Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted August 7, 2022


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An Interview with a FanStory writer.

The Gary Maclean Interview

by Terry Broxson



This is an interview with a FanStory member, Gary Maclean. Previous interviews have been with Lyenochka, Jay Squires, RG Star, Humpwhistle, Giraffmang, and Ric Myworld.

When I finish an interview, I usually think that is my last interview. This time, Lee Hill (Humpwhistle) suggested I consider doing an interview with a newer member. He thought exploring why they are here, their expectations, and their experiences might be interesting.

Gary has been a member for less than a year. I first met him from a review he gave me. Gary gave me about a dozen or so corrections to make. I thought, dang, this guy is good. I think you will find this interview compelling and interesting. 


LET'S GET THE IMPORTANT QUESTION OUT OF THE WAY. YOU ARE A MICHIGAN BOY, HOME OF THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM CAR?


That is an easy one; 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. At 100K+ I am afraid it will stay a dream car for quite some time. Either that or a 1959 white-on-red Cadillac Convertible, the epitome of American excellence and “in your face!”


YOU JOINED FS ALMOST A YEAR AGO. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?


I used to write online for several different sites: Helium, Bubblews, and Associated Content. But these sites all folded for one reason or another, and I really wanted an outlet for writing. I used to get emails saying I could enter writing contests and make money (I was thinking of getting that Vette or Caddy).The emails were from FanStory, so I took the leap. 

I don’t expect a great deal from the site. But I am looking forward to having my writing reviewed by my peers and hopefully constructively criticized. I only now started entering the contests that I joined for in the first place. So, I guess you could say I am looking forward to perhaps winning one or two every now and then. Nothing better for the ego than to have someone say, “You’re the winner!” 

I wasn’t expecting it, but I have already discovered an amazing group of fellow writers. Wonderful people all. 


WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?


I started writing when I was maybe 12 or 13, very simple song lyrics. I was in one of those notorious Garage Bands of the 60s and 70s. I really wanted to be a Beatle but, of course, never even came close. Although, we did cut one record that had over 500 sales. We were the “Poor Boy’s Pride,” and the song was “I Know a Place.” I have been writing something almost every day since then.


HAVE YOU HAD ANY FORMAL WRITING TRAINING?


I have had no more formal training than what regular schooling can offer; writing in high school and creative writing in college, but I have written three books. One a technical instruction novel for Quality Assurance specialists, then a self-help book for those in a cheating relationship and my latest a semi-autobiography about the nine years I, a white boy, lived with my Mom and her black lover in the 1950s. Yes, I am that old.

The Quality book was written for the ASQC (American Society for Quality Control). That was quite the experience. I submitted a hard-copy manuscript, I know, the dark ages. They reviewed it, marked it up and sent it back with the promise they would publish it when I had all the objections taken care of.

I looked at the manuscript and I felt like I had just had a religious experience. I had never seen so much red ink in one place at one time. There had to be at least 40 corrections on every single page. These guys really took their reviewing seriously.

I dutifully went through and made every single correction, and double checked it again. I resubmitted, they accepted, published it in 1993 and it became a best seller for them. I was awarded their “Golden Quill” award for the project.


YOU HAD AN INTERESTING CHILDHOOD. IT IS REFLECTED IN YOUR WRITING. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?


Interesting is the least of it. I was five years old when my white mom divorced my dad and moved in with her black lover. She took myself and two of my sisters with her. She made it clear in court she didn’t want her other kids. Sometimes I wonder to myself who was the luckiest, I or them. 

Mixed racial marriages are rather common today, not much excitement when you see them. But this was in the 50s. You just didn’t do that back then, even in someplace as north as Michigan. I fought for nine years. I really mean fought. Kids can be the hardest on other kids and believe me they were.

I had no other place to turn but academics. So, I became a very good student, got great grades, but never really had a childhood. For some reason, there seemed to never be electricity, or running water, or food on the table, or fuel for the furnace. We were poor, the kind of poor you can read about in a Charles Dickens tale. There was no easy way out.

It is quite difficult to think about those years, even more so to talk or write about them. When I wrote the auto-biography book “I Didn’t Know I Wasn’t Black” I relived every incident with every word I put down. It was a very cleansing experience, probably the best therapy I could ever have given myself. I don’t mind telling you I brought myself to tears more than once just retelling the story. 


HOW DID YOU GET FROM THAT YOUNG MAN OF THE 50s and the 60S TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?


I knew, the minute I was free from that life, I would never go back. I made a promise to myself that my kids would never, ever have to experience any of what I did. I kept that promise. I worked hard, studied, strived to succeed and eventually provided my family a warm, safe environment where they would never have to worry if there would be dinner tonight or not.

