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One of the great things about book reviewing is that I get to meet so many wonderful authors. Brian Mullally, my guest today, is a former Brit who now lives in Canada. I found his collection of short stories A Patch of Blue very entertaining and am looking forward to reading more of his books. I just had to invite him here to introduce him to all of you.

Brian has very generously offered to give away a copy of the book to one of my blog followers. To enter, all you need to do is 'like' this blog post or leave a comment below. We will pick a winner at random on 10th March 2012.

Here my interview with Brian:

Your bio states that you won your first writing award in an inter-school contest at the age of 9. When did you first discover your love of writing, and can you tell us a bit more about the story that won you an award at that age?

“Composition” was my favourite subject when I was at school. In 1938 my headmaster encouraged me to enter a contest sponsored by the bishop. I wrote a parable about an orphan boy who met Jesus. I was awarded a tiny calfskin Bible with a child size, thumb index.

I lost my copy of the story when a bomb destroyed our house in 1944. But the Bible survived, I found it amongst the rain soaked wreckage of our home. It sits upon a shelf in my den.

I understand that you used to live in London. I am a Londoner and was intrigued by one of the stories in A Patch of Blue where the couple was taking a holiday to London and the main character was remembering the London he used to know. Have you visited London recently, and if so, how has it changed from when you were a child growing up there?

In the early post war years, London was a dreary grey town, struggling to rebuild. Dotted with bomb craters and ruined building. Many of the houses still had boarded windows and tarpaulins on the roof. Money was tight, and with so many returning from war, jobs were scarce. It was impossible to find a place to live, and we still had ration books when my wife and I left for Canada in 1953.

When we returned in 1969 the Beatles were installed in Abbey Road and our children rushed to Carnaby Street. We have made several trips since Our last visit was in 2001 when we took a ride on The Eye and marveled at all the reconstruction. The grayness has all gone now and London is great place to visit.

I read that some of the short stories featured in A Patch of Blue are award winners. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Mock Turtle Island as voted winner of The Warren Adler Short Story Contest in 2010 and included the New York Anthology of short stories that year

Honorable mention from Writer's Digest for Afterglow in 2006.

2006 Honorable mention in the Arizona Literary Contest for An Insignificant Flower 2007 Short Listed in Fish International Competition for Christmas in the Barn {The title was changed to Maid from Orleans in the Patch of Blue collection.

As well as short stories you have written four novels. What genre would your novels come under, and can you tell us a little bit about each one?

Kinship of Blood A family history written as a novel beginning with the Battle of Waterloo and ending just before World War 1.

The Son of Left Handed Shoveler Boys & girls growing up during the Depression and W.W2.

Make me an Offer is a novel about love and missed chances, set in a fictional town in southern Ontario. The three protagonists, Maggie, Charlie, and Harry take turns telling a story, peeling off the years to reveal their loves and secrets.

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If I Were a Blackbird is set in 1797. Young Caro Lapsford is thrust into the center of one of the most dramatic years of that century, when she discovers that her future husband has been press ganged into the British Navy. She comes to London determined to help him escape, but he’s deeply involved in the Great Naval Mutiny; and despite all her efforts he is eventually hung. Heartbroken, she makes her escape with the help of an American sailor, who persuades her to come to America with him and learn to live and love again in a new land.

I read in your bio that you have also written some television scripts. Are there any that we would have heard of?

It was a half hour show for children, called The Maximum Dimension produced by Heartland Motion Pictures, Saskatchewan; a half hour series about math and the world around us. I wrote an episode about Stonehenge and another about the pyramids.

As well as novels, I write short stories, and have noticed that many readers are more willing to read a novel than a collection of short stories. What would you say to convince people to read more short stories?

I think reading habits are changing, everyone’s in a hurry these day and the introduction of EBooks and IPhones encourages the reader to read fiction in small bites.

P.S I am looking forward to reading some of your work. Can I get it on my IPad?

Very kind of you, Brian; yes, Smashwords has my books in many formats and three of them are available on the iBookstore at the moment :)

Do you have any favourite stories from A Patch of Blue? If so, can you tell us why they’re your favourites.

A difficult question to answer–I love all my stories. Each one reminds me of a different time in my life. The General and Moon Lady is a true story. Strasbourg Revisited reminds me of a happy vacation with my youngest son.

