FQ: How much of Howard Knight is really Gary McGugan?
McGUGAN: Wow! A great question to start our interview. I hope the answer is “very little.” Naturally, some of me must permeate the character, but I view Howard as an excellent example of human beings generally. He is bright and has experienced success like few others. But he also has flaws and weaknesses like everyone else. I choose to give him qualities like an insurmountable will to survive, but temper those qualities with judgment that is questionable at best. I think readers will find Howard a complex paradox, and that’s my intention.
FQ: You seem quite knowledgeable about corporate structure and wheeling and dealing – in your own business career did you see or suspect the kind of corruption you depict in your book?
McGUGAN: Yes. One of the most stringent requirements of my employers was to know our customers well. In turn, that requirement made it necessary to visit customers and prospective customers frequently. As a result, I’ve encountered businesses that were unquestionably controlled by characters as nasty as any in my story and seen evidence of subtle sophistication that camouflages ownership or influence by nefarious actors. The business-world reflects our society in companies large and small around the globe. But I highlight those characteristics in my stories not to aggrandize them, but to inform. When we realize such forces exist, we can look for signals and take action to minimize the influence of bad companies.
FQ: Do you have a favorite female character among the ones you depict here?
McGUGAN: Good question! But the answer is no. I don’t have a favorite. Each of the women in Pernicious Pursuit has character qualities and flaws. I try to explain where those imperfections may originate and try to balance weaknesses with positive elements. To me, this is the essence of life and I like my stories to be not only entertaining but a reflection of our collective experiences.
FQ: Has your own world travel and transplantation given you insight into the seemingly habitual peregrinations of your characters?
McGUGAN: Peregrinations is a very long word that means a journey—especially a long or meandering one—and I think a very appropriate word to describe Howard Knight’s escapades in Pernicious Pursuit. My story depicts a man who is pursued desperately for reasons few may understand, with an intensity most can’t imagine. I hope the final pages will help readers bridge the gulf between justice and reality.
FQ: Did you ever, or do you plan to, visit any of the locales used as settings for Pernicious Pursuit?
McGUGAN: I’ve had the pleasure of visiting 649 cities and towns in 42 countries around the globe over the past 50 years. I’ve either visited or lived in most of the locales in Pernicious Pursuit. That includes Isla Canela, Spain— where my wife and I stayed a delightful month putting the finishing touches on Unrelenting Peril, the third novel in my trilogy about the goings-on at Multima Corporation.
FQ: What modern (not necessarily contemporary) authors/novels would you compare yourself to?
McGUGAN: I think only readers can answer that question. I never try to emulate another writer, nor do I presume the acumen of any author we might all recognize. I try to tell entertaining stories from my perspective and trust readers will decide if my work is worthy of comparison with another.
FQ: Of course, readers will want to know if they’ll see Howard Knight again, and with which remarkable woman or women. Any plans for that?
McGUGAN: Howard Knight will surface again. I think it would be a shame if such a complex character didn’t have an opportunity to fail once more! I’ve started to work on my fifth novel, and Howard will surely be a central character. And it may be the chance for his brilliance to shine through. I also think readers of Pernicious Pursuit will discern who the next story’s main women characters will be.
FQ: Have you considered writing a novel purely from a female viewpoint, with a female lead?
McGUGAN: Yes! To me, it seems a daunting task, but I’ll move in that direction with my next novel. I can reveal two of the three main characters in my next story will be very strong women. I look forward to honing skills in that book to write with the voices of exceptional women. Maybe novel number 6 or 7 will be the time to take that plunge and utilize every expertise of wordsmithing I can muster to explore life purely from a female perspective. In the meantime, I hope your audience will enjoy Pernicious Pursuit, and I thank you again for the opportunity to chat about stories I love to write.