I had goals, things I wanted to achieve, and I worked hard at getting there. After two failed marriages I eventually met my wife of today and I felt as though God had reached down and plucked me from my Hell and put me in this woman’s lap. We recently celebrated our 28th anniversary and look wantonly at the next 28.


YOUR WRITING HAS TWO THEMES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU: FAMILY AND SPIRITUALITY. CAN YOU DISCUSS HOW THOSE INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING? 


Those are two of my “go to” topics. Family is everything to me. Not having a real family as a kid, I insist on maintaining a sound one today. I and my wife are both in our third marriage so there are kids from all over the place.

But, we have, through the grace of God, never had any problem merging our families. We even have family get togethers where one or the other “Ex” shows up and there is no friction of any kind. I am just blessed, that’s all there is to it. 

As far as spirituality, I believe God is the only force that has brought me through some of my childhood trials. I didn’t know it then, but I know today he was with me every step of the way. I have no formal training of any kind in religion.

I am an engineer by trade and a Christian by choice. I relish training kids in Sabbath school (7th Day Adventist), and I enjoy public speaking. As a kid, my dad was a Baptist and my mom, and her lover were 7th Day Adventists. So, I went to church all weekend long. I loved it. The Bible is the most fascinating book ever written and I just ate it up.

I am ordained (via the internet) and have performed over 100 weddings and one funeral. The funeral was the most difficult thing I have encountered in my recent life. It was for my older sister. It wasn’t easy, how do you say goodbye, forever, to your sister?


YOU WRITE POETRY AND PROSE. DO YOU PREFER ONE OVER THE OTHER?


I think I may prefer prose over poetry because I can say more. I like to express myself and I can do it so much easier if I am not restricted by rhyming, meter, or syllable count. For instance, this interview, I seem to keep rambling on don’t I? I can’t help it; writing is in my soul, and I need to vent.


A THIRD AREA OF INTEREST IS YOUR "HOW TO" COMMON SENSE GUIDES ON LIVING, LIKE BUYING A HOUSE, GETTING A CAR READY TO TRADE, AND WHAT WOMEN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MEN. CAN YOU DISCUSS THOSE?


Every so often I get a bug up my butt about people not doing something the way I think it should be done. I study it and come up with my own ten points, usually, on how that activity should be conducted.

I generally make a disclaimer at the end that this list may not fit everyone, but it has worked very well for me. These list type of articles are generally about simple, every day, activities and in most cases can help someone, I think.


I HAVE MENTIONED YOU AS AN "EAGLE EYE EDITOR," A COMPLIMENT. YOU HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED BY OTHERS AS WELL. HOW DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?


When I review I try to look at the article first for mechanics; spelling, grammar, punctuation and so on. For some reason, and I attribute a lot of it to my experience with the edit I received on my ASQC book, simple things seem to jump out at me. They bug me. Things like extra space between end of sentences and the period, or missing quote marks, or character names not staying the same throughout the article.

I try to write everything I see, not to be mean but to give the author an idea of what went wrong and a chance to fix things. I then read the article again for content. I want to enjoy what I read too, and the first read is simply structural.

The second read I find additional observations and I write those as well. My hands are quite often tied on the second read as I can’t see myself writing a concern on someone’s opinion, whether I agree or not. If it is written well, everything in place, then I have no choice but to rate them accordingly.


SOMETIMES AS A REVIEWER, YOU MAY NOT AGREE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER. BUT YOU CAN PUT THAT ASIDE AND STILL DO A FAIR REVIEW. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?


Yes, that happens a little more often than I would like. I depend a great deal on my first read, the one for mechanics. When I am reading an article about a subject that simply doesn't agree with me, I can feel the animosity building up inside me. If the subject goes hard against my better judgment, I still have to finish the review and rate it according to presentation.

It's a fine line between rating because I like the article, or I don't like it. I find it difficult to give myself the privilege of rating someone based on my opinion.


I WANT TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE TWO BOOKS IN YOUR PORTFOLIO. THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL, AND I DIDN'T KNOW I WASN'T BLACK. ARE YOU PLANNING ON WRITING ANY OTHERS?


At this point I have no plans other than to finish those two. I am working on a follow up to “Handwriting on the Wall” so that may be a next project. It is such a fascinating subject, to see how so many quips and idioms come from the Bible. I have targeted over 300 such sayings so there is plenty of material for a few more similar books. Besides, it gives me the chance to get deep into my Bible, What could be wrong with that.



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August
2022
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Denise B at FanArtReview.com

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