When reading some of your short stories and then reading your bio, I did wonder whether any of the stories in your collection were autobiographical. For example a couple of your main characters are Real Estate agents and your bio states that you worked as a Real Estate Agent, and there are also a couple of stories that take place in war time Britain, and your bio states that you lived through the London Blitz. Are any of them inspired by real events or based on people you know?

The Afterglow and My First Canadian were inspired by real events. When people are listing their house for sale they invite you into their homes and you become involved with their family stories as you search for suitable homes. Some of my characters are borrowed from this time in my life. The historical stories are pure fiction inspired by true events.

What are your memories of the London Blitz?

Croydon was still a separate town in the county of Surrey when I was born, and it didn’t become part of the Borough of London until 1965. But the town only ten miles from the London docks and a lot homes were destroyed and some of my school friend were killed during the Blitz in 1940.

Hitler began launching flying bombs at London in June 1944, many of the 9,521 fell short of central London and landed in Croydon. Seventy five percent of the houses in Croydon were damaged or destroyed by the end of the war. My mother and I were bombed out twice and my future wife’s family also lost two homes. During this same period both our fathers were away fighting}. I remember walking across Blackfriar’s Bridge on my first day of work in 1945 and staring at old St. Paul’s surrounded by ruined building.

Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their writing that you like?

Laurie Lee his prose is poetry, he immortalized the English countryside.

Albert Camus I don’t always agree with him – but I never doubt his sincerity and humanity.

Len Deighton I have been a fan of his cryptic style since The Ipcress File.

Margaret Lawrence was one of Canada’s greatest novelists she wrote of a Canada that has disappeared.

Elizabeth von Arnim I love her sense of humour and wit.

Gabriel García Márquez He opened my mind to an unknown world.

David Lodge I love his style and wit

Colleen McCullough A great story teller

Ernest K. Gann We share similar interests – aviation and Africa

I’m only halfway along the first shelf - but it’s time to quit.

Is there a book you own that you’ve read more than once?

The Edge of Day by Laurie Lee

If someone wanted to read your books, which would you recommend they read first, and why?

A Patch of Blue offers the reader a choice of contemporary and historical stories.

Are you reading a book at the moment?

Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth and Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose

What do you think of EBooks as opposed to print books?

I think EBooks will become the main source for novels and short stories. But books will survive once the publishing world settles down.

How important are reviews for you as a writer?

They tell me if my writing is worth reading – everything else is just advertising

How do you go about choosing covers for your books?

Consultation with my publisher, and my artist wife.

What are you working on now?

Halfway through a sequel to Make Me An Offer, and completing my second collection of short stories.

Where can people buy your books?

Blue Denim Press
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

Do you have your own website or blog where people can read more about your work?


Thank you, Brian!


Remember, if you'd like to win a copy of A Patch of Blue, leave a comment below. It's an international competition. Good luck!
7 likes ·   •  33 comments  •  flag
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Published on February 16, 2012 14:01 • 995 views • Tags: author-interview, brian-mullally, giveaway, patch-of-blue, short-stories
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message 1: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell Yes another great interview, Maria. Brian, I agree that ebooks seem to be the fashion at the moment, but I'll always prefer a print copy.

message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks, Julie. I have to admit that I was like you until I bought my Kindle a few months ago. Now, I have been converted to an e-book lover :)

message 3: by Boyd (last edited Feb 20, 2012 08:14AM) (new)

Boyd Lemon I love short story collections. I wrote and published one myself, "Unexpected Love and Other Stories." I'll buy this one if I don't win it. http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com.

message 4: by Maria (new)

Maria Hi Boyd, that link doesn't work :(
Thanks for stopping by, good luck in the draw!

message 5: by Angela (new)

Angela Hello Maria and Brian! Thank you for another great interview. I was so interested to read about your early life in London, Brian. I was born in West London in 1949, so bomb sites and rationing were certainly features of my childhood. Like you, I see amazing changes now when I visit London.

message 6: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin Hi Maria and Brian. This is a wonderful interview. Thanks for posting. I share a common subject with you Brian, its Africa. Not a big fan of ebooks, maybe because I can't get rid of the smell of print or the happiness after reading a hard copy. UK is a country which have struggled hard to keep the 'Great' intact after far, but sad to see the state it is in now. And London, it will always be my second home. :)

message 7: by Maria (new)

Maria Thank you, Angela and Ashwin! I'm pleased you enjoyed the interview :) Good luck in the draw; I'm sure you'll love Brian's collection of stories!

message 8: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell Maria wrote: "Thanks, Julie. I have to admit that I was like you until I bought my Kindle a few months ago. Now, I have been converted to an e-book lover :)"

I do enjoy my Kindle but I'll always prefer the print.

message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather Stewart Excited to read the work of another Canadian author!

message 10: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle Fascinating interview, Maria and Brian!

