Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Michael McCabe - Definitely No Superman by Author James Hayman

James Hayman, author of the thriller, The Cutting talks about his character Michael McCabe and how he took on a life of his own in the pages of The Cutting.

About the Book:

NYPD homicide detective Mike McCabe left New York for Maine to escape his own dark past and to find a refuge from the violence of the big city for himself and his teenaged daughter, but on the fog-shrouded, cobblestone streets of Portland he finds far more than he bargained for. On a warm September evening the mutilated body of Katie Dubois, a pretty high school soccer star, turns up, dumped in a Portland scrap yard. Her heart has been neatly and expertly cut from her body. The same day Lucinda Cassidy, a young Portland business-woman and competitive runner, disappears during her morning jog. Soon other bodies turn up. All young, all blond, all athletes. Very quickly McCabe discovers he’s on the trail of no ordinary killer. Rather his prey is a brilliant, psychopathic surgeon who kills in a bizarre way to satisfy his own strange and frightening desires. McCabe knows he has to move fast. He has less than one week to find the killer before Cassidy dies and Casey, McCabe’s own daughter is threatened. He also knows the clock is ticking.

Michel McCabe: Definitely No Superman.


Even before I began writing it, I knew I wanted THE CUTTING to be the first in an ongoing series of suspense thrillers. That meant the main characters, but especially the hero, Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, had to be able to sustain a reader’s interest, book after book, over a period of years. Equally important, McCabe and the other characters had to be complex and interesting enough to keep on challenging me as a writer.


I rejected the idea of developing a hero who was some kind of loner/superman like Ian Fleming’s James Bond or David Morrell’s Rambo or, more recently, Lee Child’s lone drifter Jack Reacher or even Robert Parker’s Spenser. Yes, these characters were and are hugely successful and I’d be thrilled if McCabe sold half as many books as any one of them.


Still, the heroes I like best aren’t supermen. They’re simply flawed human beings who solve murders because it’s their job as cops. They’re people we can all identify with. Yes, they each have a few individual quirks. Everyone does. Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch is the orphaned son of a prostitute and his first name is Hieronymus. Ian Rankin’s John Rebus is an anti-social alcoholic. And Tess Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli has deep insecurities, anger management issues and major problems with both her mother and her insensitive lout of a brother. But they are all cops and, more importantly, they are all real people.


And so Michael McCabe, the hero of The Cutting, was born. Like all good characters, McCabe has a few idiosyncrasies of his own. He studied to be a film-maker and has an encyclopedic knowledge of old movies. He has an eidetic memory and can remember verbatim virtually everything he ever read or heard. He drives a classic ‘red ’57 T-Bird. But most important he’s a real human being, a good guy cop with plenty of problems and flaws. He’s a single father struggling to raise a teenage daughter on his own. He drinks too much. He has a hang-up about his ex-wife Sandy and still dreams about her. He also has nightmares about the first guy he ever killed and sometimes he wakes up with the shakes. Even so, he thinks he can solve every crime all by himself with little or no help from anyone else. As McCabe’s partner Maggie tells him in The Cutting, “Shit, McCabe, you always think you can do everything alone. And you call Kane a risk-taker. Even the Lone Ranger never went anywhere without Tonto.”


I like McCabe and I think most readers will too. Quite a few have already told me they do. THE CUTTING came out in June of last year and got mostly terrific reviews. McCabe number two, THE CHILL OF NIGHT, arrives in bookstores June 2010. And I’ve just started working on McCabe number three in which his daughter Casey who was just thirteen in THE CUTTING, has become a drop-dead gorgeous sixteen year old who is driving her father crazy.


Like McCabe, I’m a native New Yorker. He was born in the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn. We both grew up in the city. He dropped out of NYU Film School and joined the NYPD, rising through the ranks to become the top homicide cop at the Midtown North Precinct. I graduated from Brown and joined a major New York ad agency, rising through the ranks to become creative director on accounts like the US Army, Procter & Gamble, and Lincoln/Mercury.

We both married beautiful brunettes. McCabe’s wife, Sandy dumped him to marry a rich investment banker who had “no interest in raising other people’s children.” My wife, Jeanne, though often given good reason to leave me in the lurch, has stuck it out through thick and thin and is still my wife. She is also my best friend, my most attentive reader and a perceptive critic.

Both McCabe and I eventually left New York for Portland, Maine. I arrived in August 2001, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, in search of the right place to begin a new career as a fiction writer. He came to town a year later, to escape a dark secret in his past and to find a safe place to raise his teenage daughter, Casey.
There are other similarities between us. We both love good Scotch whiskey, old movie trivia and the New York Giants. And we both live with and love women who are talented artists.

There are also quite a few differences. McCabe’s a lot braver than me. He’s a better shot. He likes boxing. He doesn’t throw up at autopsies. And he’s far more likely to take risks. McCabe’s favorite Portland bar, Tallulah’s, is, sadly, a figment of my imagination. My favorite Portland bars are all very real.

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1 comment:

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