The world should know this up and coming author, G.M. Nair. I was introduced to him through the medium of Twitter. I began following an interesting new hashtag, #IndieApril. The Twitter writing community was looking for a way to promote and purchase each other's work. I saw this Duckett & Dyer book popping up all over the place. Intrigued, I decided to check it out on Amazon. Just look at the editorial reviews and the sample of the copyright page! (The first page was pretty good too.) I decided to follow the author, @GaneshNair because he seemed to be my kind of sarcastic. I also ordered the book and have just finished reading it. If you have any interest in observational, wry humor with a sci-fi, alternate universe twist, you need to pick up this book. I gave it 5 stars because it's unique, fresh, and fun...much like this interview.
SJ: Michael and Stephanie are a pair of characters like I've never seen before. They're very real and fun. How did these crazy friends pop into your head, or did you have to work hard to create them?
GM: Michael and Stephanie’s characters come easily to me because they’re very much two sides of my own personality. I have been known to be a nervous overthinker who is his own worst critic, while simultaneously being and outwardly worry-free comedic jokester who tries not to take things too seriously.
It’s tough being a walking contradiction, but it makes writing Michael and Stephanie very simple, as I only need to consider what kind of dumb joke I would make, while juxtaposing it against how a Nervous Nellie would feel when completely out of their depth.
I’m lucky to have both of them in my head, because, splitting this into two characters makes for an interesting friendship dynamic that hammers home that neither sort of personality can fully function without the other.
SJ: I've heard that real comedy is in the details. This book is packed with hilarious details! Do you naturally notice these things or does it just come to you when you're writing?
GM: It’s a bit 50/50, really. Some of these details I have saved up in a separate document until I can figure out the time to use them. Other times, I’m knee deep in writing when I figure out a cool connection or detail and have to stick in there.
The first random detail that comes to mind is Calhoun’s choice of Boar’s Head Brand booze. That just came to me and made me laugh, so I had to stick it in there. I don’t actually know how funny people find that one, though. Whatever. Sometimes the jokes are just for me.
SJ: How long did it take you to write this book, from first draft until final submitted novel?
GM: Oh, boy. By my count? 4 years. It’s a long time to write a novel, but between my job and other life commitments, it took a long while. And it went through several massive revisions during that time. The first few iterations were a time travel novella, with far less depth and heart to the story, but it wasn’t until the final drafts last year when the story started to flow into what you’ve read and was finally something I was confident in putting out there.
SJ: There's a distinct Douglas Adams feel to this book. Either you're a fan of his work or you've managed to channel him by supernatural means. Which is it?
GM: Douglas Adams is both the reason for and bane of my existence. I loved the guy. I loved his books and they obviously played a very large part in influencing me as a tween and/or teen, so I’d be remiss to say that he wasn’t a big inspiration for my work. But at the same time, I’m incredibly wary of being compared to him, because he left such massive shoes to fill. Literally. The guy was like 6’5” or something.
In fact, my decision to change this from a time travel novel to an alternate universe novel was predicated by the fact that they released a Dirk Gently TV series a year or two ago and I desperately wanted to avoid any passing comparison. The TV show ended up going in a different direction with it, so I had nothing to worry about, but the alt-universe novel is much stronger.
Ultimately, I like to say I definitely have a strong undercurrent of Douglas Adams, but tried my best to go my own way. I’m not trying to be him, and never could.
SJ: At the end of the book, you tease readers with the promise of another Duckett & Dyer adventure. How many do you have planned? Where are you in the process of writing book two?
GM: Oh, I have a whole bunch of books planned. Some novels, some short story collections. The number wavers every day between 6 and 10, so somewhere around there. I have ideas for all of them, but I’m only through the initial outline stages of Book 2. I’m aiming to get it done within the year, but I don’t want to rush it.
SJ: I discovered this book on Twitter because of #IndieApril. I was sold when even the copyright page made me laugh. Obviously, you are a comedic genius. Who are some of your favorite comedians?
GM: John Mulaney is the modern comedian that shoots to the top of the list. His storytelling style is just so good. I’m also a big fan of Jim Gaffigan, Tig Notaro, Norm MacDonald and Hannibal Buress.
I also have worked in the NYC Sketch Comedy scene, which is lousy with stand-ups, and has some of my favorite people doing material that always cracks me up. So, if you like comedy, check out Kevin Froleiks (@KevinFroleiks), Sam Bourne (@TheSamBourne), and Pat Reilly (@NotPatReilly)
SJ: You've got some pretty wild alternate universes in this book. Are there any crazy ideas that got left on the cutting room floor? If so, can you tell us or are you saving them for future books?
GM: Just one, actually. I had them go to an outer space universe set entirely on a space ship populated with a bunch of different aliens and they had to infiltrate a wedding and kill “The Queen Of Space”. It just got too long and overstayed its welcome. I might still use that somewhere, but I don’t know.
SJ: What came first when you got the idea for this book? Characters? Plot? Genre? Title?
GM: The idea for Duckett & Dyer came to me back in 2007. I had a boss named Michael Dyer who was pretty quirky and his name struck me – for whatever reason - as interesting. So I affixed it to a bumbling detective and came up with the idea of a webcomic called ‘You’re A Mystery, Michael Dyer”. I lacked any sort of follow-through on that, but the idea eventually evolved into a duo, and the subtitle ‘Dicks for Hire’ just screamed at me. From that time, the project underwent several iterations to become what you see today, so I’d say Title first.
SJ: Are you as funny in real life as this book would lead us to believe?
GM: No. Humor is the sign of a weak and stunted mind and the sound of laughter is like acid in my ears.
SJ: If you had to solve an interdimensional mystery, would you rather have Duckett or Dyer as your partner?
GM: Neither or both. They’re a package deal. Unless you don’t want the mystery to be solved.
Honestly, I’d probably pick Calhoun, since he’s a very ‘get stuff done’ kinda guy.
SJ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
GM: Plotter 100%. I’m an engineer by trade and really enjoy architecting my stories and universes as tightly as possible ahead of time. As for the humor, I’m mostly a ‘reactive comedian’, so a lot of that comes to me on the fly.
SJ: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers who hope to be as cool as you are?
GM: Write what you’d want to read, but pay attention to how others are writing similar things.
Also, don’t listen to anyone’s writing advice on the internet.