“Interview with G.M. Nair”
I had the recent pleasure of reading and reviewing Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire on behalf of Independent Book Review. While I expected to enjoy this detective novel—mystery is one of my favorite genres—I was taken aback by how thoughtful and hilarious it turned out to be! Witty and entertaining, I thought it would be great to learn more about the process author G.M. Nair had while making this extraordinary book.
If you’re not familiar with this book, check out what I had to say about it here at “Book Review: Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire.”
Without further ado, here’s my interview with author G.M. Nair!
Steph Huddleston: Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions, G.M Nair!
Nair: No problemo! Thanks for having me!
Steph Huddleston: How would you describe the characters of Duckett and Dyer to someone who was thinking of picking up the book?
Nair: Two words: “Hot Mess.” But honestly, I’d consider them two halves of an incomplete person. Michael Duckett is a detail-oriented, straight-laced, worrywart, while Stephanie Dyer is a devil-may-care, pop-culture-addicted jokester who tries not to take things too seriously. Despite all odds, they’re best friends, because, deep down, each one knows that if the other wasn’t around, they wouldn’t be able to function properly.
Steph Huddleston: Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire has a gritty and coarse feel to it, much like classic detective novels and films—and yet this is also a sci-fi novel, so I’m curious: Were you inspired in particular by any books, comics, or films when developing the world?
Nair: Oh, a whole lot. Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire is pretty much a love-letter to a lot of the adventure stories that I enjoyed growing up. Indiana Jones, Back to The Future, Doctor Who, Agatha Christie’s novels, and Sherlock Holmes all had various hands in influencing the story. But, most obviously, I pull from Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently series of novels, but infuse it with the incomprehensible universe-spanning plots of modern comic book crossovers, which I consume by the truckload.
Steph Huddleston: What is the takeaway feeling you hope readers have when finishing Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire?
Nair: Well, I hope they’ve enjoyed themselves for one. I tried to create a rousing adventure tale that’d let readers take a load off and have a ball with the characters. But at the same time, I hope that lulled them into a false sense of security so they’re filled with a looming sense of dread about what’s going to happen to Duckett & Dyer when the other shoe drops in the epilogue.
Steph Huddleston: In writing, readers have discussed for a long time where the boundary between author and created work are. Do you see yourself, or others in your life experience, in either of your main characters?
Nair: Michael and Stephanie’s characters come easily to me because they’re very much two sides of my own personality. I have been known to be a nervous overthinker who is his own worst critic, while simultaneously being an outwardly worry-free comedic jokester who doesn’t take things seriously enough.
It’s tough being a walking contradiction, but it makes writing Michael and Stephanie very simple, as I only need to consider what kind of dumb joke I would make, while juxtaposing it against how a Nervous Nellie would feel when completely out of their depth.
I’m lucky to have both of them in my head, because, splitting this into two characters makes for an interesting friendship dynamic that hammers home that neither sort of personality can fully function without the other.
Steph Huddleston: At the end of Duckett and Dyer, we are given the teaser that they will return in your next book The One Hundred Percent Solution. What can you tell us about the sequel?
Nair: Well, I just finished the first pass of The One Hundred Percent Solution and hope to have it out next year. It essentially deals with what happens in the next few weeks after Dicks For Hire. The detective agency isn’t profitable and Stephanie’s having doubts about it after realizing what it might mean for Michael. Meanwhile, Michael gets fired from his position at The Future Group, throwing their entire income in jeopardy. But then they get offered a case that would put the agency on the map. One that involves investigating the terrifying and deadly history of the Future Group itself.
Steph Huddleston: Less specifically about Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire I’d love to know a bit more about your publication story. How long did it take you to craft, write, and publish this story? Were there any aspects that were more challenging than others?
Nair: The idea for Duckett & Dyer came to me back in 2007. I had a boss named Michael Dyer who was pretty quirky and his name struck me – for whatever reason – as interesting. So I affixed it to a bumbling detective and came up with the idea for a webcomic called ‘You’re A Mystery, Michael Dyer.” I lacked any sort of follow-through on that, but the idea eventually evolved into a duo, and the subtitle ‘Dicks for Hire’ just screamed at me. It was such a great idea that I knew I had to get something out as soon as possible before someone else stole it.
Needless to say, it was 2015 when I actually decided to sit down and put pen to paper. Then came another 4 years of development. It’s a long time to write a novel, but between my job and other life commitments, it was hard to prioritize. Ultimately, it was for the better, as the book went through several massive revisions. The first few iterations were a time travel novella, with far less depth and heart to the story, but it wasn’t until the final drafts in 2018 when I got it to a point where I wasn’t embarrassed to share it with people. And for someone who’s overly critical of his own work, that’s a high bar to clear.
From there, I attempted to go the trad pub route but tapped out after about 90 agent rejections. I was told the concept wasn’t super marketable, which is understandable. A sci-fi mystery comedy? That’s an incredibly niche market to take a gamble on. But in any case, I was proud of what I’d done, and decided to self-publish, which gave me a great deal of control over the book that I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed.
Steph Huddleston: Do you have a favorite part of the novel writing process? What is it, and why is it your favorite?
Nair: I’m an engineer by trade, so building the initial architecture for the story, the frame it hangs on, is probably my most favorite bit. It allows you to see how everything can work together to produce a satisfying narrative. But then you have to populate it with words. Eugh.
Steph Huddleston: Have you got any advice for aspiring authors?
Nair: Write what you’d want to read, but pay attention to how others are writing similar things.
Also, don’t listen to some rando’s writing advice on the internet.
Steph Huddleston: Lastly, what have you been reading or watching lately? Any recommendations?
Nair: I’m a huge Star Wars fanboy, so The Mandalorian’s dominated most of my TV watching. And Episode XI is out soon, so it’s a big time for my kind. I’m also about half-way through HBO’s Watchmen sequel series. Other than that, I’ve been reading Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders and Tavern by Deston J. Munden.
But if you’re a fan of my work, I’d heavily recommend The Audacity by Laura Loup.
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