Well the blog tour for MR Mackenzie's The Library Murders may have come to an end but I have an extra treat for you today - an interview with the girl herself, main character Alyssa Clark. And boy, she's not shy about expressing herself! Alyssa is the second of Mackenzie's women (characters, that is!) that I've interviewed - you can read my interview with Dr Anna Scavolini (from In The Silence) here - and neither of them have given me an easy time!
Firstly, in case you missed my post at the weekend, here's what The Library Murders is all about:
Alyssa Clark is about to find out that reading really can be murder.
She thought her new job in Thornhill Library would be safe and uneventful. Boring, even. But on her first day at work, a masked gunman storms into the building and blows away every member of staff on duty. Alyssa barely escapes with her life.
The police are satisfied they’ve got their man, but Davy, Alyssa’s colleague and the only other survivor of the massacre, is convinced the real killer is still at large. Alyssa – trying to move on with her life while dealing with traumatic flashbacks and the unwanted advances of an obsessive ex – is sceptical. However, when she stumbles across damning evidence of a cover-up, she agrees to join forces with Davy to help track down the real culprit.
But in her pursuit of the truth, will she find the closure she desperately craves… or provoke the wrath of a killer with unfinished business on his mind?
Character Interview - Alyssa Clark
Yeah, well, I said I’d give you ten minutes… but I’ll tell ya right now, my dude, if you’re gonna start asking me a bunch of pseudo-psychological mumbo-jumbo about what happened to me – y’know, trying to peer into my soul – then I’ll be out that door before you can say “holy shitballs”.
We can all hear that you're not a native Glaswegian and you're keen to point out that you are not American. So tell us a bit about where you come from.
I mean, I’d rather not, if it’s all the same. I’d only bore both of us into an early grave by talking about it. Let’s just say Littlehaven is the sort of teeny-tiny little town where everyone is someone else’s cousin and where the best future I could look forward to was a lifetime of waiting tables at my folks’ bar. Plus, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Saskatchewan, but the winters there make the ones in Glasgow seem positively tropical.
And of all the places you could have gone, how did you end up working in a library in sunny Glasgow?
(Bares teeth) You’re funny. I like you. But seriously, though, it was all about getting as far away from home as possible. And then I found out about the whole ancestry visa thing – cos obviously it makes total sense that I’m automatically entitled to a visa just cos one of my ancestors came over in a dinghy to escape the Highland Clearances or whatever – like, that’s completely not racist at all. But it worked out in my favour so I wasn’t gonna complain about getting to jump the queue, was I? And hey – I was hardly gonna complain about being able to park a whole fricking ocean between myself and the Boomers, now was I?
As for the whole library thing – well, let’s just say I needed to find gainful employment fast or else I’d find myself on a one-way plane back to Saskatchewan, the job came up and I somehow managed to dupe the interview panel into thinking I had something to offer the world of books. Hey – it’s their funeral.
You've got some impressive tattoos there on your arms.. So you want to tell us about them? And are there any that we can't see that you want to tell us about?
There’s not much to tell, really. I know you’re trying to read all sorts of into each and every ink swirl – like, does this one refer to the death of a beloved family pet? Does that one mean I’ve got daddy issues? But the reality is, I just think they look neat. And it’s a way of taking ownership of my own body, y’know? Like, changing it into something new and original ’stead of just accepting what nature gave me. As for ones you can’t see, are you some sort of perv?
OK, moving swiftly on. You're a bit of a video game whizz, aren't you? Is that how you relax? I think your game of choice is Super Smash Bros. What's your high score?
Eh, it’s a cool game, I s’pose, but to be honest my friends enjoy it a bunch more than I do. Great for couch co-op, but to be honest there’s only so much candy-coloured platforms and kerpow-splat sound effects I can take. If I really wanna work off some tension, I’ll fire up the Xbox and play some Left 4 Dead. Nothing quite beats blowing holes in zombie skulls to wind down after a hard day’s work.
You work in a library but are you a reader? What reading material is on your bedside table?
Just between us, before I started working at Thornhill Library, I hadn’t cracked a book since finishing high school. I’ve just never been much of a reader, y’know? ’Cept graphic novels. Those I can get into. Guess it’s cos there’s pictures ‘n’ shit ’stead of just walls of text. Heh, you probably think that’s dead low brow, but you’d be surprised. A lot of them deal with some heavy, heavy themes. Like, Transmetropolitan? Came out in 1997; totally predicted half the shit that’s going down in America right now.
It's fair to say you had a traumatic first day at work in Thornhill Library. How did ' The Event' affect you?
It didn’t. Not at all. I wish people would stop making out it’s some sort of a big deal. It’s just something that happened. I got shot. I lived. The others didn’t. End of. Next question.
I felt you went on a bit of a personal journey (sorry!) after The Event . Would you agree with that?
If, by “personal journey”, you mean that people won’t stop asking me what it was like and how it affected me mentally, physically and spiritually, then yeah, sure, one hundred percent. You know I’ve actually had people ask me if my life flashed before my eyes? I mean, how fricking clichéd can you get? But no, I don’t think I went on a personal journey. I’m exactly the same person as I was before that fruit loop pointed his gun in my face and opened fire – ’cept with a hole in the side of my head.
If The Library Murders was made into a film, who would play you? And what about Davy, Metcalfe and Tony Barbarossa?
Oh man, don’t even. A film about me? That’s like my worst nightmare. Knowing my luck, they’d cast some bottle-blonde LA floozy as me, die her hair black, paint some fake tattoos on her and call that doing me justice. Plus they’d rewrite what happened to make me all weepy and fragile and emotional, and give me a happy ending where I face my inner demons and find true love or whatever. If they wanna make a film about it, they can damn well write me out of it. Give the starring role to Davy instead. He’d love it. Fact, he’d probably wanna play himself – and to be honest he probably should. I can’t think of anyone else who’s annoying enough to capture his essence.
And Barbarossa? Man’s a fricking force of nature. I doubt there’s anyone in Hollywood who’d even come close to matching his presence. Or who’s tall enough. I mean, have you ever looked up actors’ heights on IMDB or whatever? They’re all midgets! Sorry – little people. Seriously, I reckon they’d have to do all that “forced perspective” shit they did in the Lord of the Rings films. That, or cast a bunch of dwarfs to play everyone else.
And a couple of fun (I hope) questions to finish on.
You're on a desert island. You can take one essential item, one luxury item and one book. What would they be?
Essential item: my computer (and a fibre optic broadband connection)
Luxury item: like, I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but probably a really good vibrator, to make up for all the sex I won’t be having while I’m stranded
Book: why, The Library Murders, of course. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
And finally, what would your spirit animal be?
Guess I’m gonna have to be honest and say a porcupine.
Actually, one extra question - is there anything you expected me to ask but I didn't? And what is the answer?
I’m amazed you got through the whole interview without asking me if my life flashed before my eyes when… you know. And it’s a good thing thing you didn’t, cos my answer would’ve got us both thrown off the internet.
Thanks so much, Alyssa, for dropping by. I hope this wasn't too awful and cringy for you, but I really think it's helped us to get to know you better. Thank you.
No, thank you. Makes a change from stamping books and helping bozos reset their email passwords.
Signed paperback (via Gumroad)
In addition to writing, he works as a Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante, Hideo Nakata and Jacques Tourneur. Writing as Michael Mackenzie, he has contributed chapters to books on cult cinema and regularly provides video essays and liner notes for new releases of celebrated films. He used to work in a library, before leaving to spend more time with books.
In 2019, his first novel, In the Silence, was shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of the Year and longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize.