Q. Thank you for allowing us to start the cross-examining process with your permission, Mr. McNeil.
A. My pleasure.
Q. Okay, let’s begin with the obvious: What was the motivation behind creating a book called Postal?
You know, E! Entertainment Television aired this show in 2008 called Going Postal: 15 Most Shocking Acts of Violence and when I first glimpsed the title I was like, wow. The show detailed what was considered the most brutal mass killings probably known in the present century. But why call it Going Postal? As if that’s the highest form of insanity you can reach. That’s crazy! You don’t hear people saying, they went police on that ass, or, uh-oh, she done went medical and killed them patients! The show’s disturbing title was confirmation to me for an idea that was sparked in 1997, and that was to show the postal service in somewhat of a different light. Granted, there have been some tragic events involving postal employees who went on killing sprees within their place of duty stringing from 1983 to 2010, but people shouldn’t judge the multiple by the few. You have roughly 600,000 employees in the postal system, with the majority of them working diligently in their craft. Despite rain, hail, sleet, snow, a few incompetent supervisors, red-tape decision-making, etc, the true hard-working postal employees rise above all of the drama and continue performing their duties effectively─no different from any other workforce on the face of this planet. Now with that being said, I didn’t shy away from tackling issues that may cause postal employees to respond irrationally when they feel as if they have been railroaded. But at the same time, I also try to show postal employees trying to advance within the postal system, others trying to pursue their dreams outside the postal system or employees in general doing outstanding work when they clock in until they clock out.
Q. I read this book last week. I have to tell you, the dialogue felt as authentic as if I was working inside the post office alongside the characters myself and their growth, when faced with adversity, was paced exceptionally well.
A. Oh, wow, thanks.
Q. Now, are any of these storylines based on your own personal experiences or did they mirror any situations you may have witnessed as a postal employee?
A. Going into writing this project, I made it a priority to generalize my topics as much as possible so that anyone can sincerely relate to them. One reader might relate to a character dealing with infidelity issues such as the character Freeman. Another reader might not find it odd to read about a character such as James who gets thrown into a dual parenting role, unexpectedly. On the other hand, Denise Tucker’s transition to assistant manager and allowing her emotions to get the best of her when dealing with station issues is a prospective some people might overlook. Everyone has their personal opinions about the state of hip-hop and the character Louis will have readers swapping their viewpoints. There will always be a supervisor you’d wish would walk off a cliff and Lexington VanGuard is just that guy, but how would a reader feel about that character if he was handed a raw deal behind his back? And lastly, Cadina is the fickle character having no clue on what she wants out of life but winds up in the post office. But is that where she’s supposed to be? As I stated before, I allow drama to unfold in this book but the relevant foundations I laid out should find a common place in a reader’s heart.
Q. Which character are you most compatible with?
A. Overall, probably James. But I had real insecurity issues like Freeman a while back. I drifted through life like Cadina before realizing and seizing my passion for writing. I used to enjoy writing raps while I was in the Army, that’s how Lou’s character came about, so my personality is sprinkled everywhere.
Q. What do you want your audience to take with them from reading your story?
A. Well, for one, if there is a dream you want to go after, pursue that dream with the belief that no matter what mountains that stand before you, no matter what valleys you have to climb out of, no matter how many years it might take, you will conquer them all to achieve your goal. Never take people for granted. Never judge a book by its cover. Don’t be an arrogant person or your hat will be handed to you. Stay humble. And lastly, just a subliminal nod of appreciation to the men and women who work for the post office that do their jobs and don’t get caught up or put themselves in a position to be deemed as going postal!
Q. Will there be a sequel?
A. Not a sequel but the readers will be taken on a journey with these characters’ lives beyond this book. I look at this book as a launching pad for other smaller novels, sort of like a tree branching out in all different directions. All I will say is that the next story will focus on James and the following will be another character, so on and so forth, but as far as another Postal novel, no. I have too many stories ready to bust out of me.
Q. I want to thank you for sharing your time with us in the Interrogation Room and much success for your debut novel, as well others in the future.
A. Thank you for having me and I appreciate the kind words.