In support of my fellow authors, I enjoy sharing author interviews with my blog readers. Phalanges is the author Q/A section of Gina Fava’s Blog. Here I seek to peel back the layers on up-and-coming and established authors to reveal what makes them tick, and also get to the heart of some of their literary creations.
I had the pleasure of meeting author Steve Moore recently, who’s had great success writing sci-fi thrillers, short stories, and book reviews. He also has an active blog where he comments on current events and posts opinions about writing and the publishing business from the perspective of an indie author. He had a previous life as a physicist. He was born in California and spent time in Colombia before settling in the Northeast. His wife and he now live in New Jersey.
Steve Moore is a talented author, and a kind hearted, funny bloke that I’m very happy to share with the awesome readers of Gina Fava’s Blog. You can also find Steve on FaceBook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Bookpleasures, and eFiction. Visit him at his website http://stevenmmoore.com.
20 QUESTIONS FOR STEVE MOORE
1. Why, how, and when did you start writing?
My motivation has always been that I love to write. I wrote my first novel during the summer I turned 13. It was terrible. The plot was similar to the one in the movie City of Angels, although the male/female protagonists were inverted. I’ve been writing ever since. Along the way, day jobs needed to feed my family and put kids through college took priority, but now I’m writing full-time—and having a great time!
2. Where do you get your ideas?
It’s a bit like that scene where Dumbledore pulls the silver threads out of head. The stories are in there—I just have to write them down for other people to enjoy. I’ve been plotting them for years but never seem to have the time to write it all down.
3. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest problem is POV. I tend to shift it a lot and often forget to indicate that with a change in chapter or separators like ***. Coupled with a change from 3rd to 1st person (e.g. in Evil Agenda), I have to be careful that I don’t leave the reader confused. If you mean the biggest chore, it’s editing and marketing. I’m good at the first but don’t like it and I’m terrible at the second—and don’t like it.
4. How do you name your characters?
Very carefully. Authors often don’t pay enough attention to this. It’s hard to think of John Smith as a Latino, for example, or Susy Brown as Russian. Naming characters sometimes borders on stereotyping, so you must be careful. My suggestion is to choose them as carefully as you would choose the name of your son or daughter. After all, you have more information about your character’s personality to work with than your new infant! I’d make the same comment about choosing titles. You want something catchy that relates to your plot or characters. One word can say it all—for example, James Michener’s Hawaii.
5. Who designed the cover of your book? How did you find them?
My latest covers were designed by graphic artist Sara Carrick. She is an excellent artist just starting out with Carrick Publishing.
6. How do you approach reviewers?
With a bouquet of roses or a glass of Jameson’s? I don’t have enough reviews, I know it, but I don’t know how to interest more people in reviewing my books. I will gift any eBook available on Amazon or Smashwords to anyone who wants to write an honest review, up to a certain limit, of course (I’ve never hit that limit). I also write reviews regularly and try to focus on indie authors, but authors are slow to reciprocate. Maybe too many authors and not enough reviewers?
7. How do you research your books? Have you ever traveled for your research? Where?
Books I’ve written that take place in the near future (e.g. The Midas Bomb) often require background material for settings and characters; books that take place in the far future less so (e.g. Sing a Samba Galactica). But even the ones in the far future require a reasonable extrapolation from what we know today (sci-fi has to be more “reasonable” than fantasy, of course). For Full Medical, for example, I checked out everything known about human cloning at the time, did a bit of reasonable extrapolation, and wrote it into the text. Often your best thrillers are characterized by the reader not knowing where facts stop and fiction begins.
I’ve traveled a lot and I’m a people watcher. The range of human behavior from country to country fascinates me. Learning that a cousin died in 9/11 turned me against fundamentalist behavior of all kinds. I have several novels that involve counter-terrorism and Soldiers of God treats all forms of fundamentalist thinking. I wouldn’t call this research exactly, but life experiences. The two mix.
In Evil Agenda, for example, I hop around the world, but I challenge anyone who doesn’t know me to figure out what places I really experienced and what places I researched. Angels Need Not Apply, the sequel to The Midas Bomb, is partially set in Mexico, although I’ve only been there for a physics conference, yet the settings reflect some of the “local color” I experienced while living in Colombia.
