It’s been a short while since the last Navigating Indieworld Blog-Go-Round, we’ve had a group promotion running and of course life has gotten in the way, it’s time, though, for it to start up again.
My first interview of this round is Mike Turner, who until recently was a journalist in London, and who now lives in the North of England and writes full-time.
I realise this is an obvious way to start, Mike but…
Me – How did you get into writing?
Mike – I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. My first book was when I was about seven and involved a boy who was turned into an enormous anthropromorphic orange. The poor fella was chased all around town by people trying to squeeze him for all the awesome juice a five foot tall orange would no doubt produce. I remember presenting it to my class and people really enjoying it. That was it – I was hooked on telling stories.
Me – Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Mike – I wanted to be a doctor at first. Then I horrendously failed chemistry so had a mad panic rethink and landed on an English literature degree. This then evolved into me falling into journalism because I couldn’t think of anything else to do with my three years of study, and my writing took off from there. Journalism is still the way I pay the bills.
Me – What genre do you write in? Do you restrict yourself to just the one genre?
Mike – Wasteland Fairytale is a post-apocalyptic steampunk novel. I didn’t set out to make it steampunk – I barely knew what steampunk was when I finished the first draft – but the aesthetic just fit the story so well that it morphed into a world filled with these almost magical steam-powered devices.
I also have a historical book that is moving along the labourious stages of traditional publishing. While it is not post-apocalyptic, it is in a setting that very much mirrors post apocalypse with its lawlessness. I guess I just like writing about what people do when society falls apart.
Me – If you could be a character in one of your books, who would you be and why?
Mike – All the characters in my books are unethical monsters in some way or another, with the exception of the unnamed girl protagonist in Wasteland Fairytale. In their defence, they are adapting to do all they can to survive in a brutal world, but I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I suddenly transformed into one of them.
Saying that, there’s a tavern keeper early on in Wasteland Fairytale called PumpJack who, while still not a good person, at least does something nice when he warns the book’s heroes about the dangers of the town at night. It really saws something about the world I created that this is a standout act of kindness, but still…He’s only a tiny part of the story, but he manages to do some good in his little page time. So I’ll go with him.
Me – Which of your books, if you have released more than one, is your favourite?
Mike – I’ve just got the one out there at the moment, but I’m working on the second in the series now. I think the second is better than the first – it introduces some real badass characters, the creepy relationship between the protagonists is explored further and there are some awesome set pieces involving zeppelins and sky pirates that I think my readers will love – I certainly loved creating them.
Me – If you haven’t already, what genre would you most like to release a book in?
Mike – Great question. I am always in awe of good literary writers. The types of books that focus on very little plot but very big character development. Creating a voice that is engaging enough to last 80,000 words with relatively little happening to the character is exceptionally difficult, and I wish I had the talent to do so.
Me – Do you ever have ideas that you don’t feel capable of doing justice to? (I have ideas for both fantasy and romance that I’m not sure I’m the right person to turn into books)
Mike – I’d always give it a crack. I’ve got piles and piles of finished but unpublished stories on my computer. Anything super technical – think Tom Clancy – is tough for me because I just don’t get as excited about technical specifics as I do, say, a bunch of scavengers rolling through a one street town on motorbikes while they fire shotguns into the air.
Me – Are you a purist when it comes to the genres you write, or do you like to mix them up?
Mike – Mix ‘em up. Toss some action and adventure in there, a splash of horror, make it weird and new. I like reading pure genre fiction, but for me, there’s a kind of magic when you read something that combines genres in ways you’ve never thought of before. Terry Pratchett will always be the king for me of doing this.
Me – What made you decide to self-publish?
Mike – It was completely on a whim. I had tried the traditional publishing route with Wasteland Fairytale a few years back and was told almost the same thing from every agent – your writing is good, but the story is too bleak that they didn’t think it would sell. So I put it to the bottom of my drawer and worked on new stuff, then I got an agent request for another manuscript I was trying to sell and thought about how sad it was that Wasteland Fairytale would never be read. So I whacked it on Amazon and left it at that.
To my complete shock, it actually sold a bunch of copies and got some very solid reviews from people around the world. This made me think that maybe people would be interested in seeing more from me – so I got working on the follow up straight away.
Me – Are you exclusive to Amazon or do you make your books available through the other retailers?
Mike – Only Amazon.
Me – If you’re exclusive to Amazon, why?
Mike – My entire thought process when I first published it was “ah, it’ll be fun to have it out there”. Since then I’ve Googled around, and Amazon, plus Kindle Unlimited, seems to be the place where the world goes to get its ebooks. So far, it’s worked out well for me.
Book One of the Survival Series
The world has ended. Mankind is reduced to scavenging in the dust.
Grizzled veteran Papa Bear found the young girl among the ruins of a long forgotten city and has sworn to protect her no matter what.
But violence is around every corner and the pair are forced into a mission that could doom mankind forever. All the while, the girl is quickly learning that Papa Bear’s protection comes with its own terrible conditions.
Wasteland Fairytale is available to buy now on the Kindle store
Thanks for stopping by, Mike, I have to say your novel sounds good, it’s on my wishlist