Book Tours: The Belch Park Field Trip

  • How long have you been writing?

About fifteen seconds, why? Nah, just kidding. I’ve been a screenwriter for nearly twenty years. I’ve been a novelist since October 2016. The Belch Park Field Trip is my fifteenth book, so I’ve produced one full length novel per month, roughly.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

Satire, without question. I’m a natural born piss-taker. That said, I’m multi-genre within the satire label. I’ve written satirical humor, horror, thriller, crime, romance and slapstick farce. I’m about to do with same with sci-fi.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Sci-fi. I’d say most of my author friends write fantasy and sci-fi, two genres I’ve not dabbled in too much. I’m not really a fan of Lord of the Rings and stuff like that. You probably won’t see me write about goblins and fairies. That said, some of my favourite films and books have been sci-fi (Robocop, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Firefly, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy etc) and so my venture into sci-fi doesn’t seem so annoying (haha!). In fact, I hope my desire to do something different within the sci-fi genre may give it that edge, that certain something that makes it stand out from the others.

  • Please tell us about your book.

The Belch Park Field Trip is the third book in the Chrome Junction Academy series. The series is very sharp satire, starting with crime – Let’s Kill Mr Pond is about two twelve-year-old boys who plot to murder their teacher. The second book, Vicky & Lizzie’s First Period, is a South Park-esque musical about a nasty rumour the girls start about their teacher. The girls are in the same class as the boys in the first book.

Now, we have the third book, where the kids are going on a field trip to a theme park. The really bad kids have been sent there because the school inspectors are coming in. So the principal wants them as far away from the building as possible.

Belch Park is fundamentally a screwball, madcap comedy farce. It’s a lot like a cartoon, and it can be enjoyed by young adults and probably teenagers. I think of it as The Goonies meets Jurassic Park, but instead of dinosaurs, there are roller coasters and attractions. It’s a cute and funny underdog story at its core. When Henry and the gang from CJA get there, they discover that their rival school – a notoriously vicious south London Roman Catholic bunch – are in the park as well.

So, there’s no end to the opportunities of chaos and destruction.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

My favourite character… hmm, there are probably two.

Henry Williams, the lead, is an inch shorter than is allowed to go on the rides. He’s a bit of a dweeb, and so has to think resourcefully to get what he wants and prove himself. He’s the underdog.

Also, without question, the “lead” of the rival school – a nasty piece of work named Pearce Grobbelaar – is at once sycophantic in front of the nuns, but flips on a dime when he’s with his friends. It’s meant to be farcical, and Pearce was an absolute joy to write. That’s probably because he extrapolated the mischievous and narcissistic tendencies I have. It’s always fun to write the bad guys, isn’t it? But I never, ever think of my bad guys as bad guys. I try to see the human and good in all the characters. It makes them far more interesting to me.

Least favourite? Hmm… I guess the park’s resident mind-reader/charlatan who occasionally pops up. His name is Rip Fandango, and is kind of the Obi Wan-Kenobi of this book. He advises Henry to man-up and kick his adversaries in “the bit between the balls and ass” – the barse. I’m planning a series for Rip Fandango in the future, but in Belch Park he’s limited. I couldn’t do as much as I would have liked with him, so he’s more of a story point and symbol of Henry’s failing than an actual character at the moment.

But Rip Fandango will get his own series. Mind-reader extraordinaire. A satire, essentially, on all these televangelists we see now. The Cris Angels and David Blaines of the world will get skewered…

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The hardest part of any book is starting. The first sentence has to smack the reader in the face, grab their throat and never let go. I think I’m pretty good at that. Belch Park starts with a none-too-subtle homage to Dr Strangelove, one of my favourite films. I’ve painted the school inspectors as Nazis (they are from a government body named HEiL – Higher Expectations in Learning) Whenever the name is mentioned, everyone does a Nazi salute. It’s silly, but it amuses me – and if it makes me laugh, a gag usually stays in.

Belch Park was an unusual process for me. I wrote the first draft quickly. I took six days. But… it was full of swearing and nasty stuff. Essentially, though, it just got me to the end. The second pass was a bit like writing the book all over again. Stripping out the extreme cursing and being more PG-rated and inventive with it. I dialed down a lot of the violence and contentious moments. Moreover, I tweaked the story points so that every character had an arc to follow – something personal to achieve within the story. And, of course, I made it very ironic.

I’ve not done with so much with the fourteen books that came before it.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

As long as I have a beginning, middle and end – and a sort of soundtrack – I’m good to go. When I get ideas, I let them bake for a few days. I create a soundtrack for it and daydream the movie trailer in my head.

Let me explain.

For Belch Park I had Love Roller Coaster by Red Hot Chili Peppers and a number of other theme park related songs on my phone. I’ll go out for a walk and just imagine certain scenes to the music, as if it was a movie trailer. Once that happens, the characters take shape and some of the visuals help me form the beginning, middle and end. One of the first things I saw in the imaginary trailer were:

A girl holding on to her restraint, flying off the back of a roller coaster.

A fat kid vomiting, and everyone getting covered in spew on the same roller coaster.

A mega-drop tower suddenly had the harnesses break free, and everyone screaming and holding on to them as the ride plummeted.

A tiger climbing a launch roller coaster.

A food fight in a restaurant

Stuff like that. All came from the “trailer” – and so, it was just a matter of working those ideas into the story.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

First draft takes about five or six days, clocking in at 60k words. I write really, really fast. The self-edit before I push it to my content editor takes about two days. I produce a book a month this way. What’s curious is that I don’t write every day. I prefer to do twelve hour bursts of around 15-20k words (with breaks, usually for smoking)

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

Yes, it’s very simple.

