continue doing it. It’s probably nothing we ever imagined we’d be doing full time or forever. It just sort of happens that way. Most of us would be far better off doing something else, and doing it would be far better for us. For that reason I decided to make a change, take a chance of falling on my face—and I have, financially. But as far as meeting a challenge and using my time effectively, I do not waste one minute of my day. Writing is that worthwhile an endeavor for me. I know only two other things about writing. First, writing is re-writing. Second, writing truly is its own reward.

2- Since you’ve just released your first book on Amazon, how do you pay the bills?
Loans and the kindness and generosity of friends and family, and the odd law job. Starving to death doesn’t take a whole lot of money. I checked.
3- Most writers dream of the chance to write full time. For someone who’s actually done it, what’s the hardest part of that equation?
Discipline, cutting oneself off from the outside world. I honestly believe that most people are not meant to write full time even though they pine for it. To minimize distractions—Gary can vouch for this—I have no message machine, which people find annoying because I also have no cell phone. I’ve never owned a cell phone. I have a land line, that’s it, and I unplug it a lot. I do not have call waiting, call forwarding or caller ID. I don’t have a Blackberry or a blueberry or a raspberry. I do not have a pager or a Palm Pilot. I’m not on Faceplant or Tweety Pie Bird or Spacebook. I disconnected my doorbell. My television doesn’t work. It’s a 32 inch, 1994 Sony and it’s broken. I do not own an HD television, never have. I also don’t own a laptop. I wrote my first novel in cursive in five spiral notebooks. Later, I bought a personal computer, the best invention since the microwave oven. Most technology, television included, is a distraction for a committed writer. The gadgetry of the modern age offers reasons and excuses not to write. People dream about writing full time, that’s great. Dreaming is fun. Full time writing is a grind, but if you can manage it, if you can discipline yourself and shield yourself from all the temptations brought about by “free” time, you’ll grind yourself some of the most amazing fairy dust ever, and it will show in the stories you tell . . . Best of luck out there. We’re all pulling for you.
4- How did you come up with the idea of a female protagonist for Bum Boulevard and how tough was is to get inside the head of a woman?
We’ve all heard that we’re supposed to write what we know. I think that’s bunk. That’s why I write about women. I don’t know a thing about them except they’ve always been very nice to me. Come to think of it, so have dogs. I’ve made a decision. My next story will be about a woman and her dog. Please, whoever reads this, don’t steal my idea.

5- What do you see the publishing world looking like in 5 years?

Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets. Less paper, more e-readers. They’re going to make an e-reader you don’t have to hold. Holding something is passé, it ties up the hands. It’s archaic. We should be past it by now. They’re going to come up with a neck harness for your e-reader—like a harmonica brace. You’ll be able to watch your e-reader, talk on the phone and throw a football all at the same time. It’ll be fabulous fun, multi-tasking at its finest. Re texting: Biologically, they say we lose what we don’t use, which is why the pinky toe continues getting smaller and smaller. The opposite is also true. If we use it, it gets larger, like the human brain. Following this train of thought, texting is going to make our thumbs so big that we’ll have to carry around cell phones the size of televisions so we’ll be able to hit the proper key pads. If you throw out your mutant thumb to hitch hike, the momentum will carry you into the street. No worries about getting run over. They’ll be using air cars by then. The paved streets will be used strictly by texters wandering mindlessly around like a bunch of big-thumbed Zombies. Remember, you heard it here first.

If you like Mike's story and are interested in checking out his novel, Bum Boulevard, here's the link to his Amazon site:


  1. Based on Michael's answers, I hope the day never comes when he, John Locke, Luke Romyn, you, Gary and I end up in the same room at the same time. It would be the end of the world as we know it. :) Great interview, gents!

  2. If I were driving cross country and could have my choice of a passenger, it would be Mac. He could make a story about floor tile entertaining so I can imagine what he could do with road kill. I don't know if he will ever win a Nobel but if he keeps writing, I can envision in years to come signs in windows of the pubs of Pacific Beach, "McShane's Favorite Pub" and stools labled "Mac sat here" so it is appropriate that Mac's picture was taken in a bar. I read Bum Blvd and consider it an excellent novel.

  3. Michael P. McShaneJuly 10, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Hey, Gary,

    I just read your blog about that McShane guy. He sounds like a bearded recluse who lives in a cave. Someone tell him to venture out into the light of day, there's nothing to fear, the Dark Ages are over.

  4. What a great interview with such a great man! I know this because I was the secretary that typed that first handwritten novel of Mike's and I knew then that he would be a famous author someday. I feel privileged to call him a friend and wish him great success in the future.

  5. A great interview, Gary, with some fabulous answers from, Michael. As the old saying goes, we only have one life. And to read about a man who is living a fulfilling on - his terms - is inspiring.

    I wish you great success with your writing career.

  6. Thanks Everyone. Claude, yes we'd need an alternate universe. Stuart, I appreciate your support.
    For years I've been nagging Mike to query and find an agent while he turned a deaf ear to my prodding, focusing on his writing instead. It turns out he was right all along to ignore me. I'm just glad he found the time to release a novel so readers can see his talent.

  7. Mr. McShane, I just finished reading Mr. Wonderful and really enjoyed it. At the end of the book is a list of other books you have written but I can't find them anywhere. Could you point me in the right direction, I really would love to read more of your work.
    Mary O

  8. Joanne H.

    Great to see your work out there. hopeurdancing.

  9. great interview, I haven't read much about this writer, but seems to be good, I would like to read more about him now, thanks a lot