Interview with Mick Canning

Mick CanningI met Mick through his wonderful blog, located at, and I was delighted when he agreed to be a guest here today.

Let’s start with you, Mick. Tell us about yourself.

I’ve always been writing, and completed 2 novels a long time ago. Both were so awful, though, that I junked them. It was a good learning curve, however, and now I’m hopefully a more mature writer. Until I become rich and famous (!), though, I make ends meet by teaching rock climbing, and occasionally some other outdoor activities.

I love travelling, especially to India and other nearby countries, which probably comes out in my blog posts!

I’ve learned a lot about India from those posts. How did you start your blog? Has it changed over time?

I have been following the blog at Writer’s Village ( for some time, and advice that I received in a comment thread was that if I wanted to have a platform for my writing, and gain a following, I needed to begin a blog now, not just when I thought I had a book ready for publication, so that’s what I did. It took me a little while to work out what I really wanted to blog about, and the appropriate combination of topics, so yes, it has changed a bit. Hopefully for the better!

Have you done any projects that took you way out of your comfort zone?

In a way, the whole of my novel did. I set it in India, but I continually found myself checking that I hadn’t made any glaring errors. I may have spent a lot of time there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am an expert and I kept worrying that I was using the wrong word or describing a situation in a way that would never actually happen.

Making Friends with the Crocodile is currently on pre-order on Amazon with Kindle, and I am looking now at Print On Demand copies. It will be released on 4th June, although it is now available, as I say, to pre-order. The blurb on the book is:

‘Siddiqa was only just into her teens when she was forced to leave her home to live with her new husband and his family in another village. The years have passed, and now Siddiqa has three children of her own. Her grown up son has brought his new wife, Naira, to live with them, so Siddiqa is no longer the lowliest in the household, for she has a daughter-in-law.

Life in rural India is particularly harsh for women. This novel explores themes of female oppression and tradition and asks whether the next generation will find life any easier.’

Making Friends with the Crocodile coverWhat do you do for cover art? Do you do it yourself, hire an artist, or purchase pre-made?

It’s my own work. The book is set in Northern India, where I have spent a lot of time and, in another role as a painter, I have produced a number of canvases depicting scenes there. The one I chose seemed to work particularly well after I cropped it, and I just put the image straight into Canva (a free program for generating book covers) for a cover.

Hurray! Another writer who paints their own covers. I was starting to feel like I was the only one. What project are you looking forward to next?

It’s a return to the novel that I had been working on before I was overwhelmed by the idea for Making Friends with the Crocodile, which is The Assassin’s Garden. Another one that takes me out of my comfort zone! The first part is set in Medieval Persia, and then moves to Mughal India, so there is plenty of research to do, and plenty of opportunities for error!

That’s both the beauty and the terror of writing historical. I love falling down the research hole, but there are so many ways to mess up. Still, my favorite writers pulled it off, so we can, too. 🙂 Who are your writing heroes and why?

 The Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote the most marvelous short stories – concise, incredibly inventive, and I always tried to model the way that I wrote short stories on his.

Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings is still a favourite, even though I rarely read fantasy. It is just so complete.

If I was to list everyone I admire, though, I think the list would be endless.

Any basic writing philosophy or tips?

Write for yourself. Write the story that you would like to read. If it doesn’t interest the writer and their heart isn’t in it, then it will be difficult for him or her to write it so that it interests anyone else.

How do you come up with character names?

Sometimes I have a feeling about a character and want to use a particular name, but usually, other than trying to ensure that most characters have names that begin with different letters to avoid any confusion, it’s entirely random.

How much do you structure your stories before you write them?

Structure? What’s that? Seriously, I’m very much a pantser, and generally lousy at planning anything. But having said that, now that I’ve returned to ‘The Assassin’s garden’, I feel that I need to take a step back and write a good plan for it, even if that means junking some of what has been completed already.

Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?

Oh, to revise. Definitely. There comes a point where I think that I cannot possibly read through it yet again, but I’m conscious that there are still grammar and continuity errors to sort out, so it must be done!

I know the feeling. I spend way more time revising than drafting. What do you do when you get stuck writing your story?

Go for a walk. It’s the best remedy that I’ve come across, and rarely fails. I don’t attempt to think too hard about the problem, it’s more like just seeing what comes into my mind as I walk.

Do you have a writing routine?

A routine! I am a warning to others when it comes to routines. I simply cannot discipline myself sufficiently to have a proper writing routine. I get distracted by things far too easily. Bleurgh!

If your writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do with your success?

I’d be very uneasy with it, actually. It would be nice to make a living from writing – no, it would be fantastic to make a living from writing, but I really don’t want fame; I should probably have gone for a Pen Name, but it’s a bit too late now. And rich? Comfortable would do me. I’ve spent a large part of the last 60 years worrying about money, and it would be nice just to have enough not to have to do that anymore. The one thing that I would definitely indulge in would be travel. I’d justify it as research, of course!

Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

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Posted in Author Interviews
24 comments on “Interview with Mick Canning
  1. Nice interview 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Annika Perry says:

    Great interview with Mick. I’ve been taken with the cover to his book and I now even more impressed learning he’s the artist. Terrific! Yep, I’m also one for long walks when stuck…or cleaning!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mick Canning says:

    Reblogged this on Mick Canning and commented:
    My first author interview, with Cathleen Townsend. My thanks to her for generously hosting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Long walks are awesome. I had a sore foot and couldn’t walk any distance for a couple months recently, and it really messed with my groove. In the end, it was a lovely acupuncturist who got me on my feet again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    Thank you Cathleen for the great interview. Having followed Mick’s blog for quite a time now, I found it very interesting to learn a little more about his background, his book and his writing technique. I’m also very impressed with his talents as a painter. We may have a bit of a Renaissance man on our hands here, I suspect.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. John Yeoman says:

    ‘Write for yourself. Write the story that you would like to read.’ I love that advice, Mick. In my dotage, I write entirely for myself (though some of it gets on Amazon by mistake). Who else could be a more discerning reader? BTW: Thanks for your nice mention of Writers’ Village.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lovely interview, Mick and Cathleen. I don’t envy the research that must go into historically based novels – it sounds fascinating but grueling too. And I love the cover of the new book. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Indeed. *makes extremely insincere ‘oh, darn’ gesture* That just means more research. When I’m in that phase, I can surprise even the librarians with how many books I take out and how often I come back for more. It’s this extremely focused mental space that I only get to inhabit when I’m researching a book, so I try to get the most out of it.

    But you can always miss something. Even in the digital age, things can be hard to find about certain eras. I had to construct my bronze age Greek myth from archaeological sites and rereading Homer. A lot of room for error there.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hello, Mick. Wonderful to meet you. Like the way you think. Thanks for sharing this interview, Cathleen. Makes me smile. Down-to-earth. I Like that. ❤ 😀 😀


  10. Elliesofia says:

    Great interview, Mick. Thank you to Cathleen Townsend for this post.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Mick was right! You did really set him good questions to answer! I liked the tip/advice on “Write for yourself. Write the story that you would like to read.” That’s so true!
    Thank you for a brilliant interview post.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Mick has a great attitude about life and writing. I learned a lot reading his thoughts. I also walk out my problems and am more of a pantser than a planner. Another great interview, Cathleen. You have a knack for this.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is such a good read and your cover is beautiful. To think that you painted it yourself. That’s impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A very interesting interview, Cathleen and Nick. Thanks, both of you, and best wishes to Nick on his books, travel and art.


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