First Draft Complete (6 days ish) > Walk away and let my subconscious work on it (2 days) > Tidy up first draft (2-3 days) > Send to editor, and let her line/proof edit (3-4 days) > Go through edit notes (1 day) > Send to my proof reading team (3 days) > Get the notes back and fix the errors (1 day) > Send to ARC team and let them read it (1 week) > Release.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

Yes, it’s the third book in the Chrome Junction Academy series. I must stress, though, that all my books can be read as a standalone. If you’ve read all my stuff, you’ll be rewarded with easter eggs and stuff. All my books are set in Chrome Valley. Characters from different books run into each other all the time. Names and organisations are mentioned… the prolific whale reader will get lots out of it!

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t listen to anyone – just start typing. If you’re serious, you’ll write. If you’re not, you won’t. The more you read and write, the better you’ll get. Embrace feedback – especially the most brutal feedback you can find. I’d go so far as to sending your book to someone who hates you personally, and seeing what they think. The last thing you want is for people to rub your back and say “ohh, it’s great” because they don’t want to offend you. That will kill your author career in a heartbeat – why? Because you’ll make the same damn mistakes over and over again.

  • Why should everyone read your book?

Because they’re a lot of fun and will evoke a range of emotions. You’ll laugh, puke, cry and gasp – usually in that order. A reader may not like every book – or any book – heck, they may love it. But they’ll never forget it. I’m all about pushing boundaries and exemplifying free speech and non-restrictions of ideas. You won’t have read anything quite like it before.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

George Orwell – one of the UK’s most brilliant minds and satirists.  Douglas Adams, for being brave enough to write something as inventive as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Carl Jung, the psychologist, purely to pick his brains. All three are dead, though, so the chances of a meaningful get-together are limited.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

I write for a lot of reasons. Belch Park was unusual because I wanted to flex my farce and chaos muscles. It’s the definitive adventure book set in a theme park, as far as I’m concerned. I think readers of all ages will get a thrill out of it. I’m not aiming for much more than that with this book. It’a a bit naughty, and a bit vicious and just a hell of a lot of fun. And very relatable, in my view.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

Yes, I’m working on a family-friendly sci-fi satire series. I’m not going to expatiate on it too much, as I’m in the “movie trailer/daydream” phase right now. I can tell you that it will be out April 2018. That there will be at least three of them. It’s my most mainstream effort yet, and I am absolutely in love with it.

If anyone reading would like to be kept abreast of my work and forthcoming releases, they should join Chrome Valley Books on Facebook and follow me at Amazon.

Facebook.com/chromevalleybooks

My author page at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Mackay/e/B01MDKTJ2Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1519573133&sr=8-2-ent

We’re also looking for more ARC readers, too. There’s never a shortage of awesomeness to consume. Potential ARC readers should email jo@chromevalleybooks.com and ask to be included. We just ask for an honest review. The gang is growing and growing, and my readers and fans are a great bunch of people.

The Belch Park Field Trip

IT’S A JUNGLE IN THERE!

Henry Williams has never been a leader.
Or stood up to the bullies.
Or kissed the girl of his dreams.

In fact, he’s never stood out from the school crowd.

Mind you, he’s only twelve years-old.
And a foot shorter than his classmates.

All that will change today, though.

The school inspectors are visiting Chrome Junction Academy.
The principal needs to get rid of the cream of the cr@p!
He would have preferred to send them to another galaxy far, far away…

Instead, the obnoxious, high-on-energy-drinks brats are off to…

BELCH PARK!

Roller coasters! Mega-drop towers! Ghost trains! Ferris wheels! Bumper cars!

No end of opportunities for fun, thrills and spills!
The perfect place to run rampant and enjoy themselves…

But wait!

South London’s notorious Our Lady of Sacrifice Roman Catholic school is also there.
They’re Chrome Junction Academy’s natural enemy.
Oh bugger

NOW IT’S WAR!

Limbs will break…
Dares will result in irreparable damage…
The innocent will be caught in the crossfire…
Even the park may not survive

Henry’s destiny awaits…

Chrome Junction Academy’s underdog must step up… and grow a pair.

He’ll have to ensure the safety of his friends.
Fend off the bigger, badder kids.
and get them out of Belch Park in one piece!

Purchase from Amazon UK

Purchase from  Amazon US

About Andrew Mackay​

Some authors are afraid to cross the line.

Me? Oh, I’m glad you asked! I make “the line” my starting point…

My brand is satire.

I hop between genres like madman on crack because my razor-sharp literary knife is hungry for political and social commentary. One genre just can’t cut it (if you’ll forgive the pun.) I’m obsessed, I tell you!

I write straight-up humor and farce, horror, crime, romance… all under the banner of satire.

My novels often contain a ruthless commentary on society, delving into the darker machinations of modern life. They can be uproarious, funny, outrageous and shocking. Make no mistake, though. They are this way for a reason, and always come equipped with a sense of humanity and wit.

My influences include John Cleese, Tom Sharpe, Kurt Vonnegut, James Patterson, Hunter S Thompson, Douglas Adams, Imogen Edwards-Jones, Michael Frayn, Chris Morris, Jerry Sadowitz, Christopher Hitchins, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Jordan Peterson, Pat Condell, and writer/director Larry Cohen.

My obsessions include (and are essentially limited to) obscene amounts of: smoking, drugs, alcohol, caffeine, sex, debating, daydreaming and writing about himself in the third person.

Website – https://chromevalleybooks.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/chromevalleybooks

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Andrew_CVB

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