THREE WEEKS LESS A DAY
Gary D. McGugan
Review and interview by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (7/19)
Gary D. McGugan loves to tell stories and is the author of Three Weeks Less a Day, The Multima Scheme, and Unrelenting Peril. Whether sharing a vision with colleagues in large multinational corporations, helping consulting clients implement expert advice, or writing a corporate thriller, Gary uses artful suspense to entertain and inform. His launch of a new writing career—at an age most people retire—reveals an ongoing zest for new challenges and a life-long pursuit of knowledge. Home may be in Toronto, but his love of travel and broad business knowledge accumulated from extensive experiences around the globe are evident in every chapter Gary writes.
Hi Gary, thank you for joining us today at Reader Views. To start, tell us a bit about your writing journey – when did you start writing and what was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
It’s great to be with you, Sheri. I’ve loved reading as long as I remember and have enjoyed writing for just as long. For me, writing has taken many forms. Like most, it started with assigned essays as a student and then evolved with my 40-year business career. I’ve written magazine articles, letters, speeches, reports, ads, brochures, presentations, proposals, and a blog.
Writing became a full-time career when I retired from corporate life, and 2019 marks 10 years since my first work of non-fiction was published.
What is Three Weeks Less a Day about?
Three Weeks Less a Day tells a fast-paced story about 20 dramatic days in the life of fictional Multima Corporation. Its founder urgently seeks a successor to become the new CEO and we watch how his carefully crafted plan unravels!
What inspired this story?
Millions of people work for large multinational companies, yet few get a glimpse into the workings and machinations at the most senior levels of management. Three Weeks Less a Day provides an entertaining peek into the boardroom. We see how elite executives work and live. But we also learn how easy it may be for criminal and other nefarious forces to infiltrate some of the largest publicly-traded companies in the world.
One of your main characters in the story, John George Mortimer, the CEO of Multima Corporation, is battling breast cancer, which is much less common among men than women. It’s an interesting and unusual development for a male character. What motivated this part of the storyline?
When I needed to create an urgent situation for John George Mortimer to identify a replacement, our daughter and a male colleague were both battling breast cancer. Fortunately, both recovered completely. But I came to realize treatment information and options for women seemed far more developed than those available for men. More than 5,000 North American men are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. So, I wanted to use John George to help make more people aware men should also be checking for lumps and other cancer indications. Early discovery and treatment almost always bring a better outcome.
There are so many layers to your wonderful characters. The division presidents are all so polished and capable, yet they each practice very different management styles. Can you give us a brief description of their influences and styles?
I’m glad you enjoyed the characters! I had fun creating and developing each of them.
Wendal Randall is president of Multima’s Technology business. He’s what a lot of people consider a nerd with a brilliant mind and a passion for all things technical. He “thinks outside the box” continuously and relates much more comfortably to technology than people.
Suzanne Simpson is president of Multima’s Supermarket division and is a well-rounded and skillful executive. Her superlative ‘people skills’ are legendary. They instill unwavering dedication and loyalty among her associates and subordinates.
James Fitzgerald is president of Mutima’s Financial Services group with unapparelled expertise in all matters financial. Many would consider this character a little bland with rigid self-discipline and extraordinary good judgment that wins respect from all.
Which one of your characters did you have the most fun with creating? Is there one you relate to most?
I really enjoy them all. Wendel was the most complex to create because his intelligence offers so much potential, while his multiple character flaws provide unique opportunities.
How does your experience in the corporate world translate into your fictional stories through the characters and/or events?
I understand the culture and environments in the upper echelons of business intimately. For readers, this creates a sense that Three Weeks Less a Day could have some truth to it even though they know I’m writing fiction. However, the plot and characters are entirely the product of what some might call my overactive imagination!
How involved was your research?
I worked in the corporate environment for 40 years and personally visited or lived in all the places where the story takes place. So, we might think about the story as a compilation of a lifetime of learning and research.
Are there certain parts of the story where you took more creative liberties with than others?
I get the FBI involved in the story. I never visited the place where they do their work in the story and have no direct knowledge they even do the work I describe. But there is enough media speculation that my scenario seems plausible to most.
How long did it take you to write Three Weeks Less a Day?
Four years. And that’s not because I’m a slow writer! In fact, I had 2 fundamental objectives. First, I wanted my debut novel to have impeccable quality so readers would want to read the stories that followed. I also wanted to create a book that would be very broadly appealing to adult women and men of all ages. I used 4 editors to bring their different biases and perspectives to my work. My editors were female and male, younger and older. Each provided valuable insight that helped to broaden the appeal of Three Weeks Less a Day for both women and men from 18-80.
Did you set out to write a series when you started writing the first book?
Initially, I didn’t intend to write a trilogy. My intention with Three Weeks Less a Day was to write one entertaining novel with the highest quality possible. As I fine-tuned the ending, I decided to finish the story in a way that laid a foundation for a second book. With The Multima Scheme, I started with the same intention. But early in the process realized I’d need a third book to complete the story of an era in Multima Corporation’s evolution. The great thing about using a multinational company as a back-drop is the life-span. If a business is well-managed, it can continue for generations! Unrelenting Peril is currently the last story I plan for Multima Corporation. However, I can always return with further stories and create a series should I eventually choose that path.
What do you like to read and which authors have inspired your own work as a writer?
I like to read very widely. I probably like as much non-fiction as fiction because I treat reading as part of my continuous learning process. I think every writer can benefit from an inquisitive mind and enduring curiosity. I’ve read many of James Patterson’s earlier works and emulate his style with short chapters, short paragraphs, and quick pace.
Being an author is a full-time job these days. What do you enjoy most about the process?
My favorite part of the process is telling a story. I love putting my thoughts to paper and creating a novel. I equally enjoy meeting my readers and potential readers to share “the story about the story.”
Many writers, it seems, are introverted by nature. Coming from the business world, I wouldn’t imagine that to be an issue with you. How has your corporate background helped with your marketing and promotion efforts?
You’re right. I love to meet new people. Promoting my work is a part of the job I look forward to and take advantage of every opportunity possible. Right now, Canada’s largest bookseller – Chapters / Indigo — is offering excellent support. I’ll make personal appearances in more than 75 of their locations between April and November 2019. Readers who like to come say hello can find upcoming events on my website with this link: https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com/news–events.html
Where can readers connect with you and learn more about you and your work?
Thank you for asking! I’m very accessible and thanks for this opportunity to chat with you!
Monthly Blog: https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com/rendezvous-blog