Interview with Ray Sullivan
Author of Project: Evil
Ray Sullivan is a British author born and raised in north Wales. He completed a 24 year military career in the Royal Air Force before returning to north Wales to work in the public and private sector. He is currently a lecturer in aeronautical engineering when not writing. Ray's writing is impossible to pidgeon-hole - his novels range from sci-fi, to military adventure to comedic. His latest book is Hotel California, a dark comedy thriller.
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How would you describe Project: Evil to a new reader?
- It's really the only resource you need to start up, manage and complete a major engineering, infrastructure or catering project. If software engineering projects are your bag, it's way over the top.
The book follows the journey by Brian, who has blagged his way into a major league project management role to build an evil secret lair in the eponymous South Seas, despite not having any project management experience.
Each chapter is essentially a project milestone, usually a meeting where a lot is said and nothing is achieved. Difficult enough on normal projects, but when you're working for an acknowledged megalomaniac hell-bent of destroying the human race, the planet or worse then it's really a challenge, especially as you try to keep within Prince 2 guidelines.
Throw in an octogenarian Secret Service agent and loads of henchmen and women running around with flame throwers, you've got a challenge on your hands.
How did Project: Evil come to be?
- I was wandering past the TV one afternoon and caught the end of a James Bond movie, one of the Seventies Dodgy Moore affairs where Bond is running amok with henchmen and women in pyjamas falling over handrails obviously too low to satisfy the Health and Safety at Work Act. I wondered to myself, as I took in the missile launching facilities and ludicrously vulnerable abort button, how would you go about project managing that installation?
It appears there's a lot to it, from massaging the ego of the project sponsor (if you wish to survive) to preventing the communications director (in this case the dyslexic rapper Doggy Slippy Doo) blurting out that you're a fraud.
To what extent is Project Evil based on your own experiences?
- I spent quite a few years working on Ministry of Defence technical equipment projects and I've project managed a couple of software projects for industry and the public sector, so I've seen how bizarre the world of Project Management can be first hand. I must have sat through hundreds of hours of tedious meetings where very simple decisions are made incredibly hard - I sat through a two hour discussion about the colour of aircraft control rods once, having exempted myself on the grounds I'm colour blind and therefore not best positioned to comment. I'll never get those hours back!
Actually I quite like the project environment, and anyone who has been dragged kicking and screaming into a project meeting will recognise the personalities exploited in Project: Evil. It's a completely tongue in cheek book with many, many references to the James Bond Genre.
Do Ikea really sell flat packed volcanoes?
- Possibly, but I admit I made that bit up rather than trek down to the local outlet to check. I think my internet might have been down that afternoon, too. If they do they probably call it the Sprongstrum range, and provide it in a variety of colours. I'd recommend Rain-forest purple, but please note the comments about my colour sight above before buying one without checking.
You've been applying promotions to your books on here - are you going to promote Project: Evil as well?
- Why not. A limited time offer on Smashwords using the following URL: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/208675 and quoting the following code at checkout will get the first ten or so readers of this interview a free copy in any e-format they wish: SM39Y
Barry Liam O'Feld, CEO of B L O'Feld Megalomaniac Industries (BLOMI), wants a super evil secret lair building in a remote South Seas location to destroy the planet or possibly worse, so he needs a project manager; which is fortunate as Brian wants a job. Unfortunately Brian is a catering manager, so naturally he lies. Luckily for Brian, lying is a core value for O'Feld Industries.
In Project: Evil follow the progress of Brian’s project meeting by meeting, observing the interaction of the various stakeholders from the project sponsor to the humble henchpersons employed as cannon fodder as Brian struggles to keep the project on track. Not only does he have to cope with the warped logic of a company that doesn’t value its own life let alone that of its enemies, he has to deal with the unwelcome advances of the octogenarian Secret Service agent James Bund while also somehow project managing the Christmas office party as O’Feld rushes to beat his peer megalomaniacs such as Doktor Negatif and Gold Digit to be the first to destroy the planet.
If project management has ever seemed a mystery, a black art or even (improbably) a dull activity then Project: Evil may be the only book that will make you realise just how funny the subject can be. It may even help you understand why the bad guys feel inclined to run around in sh!t coloured pyjamas when the going gets tough. Recommended reading for all project managers and sufferers of their art form everywhere.