So Michael, how are you doing? How’s our new reality treating you?
I’m doing great thank you, and it’s all treating me well.
Yea fortunately things have been pretty stable on this end as well. So I’d like to start off asking when you knew you wanted to be a writer, and a bit about the journey that led to your first published work.
Ah well, are you sitting comfortably?
With my coffee in hand!
It all started with the death of my wife and being left with two boys who were 4 and 6…Shortly after, I went to see a clairvoyant, and she kept insisting I write. So I did and wrote a true-life story called “Just Five More Minutes” which has gone on to win numerous awards.
I decided to self publish through Amazon and have gone on to write best selling children’s books of all ages, scary stories and so on. But epic fantasy is my passion. I come from a background as an actor, and I immersed myself in Star Trek and it went on from there. Don’t get me wrong, I desperately wanted a role in Star Trek and got very close a couple of times, but I love fantasy. To be honest, the writing at first was strange. What I mean is that I tried to follow the conventional route..you know, plot everything out, chapters, characters etc, but it didn’t work, then someone told me i was pantser. Someone who writes by the seat of their pants. I have an idea. I can tell you a beginning, a middle and an end to my book, but it all fills out as I write. The epic fantasy i have finished, “The Wand Chronicles, we are talking 400,000 words give or take, all composed as a pantser. Erm? Did you want to get a word in edgeways Michael? lol
Hahaha it’s all good. I love the long answers. So being that this is a Fantasy/Sci-Fi blog, I’m sure The Wand Chronicles is what everyone wants to hear about. Tell our audience why it should be their click of choice.
Well, let’s go back to my acting prowess. I am a method actor. this has everything to do with books, I promise. I study my characters to the point i can tell you what they like to eat, to read, where they like to go on vacation… But, i wanted to write a fantasy series about how the elves met the humans. i postulated that elves and humans shared a common ancestry..think about it, we look very alike, but they have been around for 3 million years longer than we have, and evolution has helped them develop magical abilities and a lot more. Well, I wanted to develop characters, even if they were elves, that felt very real. that had lives as complex as ours as humans, so I developed the story, and adventures all around the most powerful wand in the Cosmos called Elvina…Now, no disrespect to harry potter, but Elvina is no piece of stick wand, oh no, she merges into the body of whoever is controlling her. Of course, Only certain people or species are able to do this. I then wanted to explore what happens if an elf and a human were to have a hybrid child.
And so we have Kia, a very powerful empath. But life is not easy for her parents, an English general and a beautiful elf named Allan-Yana-Ash. Imagine a human girl of 15 whose hormones are kicking in, mixed up with magical abilities of an Elf…fireworks!
Throughout the 4 book series, we meet lots of other weird and wonderful species while also maintaining some elements of humor. For example, I have a favorite character called Ding Ling. A very brave Chinese human. He is always trying to look on the brighter side of life. One day, his boss, General Hugo Brough is deciding to take different courses of action simultaneously, but Ding Ling can see it will spell disaster, so he does what he always does, quotes Confucius, and says to Hugo, “you can’t do both of those things at once master, Confucius would say, ‘Never take a sleeping pill if you have already taken a laxative tablet.”
That sounds awesome and I have started reading and the prose is absolutely fantastic by the way. What I’d like to know who some of your influences were on the series. These can be influences from any medium.
Good question. Let me start off by saying I never read any other authors when in the middle of composing myself, I don’t want to be influenced in any way. okay. There are a diverse set of authors that i get my inspiration from, and of course, sci fi films etc. As for authors..this may sound strange, but i love Jane Austin. Her working of descriptive prose to convey any sort of emotion is masterful…That helps me with my writing. I grew up with Michael Moorcock and Terry Pratchett ( hence the humor ), and for the more dramatic moments in my books, I have always appreciated the work of Leon Uris and Mila 18, and James Clavell’s Shogun.
I have a character running through my books that i want you to hate with as much gusto as you can muster, to the point you want to shoot him in the head. Does he get his comeuppance? Ahh you’ll have to read to find out. There is another important element i wanted. I wanted the reader to fall in love with a character, and I wanted that character to come to an untimely end. But not horribly, I have done it in a way that you hopefully will shed a tear, but won’t be left an emotional wreck…
The idea for that character, I got from a favorite film of mine, called ‘A.I’ . It is gut wrenchingly emotional, and i wanted to get that across in a very sensitive way in the book, and i am told I achieve that.
Hey Joe! What do ya know? A.I is one of my all time favorite films as well. Definitely great taste in art. You can’t go wrong with those influences…obviously Pratchett is a huge influence for me as well, and Clavel ranks up there with Joyce and Rushdie as one of my favorites. Do you write with an audience in mind, or with an audience of one (yourself) as so many authors say, and hope that people will enjoy your story and come along for the ride?
Yep, definitely the writing is for myself. This may sound strange, but I can pick up one of my books, even the Wand Chronicles and read it and really enjoy it. It is a little like laughing at your own jokes I guess. i saw a bestselling author who was asked this exact question. He said “I write for myself, but if others like reading it, then all well and good.“ I suppose though, i am careful to try to make the books appropriate for all ages, so there is no profanity. I don’t think its necessary, in any case I don’t think an Elf could translate F**K YOU!
