TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Myke: I apply military discipline to my writing process. I have an internal Company Commander (what they call Drill Sergeants in the other services) who never stops screaming at me. When I really think about it's a little crazy. I actually have a voice in my head shouting things like: "Oh, are you tired? Don't feel like working? Well, guess what? Your fans don't care. Your publisher doesn't care. Go ahead, take a break. The market will move on without you!" I actually picture the campaign cover (Smokey-the-Bear hat) and the gritty voice shouting at me. Odd, I know, but it works. While my routine is frequently interrupted, I am always, always, always working.
The guard expects nothing less from me when I'm in uniform, and the reading public expects nothing less from me when I'm out of it.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Myke: I have to single out Peter V. Brett, who is the single greatest positive force in my writing life (and, frankly, in my personal life too). He's a *stellar* writer, and much of my economical prose styling and tight pacing was learned at his feet. If you haven't read his DEMON CYCLE (THE WARDED MAN and THE DESERT SPEAR), then you must.
Other favorites include Joe Abercromie, Scott Lynch, Richard K. Morgan and China Mieville. With the first two, I really appreciate the dark, gritty realism and incredibly engaging dialogue (Sam Sykes is also one to read in this regard). With Morgan and Mieville, I am swept away by the incredible florid prose styling that is pure liquid poetry. I could never do it myself, but I love reading it. Mieville is the most original writer I've ever encountered. He pushes the SF/F envelope to incredible degrees. Morgan shares a lot with Lynch and Abercrombie in his ability to portray flawed/broken characters and make us love them anyway.
On the nonfiction side, I'd like every artist out there to read Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art." It is, in my opinion, the only self-help book worth the paper it's printed on.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Myke: Plotter extreme. The military is all about planning, so I have that drummed into me. Also, I find when I pants it, I find mistakes 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through the manuscript that have sent unfixable ripples all the way to the beginning, and I wind up having to toss entire manuscripts. My writing process is extremely regimented, with regular pauses to solicit input throughout. Before I write a lick of prose, I have 100-150 pages of bulleted outline completed first. And I only do that after I've done 20-30 pages of "treatment" (rough concept).
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Myke: The pressure to be perfect. The market has never been less forgiving. I am committed to making a full time living as a writer (hard to do in the best of times), and I am convinced that the key to success in this business is in the quality of your manuscript. There are no prizes for second place, and all the marketing in the world cannot cover up shoddy work. There are SO many incredible writers out there setting the bar ever higher (I have named a few already), and I have to meet or exceed the standard they set or it's back to cubicle hell for me. I worry about whether or not my work is good enough CONSTANTLY. It is the first thing I am thinking of when I wake up in the morning, and it is the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep at night.
TQ: Describe Control Point in 140 characters or less.
Myke: Peter V. Brett already did that in his outstanding blurb - It's Blackhawk Down meets the X-Men. If you want another twitterable description, I'd say "Harry Potter just joined Delta Force."
TQ: What inspired you to write Control Point?
Myke: The military is a fantastic force for good and I love being a part of it. But, like all large bureaucracies, it's intensely conservative, slow to change and more than happy to crush decent people in its efforts to adhere to "proper procedure." While I was working in the Pentagon, I began to wonder how such a culture would handle the existence of magic. What if there were elves wandering the halls of the E-Ring? What if there was a Sorcery Bureau? How would that go?
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Control Point?
Myke: I went to Iraq 3 times. I responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I helped evacuate the Jersey Shore in advance of Hurricane Irene. When you're writing about war, there's no substitute for a front row seat. For everything else, there's google.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Myke: Oscar Britton (the protagonist) was probably the easiest. He's a soldier, good-hearted and a bit naive. I'm more cynical than he is, and probably less brave/instinctively ethical, but I know his type. I've seen them and worked with them for years.
The hardest was probably Therese Del Aqua (which I suppose some folks will call Britton's "love interest," though I like to think she's a lot more than that). She's a Puerto Rican woman from California who wound up in New York City for a spell. She's had a range of experiences from her earliest days that I was incredibly unfamiliar with. I interviewed several latina women to try to wrap my heard around the cultural/gender distinctions. I really hope I got it right. We'll see what readers have to say about that. On top of that, Therese has a reservoir of compassion that I can only envy. She's been through hell from her childhood, and she hasn't let it touch who she is at her core. She gets angry, but has never let anger take her. That's so far from who I am that I had to constantly check and recheck myself to make sure I was writing her character and not my own.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Control Point?
Myke: Oh, wow. That's really hard, because my favorite scenes totally give the book away. Let's just say there's a fight scene that pits a lot of state of the art military hardware against some classical fantasy creatures, and another where the antagonist unleashes the full fury of her magical abilities on a modern military facility. Both are sooooo cool.
TQ: What's next?
Myke: I have another original series fully plotted/outlined with 75 pages of the first book written. I am looking to pitch that to my publisher some time soon. I am also doing some writing for a media tie-in franchise with the hope I can be a regular for them. My real goal is to diversify and write for video games and comic books as well. I'm hoping the media tie-in work can be a step in that direction.
The last thing I'd like to share is a call for your readers to stand with me in the military reserve. I'm not blind to the horrors of war or the problems with the military, but I believe it is ultimately a positive force for social justice, mobility and the common good. If you want to help, it's one of the best ways to do it. And remember, if you (for physical, background, or other reasons) aren't qualified to join the reserve, all branches have auxiliaries that will take you. I can't do it alone.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
About Shadow Ops
Control PointShadow Ops 1
Ace, January 31, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Lieutenant Oscar Britton of the Supernatural Operations Corps has been trained to hunt down and take out people possessing magical powers. But when he starts manifesting powers of his own, the SOC revokes Oscar's government agent status to declare him public enemy number one.
What: One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Control Point (Shadow Ops 1) from The Qwillery and an incredibly wonderful SOC Challenge Coin from Myke:
|Photo from Myke Cole's Blog|
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
What's your magical power?
Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.
You may receive additional entries by:
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.
Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, February 6, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*