Friday, August 2, 2013

Interview With Author Steven M. Moore Steve Moore

1. What type of books do you write?  Genres used to be for the convenience of bookstores trying to place books logically in their racks for customers, but the public seems to like to pigeon-hole authors too.  All my books so far fall into a fictional future universe I’ve created, running from near future to far future.  I call them all sci-fi thrillers, but people will probably prefer to label the near-future ones as thrillers or techno-thrillers, while the far-future ones are more in the hard or dystopian sci-fi or space opera category.  Smack in the middle is the Chaos, a postulated social singularity in human future history when leadership is not able to solve the complex social problems that society faces; empires like China, E.U., and the U.S. break into more homogeneous, almost tribal and fundamentalist units; and international corporations establish order via mercenary armies they finance.  The big picture is complex, but each novel is a tale taken from this future history.

2. What is your newest book about?  The most recent release, The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan, takes place in 2030.  DHS agent Ashley Scott witnesses a murder.  She teams up with Eduardo Ortega, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, to solve the murder and uncover two government conspiracies.  Ashley, when younger, was a secondary character in the first two books in “The Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series,” The Midas Bomb and Angels Need Not Apply.  I hope to release the third book in that series, Teeter-Totter between Lust and Murder, by the end of May.

3. What inspired you to write it?  I wrote a short story, “Retiree 114 of Pine Hills Manor,” which studies a futuristic government retirement program.  It seemed a nice vehicle for Ashley, who had been clamoring for her own novel since Midas and Angels.  So did my muses (aka banshees with tasers), who know I have all these tales in my head and “encourage me” to write them down.  Virginia Morgan was born.  Similarly, those same muses who challenged me to write the YA novel The Secret Lab, challenged me to write a mystery instead of a thriller.  Teeter-Totter will be my first one, although I’m an admirer of the mystery genre and those who write in it.  Caveat emptor:  Teeter-Totter is not a cozy.

4.  What is the writing process like for you?  Probably not conventional.  I see story writing and content editing as part of one writing process—I can write 5000 words, delete 2000, and move 1000 somewhere else.  I can’t imagine writing a novel on a typewriter or a legal pad for that reason.  Plot, the story I tell, is the main thing, but I try to create 3D characters readers can identify with, both comfortable and exotic settings, and dialog that complements narrative and vice versa (the sci-fi end of my opus tends to be more narrative because of world-building, and the thriller end has more dialog).  Copy editing is a pain, but I spend about the same time on that as writing the novel.  I have two wonderful people, Donna and Sara Carrick, who took pity on me and give me more time to write by doing my ebook formatting (Donna) and ebook covers (Sara)—Donna is a great mystery writer in her own right (The First Excellence), so I feel a bit guilty about taking her time.  We’re a team.  Like those old vaudeville troops, our goal is to entertain.

5. What did you do before you became an author?  You mean to ask, “How long were you a frustrated writer suffering in a day job?”  Well, I actually didn’t suffer.  As a professional physicist, I first taught and did research and then just R&D, but writing was always my first love since I was thirteen (when I wrote my first novel).  I have no regrets.  You do what you have to do.  In fact, my previous work allowed me enough free time to continue my people-watching and jotting down notes to help me remember story ideas, not to mention having some life experiences.  I think young graduates from journalism or MFA programs shouldn’t jump into writing fiction right away, even if they’re the next Hemingway, because they can’t possibly have those life experiences.  I’m not implying you write about those experiences.  But your characters are humans and you can’t really understand human beings when you’re only twenty. 

6. How does it feel to be a published author?  Hmm, the $64K question.  My history with traditional publishing is one of continuous frustration.  After over 1000 rejects from agents and traditional publishers and a few agents that wanted to read my MS and then sat on it for months to later say, “Sorry, just not for me,” I was ready to throw in the towel (my muses didn’t have their tasers yet).  Along came POD to save the day.  But that becomes expensive.  Along came ebooks.  I release ebooks.  I don’t know whether people call that “published” or not, and I don’t really care about labels.  People read my ebooks and are entertained, with a few exceptions, I suppose (you can’t please everyone).  And I have almost as much fun writing down the stories.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  I won’t go into the pros and cons of self-publishing.  Each author must make his own choices.  As time goes on, readers are finding out that a self-published author’s book can offer solid entertainment for a fraction of the cost of a traditionally published book.  That might drive the market in the future.   

7.  Any advice for struggling writers?  Keep writing.  Don’t be a one-book wonder.  Did you receive a bad review?  Ignore it.  Write the next book.  If you go traditional, ignore the agent’s litany (but try more than one).  Shelve the MS.  Write the next one.  A writer following the traditional route often pulls those shelved books out later after agents and publishers finally realize he’s a sure bet.  Tired of all the agents who feel their role in life is to pass only the sure bets on to the publishers?  Self-publish your book and begin writing the next.  Don’t wait for 1000 rejections like I did?  If you can’t write, you will find out in the long run.  Meanwhile, have fun realizing your dream.

8. Where do you see book publishing heading?  I’m not going to dwell on this.  In many respects, we’re already there.  We have a mix of pbook (paper book) and ebook authors, traditional and self-published authors, and publishing houses from the Big Five down to small shops putting out only a few quality books a year.  Big barn bookstores are dying, mom and pop bookstores are finding new ways to reach out to the public, and online book sales keep increasing.  It’s an exciting times.  I’m more worried about all the different formats of ebooks, but that will soon be resolved, just like the old betamax v. VHS battle—one format will win.  Bottom line: not everyone can write a book or should, but, if you have one in you, the democratization of publishing will allow you to release it once it’s written.  Self- or traditionally published, just make sure your product is the best it can be so as not to reflect negatively on other authors.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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