Brian, my mind got stuck on that first answer, with the bomb destroying your house. And all that destruction you witnessed in England. We here in the U.S. are quite spoiled. For many here, war is an abstract thing, since we've never had our homes bombed or foreign troops stomping on our soil. In my opinion, that detachment is not such a good thing. It can make war too easy of an option.

I am always intrigued to read a person's experience through such times. You should consider a memoir. :)

I'm looking foward to reading your books. Off to add them to my to-read list now!

message 11: by Maria (new)

Maria LOL, sorry to add even more books to your to-read list, Darcia :) I am also planning to read Brian's other books. A Patch of Blue is a wonderful collection. Like you, I am also intrigued when I hear about the stories of people who lived through the World Wars. I think my generation and younger are lucky to have missed out on all that in the UK. It's easy to forget how many people's lives were disrupted during those times. It must have been very frightening to live through all of that.

message 12: by Maria (new)

Maria Heather wrote: "Excited to read the work of another Canadian author!"

Thanks for your comment, Heather! Good luck in the draw :)

message 13: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle Yes, Maria. I already have enough reading material to last me the next 20 years. You need to stop enticing me with all these great books!

message 14: by Maria (new)

Maria Only 20 years? I'm sure all the books on my list would take me at least 40 years to read lol ;)

message 15: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle All the books I already own would last me 20 years. If we factored in the books I don't yet own on my to-read list, I need to live to be 478! :))

message 16: by Maria (new)

Maria Ha, ha! :) I keep downloading all the free Kindle books now... it's my new obsession! I need some serious help. Maybe we should start a self-help group Book-addicts Anonymous :)

message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell Maria wrote: "Ha, ha! :) I keep downloading all the free Kindle books now... it's my new obsession! I need some serious help. Maybe we should start a self-help group Book-addicts Anonymous :)"

Oh no, I'm doing it too - are you going to be the founder of the addicts group, Maria :)

message 18: by Maria (new)

Maria I'm not sure I have enough time to set up the group, I'm too busy downloading free ebooks ;)

message 19: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell LOL

message 20: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle LOL! Maria, We are a pathetic bunch!

message 21: by Maria (new)

Maria :)

message 22: by Fiona (Titch) (new)

Fiona (Titch) Hunt Oh wow, a terrific interview Maria. Can I add that I have only read 1 of Colleen McCullough's books and that was Tim by audio, but her style of books was amazing and I look forward to reading Brian Mallally's books with interest.

message 23: by Maria (last edited Mar 01, 2012 08:50AM) (new)

Maria Hi Fiona! Glad you enjoyed the interview. I've only read one of Colleen McCullough's books too, but it's one of my favourite ever books, The Ladies of Missalonghi. I also enjoyed The Thorn Birds series on TV in the '80s :)
Good luck in the draw!

message 24: by Fiona (Titch) (new)

Fiona (Titch) Hunt Maria wrote: "Hi Fiona! Glad you enjoyed the interview. I've only read one of Colleen McCullough's books too, but it's one of my favourite ever books, The Ladies of Missalonghi. I also enjoyed [bo..."

Never seen or read [book:The Thorn Birds|3412]

message 25: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell Yes, I remember The Thorn Birds on TV, it was supposed to be quite shocking for its time...very controversial.

message 26: by Abid (new)

Abid Great interview, Maria... Looking forward to read this book!!! :)

message 27: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks, Abid! Good luck in the draw :)

message 28: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks to everyone who entered. The draw is now closed. The lucky winner will be contacted shortly! :)

message 29: by Brian (new)

Brian I have to apologize for taking so long to reply. I had major heart surgery in December that has slowed me down. I took my first walk along the north shore of Lake Ontario today with my wife and enjoyed the brilliant blue. I started a new story yesterday.
Brian Mullally

message 30: by Maria (new)

Maria So glad to hear you're back on your feet, Brian! Thanks for taking part in the interview and giveaway :)

message 31: by Abid (new)

Abid Take care, Brian! All the best!

message 32: by Brian (new)

Brian Thanks for your good wishes Maria I back to reading Love and Loyalty

message 33: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell Thank you, Brian.

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