8. Which book/chapter/scene was your favorite one to write? Why?
The Midas Bomb was fun to write because in it I introduced NYPD detectives Chen and Castilblanco and the villain Vladimir Kalinin. I’ve returned to them in following books. The words flew onto the screen for Midas (because the plot is less complicated than Soldiers?). The last scene in the soon-to-be-released Come Dance a Cumbia…with Stars in Your Hand! moved even this old curmudgeon (this is the third book in the trilogy that started with Survivors of the Chaos).
9. Laptop, desktop, or paper?
Laptop, but curiously enough, the final step in my editing is to print out the whole MS and do an old-fashioned edit. It always looks different on paper. Moreover, because I only release in eBook format now, I don’t feel guilty about killing trees. (I often wonder what all those toxics from discarded eReaders will do to the environment, though.)
10. Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
For ideas that I jot down, anywhere (often on napkins in a coffee house, for example). For the writing, I need absolute quiet in my study.
11. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you, and what is it that really struck you about the work?
By the time I finished Junior High, I had read many of the “classic” dystopian sci-fi and many other sci-fi novels, all of James Bond, and a few of the “banned books” (Fanny Hill, Catcher in the Rye, Tom Jones, etc). In High School, besides the required and boring assignments like Silas Marner, Giants in the Earth, and Jane Eyre, I had conquered the “classic classics” like Brave New World, 1984, and Darkness at Noon. I can’t pick just one writer but, by now, I know a few that really turn me off!
12. Do you use an agent?
No, and I suppose I should say why. First, they’re not bad people, but they serve the Big Six publishers for the most part, who only want to put their money on the sure horse. After hundreds of rejections to many manuscripts and a few agents who sat on a MS without doing anything (not willing to tell me about whom they approached, probably meaning no one), I gave up on agents. Now I consider that anyone standing between a writer and his readers is superfluous because of the digital revolution in publishing.
13. Do you self-publish, traditionally publish, or are you a hybrid?
I self-publish (exclusively eBooks now, originally trade paperbacks), for many of the same reasons as above. Another reason is absolute control (yeah, I’m a control freak).
14. What are your most effective marketing techniques?
There doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet here. I’m not very good at marketing, but I think I’m doing what everyone recommends (website, interviews, reviews, social networking, etc). I’ve been doing it long enough that I’ve decided that making a big splash with one of my books is a bit like winning the lottery. There’s so much competition out there that it’s difficult to make a book rise above the noisy background. (Maybe an author needs to write mommy porn like what’s in the Fifty Shades trilogy?)
15. What project are you working on now?
I just finished Cumbia and sent it off to the formatter (the cover is included below). Cumbia will be released sometime in October. I’m 90% through writing The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan where character Ashley Scott, DHS agent from The Midas Bomb and Angels Need Not Apply, receives star billing. In the works are a collection of sci-fi stories, another Chen and Castilblanco book, and a sequel to Evil Agenda.
16. Deserted on an island, who are 3 people, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom you’d share sun block?
I’d choose Genghis Khan, Hannibal, and Sofia Vergara. The first two fellows are dead so they don’t need sun block. Even if they weren’t dead, they’d kill each other, and I’d have Sofia all to myself, with all the sun block. Just sayin’….
17. Is there a movie that you preferred over the book version?
Some movies come close, but in general Hollywood does an abysmal job, unless they change the book so much that the movie is almost a different story. The Bourne series, starring Matt Damon, is an example, where the name and memory loss are about the only thing in common with the book. I, Robot, starring Will Smith, is another.
18. Favorite TV show, ever?
Easily The Twilight Zone. That series and most of the installments in the original Star Trek used real sci-fi writers, not Hollywood amateurs. When Star Trek: The Next Generation started running, I sure could tell the difference. The writers for Lost, for example, were just too cutesy with their flashbacks and flashforwards—terrible!
19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring authors?
I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story. – Tom Clancy. Corollary: That production process can be simplified by removing as much as possible between you and your readers.
20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?
Read, read, read. Follow your favorite writers but try some new ones, including indie authors. (You’ll get more bang for the buck from the latter.) Corollary: Don’t be a cheapskate. If you pay for the book and read it, don’t return it. The author loses money and you acquire some bad karma.
Any more questions for Steve Moore? Check out his website at: http://stevenmmoore.com.
Message for authors and interested others: Contact Gina Fava at GinaFava1@gmail.com for more information on how to secure an author interview.