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Escaping the Shadows: An Interview with Lyn McCauly, author of Early Release

McCauley

A long career in the Canadian prison system has given me a unique perspective on crime, criminals, and the people (police and prison staff) who interact in a strange world that is separate from the regular man/woman/person on the street.

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Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Frank is a “quiet solitary guy, a career criminal going about his business, neither bothering with, nor bothered by anybody else.” Alas, he finds himself not only in prison, but serving a long, long sentence. Frank decides that however appealing a “roof and three squares” might be to some people, he’s not going to hang around any longer than necessary.

A successful escape plan requires inside and outside help. Inside help? An escape makes everyone look bad. So the staff are trained to prevent escapes, to avoid getting sucked in, and to watch out for the weak links in the institutional fabric. And yet…

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

My character, Frank, insisted that his story be told. He took residence in my head and if I was ever going to get a good night’s sleep, I had to get up, turn on the computer, and get typing.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Prior to leaving the prison system, my writing was limited to reports. “It would be better for Mr. X to remain incarcerated for as long possible as he is an unrepentant threat to one and all.” Then, following a strange set of events and with no background training or identifiable skill, I ended up running writing groups. My draft book was comfortable in its drawer but it became obvious that if I was going to encourage my group participants to write and publish, I had to walk the walk.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

A master manipulator—whether a “Ponzi” schemer, an unethical evangelist, a prince from Nigeria, or a prison inmate who’s decided he’s done enough time—can get anyone of us to act contrary to “common sense” and our own best interest.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I hope to have two comedies staged this year.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Atmosphere Press is an efficient business run by and staffed with patient, helpful, and skilled people.


You can buy the book here.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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