Michael K. Rose is a good friend who writes some great science fiction in the Sullivan’s War series. He is also on the epic task of writing 12 novels in 12 months. His first month was a great success with the completion of Sullivan’s Wrath.
Michael is also an avid supporter of authors rights and leads the charge to make the reviewing process fair and believable – a position I also support and condone.
Here is Michael in his own words.
What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?
I actually have a couple of literary fiction novels that I’d like to write. One is a modern retelling of a Henry James story and the other is about a man who goes on a grand tour of Europe. There’s more to it than that, of course, but I don’t want to give anything away just yet. I also have a historical fantasy novel planned; it takes place in Ancient Egypt during The New Kingdom.
Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?
When I think of a new story, I’ll often come up with the basic story line first, without any great detail. If it’s a short story, I’ll just write it without any planning. If it’s going to be a novel, I will actually plot it out, chapter by chapter. My outlines are very basic, though. I’ll know essentially what should happen in that chapter but how it happens is completely open.
When you start a new story, do you have a title for it? Does that trigger the story?
Sometimes, yes. Often not, though. I have begun with titles in the past; other stories are completely or nearly completely written before I know what they’re going to be called. Some stories start with what I think are great titles that end up being abandoned after it is written.
Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright? If so, which authors are driving it?
I do. Genre fiction is incredibly popular right now, spurred on by series like Harry Potter and A Song of Fire and Ice. Science fiction hasn’t had an insanely popular series like fantasy has, but I think it will happen. Oddly enough, science fiction in movies seems more popular than science fiction in print right now. This, of course, anticipates your next question:
Are movies of books ruining the book?
No. A movie is a completely different animal. It is highly unlikely that someone who is a reader would forego reading a book just because they saw the movie. But someone who isn’t a reader may be inclined to pick up the book if they saw and enjoyed the movie. How many people picked up any of Burroughs’s John Carter books because of the movie? Will the new Total Recall movie interest people in Philip K. Dick? Hopefully. But, I do have a caveat to that: people only have a certain amount of time to devote to entertainment and leisure. I think that movies, but to a greater extent television shows, are taking the lion’s share of that time, leaving little left for reading. So movies based on good books that may encourage viewers to go read the book are, in my opinion, of higher value than the typical teen or comedy tripe that is thrust upon the public. To put it another way, if we want a smart society, we need smart culture.
Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?
Hmm. I have read a bit about the traditional publishers’ follies regarding eBooks—their insistence that eBooks should cost as much as print books, for example—but I can’t say that I know enough about it to give an intelligent answer. I do know that because of eBooks I have read a great many self-published books that I would have never found had I not bought a Kindle. It has gotten to the point, in fact, where I prefer self-published or small press books. They tend to take more risks because they don’t have profit as their primary motivation.
Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?
Oops, looks like I anticipated this question as well. I will add that price is a consideration. If I can get the latest (insert big author’s name here) for $9.99 or two great Indie books for the same price, I’ll choose the Indie books unless the big name book is one I really want to read. Most of my traditionally-published fiction comes from used book stores and thrift stores these days.
What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?
I am more into science fiction, but what appeals to me about speculative fiction in general is the element of “What if?” I like both asking the question and, as a writer, trying to answer it as well.
Can I get an autographed book? (lol)
Yes! Anyone can order autographed copies of my books through my web store, which can be found here: http://www.michaelkrose.com/apps/webstore/ . I also thrown in extras like bookmarks and signed cards.
Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?
I do have Beta readers, yes. So far none of them have suggested major changes to my stories, but they do help out by noticing things that don’t quite make sense or language that is unclear. They also have found typos that I’ve missed.
Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?
Not really. I try to get my novel-length works over 70,000 words but I don’t obsess over it. I love writing (and reading) short stories and novellas and even though they don’t sell as well as full-length novels, I will continue writing them.
Do you have a target each day?
No. I set myself deadlines instead. I’ll have a word count goal for, say, the end of the week, but I do not force myself to write a given number of words every day. Some days I just can’t get into the rhythm. Other days I can fly through three or four thousands words.
Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?
When I finish a book I tend to take a little time off during which I edit and revise. I will do a lot of planning for my next project and work out scenes, perhaps write a bit, but I find it hard to focus on a new book when I’m still in the process of finalizing the previous one.
Do you have characters running around your head? Do they dictate events and their histories to you?
They don’t run around in my head, no. I create my characters first. Once they exist, then they begin to do and say things that I don’t expect as I write. But no one ever pops into my head and says “Hey, put me in a book!”
After so many books, how do you keep them unique?
Well, I’ve only actually written one full-length work, Sullivan’s War. My other published works are short stories. I think planning is key, though. I actually have a whole series of stories to tell in the universe in which Sullivan’s War takes place (which I call the Myriad Spheres Universe) and each of those stories is going to tie in with a much grander story line told across generations. The roots of this story line can be found in Sullivan’s War and will be expanded upon in the two planned sequels to that novel.
What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?
The internet. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that further. P
Do you read other people’s writing?
Absolutely. I am a big supporter of fellow Indie writers.
Would you read mine?
It’s on my list! I’m working really hard to get my next novel, Chrysopteron, out and then will focus on the sequel to Sullivan’s War, so my reading time is somewhat limited. I have a backlog of books to read but I’ll get to them eventually. I sometimes wish the days were two hours longer so I could get an extra couple hours of reading in.