I have a scene, again influenced by a scene from the film Cocoon’ , where an Elf and an Englishman have fallen in love, so there is a spriritual union, much to the frustration of the English Human, who just simply wants to get down to it…it is sensitively done I hope.
How much of yourself will people find in your writing? I know authors often bring parts of themselves and people in their real life into their works. I’m referring more to character traits as obviously Elves wouldn’t make it into most people’s autobiographies.
Well, we all should know our good and bad points. I am a gentle, kind and compassionate man, with a good sense of humor. So those traits are in the book. I am also a Buddhist, so I do bring in ideas, without a whiff of Buddhism, of kindness and gentleness, and have been able to bring that easily into my characters. They are me I would like to think. Now, we of course have lowlives both human, elven and other species, and thank goodness Karma exists in my books as well. They are not me, but what I have picked up by simply living with other people in this world. So in the end, everything consists in my mind of good and bad, and we are striving for balance…and this is also something that comes across in my books.
I want readers to become very involved and possibly see something of themselves in the books as well. If i can do that, the reader will relate to the situations, and because of it hopefully enjoy reading the books.
Speaking of readers becoming involved, how important is reader interaction to you as an Indie author, and how do you most enjoy networking with your readers?
Oh I enjoy it very much. I always finish a book in the authors notes by saying, “I love questions. Please ask me one.” Collective opinions are very important to me. Even though someone may not like something, i will always address it and take it onboard. This has happened most times I have explained why i did something and it has been accepted. Other times i will stick to my guns if someone wants to change something. For example, The hero in my books is an English General, Hugo Brough, and one of my lovely American Beta readers thought it might be difficult for some American readers to pronounce properly? It is in fact pronounced phonetically as Bruff. No I didn’t change it, but was aware that some names especially the elvish characters could be confusing, like Laniakeea or Elfistra, so being thoughtfully I have also included a phonetic table explaining how words should be pronounced.
It is a thing about me, I like to pronounce names as they should be pronounced. Take the Japanese word Kimono. U, in the west emphasizes the first ‘O’ when a Japanese person would stress the ‘I’.
And what mediums do you like to network on?
A variety. I think it is probably wise to stick to one or two rather than many. Certainly i like messenger, zoom and skype. I am very much one that likes to interact face to face, albeit on messenger etc. It is good to see people, judge their reactions and so on. I am all ok with that, so its easier for me. I was a prime time TV presenter, so I love seeing someone and them seeing me.
This is an observation. i have found when there is no video running, sometimes people are not really into the point of something. When you see someone face to face, they pay more attention, they are not multitasking while you are typing. Hey, we all do it, but i do like to give my undivided attention to someone.
I get that. For me I find it’s easier to convey information by phone, than over text. I’m camera shy when it comes to speaking despite being a singer in bands all my life. I’m working on it though. So recommend some Indie or traditional Fantasy or Sci-Fi you’ve read recently to our audience.
Well, traditionally, I have just read Terry Pratchett again. The Discworld series. I find it lightens the mood when I have been intensely working on a book, plus I know his books are unique in their style, so none will float over to my stories. In all honesty, i have always enjoyed Asimov, and did cut my teeth on them, and can lose myself with my imagination in them.
I also don’t go out of my way to read lots of books similar to my genre. Like i mentioned before, I don’t want to be influenced. When i have finished one book, I am planning the next, so I like to read, if i have time, something completely diferent, and as it happens i am half way through The Celestine Prophecy. It is one I can read again and again, as well as the others in the series.
So what are you working on right now? What do readers have to look forward to in 2021 and beyond ?
Well, It will be a big series. I mean lots of books. each around 200 to 250 pages a book. I have already published a freebie, “The Big Fairy Adventures: How it All Began”. We follow on from The Wand Chronicles where i introduced fairies. In this series they will play a heavy role, also introducing orcs, dragons, and bringing some of the favorite characters from The Wand Chronicles into the stories. I just finished the second book called “The Golden Quandtill”, about another powerful Wand and I’m about to start a new adventure featuring a very evil fairy witch called Maldranan.
All I have in front of me in my man cave authors den is a large map of the fairy queendom called Layleamonee. It is covered with little images of characters and their names or places. Each one will be a book. I have no idea at the moment the story for each book, that will only happen when i start to write them!
Awesome sounds amazing. So I like to end each interview off with this question. What one piece of advice can you offer to new and aspiring authors?
Oh no, I don’t think you will like this. It is the most difficult thing in the world to become a millionaire writing books. Lots of luck is needed, but offshoots like podcasts or blogs can help. Also, don’t do what I do and put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, I was solely with Amazon. Bad mistake. If something goes wrong with Amazon you are stuck, so also put your books on Draft2Digital, iBooks, kobo and Goodreads to name a few. Takes a bit of work but definitely worth it.