Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Michael McKinley

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On Writing, with Michael McKinley

Michael McKinley talks to Open Book about crime, hockey and writing. He will be reading from his novel, The Penalty Killing (McClelland & Stewart), on Wednesday, March 24 at 7:30pm at Harbourfront Centre. See our events page for details.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your book, The Penalty Killing.

Michael McKinley:

It’s a murder mystery set in the world of pro hockey, but it’s less about hockey than in it is about money, greed, sexual blackmail and the good old fashioned mayhem that humans can produce when we set our minds to it.

OBT:

How did you research your book?

MM:

I’ve written a few books about hockey, so know the landscape pretty well. I’m also very interested in the world of finance and investing, and I love reading crime novels —especially those by Don Winslow, Phillip Kerr and Dennis Lehane – so all of the above came together as a very pleasant cocktail of research to help me write my book.

OBT:

Is your sleuth, Martin Carter, based on a real hockey player or a composite of hockey players?

MM:

Martin Carter is 90 per cent a figment of my imagination and 10 per cent Brendan Shanahan, who I’ve always admired as a player and a person. All the nasty, messy stuff is me, and the on ice talent and character stuff is Shanahan.

OBT:

In addition to writing fiction and non-fiction books, you're a journalist, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, and you've even written and produced an episode of South Park. How do you switch from medium to medium, and how does your work in one medium affect your work in another? And how do you find the time?

MM:

Firstly, though I would love to have written an episode of South Park, I never have. I wrote for Due South, and over time, that credit has morphed into the other. I live in hope that one day, South Park will call. As for the rest of it, writing is writing. I look at everything I do as being interconnected. For instance, all the stuff I’ve done at the Vatican and in the Middle East for CNN was, in addition to being much fun, as well as pretty good TV, was also research for a novel I’m now working on about the Vatican and Middle East. Journalism provides a passport into places I wouldn’t normally be allowed as a civilian, and so, it’s a wonderful way to gather material that will come out in ways I have yet to imagine.

OBT:

What's your favourite hockey team?

MM:

I have to use the word “favourite” with great care, as they have caused me more woe than anything else, but it’s the Vancouver Canucks. I grew up with them, learned all about hope and despair from them, and still, despite being an Irish fatalist in a long line of them, I continue to believe that this season will be their season. It’s why my psychotherapist could afford to buy a Gulfstream jet.

OBT:

What's your next project?

MM:

I’m finishing the second novel in the Martin Carter series, which is a bit of a sequel to the first, and a new direction in its own right. I’m also working on that Vatican-Middle East thriller, a children’s book and a TV series on art crime. If I survive that, then I hope to be working on another Martin Carter book soon.


The author of Hockey: A People's History and four earlier books on hockey, Michael McKinley is also a journalist, a documentary filmmaker and a screenwriter. A Vancouver native, he was educated at the University of British Columbia and at the University of Oxford. While at Oxford, he was associate editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations. His journalism has appeared in major venues on two continents, including the Guardian, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the National Post and Saturday Night magazine. He has also written and produced several documentaries for CNN, and one episode of Due South. The Penalty Killing is his first novel.

For more information about The Penalty Killing please visit the McClelland & Stewart website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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